High School Tournament

The Harvard National High School Invitational Forensics Tournament, held in Cambridge each Presidents’ Day Weekend, is the largest and most prestigious high school debate tournament in the country, providing opportunities for students to compete in Policy Debate, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Public Forum Debate, Student Congress, and a variety of individual and duo speech events.  Information on the tournament, registration, and past results can be found at Joy of Tournaments.

For any questions about the tournament please email hallsherry2@gmail.com

Click here for past results.

2011 Tournament Invitation:

Greetings from Harvard Debate!
We are delighted to invite you to attend the thirty-seventh annual Harvard National Invitational Forensics Tournament, which will be held in Cambridge on Presidents’ Day Weekend, Saturday, Sunday, & Monday, February 19-21, 2011.

All entries into the tournament will be managed here at Joy of Tournaments.

Facilities. Cambridge Rindge and Latin School remains unavailable due to ongoing renovations.  The tournament will again be decentralized with each of the five different competitions located around the Harvard campus. The response to the new facilities last year was very positive because it made each tournament more compact, required less walking around in the cold, and was far more comfortable than crowding everyone into CRLS.  As our search for the best facilities continues, small schedule adjustments and changes in entry limits may be required. All such information will be posted on this site.

E-registration! After experimenting with this process for several years, we now feel comfortable enough with the e-registration process that we strongly encourage all schools to participate.  To that end, we will offer an across-the-board discount of 5% for schools who use the e-registration process.  This process will save considerable time and headaches on your arrival in Cambridge. To participate schools must have submitted an accurate and complete entry and fully paid their fees. Registration materials will be distributed via email or delivered to your local hotel.

Computers in the Extemp Prep Room! The NFL has changed its rules to allow computers and we will do so as well. Please be aware that we cannot guarantee that there will be sufficient electrical outlets in the prep room, and there is no access to the University Internet system in the prep room.

Mutual Preference Judging in Lincoln Douglas Debate. Due to popular demand, we will utilize an MPJ system similar to that we have used in the policy debate tournament for the last several years.  Joe Vaughn from Scarsdale High School will be assisting the tab room staff in instituting this new system.

New Venue for Congressional Debating. The preliminary sessions of Congressional Debate will be held in one building on the Lesley University campus.  The building is next to the Porter Square subway stop — one more stop from Harvard Square on the Red Line.  It is about a 15 minute walk from the Science Center and an 8 minute walk from the Policy Debate tournament venue [Hilles].

What do you need to do now? Some of our hotels fill up early, so you may wish to make reservations now. Other than that, watch this web site for future announcements. The site will be ready to take your entries on December 1, 2010.

Sincerely yours,

Sherry HallDallas Perkins, Jr.

Competition Rules, Procedures, & Eligibility

Due to scheduling conflicts, no student may enter more than one of the following four tournaments. This includes Extemporaneous Speaking and Lincoln-Douglas. Students must choose between extemp and LD.

The Policy Debate Tournament
There will be two divisions, varsity and junior varsity, of two-person, switch-sides, cross-examination debate, on the national topic. We encourage coaches to enter students in the division that best approximates their skill and experience level, and we leave that judgment up to you. Time limits will be 8-3-5, with ten minutes preparation time per team. In order to maximize opportunities to participate, we must require that all teams have two members: no “mavericks.” Both members of the team must attend the same school.

Vital Stats: Prelims– Varsity: 7, Junior Varsity: 6. Elims–Double Octafinals, both divisions. Entry Limit: Schools limited to 4 teams across both divisions; this will hopefully be raised as we secure more rooms. The two divisions will have to be balanced in size; if this does not occur “naturally,” we may have to negotiate and will appreciate your flexibility.

The Public Forum Debate Tournament
There will be two divisions of public forum debate, varsity and junior varsity, on the February NFL topic, and using NFL time format and rules. We encourage coaches to enter students in the division that best approximates their skill and experience level, and we leave that judgment up to you. Both members of the team must attend the same school.

VITAL STATS: Prelims: 6 (Varsity and Junior Varsity) Elims: Triple Octafinals for Varsity, Double Octafinals for JV. No Entry Limits.

The Speech Tournament
We are happy to announce that the Harvard Speech Tournament has been selected as a bid-qualifier for the National Individual Events Tournament of Champions.  The tournament will feature competition in five events:

  • extemporaneous speaking (no foreign/domestic split),
  • original oratory,
  • dramatic interpretation,
  • humorous interpretation,
  • duo interpretation.

The schedule should allow responsible students to enter two of these events, and it is not unheard of to enter three. However, one person may not compete on two different duo-interpretation teams. NFL rules will govern all competitions. It is our understanding that these rules forbid scripts in interpretation events,and  oratory or interpretation pieces which were performed last year in NFL events.  We will allow computers in the extemp prep room this year as the NFL has changed its policies regarding computers.  We make no guarantees about access to electrical outlets in the room, and no access to the Harvard Internet services will be provided.

VITAL STATS: Prelims: 4. Elims: Octafinals (top 56 contestants), Double-Octafinals for events with more than 300 entries (last year DI broke to doubles).

The Lincoln-Douglas Debate Tournament
There will be two divisions, varsity and junior-varsity. Both will use the January-February NFL topic.  We will utilize a mutual preference judging system.

VITAL STATS: Prelims: 6. Elims: Triple-octas in both divisions (top 64). No Entry Limit.

The Congressional Debate Tournament
The Harvard National Congress (HNC) is directed by Brent Pesola (brentpesola@bellsouth.net) and Jason Wysong (jcwysong@gmail.com). Instructions regarding bills and resolutions will ONLY be available ATFER 12:00 NOON, ON FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2011. Please do not call Harvard! If you have any questions about the HNC (other than “When can we get the bill titles?”) you should email Brent atbrentpesola@bellsouth.net Note that the link to get titles and assignments (after February 4) is located at the bottom of the entry form page at Joy of Tournaments for the Congressional Debate tournament. 

FULL TEXT OF ALL BILLS/RESOLUTIONS IS REQUIRED. See details on the Congress Registration Page.


The deadline for entry and legislation submission into the Harvard National Congress is FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 2011.

VITAL STATS: Prelims: 3 three-hour sessions. Semi-Super Congress (top 108) Sunday. Super Congress (top 24) Monday. There will be 12 Prelim Houses, 400 contestants. Entry Limit: Schools limited to 15 entries. Note that schools may enter 9th graders separately by creating a “Junior” school entry, even if the high school is technically 9th-12th graders. This eliminates an unfair advantage for schools whose 9th graders are at a separate campus. You may then enter up to 15 on the “Junior Team,” and up to an additional 15 on the regular school entry. Two school registration fees will need to be paid and the entries may not be combined to determine judge needs.

General Tournament Rules
Without objection from school officials, unaffiliated entries are welcome in all tournaments. However, debate and duo team members must attend the same school. Furthermore, unaffiliated entrants must submit full payment by mail on or before Wednesday, February 16, 2011. All judges provided by schools must be qualified, which at a minimum means a high school diploma. Any complaints about judge qualifications must be addressed to the tournament director prior to or immediately after the competition involved. All tournament directors have been authorized to impose penalties against schools whose judges do not appear for the rounds to which they have been assigned. The individual events tournament director will be prepared to enforce NFL rules if objections are brought to her attention in a timely manner.

Registration, Judging, & Fees

Entry Procedures
You must enter via this web-site. The web site will begin accepting your entries on December 1, 2010. You are responsible for entering your school and student information, and also for getting the spelling and event information correct. After you have entered the information, you should verify your entry and print out a copy of your invoice.

The deadline for Policy, Lincoln Douglas, Public Forum, and Individual Events entries is February 15, 2011. The deadline for entry into the Harvard National Congress tournament is January 24, 2011. Please note that the entry deadline for student congress is earlier than the deadline for the rest of the Harvard tournament. The fees for your entry will be set by midnight February 16, 2011. You will be responsible for paying the full entry fee for any entries dropped after that date.

Due to the decentralization of the tournament, we are requiring that you provide a cell phone number for each of your judges when you enter them. We ask that you cooperate with this requirement to allow us to track down missing ballots. Additionally, it is extremely important that you provide a working email address where we can contact you with updated information about the tournaments you are entered in, such as where you should report on Saturday morning, and any changes in entry limits.

Paying Fees and Completing Registration
Our e-registration system makes it possible for schools that have provided accurate entry information and paid their fees in advance to receive their registration materials by email. We strongly encourage all schools to take advantage of e-registration and will offer a five percent discount to schools who do so.

For those schools that must pay their fees in person and/or make emergency corrections to their entries or judges, we will conduct a live registration at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge, 575 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02139, from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm.  If you have not tried e-registration before, this is a really good year to give it a try as the in-person registration will not be nearly as convenient.

STUDENTS FROM SCHOOLS WHICH DO NOT COMPLETE REGISTRATION, WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO COMPETE.Each school must register either through e-registration or in person. It is important that the persons registering be prepared to confirm all details of their school’s entry, judging, local contacts, etc., and be prepared to pay the tournament fees. We reserve the right to exclude contestants from competition if their school fails to register. This means that if you do not particpate in e-registration, you must come to the Hyatt for registration by 10:00 pm or we will drop your contestants from the tournament.  If your travel to Cambridge is unavoidably delayed, please call Dallas Perkins at 617-306-4514.

It will be best to pay your fees by mail. You may obtain an invoice by downloading it from the web site.  Checks should be made payable to “Harvard Debate.”  They should be sent to: Harvard Debate, 490 Adams Mail Facility, Cambridge, MA 02138.

We understand that recent economic turmoil has seriously strained your budgets.  We want to do our part to accomomodate as many contestants as possible in these difficult times.  To that end, fees will again remain at their 2008 levels.  Additionally, schools that participate in e-registration will receive a five percent discount.
Fees will be as follows:

  • Varsity Policy Debate Teams – $160.00
  • Junior Varsity Policy Debate Teams – $140.00
  • Public Forum Debate Teams — $140.00
  • Lincoln-Douglas Entries – $120.00
  • Individual Speech Events – $60.00
  • Duo Interpretation Teams – $75.00
  • Student Congress – $75.00
  • School [Account Management] fee — $50.00
Each two policy debate teams, each three LD contestants, each three public forum teams, each five speech and each ten congress entries must be accompanied by a qualified judge. No person can cover entries from different tournaments. All judges must be available for all preliminary rounds, the first elimination round, and for one round beyond elimination of the last contestant from the school that the judge represents in the tournament. All judges must be qualified, which at a minimum means a high school diploma. All schools providing judges for the three debate tournaments should be flexible as to which division judges are assigned. Schools entering students in junior varsity divisions should expect that some of their judges will be needed to cover junior varsity rounds. First year judges will generally be assigned to the junior varsity division.

Hired judging will be available for schools unable to cover the above requirements. The costs will be as follows:

  • Policy Debate Teams – $160.00 per team not covered
  • Public Forum Debate Teams — $100.00 per team not covered
  • Lincoln Douglas – $80.00 per entrant not covered
  • Speech – $30.00 per entry not covered
  • Student Congress – $30.00 per entrant not covered