Breaks and Break Rounds

In Tabbycat, elimination rounds (sometimes called outrounds or the final series) are called “break rounds”, and the qualification of teams to compete in the elimination phase of a tournament is called the “break”.

About break categories

Tabbycat supports multiple and arbitrarily-named break categories. Most tournaments will have just one category, typically called “Open”, leading to the grand final. Some tournaments also have restricted-eligibility break categories, for example, for novice teams or teams for whom English is a second language.

Having multiple break categories is intended for tournaments where multiple parallel elimination phases derive from the same preliminary rounds (inrounds). It’s not for parallel but distinct competitions—for those, you should create distinct tournaments.

Break qualification rules

Tabbycat supports several break qualification rules, and each break category must be configured to use one of them. Most tournaments will use “Standard”, which is the default.

Rule name (string to use in importtournament CSV files) Description
Standard (standard) The top n teams break. This is the default, and most tournaments use this rule.
AIDA 1996 (aida-1996) The top n teams that are also in the top three teams from their institution break.
AIDA 2016 (Australs) (aida-2016-australs)

The top n teams that fulfil either of these criteria break:

  • They are in the top n teams overall, and in the top three teams from their institution.
  • They have at least as many wins as the nth-ranked team, and they are the top team from their institution.

If fewer than n teams fulfil either criterion, then the best teams not fulfilling the criteria are added to make n teams.

AIDA 2016 (Easters) (aida-2016-easters) As for AIDA 2016 (Australs), except that if fewer than n teams fulfil either criterion, then only the best teams who are in the top three teams from their institution are added to make n teams.
WADL division winners first (wadl-div-first) The division winners are taken first, then the best teams who did not win their division are added to make n teams.
WADL division winners guaranteed (wadl-div-guaranteed) The division winners are guaranteed to break, and the best teams who did not win their division are added to make n teams. (Teams are sorted in their original rankings, unlike the “division winners first” rule.)


The break generators are somewhat more complex than described in the above table: among other things, they also handle cases where there is a tie for the last place in the break, and for those break categories marked “general”, they will show where ineligible teams would have broken, had they been eligible.

Setting up break categories and rounds

For each break category in your tournament, you need to do three things:

  1. Create (and name) a break category
  2. Create break rounds for the category
  3. Set the eligibility of teams to compete in the category

If you only have one break category (open) and you create your tournament using the “Create New Tournament” page, simply enter the number of teams in the break (e.g., 8 if you’re breaking to quarterfinals). Tabbycat will create the break category and break rounds for you. You’ll still need to set the eligibility of teams though, as in (3) below. For any further break categories, you’ll need to do all three steps yourself.

If you create your tournament using the importtournament command or in Edit Database, you’ll need to do all three steps above yourself.

1. Creating break categories

If using the importtournament command, there is an example file, break_categories.csv, that you can copy and adjust. If using Edit Database, add categories under Break Qualification > Break categories.

Most of the fields are self-explanatory or described on the Edit Database form, except for one: “rule”, which sets the break qualification rule. Permissible values are described in Break qualification rules above. If using importtournament, be sure to use the correct string (in brackets in the table). The rule defaults to “Standard” (standard).


The “institution cap” field was removed in Tabbycat 1.0. All Australs break qualification rules are now hard-coded to a cap of three teams per institution.

2. Creating break rounds

You should create a round for every break round you intend to hold, including it in rounds.csv if using importtournament, or adding them under Tournaments > Rounds if using Edit Database. Be careful to set the following fields correctly:

  • Break category must be set to the relevant break category.
  • Stage must be set to “Elimination”.
  • The first elimination round must have its draw type set to “First elimination”.
  • All other elimination rounds must have their draw types set to “Subsequent elimination”.

3. Setting break eligibility

Once a break category has been created it will not have any teams eligible for it, even if it was marked as “Is general”. To edit the eligibility of teams for any break round go to the Breaks item in the left-hand menu for a particular tournament and then click Edit Eligiblity.

Here you can select “all” or “none” to toggle all team eligiblities or edit them using the tick boxes. Once you save it should return you to the main break page which will display the number of teams marked eligible.


Adjudicators can be marked as “breaking” on the Feedback page; clicking Adjudicators on the breaks page will take you straight there.

Generating the break

Unlike team or speaker standings, each category’s break (and the break ranks of teams) are not determined automatically and updated continuously. Instead each can be generated (and regenerated) as desired.

To do so go to the Breaks item in the left-hand menu and then click the white button that corresponds to the break category you’d like to determine the rankings for. When prompted, select Generate the break for all categories to display the list of breaking teams.

From this page you can update the breaking teams list for this break category (or all categories) as well as view and edit ‘remarks’ that account for cases in which a team may not break (such as being capped or losing a coin toss).


Please double-check the generated break before announcing or releasing it. Although the break generation code is designed to handle edge cases, we don’t test the code for such cases.

Creating draws for break rounds

Creating a draw for a break round proceeds as normal, except that the team check-in process is skipped. Instead, when you visit the check-ins page for that round it will have automatically determined which teams should be debating based upon the determined break for that category. Once a draw has been generated it will then use the relevant break ranks to create the matchups (ie 1st-breaking vs 16th-breaking, 2nd vs 15th, etc.). Subsequent break rounds will then also automatically determine matchups based on the previous round’s results and the initial break ranks of each team.

If the “break size” of a break category is not a power of 2, it will treat the first break round as a partial-elimination draw and only create a draw for the teams not skipping the partial-elimination round. Subsequent break rounds will then process as described above.