BY MEHAK SHARMA

This weekend, 81 junior varsity and 98 varsity parliamentary teams will converge at Stanford University, squaring off for one of the most sought-after championships of the season. With an adjusted field size of 125 and a one-point bonus for 6 preliminary rounds, the tournament offers a great incentive for teams hoping to qualify to the Tournament of Champions: champions will receive 32 points.

Now in its thirtieth year, the Stanford Invitational has long been reputed for the high calibre of its competitors. This year, attendees will notice a few differences from past years, including the addition of an extra preliminary round for varsity teams, Internet use during prep time, and the elimination of topic strikes in favor of one announced topic each round. Like last year, Stanford will utilize an online ballot system.

Stanford is also known for generous elim breaks: this year, all 4-2s will clear-- with a cap of 64 varsity teams in outrounds, though full triple-octafinals are extremely unlikely.

Nevertheless, the competition will be fierce: attendees include champions and finalists from nearly every tournament this season, in addition to other successful teams. Both Santa Clara Dempsey-Cronin finalists, Los Altos’s third-ranked duo of Spencer Dembner & Steven Herman and Cupertino/Sequoia’s Kushagra Sharma & Shankara Srikantan, will be attending. Also in attendance are Evergreen’s second-ranked powerhouse duo of Basil Abushama & Nadia Cochinwala, who recently took the championship at Claremont’s Wolfpack Invitational as well as at the National Parliamentary Debate Invitational in November, Campolindo’s Conor Hanvey & Peter Moore, NPDI finalists, and Sonoma Academy’s Jack Greenberg & Liam Kolling, CSU Fullerton champions.

Along with these familiar partnerships, Stanford’s varsity field boasts some new pairings of high-ranked individuals. Bishop O’Dowd’s Shawn Cunningham, currently ranked fourth as an individual after claiming the championship title at Notre Dame, will be making an appearance with teammate Camille Porter-McAvoy, currently ranked twelfth with another partner. Irvington’s fourth-ranked Aditya Kaushik, University of the Pacific finalist, and Campolindo’s eighth-ranked Thomas Liao, NPDI semifinalist, have also paired together.

After a few tournament-free weeks, NorCal parli teams are gearing up to bounce back at one of the largest high school debate tournaments in the world. Preliminary rounds will begin at 8 A.M. both Saturday and Sunday, and later outrounds will take place on Monday.