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Judge Roles & Descriptions

Odyssey of the Mind is an all volunteer organization. It takes approximately 80 judges and 80 volunteers to run a smooth tournament and we count on each and every one to help make this a positive experience for the kids. To ensure teams are scored fairly, we require each team to provide a judge for tournament day so we can provide necessary training prior to the big day. A judge will need to be available for this role all day so there is consistent scoring. Simply stated, the teams, and very likely your children, have worked too hard not to be judged fairly. If you are a past or present supporter of the Odyssey of the Mind program please consider helping judge this year’s event. We have many different judging roles to meet your interests. 

Head Judge

The Head Judge for Long-Term or Spontaneous is the leader of the judging team. The Head Judge must keep the judging team on time and on task. (one per long-term judging team and one per spontaneous judging team)



The Head Judge reviews scoresheets, compiles scores and prepares the master scoresheet. He/she presents the scores to the team coaches and answers questions regarding the teams’ long-term scores. Should a coach raise an issue that the Head Judge cannot settle, the Head Judge then contacts the Problem Captain and has the Problem Captain take over. The Head Judge must be thoroughly familiar with the long-term problem and have the ability to handle people in a friendly, but firm, manner. The long-term Head Judge sometimes doubles as a Problem or Style Judge, but this does not allow very much time to return scores and talk with coaches, so in this event you may wish to schedule teams a little farther apart or allow longer breaks.



The Head Judge reviews the scoresheets to make sure the judges have filled them out correctly and, in verbal problems, that all the judges have recorded the same number of responses. The Head Judge compiles the scores and prepares the Master Scoresheet. The Head Judge designates who reads the problem to the teams, who checks that the correct team entered the room, and who chats with the team. The spontaneous Head Judge always scores the teams as well.

Problem Judges

(generally two or three per long-term judging team and one per spontaneous judging team)


The Problem Judge scores the team’s long-term solution. In a performance problem this is generally a subjective opinion and the Problem Judge generally scores all aspects of the solution except Style. In a technical problem the Problem Judge is usually assigned a specific area or task to observe and scores only that portion of the team’s solution. The Problem Judge gives his/her scoresheet to the Head Judge to compile onto the Master Scoresheet.



In verbal problems, the Problem Judge evaluates the team’s answers and interrupts the team if it repeats answers or gives inappropriate responses. In a hands-on problem, the Problem Judge generally scores some specific aspect of the problem.

Style Judges

(three per long-term judging team)


Style Judges receive the teams’ Style Forms from the Staging Area Judge and review them for accuracy and to learn which areas they are to score. The Style Judge scores these areas and gives the scored Style Form to the Head Judge for compilation onto the Master Style Form. Style Judges do not confer with each other to determine scores. Style Judges sometimes also serve as Problem Judges.

Staging Area Judge

(one or possibly two per long-term judging team)


The Staging Area Judge is the first official to greet the team in long-term. He/she puts the team at ease while reviewing the team’s paperwork. The Staging Area Judge forwards the paperwork to the appropriate long-term judges and inspects the team’s props, membership sign, etc. He/she evaluates the cost, the legality of the solution (if there are specific parameters), and whether items were made by the team members. The Staging Area Judge may ask the team members some basic questions in this regard but should pass along any concerns he/she has to the other judges for questioning after the team finishes its performance. The Staging Area Judge introduces the team to the Timekeeper. Sometimes the Staging Area Judge also serves as Timekeeper. If you are fortunate to have enough judges to have two Staging Area Judges, one can handle the paperwork while the other talks with the team, answers questions, and generally makes certain the team is at ease. This is helpful if your tournament is on a tight schedule.

Timekeeper & Announcer

(one per long-term judging team and one per spontaneous team)


The Timekeeper/Announcer is responsible for introducing the team to the audience and giving each team the exact amount of time allowed for the problem. It is critical that the Timekeeper be precise and exact in this regard.



The Timekeeper completes the Timekeeper’s Checklist (found in the problem materials) then introduces the team to the judges and the audience. In problems where a penalty for overtime is given, he/she keeps exact time of the presentation and assesses a penalty for teams that go overtime. In other problems he/she stops the team at the end of the 8 minutes.



The Timekeeper reviews the various times that will be given, e.g. think time, practice time, response time, and clearly tells each team when to begin and end each timed portion. The spontaneous Timekeeper often serves as a Spontaneous Problem Judge as well.

Score Entry & Score Checker

(two per long-term judging team and one for Spontaneous)


Score Entry judge collects and confirms scoring paperwork from the judges plus team paperwork. The Score Entry judge enters the scores into the system then confirms the judges have scored within the correct range for subjective categories and, objective scores are consistent among all Problem judges. Finally, the Score Entry judge generates a Score Room copy of the scores and hands to the Score Checker along with the scoring and team paperwork.


Score Checker verifies the Score Room copy against the scoring paperwork from the judges. Once confirmed, the Score Checker lets the Score Entry judge know they can generate a Coach Copy and a Head Judge copy of the scores for the Problem Captain to review with the coach. After the coach has reviewed and accepted all objective scores, the Score Checker sends the Score Room copy, scoring paperwork and team paperwork to the Score Room to be entered.


In spontaneous, a Score Entry judge is stationed in the Spontaneous Judges’ Break Room and enters scores before they are sent to the Score Room to be checked.

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