Heaps fun with debates and stuff: Melbourne Mini starts off the Down Under Worlds Prep

When debating against Australians, Europeans are often disadvantaged

From December 2nd to 4th Melbourne Mini demonstrated that the world best institutions prepare for the upcoming WUDC in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, gathering 60 teams in 6 pre-rounds without the need to hype their prestige. Stefan Zweiker reports from Down Under.

The most prestigious tournaments actually take place in Australia, of course. Cambridge and Oxford can have the northern hemisphere if you like, but the Australian record in Worlds and World rankings does not play second fiddle to the British. However, I have the impression that nobody cares too much about prestige anyway. Melbourne Mini shows that the high level Worlds preparation can also be an enjoyable tournament with a relaxed schedule and lots of bar tabs.

Coming to Melbourne is a welcoming experience if the sun shines bright from the sky, the flight is on time and under the circumstances that very decent crash is being provided by the convenor himself, which means saving a money in the expensive city on the Yarra River. While domestic debaters were assumed the ability to find accommodation for themselves, the fact that not many international participants make it to Melbourne had the welcomed side effect of an extra treatment. Beside teams from Otago, Tokyo and Alaska the 60 team field was mainly made up by the future Worlds contingents of Australian Universities. The tournaments Melbourne Mini and Sydney Mini, both held at the beginning of the southern summer are the last domestic preparation for Australian teams before the World Debating Championships in Manila this year.

The clear focus towards Worlds meant that the tournament was of course held in BP instead of Australs which is also a prevalent format in down under. Usually the first half of a debating year is dedicated to Australs, in the second half most institutions switch to BP. At Mel Mini the teams broke to semis after 6 rounds. The excellent final was clearly dominated by the winning Team Black and Gold (Amit Golder and Kiran Iyer) from Monash University.

Melbourne presented itself from the best side with gorgeous summer weather the entire weekend

The CAs Viktor Finkel (current Worlds Champion) and Kristen Price (Australs 2011 Winner) were responsible for the quality of adjudication in the tournament and they attached importance to the teams handing in feedback forms each time after the call. Melbourne Mini was a very pleasant tournament to go to as from an adjudication perspective. Usually low quality bin rooms tend to be a pure nightmare where each second of a boring 7min speech slows down. On the contrary, here, the high standard of this tournament made sure that judges hardly ever yawned during the debates, even though the socials gave good reason to stay up late.

If this sounds similar to a good standard European tournament so far and you want to keep this impression, skip the following points:

  1. Bartabs to the people. The convenors’ love to the free flow of beer was impossible to overlook at Melbourne Mini. If Friday and Saturday nights did not supply enough of liquid goods, an open bar on Sunday night made sure that none of the tournament days was ended too early. The second chorus of Men at Work’s “Land Down Under” is hereby confirmed.
  2. 10am is early enough. They managed intelligently to finish two rounds on Friday, which allowed them to reduce the maximum number of rounds per day to 3, serving breakfast (!) on Saturday and Sunday not before 10am. Not many schedules come close to this level of comfort. Damn, why do we Europeans always have to hurry in the morning?
  3. Chilling at Yarra River.

    Chilling at Yarra River.

    Down Under debaters are awesome. It did not feel like an over-competitive tournament where the best teams of the world show off their skills. Instead the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. (And yes, of course this paragraph’s main purpose is to ingratiate with Aussie debaters hoping to see at least some of them at VIV in March)

In conclusion Melbourne Mini was an awesome and fun tournament if you like (1) very good debates, (2) Bartabs (3) relaxed schedules and friendly people. In my opinion this amalgamation is exactly what makes a debater happy. Was a cool tournie down there.

Melbourne might not sound very close for Europeans but the distance to Vienna was not really an obstacle for DKWien (or DKWorld?) this time. The reason is not an inveterate love to long haul flights and the ignorance for geography but rather the fact that the author of this article (Stefan Zweiker) is currently residing in Sydney. Thus, hopping over to Melbourne for a tournament weekend was not a big deal. The Sydney perspective of this article has another important implication, though. Even I know that Melbournians would love to read it, writing that Mel Mini was a better tournament than Sydney Mini is still considered a little bit unfair given that Sydney Mini 2011 has not yet happened.

Melbourne Mini, Dec 2-4 2011; 6 Rounds BP, 7min Speeches, Semis, Final; Motions:

THW sell uranium to India

THBT Facebook should remove pages that joke about rape

THW use drastic action against Syria

THW break up companies too big to fail

THBT marriage licenses should be renewed periodically

THW ban all blood sports involving animals

Semis: THW allow health care professionals to opt out of an abortion including before and after care

Final: THBT the US should support Palestinian statehood (redefined as UN perspective by 1st Prop)

 

DKWien Gamut

As a preparation for worlds Melbourne Mini was definitely a pure debating event despite the rather relaxed schedule. Crash was only provided to international participants but it was a lot nicer than the rough minimal hospitality that is known from British tournaments. Only few international debaters found their way to the southern side of the world, but apparently Vienna was there. In terms of organisation Melbourne Mini did a good job. There was always enough food around between the debates and the only minor flaw seemed to be their improvable relationship with campus security which enforced the building closing times very strictly (in my opinion they should have bribed them, but that does not seem to be so common here).

Stefan Zweiker