Sweden is definitely to be reckoned with in debating. If SSE breaking 2nd at Vienna IV 2012 should not be evidence enough, Lund graciously won this year’s Jacobs Open in Bremen in April. And now they have proven that they are most apt too in converting their renowned hospitality into a great tournament, the Stockholm IV 2013, from May 10th to 12th 2013. Read Andreas Prischl’s report on a most enjoyable tournament.
My gut feeling turned out right when I, during their tournament presentation at Berlin Worlds, felt that a tournament lasting for three days sure must be one that the organisers put a lot of effort into. It gives some extra appreciation to the semi finals and final and its speakers when people dress up a little and convene one more time just to listen to them. To the others, two days of undisturbed preliminary rounds and a disturbing break night can be seen as a rewarding prospect as well.
Stockholm was another IV that confirmed to me that I personally debate best when I am most relaxed and enjoying the tournament. Going to Sweden always means a lot to me, so I pleasantly anticipated the winter finally coming to an end when Stockholm IV was approaching. To get a strong dose of long-hour sunshine and some of the fine sights of Uppsala and Stockholm, I preceded our large contingent by two days. On Friday, the Viennese delegation finally teamed up in the sun-lit roofed courtyard of Stockholm Handelshögskolan (Stockholm School of Economics) to greet old friends and soon to-be ones. Vienna sent the amazingly large and amazingly amiable contingent of “Vienna Sissi’s Orangerie” with Melanie Sindelar and Stefan Zweiker, “Vienna Sissi’s Foyer” with Anika Nussgraber and Mark Etzel, “Vienna Sissi’s Bedchamber” with Madlen Stottmeyer and myself and “Zerg Rush” with Kira Shymanska and Christoph Jäger. Our two judges Karoline Lutz and Sabine Rainalter completed the contigent and may have perhaps even topped the others in loveliness.
On Friday late afternoon, it was finally time to let go of the first of many waves of sweet Swedish pastry and head towards debating. The CA team of Michael Shapira, Frederick Cowell and Ben Gladnikoff started off by giving an introduction on the types of motions that would await the debaters. The presentation slides are an excellent guide for new debaters.
IDEA and Youth in Action generously sponsored the event, so it was no wonder that the first motion was set to discuss EU policy. After a decent dinner in a comfortable place nearby, not too much time was spent on rejoicing or complaining about results, since at least another four rounds were still waiting next morning.
Those who went to bed early were punished by the troubles of falling asleep in a small room crowded with eight people, without fresh air due to a lacking window. A mediocre breakfast of ice-cold bread with jam, but no butter (a simple toaster could turn a bland slice of bread into a tasty sensation!) completed the tiny list of shortcomings of this wonderful tournament. I believe the organisers put that in on purpose, as they thought otherwise nobody would have believed them that they were in fact organising their very first competition themselves.
Saturday saw four rounds of debating, indeed nerve-racking and incredibly enjoyable motions, to the result of sheer joy, silent frustration, utter incomprehension of some calls and their explanations, founding new friendships across the debating floor, and increasingly better cooperating teams in the Viennese delegation. We knew CAs Michael and Fred from the Vienna IV 2013 as creative minds who set motions that are both novel and hard to win from both sides. Also Ben proudly saw his own clever and finely-tuned motion about mail order brides working out well, and each new round was another delight. As hinted before, I myself enjoyed debating out of a pleasant state of mind, and I grew increasingly proud of my team partner who finished off the tournament with the best or second-best speech I have ever seen her deliver, and that even from the whip position with which she had previously been uncomfortable.
Uncomfortable for certain was not the attire the boys of the Vienna delegation dressed up to the nines with for the gala dinner, another occasion to demonstrate how it pays off to combine a dinner jacket with a T-shirt in a DKW design. SSE hosted debaters and debatresses for a three-course dinner on tables with white table-cloths (another one of the many nice details worth the mention!). “The salad even has pieces of water melon in it!”, one of the Viennese debaters exclaimed in joy. Ben Gladnikoff explained to the guests how Swedes could survive a long, cold and dark winter even if they ran out of liquor supplies, “In Sweden, we can sing without drinking, but we can never drink without singing!”, and so the crowed tuned in.
Three of our four teams had been in bubble rooms that saw teams breaking in the last round, so the break announcement was listened to and watched with almost unbearable excitement. Have a look at the tab, and you will see only one of the many reasons it was desperately close for at least Stefan and Melanie. Our judge Sabine however broke to semis and saved the day. Knowing that the hostel room would not let us sleep unless we were really tired, we enjoyed the break night party.
On Sunday, some of us decided to skip watching the semis in order to get a view of the famous warship Vasa, the seventeenth-century flagship to-be of the Swedish navy that sank after not even travelling a mile. War was also the topic of the motion being discussed in the meantime at SSE, which asked whether this house as Arnold Schwarzenegger should accept to play a “Nazi SS Officer portrayed in a humane, positive light” in a film role (watch Semi 2 recorded by DKWien here). Damn, a motion perfectly suited for the Austrian teams! When we could not hide our disappointment about the results of some rounds, some of them called closely, we were told that we should ensure that there would be absolutely no question possible of us breaking in the future. We will, we will for sure, if only to debate such grand motions!
The final then saw a return of a EU policy motion, this time whether the EU should adopt the creation of an atheist society as one of its ultimate goals. The debate was opened by “SSE Riga A”, saw “Reds” in Opening Opposition, and in the second half “Berlin A” in Closing Government and “ULU Does Your Mother Know?” in Closing Opposition. By pointing out that in the long term it was the right thing to do, Berlin A with Dessilava Kirova and Kai Dittman won the inaugural Stockholm IV. Congratulations from Vienna!
The Viennese delegation still had some points in their “Been there, done that”-book to check and so we went to have Kötbüllar (meatballs) and Älgsteken (elk steak) for dinner. Another must was of course to see off the new and old friends in style, so we convened once more with our friends from RRIS from Israel and others to check on the rumours that in Sweden “öl” or “oil” does not taste oily at all.
We owe Stockholm School of Economics Debating Society massive thanks and great commendation for their first tournament. There were not many volunteers, but those present worked tirelessly and ceaselesslyto make it a great tournament for their guests, and they were cheerful all the time, smiling even while sweeping the floor. Co-Convener Johan Båge said that this is the normal mood for Swedes when they go crazy with sunshine setting in after a long winter. Well, then sure we will return next spring again! Co-Conveners Gustaf Lundgren and Johan and their team cared for so many details and their planning showed great consideration for their guests to have an outstanding tournament. Since Madlen had already reserved the attribute “cute” for Leiden in March, she had to come up with a new term describing the experience in Stockholm, and “lovely” just fits perfectly.
“We’ll be back!”
Stockholm IV 2013 Motions:
R1: THW completely abolish all subsidies and preferential treatment to the farming industry in the EU.
R2 Context Slide: You are a 19-year-old unemployed, poor and single woman being in a former Soviet state. You have little education, no obvious career prospects and few opportunities for economic advancement in your own country.
R2 Motion: THW register as a mail order bride in a Western Liberal Democracy.
R3: TH, which is the EU, would sue individuals, political groups and media that spread untrue and misleading information about the EU.
R4: TH, which is Israel, would immediately commence a major military intervention into Syria.
Round 5 Definition Slide: Explains the Giving Pledge campaign.
R5: TH believes that signatories of the Giving Pledge have a moral obligation to donate all the pledged money to the US government, and not any charitable organizations.
Semi-final: You are Arnold Schwarzenegger. You are presented a script in which you are asked to portray a SS Nazi Officer who is presented in a positive humane light. THW take on the role.
Final Definition Slide: Explains the concept of an anti-theistic atheist society.
Final Motion: THBT the EU should adopt the formation of a constitutional anti-theistic atheist society as one of its declared final goals.
Andreas Prischl / msi