One of the testimonies to Debattierklub Wien’s continual expansion was the high number of contestants that applied for speaking or judging at this year’s European Championship (EUDC) in Manchester and World Championship (WUDC) in Chennai. Same as for Belgrade Euros last year, we therefore needed an internal tournament to select our Euros and Worlds contingents. Thus DKW called for aid, and Harish Natarajan (current EUDC champion and Worlds 2014 CA) and Christine Simpson (EUDC finalist, Worlds semi-finalist and multiple CA) answered the call and joined us for the trials weekend from May 24th to 26th.
Friday started smoothly with the manufacture of the next batch of secret goodies to spread Viennese debate love to all mountains, valleys and indeed beaches of Debateland.
Have a look at the record of success of DKWien contingents at previous tournaments of this season, and you can guess that it was another tough and well-balanced competition. No one knew exactly what would await us until Christine briefed us on the procedures on late Friday afternoon. However, no battle of words ensued yet. Instead we let others take the role of the advance party on a video screen with a recorded debate. Judging this debate and giving a legible (!) written deliberation formed the adjudication side of the try-outs.
No more deferral could be allowed for when we convened again on Saturday early morning, for a long day full of debates was waiting. In the first two rounds, Christine and Harish put us in individual engagements instead of the team format we were used to. This was meant to check for particular strengths or weaknesses of speakers. As a result, everyone’s most obvious weakness was the lack of a team partner! These first two debates turned out a bit messy, but they were a sound reminder that debating is a team sport, and only the teamwork of a well-cooperating duo will carry their ideas to a win in a debate. The next step of the trials was then to test how well certain combinations of debaters would perform. In the third round and first team debate in the usual BPS format, Harish and Christine put some of the tried-and-tested team partners together.
At a usual tournament, a lot of time is used for making (important!) announcements, promoting upcoming tournaments on the circuit, finding rooms and setting up the tab or simply spent idly otherwise. This time, the lunch break was short, for the motto of the day was debate, debate and debate, since another three rounds of debating were waiting! The next rounds were set up in new and previously untested team combinations. Backtabbing and guessing what these combinations meant would have been one way to waste time that was scarce anyway. We could only have a very short glimpse at our two selectors’ meticulous spreadsheet elaborating on various combinations and new ways to test us. All we knew thus was that they had a carefully laid-out plan, so we were best advised to try and impress them!
Once in hitherto unexplored team combinations, it was an utter delight to see how well debating had evolved in my own year of absence on student exchange. More importantly even, these high-level and competitive debates were surrounded by an atmosphere of friendliness that was comparable to chatting with good friends. Preparing the debates in the short time of fifteen minutes was a vastly different experience with every new team partner and a good lesson to draw from for further competitions.
In the late afternoon, only two more combinations were left to test for Harish and Christine, so the others had the slack and joy of watching another good round. With that round No 6 on the banning or inclusion of revolutionary leaders from or in elections in post-revolutionary contexts being over, there was still one game left undecided: The UEFA Champions League final match between Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund. At unfortunately rather non-summerly temperatures we had dinner next to the Danube’s inner-city arm, whilst watching reporters on television giving up all attempts to not talk themselves into the frenzy of calling it a “historic” match every ten seconds. The match was not the only reason for a thrilling atmosphere after the long day of competition with results pending the next day.
No break yet? Exactly, the results were not ready yet, not even after some more hour-long deliberation by Christine and Harish, probably owing both to a close competition and their dedication to prudently set the best possible teams. Of course the absence of a break announcement did not hinder some to carry on the party like it was a break night!
Some indeed still showed some sleepy eyes when we convened again one more and final time on Sunday morning for brunch and the results. Only after they had descrambled the last remaining adjudication notes, Christine and Harish concluded which were the teams and judges to go to Euros and Worlds. Watching the two conferring just added on to the excitement, and listening to their actual announcement felt like listening to the famous words at Euros and Worlds, “Breaking 16th is …”. Having now artfully delaying telling the names, here they finally are:
Debattierklub Wien’s contingents for
—Manchester Euros 2013:
Vienna A: Christoph Jäger and Stefan Zweiker
Vienna B: Madlen Stottmeyer and Mark Etzel
Vienna C (Backup for a possible third team spot): Melanie Sindelar and Andreas Prischl
Judges: Melanie Sindelar, Andreas Prischl, Jakob Reiter, Anika Nussgraber and Elisabeth Vikydal
—Chennai Worlds 2014:
Vienna A: Madlen Stottmeyer and Stefan Zweiker
Vienna B (Backup for a possible second team spot): Melanie Sindelar and Andreas Prischl
Judge: Petra Knall
As with every break announcement, this was an experience of joy and most welcome surprise for some, and a sad disenchantment for others. Each one of them had shown their great debating aptitude at both this one and at previous tournaments, so I believe we can all carry this experience as a valuable lesson to future successes. Now that the results were out, Harish and Christine could eventually reveal their selection process. Impressed by their precise method, I trust them that these teams will work extraordinarily well together. Their remembrance of even Saturday morning’s debates and the ensuing feedback showed once again both Christine’s and Harish’s capability and dedication. DKW remains grateful to you two, thank you very much!
Debattierklub Wien EUDC & WUDC 2013/2014 Trials Motions:
R1 (individual): THW cease welfare payments to people in areas with little or no prospects of economic growth.
R2 (individual): THW ban extremist political parties.
All other rounds were normal team rounds.
R3: THBT the USA should end the use of armed military drones.
R4: THW ban children under the age of 18 from attending in any religious education, ceremonies, services, and similar activities.
R5: THW introduce minimum quotas for women on corporate boards.
R6: THW ban revolutionary leaders from running for office in post-revolutionary settings.