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tallinnWhile sitting in the back two rows of the announcement hall waiting for briefings to start – yes, St Andrews, along with the rest of the SSDC, are the cool kids – Penny, who has far more experience of these things than me, said that the quality of the blog increases whenever something goes disastrously wrong, so I suppose I should be hoping that I don’t have anything to write about at all. In a somewhat related note, all of us managed to get to Tallinn with our luggage and none of us ended up going to the hospital to get stitches, which shouldn’t be as remarkable an achievement as it seems.

The hotel is on the beach, which is pleasant, and is definitely a piece of Soviet Brutalist architecture, which I suppose will grow on us. It also contains a few things which seem innocuous but will nevertheless probably act as traps for debaters in their weaker moments, ranging from a kids soft-play area (probably) to an expensive minibar (almost certainly) and even a casino (there will be at least one person).

The OrgComm have provided us with excellent food and facilities, and have taken to shouting at us through megaphones whenever they need to get anywhere or do anything, a tactic that, while startling at first, is proving reasonably effective at getting us to stop adopting the standard debating habit of wandering around like a herd of cats. The volunteers, especially, are almost excessively efficient, providing full table service at mealtimes at astonishing speed. We have taken to reminding the freshers that it really isn’t always like this.

Eventually some debating happened, and it went like this.

Motions:

R1: THBT the United States should ban extremist groups (e.g. the KKK, Nazi groups)

R2: THBT the WTO should allow developing countries to impose policies aimed at protecting domestic industries, even at the expense of harming international trade.

R3: THR the rise of ‘Sharing Culture’. (‘Sharing Culture is a culture which encourages the frequent posting of both mundane and intimate details of one’s life on social media platforms, and the commenting and liking of others’ activities)

Teams:

Runcan (1st, 2nd, 3rd)

Ruth had taken to referring to the partnership as “St Andrews A for effort”, a self-deprecating nickname that stopped being applicable round about the time they took a first ahead of a Cambridge team in Round One. Duncan referred to the day simply as “uncomparative”, but ending on straights seems to be the cause for quiet optimism.

Wesmon (3rd, 2nd, 3rd)

Wesley has seemingly been on some kind of personal quest for improvement at debating, leading to him starting a sentence with “So, at Botswana Worlds…” as if that is an entirely normal in conversation and receiving judge feedback on Round One for the entire lunch break. Regardless, Wesley described his day as “banterific.”

Kimon declined to comment.

On the judging front, Sam is modestly proud of going through an entire day without relentlessly splitting with chairs or rolling a Chief Adjudicator, putting her solidly above average on the traditional St Andrews judging scale.

Richard has found the Estonian equivalent of Tennent’s, but found out Estonian TV isn’t showing the Liverpool match. He was sad.

The Day In A Song, According To Ruth

The final recurring feature of the blog will be what I’m going to call the “Wesley Of The Day”, where I can record for posterity a moment, story or quote that Wesley has done or said that has been particularly Wesleyish, hopefully leading to us developing a collection of the most Wesley things that have ever been Wesleyed. Anyway, here is your first instalment:

Is there a version of Tinder just for debaters? Because if so let me know.”

tallinn2

 

— fringe guy

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Tallinn EUDC 2017

Hello! As we wait at the dawn of another year’s European Universities Debating Championships, we’re excited to maintain that peculiarly St Andrean tradition of documenting our adventures here on this blog. Before any of that, though, we can introduce our contingent:

St Andrews A – Ruth Batten and Duncan Bowyer (or, as they shall now be known, “Runcan”)

St Andrews B – Wesley Garner and Kimon Sourlas-Kotzaminis (henceforth “Wesmon”)

Judges – Sam Baker and Richard Hunter

We also have a variety of brilliant alumni who will be serving as Independent Adjudicators, who we will happily claim when they all break as judges.

See you in Estonia!

 

— fringe guy

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It’s all done now, we are sitting in an airport with weird signs ready to go home. This blog post is written in an attempt to give closure and not end with a blog post about food from George. As such it is mostly a series of random commentary about the final days of Worlds.

There is one particular sign next to us that rather bizarely seems to be attempting to console us with the claim that “There is an 87% chance that your next destination is sunnier than the Netherlands.”The sentiment is indeed appreciated even if the destination is London for now.

ha

Meditation center.jpg

Penny is thinking about writing a David Foster Wallace style commentary about debating and taking the joke about The Hunger Games to its conclusion. During the tournament Worlds was repeatedly compared to The Hunger Games. And by repeatedly, we mean that before each round there was a slide that said ‘may the odds be forever in your favor’ etc etc. Who is president Snow? Who are we being oppressed by? Are we meant to be stopping Worlds, a humiliating ritual that makes kids fight each other but instead we enjoy it? Are we all president Snow by participating in the affair?

Best part of final days was two things. One, the incorporation of music into the announcements. Finalist teams even got to choose their own song to enter the stage with. Oxford A’s choice of the Imperial March was particularly fun. Then they announced the winners and top ten speakers to very good music as well such as “We are the champions” and “Final Countdown”.

Second, the keynote speaker who was a supreme court judge. He was excellent. None of the usual hyperbole about the importance of debating. He told us we speak too fast, we have too many unimportant ideas in our speeches and frankly he would rather not have debaters in his courtroom. At the end he said and I quote “As my son is involved in the organization I thought to myself, it would have been good to have a similar event organized 40 years ago when I was young but then I remember we were busy throwing stones at the policemen”. Translation? go do more important things with your youth than sitting in lecture theaters. He did tell us were smart though which is nice of him.

This blog will probably not be updated till Euros (bar a massive catastrophe) in the summer but thanks for reading.

-Xoxo George and Penny

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So today there were out rounds in which only the great Stuart Conlin, i.e. the only successful one, carried the flag for St Andrews. The rest of us had a relatively relaxed day watching the excellent GUU A. Due to the lack of emotionally charged melodrama that usually provides the material for this blog it has fallen to me, The Other (non-breaking) judge with the foot that hurts to find something to write about (the final diagnosis decided by me is that I pulled something in my foot, but who knows). I sit here during the build up to a social nursing a glass of mediocre Chilean Cabernet Sauvingon watching one member of the contingent lightly bullying another for not going to the correct private school (#justStAndrewsThings). I feel that this is a time to reflect on the experiences of the past couple of days, debating in general, and possibly, I will touch on the modest broader themes of life, the universe and everything.

So today has been a fairly standard day at an international competition, with many interesting things happening to the members of this contingent, some of which may make it into this blog, and others, which may for one reason or another, be censored, redacted, thought to be not funny, or thought too embarrassing to be mentioned, and therefore will have to be discovered by readers by word of mouth or alternatively, Facebook messaging. I however, will focus on what happened to me, because, I am the most  important actor in this blog.

This is my second international competition, I attended the Vienna Euros in 2015, and while Vienna was lovely as the weather was more cooperative back in those heady pre-Brexit days, at Worlds you get a completely free day with which you can explore, travel and most importantly, have a lie-in, a luxury which you are not afforded at Euros. I, and my wonderful roommate Penny, used this opportunity to visit the perpetually interesting city of Amsterdam. You may have read in the last blog how other members of our delegation also visited Amsterdam, however there is a distinction to be made between arriving on a train, eating some food, walking round the red-light district, and then returning to the train station  to go back to the Hague, and actually visiting what is one of the most enchanting of European capitals, experiencing, and taking in, its spirit and culture (That is to say that Penny and I went a bit earlier in order to visit a museum and eat some Pancakes so feel like we did ‘more’ Amsterdam). As a competitive debater, I really want to point out that we beat them at touristing. That being said a bacon, syrup and sugar pancake is not to be sniffed at… at all. In addition, the Rembrandts, Vemeers, and assorted historical artifacts that are the cream of the  Rijksmuseum are treasures that was a privilege to experience. Also in Amsterdam was this great cheese shop, from which I got a bread roll with green pesto, rocket, aged Gouda and beef carpaccio which I think made my week. The food at the competition has been… well…go back and read other posts. In terms of recommendations to anyone with free time in the Netherlands,  (though it was not in Amsterdam, but The Hague, where this competition is based, and where I also had a little time to go a wondering) Vermeer’s ‘The girl with the Peal earring’ was mesmerizing for me.

I’m afraid I might not satisfy our readers desire for debating gossip or whatever, just know that debating is still happening, this competition has been well run and enjoyable. I now have to go and watch the new Sherlock

– xoxo Tipsy George

 

 

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They thought they could keep me down. They were wrong.

They thought they could belittle judging, say stuff like “Stuart’s still here” to imply I wasn’t doing anything. They thought it was all about them.

But now I have become more powerful than they ever imagined.

I have brought peace and justice to my new empire.

 

Grab a drink, sit by the fire and let me tell you about the cataclysm that was Break Night.

Buses for Break Night/New Year’s Celebration left at 10.30 from the strange purgatory-like Holiday park in which we now live. There was a long queue for buses back to the park from the debates and we didn’t arrive back until around 9, leaving ourselves 1.5 hours to get changed, pre drink and get back on the buses. This was a challenge that some may have entered into a little too enthusiastically – alcohol wasn’t allowed onto the bus, which forced Sam Maybee to quickly down his Heineken in front of dozens of cheering onlookers.

The interesting thing about Sam is that if you put 8 beers in him in one hour he becomes very chatty and says a lot of things to many people he probably shouldn’t. Let me cut a long story short – Sam told an unidentified Durham debater on the bus to the party that I had a crush on her. In a totally related incident, I broke Sam’s glasses. He is now blind. He has not taken this well.

maybee

Meanwhile, everyone else was partaking in alcohol consumption in the venue in the lead up to New Year and the Break. Gillis was telling everyone how great they were; he received feedback from a judge about one of the closed rounds which he cannot remember. George was telling everyone he hadn’t been this drunk in years; some amorous debaters rubbing against him cured him of this. Penny was throwing around the black coins you had to buy your drinks with like it was the end of the world. Duncan was doing Duncan things. Sam was blindly feeling his way around the walls.

New Year came and went, as did the break. Unfortunately no St Andrews teams made it through: this was disappointment all took with their usual class and fortitude. Glasgow broke 12th though, which is insane, so good for them. The finals to come will be immense.

We drank into the small hours of 2017, puzzled by the indoor smoking area, the nonsensical coinage system and the extortionate prices (7.50 euros for a spirit mixer), drowning the memory of 2016 as best we could. The first morning wake up of 2017 was one of sore heads and dry mouths.

In a ridiculous decision, Sam, Gillis and I decided to go to Amsterdam today. We tried to go early; we got there at 4pm. We explored the Red Light district, ate some food, were nearly killed by a tram and met up with Penny and George. It was a good day.

group-picture-at-amsterdam

Oh, and Dan and Beckie are here too.

Your friend,

“Officially one of the world’s best judges” Stuart Conlin

 

 

 

 

 

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We are writing the blog now between round 8 and 9 because there isn’t really time tonight. Importantly we don’t have to wait till the end of the day because there are no results to give you so we are just giving some general news, and if any teams or judges break tonight we will let you know tonight or tomorrow morning. The debate news is that people are stressed, sad, feeling injustice, anger and all of the above. Backtabbing does not seem to have helped anyone in Scotland but we all have done it anyways. In this Worlds we are all irrational actors. ONE MORE ROUND. SOON.

So what else is there?

I feel like the blog posts have been written by people in bad moods who are stressed, so we might have skipped over the excellent aspects of the WUDC as exists for everyone.

  • Transportation and reg have been excellent and very efficient.
  • Rounds have been on time. There have been no major delays and this is due to the hard work of volunteers and tabmasters. This has made us way less stressed than we could have been.
  • SSDC have been a bunch of lovely people as always. We have been a close knit family that support each other through thin and thick. We are going to have a house party tonight before break and probably sing ‘Flower of Scotland’.

(Gillis’s note: in my mind, the best part coming out of the ‘Debating Shitposting’ group is the following conversation:

-‘Why can’t we all be friends?’

-‘because then we would be SSDC.’

In a competition that has been, ahem, a bit of a competitive disappointment for me the support, friendship and warm sense of humor that has awaited us coming back to the Scottish corner of our announcement hall has been fantastic.)

General news:

-We saw Floris today early morning in the announcement room and me and Gillis both agree he was dressed like a man ready to break or at the very least be in the livestream. Me and Gillis have done our one productive positive act of today by heckling him till he tucked in his shirt. He said ‘no, go away’ but the next time we saw him the shirt was tucked in. Yay, we won. We will take full credit if Floris breaks. Or anyone from Leiden, for that matter. ( Yeah, yeah, the only thing we are winning this tournament. HAR HAR HAR.)

-Penny and Gillis tried to drown their sorrows in a Starbucks cappuccino after another sketchy call (I promise, we’re actually decent at this sport). We both stated our real names to the baristas, breaking with Gillis’s usual policy of using an alias. The results are what you’d expect. #ESLErasure

starbs

-George feels that he had not in fact tied his shoe laces too tight in the first place but instead had pulled a muscle.

– Stuart is still here. Being a legend. As always. (Stuart’s words.)

Lastly, Beckie has finished colouring in – here are the results:

colouring in.jpg

Until next time. Stories and photos of break night forthcoming.

-XOXO Gossip Peggy

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hello from The Hague! Another day of highs and lows for the St Andrews contingent is coming to a close. At this time of writing we are about to sit down and eat our cottage-made Mac and Cheese (we’ve all given up on the food provided by the Org Comm). Before that, here’s a short description of today:

Motions:

R1: THB that post-genocidal regimes should destroy all places of extermination (for example, death camps)

R2: THW allow members of the armed forces to form labour unions

R3: THB sport leagues should significantly tax and redistribute from wealthier teams to poorer teams

R4: In areas with rapidly rising property prices, THW suspend all restrictions of property development that are not health and safety requirements (for example, environmental zoning regulations, building height restrictions, and regulations on the appearance of buildings)

R5: THB The Netherlands should allow citizens to purchase additional votes from the government at a cost proportional to their wealth (for example, one additional vote for 1 % wealth)

R6: THB the world would be a better place if women from privileged backgrounds turned down any benefits arising from AA programs

 

St Andrews A: Straights (2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 1st, 1st)

I think an outside observer could know how Dackie are getting on  without knowing their results, just by studying their behaviour. After taking a third on round 4 in what was described as a self-inflicted injury, both of them spoke in hushed voices and moved with noticeably less confidence. However, after their remarkable back-to-back wins that have taken them back to straights, Dan has returned to behaving like the human Duracell Rabbit we all know and love, and Beckie’s colouring in her book more enthusiastically than ever. To make matters better, their last round ended with most other teams salty about the call. As the expression goes, “schadenfreude is the only true joy”.

St Andrews B: -5 (2nd, 4th, 3rd, 1st, 4th, 3rd)

The picture below is an actual screenshot of the judge feedback Pennis gave to their chair in round 5:

blog

In unrelated news, if anyone has any suggestions for meaningful extracurricular activities suitable for 22-year-old men, please email those to gillisholgersson@hotmail.com.

St Andrews C: -2 (1st, 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 2nd, 3rd)

The two members of Samcan are both doing their first international tournament, and are sometimes having a wonderfully fresh perspective on the. For example, they seem to think that their highlight of the day was not their competitive success, but rather that they met the founder of “Uncomparative debating memes for bin room teams” (link: https://www.facebook.com/binroomteams/?fref=ts). Regardless, their impressive results at Worlds should not be forgotten, especially because Sam is forced to do the tournament wearing a glitter-laced moon boot after he managed to break his ankle walking down a flight of stairs. As they say in Birmingham, “ahh, boss.”

Judges:

Stuart has still not managed to convince Veenu Goshwami to promote him to DCA.

George tied his shoes less tightly today.

In other news…

  • the approximate number of sandwiches we ate yesterday: 33.
  • MDG has, for some reason, started to introduce himself as ‘Mike Dunn’. The tab masters caught on, and he’s now on tab as Honest Mike Dunn.
  • Penny, in search for her spirit animal, chased a dog around the caravan park today. One St Andrews member muttered ‘this is why people vote for Wildeers’ in response.

Introducing a new blog section, the Phrase of the Day. Today: ‘cheese on cheese’

Meaning: there are only so many things you can do with the insane amount of bread we’re given each breakfast. A popular alternative is replacing butter with the spreadable cheese we’ve been given, and then putting gouda on top. This could quite plausibly be The Netherlands’ national food.

stuart-blog

Stuart, enjoying some cheese on cheese.

Until next time!

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