Saturday, February 2, 2008

The First Competition

After getting a briefing on British Parliamentary style from Patrick at the ESU, we headed to Inner Temple for our first round in the activity. Though we still haven't quite figured out what Inner Temple is (a society of barristers, perhaps?), we were suitably impressed with the grandeur of the hall in which the tournament was hosted. Stained glass set into high ceilings light up heralds of notable members in an imposing room filled with debaters in suits and ties. A little bit nicer than the digs we're used to.

If you're looking for our final result, you can skip to the end. For those of you curious about how it went down, read on.

Our first round started out well enough - we were the first prop in a round with teams from Royal Holloway, Cambridge, and LSE on a topic about providing developing countries with nuclear technology. As we tried tried to figure out what it is we were doing, we also somehow managed to come in third. Happy to get the point, we moved on to the second round where we promptly took the four. In fairness to us, the resolution called for the abolition of private health care in the uk - where the nhs provides universal care, for all you American readers. Apparently, this ridiculous idea isn't really a topic of discussion here, which is probably good since the nhs is overburdened as is. We were the second prop. Badness ensued.

The night finished out, or rather started, at a pub where two of our judges told us we were better than our records indicated. This helped a bit, but the drink tickets and the finger sandwiches helped a little bit more. We were starting to get the hang of the activity. Sure enough, the next morning saw us as the first prop on a resolution about digital file sharing - we were first prop and took the 1. The next two rounds brought closed adjudication, and we argued about citizen travel bans and the use of adultery in determining divorce settlements. Of course, we had no idea how these worked out for us and we wouldn't until the break was announced. We gathered for tea and the breaking teams were projected on a powerpoint. By this time, I'd already removed my tie and rolled up my shirtsleeves, convinced we would be watching the semifinals rather than competing in them. The first six teams appeared, and then...

7. ESU A

We woke up this morning and didn't drop a point - going straight firsts in our last three rounds. Our goals of a respectable showing having been met, we turned our sights to the next task: winning the semis.

Lucky for us, the Brits had to suffer their own version of an American debating an nhs topic- that the us government should pay reparations to the governments of Latin America whose democracies we subverted in the cold war. We were the second prop - a difficult spot on a tough resolution, but one that we had sympathy for.

It turns out that I'm writing this during the final round (though thankfully editing it on my computer later). We had a strong showing and surpassed our goals, but it still stings to watch finals and not be in it. Well, there's always Cardiff!


deb said...

Hello from the Seven-County-Mosquito-Control-District. (This is Charlie's Aunt - I'm famous - there's a play about me.)

We're following every step of your trip. Thanks for blogging about it.

Now I'm going to roam around and google some of the words you used, so I'm better able to play along from home, or maybe just understand what the hell you're talking about.

Good work.

Judith Strom said...

like deb i too enjoyed the info but had trouble understanding if you won or not? What is the 1? I hope Meredith is not making Darryl write all the blogs. really love to hear all the news keep up with the story of your adventure. No sight seeing yet? If meredith reads this mom is doing good, but my tatoo is taking forever to heal. keep up the good work. love from mom judith

Darryl said...

Apparently, writing blog posts while sleep deprived on an iPhone isn't the best idea!

We'll put up a full post soon on how British Parliamentary debate works, but the basic idea is that four teams enter the round, and they are ranked 1 through 4 by the judges. You get 3 points for taking first, 2 for second, 1 for third, and 0 for fourth. The positions are fairly confusing (as we discovered) and I'll let wikipedia try and explain it here.

Don't worry, Meredith is doing all the work in the debate rounds - I just happen to like writing in my time off.

Tom said...
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Tom said...

Hey guys,

I like your write up - I think even I understand a bit more about BP than I did before!

Inner Temple is one of the most pretigious debates over here so doing as well as you did was fantastic.

Cardiff will be much easier so I'll be expecting to see you guys in the finals over there (and with any luck meeting you in them)!

-Thomas (Rhul A team)