LIVE from The Cal Tournament!


My high school debate career was subsumed by the monster that is Theatre, but I still enjoy debate enough to go to a few tournaments every year. As a senior, The Cal Tournament will be the last national circuit tournament I attend, and I think it is worth chronicling the experience. I arrived last night in Berkeley and woke up at 6 AM this morning to get to rounds. All I had for breakfast was a cereal bar. Here we go.

Round 1: I win on the flow, but lose the debate. After a highly tech practice round, I wasn’t totally ready to adapt to a lay debate, and paid the price. Kudos to my opponent for nailing his voting issues and doing some excellent lay-theory work.

Round 2: A terribly messy policy debate, with no link between counterplan and plan, terrible link stories, and even worse line by lines. I still pick up on an impact turn to the plan, but I feel bad about not debating well. I think one of the problems was that I drank coffee before the round, and I was jittery until the 2NR. Next round starts at 3 PM, so I’m probably going to get some lunch before then.

Lunch was chips and guacamole from Chipotle.

Round 3: Best round yet but no disclosure. I was/am definitely sick, but adrenaline is an awesome thing. Both my and my opponent’s rebuttals we less than optimal, so I got some good feedback from the judge about the basics of crystallization. It’s nice to have reminders, especially after having not debated for three months. This is also the first time at this tournament that I ran a case with any substantive framework, and it went better than expected. Onwards and Upwards.

UPDATE: According to Tabroom, I picked up. Going into Round 4 with a 2-1 record.

Round 4: Some Takeaways from this round. First, do your own prep, or other people will have prepouts with five turns to the AC. Second, you won’t win difficult rounds if you don’t have enough experience. I hit a debater who truly should have been 3-0 were it not for some weird in-round accident. Anyways, a two-off NC later, I decided to improvise responses to a K. All in all, this is the type of round that would have been good for me as a sophomore debater. It left me feeling a bit regretful that I didn’t commit to debate more during high school, but I wouldn’t give up theatre for it. My record is 2-2 at the end of day one.

One Day Later:

Round 5: I’m going to get reflective in the discussion of this round in particular, as it was the last round of consequence (in terms of the national circuit) for my career. If you can’t tell, I dropped. The round was really representative of my experience. I executed my strategy almost well enough to win, and the judge pointed out some easy extensions that I nearly made, but pulled back at the last moment. I needed to get some offense on my opponent’s case, but chose terminal defense instead. It wasn’t all that terminal, and she won on risk of offense. I’m hoping she clears to doubles, both for her and because then I would have empirical evidence I dropped to a good debater. I haven’t had breakfast yet, so I’m probably going to do that before the next round.

Round 6: OMEGA POINT! With no chance of breaking, I decided to have fun with this round. Omega Point makes that case that we will eventually be able to simulate all possible realities when we have infinite computational power. The round devolved quickly into a messy Theory and definition debate, and the judge berated us after the round for not clearing things up and forcing an intervention-y decision. Not the best debating I’ve done, but it is the first Theory debate where the judge voted for me, so there is that. 3-3.

Round 7: You win some, you lose some. In this case, theory was a wash, but the aff won that theory was an RVI so I lost even with substantive offense. I liked this round, as I was debating a senior from Harker. I felt like this was the best I’ve ever “seen” the round from a strategic perspective, and that I had the right strategy even though I missed doing some basic weighing.

A few of our debaters in JVLD are moving on, and we have some more on the bubble in JV and Varsity. My time at the tournament has come to and end, and I’ll be back home by tonight. Just in time to prep for CFL 3, which is happening a little less than a week from today!


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