Finalists: Hart House Toronto
Best Speaker: John Gastil (Swarthomre)
Princeton hosted the 1989 Worlds. Aaron Blumenfeld and company ran the event, which was won by the previous year’s hosts, Sydney, Andrew Bell and Warren Lee. Second place was won by Justin MacGregor and Dave Conklin of the University of Toronto.
About 110 teams attended. That year saw a marked increase in international participation. Singapore and Greece attended; the Soviet Union sent observers and competed the next year at Glasgow. There were a lot of prizes, including, for the first time, recognition for debaters for whom English was a second language.
The format was 10 preliminary rounds with teams of two and two teams per debate. “This tournament will run on time,” debaters were told at every meeting, long after they were tired of hearing it, but it worked. While not all Worlds have featured a prepared topic, at Princeton it was “Socialism has failed.” One may recall that 1989 was quite a year for socialism…but this was only January. How could they have known?
There were divisions for both comic and serious public speeches, but the idea of having to stand up and know that you were expected to be funny was more than many cared to deal with. The competition offered a number of unusual ideas, including object speaking; a debater was handed an object, and then had to build a speech around the object.
This History of the World Debating Championships comes in 3 parts. From 1976 to 1990 it is taken almost word for word from the 1991 Toronto WUDC Tournament booklet. Who wrote it isn't known but it was provided by Randal Horobik. At the start of the section on Worlds in 1981 is an extract from an e-mail by Clark McGinn, Convenor of Debates, GU Union 1980 -81 and 1981 and Convenor of the First World Debating Competition, 1981. The history since 1991 has been compiled initially by Colm Flynn and edited by many contributors to Wikipedia. Unfortunately Wikipedia deleted the history due to copyright concerns so we are back here. Hopefully anyone who contributed to the Wiki article before it was deleted will be happy to see their work preserved here.