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Ladue Students Triumph at Jefferson City Debate Tournament

Sophomore+Phani+Chintakunta+revises+his+debate+case+in+the+library+while+waiting+for+first+hour+to+start.+Together+with+his+partner%2C+Junior+Max+Kornfeld%2C+Chintakunta+won+the+Championship+division+of+policy+debate+at+the+Jefferson+City+Capitol+Classic+on+January+27+with+a+unanimous+panel+of+judges.+%22It+felt+really+rewarding+to+win.%22+Chintakunta+said.
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Ladue Students Triumph at Jefferson City Debate Tournament

Sophomore Phani Chintakunta revises his debate case in the library while waiting for first hour to start. Together with his partner, Junior Max Kornfeld, Chintakunta won the Championship division of policy debate at the Jefferson City Capitol Classic on January 27 with a unanimous panel of judges.

Sophomore Phani Chintakunta revises his debate case in the library while waiting for first hour to start. Together with his partner, Junior Max Kornfeld, Chintakunta won the Championship division of policy debate at the Jefferson City Capitol Classic on January 27 with a unanimous panel of judges. "It felt really rewarding to win." Chintakunta said.

Photo by Daniel Chayet

Sophomore Phani Chintakunta revises his debate case in the library while waiting for first hour to start. Together with his partner, Junior Max Kornfeld, Chintakunta won the Championship division of policy debate at the Jefferson City Capitol Classic on January 27 with a unanimous panel of judges. "It felt really rewarding to win." Chintakunta said.

Photo by Daniel Chayet

Photo by Daniel Chayet

Sophomore Phani Chintakunta revises his debate case in the library while waiting for first hour to start. Together with his partner, Junior Max Kornfeld, Chintakunta won the Championship division of policy debate at the Jefferson City Capitol Classic on January 27 with a unanimous panel of judges. "It felt really rewarding to win." Chintakunta said.

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Jefferson City High School, 8:30 p.m, Jan. 27. All of the debate students are exhausted, waiting for the announcement. Judges emerge from the room that the round took place in, holding completed ballots. The tournament organizers make sure that both teams and their respective coaches are present. Finally, they speak: “On a 3-0 decision, code 14A wins.”

Ladue junior Max Kornfeld and sophomore Phani Chintakunta were tournament champions.

“At first I didn’t believe it, but then I went up to get the trophy,” Chintakunta said. “I thought that we got second place, but then I saw that the trophy said first.”

Kornfeld and Chintakunta compete in policy debate, a type of debate with intense, hour-and-a-half-long rounds, discussing complex topics ranging from reforming education policy to US-China relations. Topic areas are always broad and thus competitors can make a wide variety of arguments, but this goes both ways. Preparation for tournaments is intense and very time-consuming, as competitors must collect massive amounts of evidence for any possible argument that their opponents might make. Chintakunta estimates he usually spends 35-40 hours working on debate every week, constantly revising cases and preparing counter-arguments for anything he and Kornfeld might encounter.

“It was nice to have all that hard work pay off, from accumulating files and improving my speaking to getting a better understanding of the topic and getting better at arguing,” Chintakunta said.

Both Kornfeld and Chintakunta have been on Ladue’s debate team, the Talking Rams, since their respective freshman years of high school and both intend to continue until they graduate.

“Debate has taught me how to listen to others and say what I mean,” Kornfeld said, “I don’t think there’s anything else I’ve ever done that has had such a positive, lasting impact on my life, skills, and world outlook.”

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Ladue Students Triumph at Jefferson City Debate Tournament