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Report 2008 - GP Denver - Riccardo Tessitori
Articolo del 9-8-2008 a cura di Tessitori Riccardo
Tessitori Riccardo

Another weekend, another event, another report.
I had just come back home from Nationals and 48 hours later I had to start my 20 hours trip to the United States… I thought that “summer” meant “holydays and relax”!
I checked in my archives, and this was the fifth time I judged two long tournaments (Nationals, GP, PT, Worlds) in two weeks; taken for granted that during Magic events I sleep much less than I should, every time I say “I will never do it again”… and every time a new opportunity to do it again comes, I accept it and I’m thrilled about doing such big events!
 
Let’s go visit Uncle Scott
It was the beginning of June, when Andy Heckt wrote to me asking if I was available to HJudge GP Denver; I’ve been insisting on the importance of “cultural exchanges” between the continents (it happens one or two times per year that an American judge comes to an European GP and vice versa) and, even better, “GP Denver” meant my friend “Uncle Scott” (I’m sure that everybody knows Mr. Scott Marshall).
The weeks before the event I was very excited, it was my first American GP, and the mail exchange with Scott, the TO and the judges was quite intense (to give you an idea of the time that is spend for a GP, now that everything is over, my Outlook “GP Denver” folder contains 644 mails!); most of the preparation was about the organization, because in Europe there is a single TO (WotC office) while in the US there are several independent organizers (and I wanted to be sure to discuss many many details).
Weeks passed and the time to leave arrived; all gifts bought, baggage ready, alarm set (something like 5AM)… and when I checked in at the airport, they told me the flight was overbooked and I had no seat assigned (panic!!!).
Lesson 1: if your ticket says “seat unassigned”, you need to contact the flight company to confirm your presence.
Lesson 2: if the plane is full, the worst that can happen to you is that you will wait for another flight (until your final destination); the best that can happen to you is that your Economy Class ticket will be upgraded to a Business Class ticket; I’m a lucky person… my first eleven hours flight was very comfortable ^__^
When I arrived in Denver, I found out the great service provided by Scott; he made sure to pick up ALL the judges at the airport and bring them to their lodgments (and back to the airport on Monday), and helped us for everything we asked.
On behalf of all the judges who went to GP Denver, thanks for what you did for us; there should be a Scott Marshall for every GP ^__^
 
The event: a few numbers

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=mtgevent/gpden08/welcome


The event started on Friday; differently than the European GPs, in the US there are Trials on Friday afternoon, from noon until there are 32 people wanting to play; trials are single elimination, 32-players tournament; GP Denver had fourteen trials (14*32 = 448 participants).
Saturday morning started at 7AM, thanks to the TO (Eric Smith) who starts working very early in the morning; around 300 players registered on Friday, and 350 players registered on Saturday; two registrations points and three hours available for registration made it very easy to start the tournament at 10:00, with 623 players.
Thanks to the fast format and to the efficient judges (we were 33 in total), the tournament was very fast (on average, rounds lasted 1 hour and 9 minutes; final standings were posted at 8:45PM).
16 illegal decklists (that means 2.5%), 15 appeals (almost 2 per rounds, that are few), no DQs.
 
Game situations
1) Game Rules Violation or Drawing Extra Cards?
There were a few occasions (one per round, on average) where a player made an infraction by resolving a spell that was countered on resolution because of the illegal target AND drew a card.
Even if the mistake starts as a Game Rule Violation (resolving a spell that shouldn’t resolve), the fact that a card is drawn as a direct consequence of the infraction makes it a Drawing Extra Card infraction.
2) Game Rules Violation or Failure to Reveal?
I play a Wren’s Run Vanquisher (that costs 1G + reveal an elf card) and I forget to reveal the Elf.
Even if the verb is “reveal”, since the action of revealing is optional (“reveal or pay 3”), the infraction is a Game Rules Violation, because the mistake is a spell illegally paid.
3) To deck check or not to deck check
Deck checks should be done when players present their decks for additional shuffling, way before they draw their opening hand; it may happen that judges collect the decks after a player already chose to mulligan or to keep the opening hand.
In these rare cases, judges should take note of the opening hand (or of the number of mulligans taken), and return the decks to the players with the appropriate opening hand.
During GP Denver, two decks were collected after both players decided to keep the opening hand, and one of these opening hands was shuffled back into the deck without taking note of the cards; I had a few possible solutions:
- return the opening hand to a player, and have the opponent redraw the opening hand
- ask the player for the seven cards he had
- have both players redraw the opening hand
When we have different possible solutions, we have to choose one depending on our priorities; my main priority was to give to both players the feeling that judges are always impartial; to a player, I apologized for shuffling his hand in the deck and asked him to redraw seven cards; to the other player, I explained our mistake and told him I wanted to treat everybody in the same way, and asked to redraw seven cards; to both players, I said that I didn’t even know what decks they were playing or what cards they had, to send an even stronger message that my decision would have been the same with every player, in every round, in every tournament.
 
Copies, layers, abilities… what a headache!
Lorwyn/Shadowmoor Block Constructed, one of the most interesting formats about rules (layers especially).
Mirrorweave has a copy effect; Mutavault’s animation ability applies in two layers, Snakeform applies in two layers, changes colors and removes abilities, Chameleon Colossus creates an effect that modifies power and toughness, Figure of Destiny gives abilities and sets power and toughness… If you want a **complex** layers situation, you just need to take three of these effects at random and put them on the stack at random ^__^
For more information and a few examples, you can check the official event coverage, “Xeroxing Pancakes”:

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=mtgevent/gpden08/day1


 
Prize redistribution or wagering?
An interesting situation happened in an 8men draft on Sunday evening (and “interesting” means that my ruling wasn’t the most appropriate one!).
It was the final of an 8 people draft; the prizes were 8 boosters for the winner and 4 boosters for the second (I put numbers at random, because I’m not sure I remember the correct prizes); every participant received a foil Crystalline Sliver.
One of the finalists asked to add the Slivers to the prices.
Approach 1: the Crystalline Slivers are part of the prizes, and the player is proposing to redistribute the prices (8boosters+2Slivers to the winner and 4boosters to the second, instead of 8boosters+1Sliver to the winner and 4boosters+1Sliver to the second); what he proposed would look legal for the two participants, even if it may be considered as wagering from the outside.
Approach 2: the Crystalline Slivers aren’t prizes; adding something to the prices is wagering; it would be like saying “Let’s add 10 dollars to the match”.
Let’s talk about how I was feeling in that moment: it was Sunday evening, the main event was finished, I was very happy about the beautiful experience… Therefore, my mind had the “very friendly mode on”.
Yes, I used the Approach 1.
Yes, the most appropriate Approach was the second.
Even if the player was clearly honest and not wanting to do anything so bad, our rules say very clearly that ignorance of the rules is not a good excuse (a downgrade to a Match Loss would have been appropriate, but not more); penalties have the goal to educate players, too.
 
Hard work
Even if the GP was “little”, compared to the more-than-1000-players European GPs, all the judges were requested to work for many hours; both days begun at 8AM and there were seminars starting early on Sunday morning (if you participated to the seminars or you were the one managing a seminar, feel free to add any comment or a brief description of your seminar).
I’ve been talking with some judges (especially Scott Marshall, Toby Elliott and Jason Ness) about the hard work and I’m willing to do a few changes for my next two tournaments (GP Rimini in September will have a little less than 1000 players and GP Paris will probably break the incredible record of 1596 players, held by GP Paris 2004): taken for granted the quality of the tournament, I will try to give a much higher priority to breaks and the number of working hours, using two shifts (to let at least a few judges arrive later in the morning, if we expect them to finish working later in the evening), having longer lunch breaks (by sending to lunch complete teams, instead of single judges in each team).
At the moment, I’m collecting ideas on how to run an efficient tournament with the smallest effort by the judges; if you have any ideas, please write to me.
 
Goodbye USA
This was my first American GP; it was an awesome experience for me, and I hope it was a good experience for the American judges, too; I’m convinced there should be more “cultural exchanges” with judges travelling from one continent to another; meeting, talking and working with people from different cultures will open our minds and will help us to be better people… and this is my final ruling!
 
Riccardo Tessitori