Taipei, Republic of China - Grand Prix always begin the same
way for me - a long trip. This was no exception, leaving Sydney at 9am I arrive
at Taipei's International Airport at around 6pm. I am due to meet some Wizards
of the Coast staff at around 6:30pm, unknown to me they have been delayed
in Seattle, I wait round for 45 minutes, finally figuring something must have
gone wrong. Catching a taxi in Taiwan is an experience, traffic is something
to see in Taipei, I am sure only a New Yorker would really understand. I was
finally in Taipei so I just decided to watch the city unfold around me. It
is strange how the city seems to built around an forest, and how the forest
encroaches in on the city. The taxi driver is cool, and knows like 3 words
in English, two of which should probably not be repeated here. I arrive at
the hotel, The Grand Hyatt.
What can I say about the hotel - in a word: awesome. My only
complaint is that the restaurant closes somewhat early for me, if, kind reader,
you have ever been to a PT or GP with me you will understand. I decided to
call home, and my father tells me that a Wizard of the Coast staffers had
called. The crew was delayed in San Francisco for about two hours. When they
finally arrive I informed that we have to be at Sharp Point Publishing at
10am the next morning and we will be meeting for breakfast at 8:30am. I am
really looking forward to seeing the group again, Kyoto had been a blast,
it was the same group.
At SPP the next morning, the real work begins. The bye list
has not arrived but its ok, I have contacted Wizards and Gordon Culp (this
guy is amazing, I don't think that the pro-tour could run without him) emails
me the bye list. I am informed that we have about 20 judges for the event,
I would like to offer my thanks to all the judges, without which the event
could never have been run. I would also like to extend a personal thanks to
David Doust, who traveled all the way from Atlanta to judge.
The day goes quickly as the preparations are in full swing.
Around 2pm I am confident that things are going well and Chris Toepker, who
lived in Taiwan for 7 years, and is now working for Wizards of the Coast training
the mainland Chinese in Magic: The Gathering. Chris speaks impressive Chinese
(so the locals tell me, it was all Greek to me;) ). On language, if you are
ever so privileged as to judge in a country who language is something other
than your own. The weirdest thing is that you are always speaking to someone
else, almost at angles. I would speak to Chris, and he would translate, then
someone would speak to Chris and he would translate back. It is all about
It is also interesting to note that Taiwan had never had Judge
Certification run before. The level of enthusiasm was impressive to say the
least. Over the course of the weekend David Doust and I ran some 20 interviews
and exams, some were not so good, other where excellent, including one person
who interviewed for level 3. I now have the pleasure of going home and writing
up all of the interviews. I would like to thank Chris Toepker for translating
the Judge Certification exam into Chinese.
Registration is somewhat hectic, it goes well though, with a
bit of prodding things are moving at a cracking pace. Around 9pm I see Alex
Slavrtman turn up ... that's some long trip from New York. It was fantastic
to see that he was covering for the New Wave website, and, of course for the
Sideboard. This is the first GP in Asia where we had Americans turn up. It
was great to see and I hope that they had a great time.
The next morning begins early, I am up at 6am to get to the
venue before 7:30am. The Venue is a 30-minute taxi ride from the Hyatt, so
I have to make sure I leave plenty of time. I meet Chris and Adrian Teh (Singapore
DCI) in the lobby and we head off around 7:10. On arriving, all the judges
have made it and, the excitement is in the air.
We start the tournament about 9:40. We have 196 players attending,
some 30+ players from outside Taiwan, inlcuding 8 from Hong Kong, and Judge
, also from Hong Kong. Whom I am proud to say passed his Judge Certification
test, and I have recommended him for level 1.It will be 7 rounds of Swiss,
the last GP to run with 60 minute rounds I believe. It went very smoothly.
There isn't much to say really, the players where awesome. The respect that
they showed the judges and officials at the event was unparalleled. Only problem
that we encountered was the fact that we had no laser printer. This slowed
us a down a little, we still managed to finish some time around 7pm. I was
At the end of the day, the final standings are posted and the
players are given a half hour to query them, as a testament to my staff, I
am happy to say that there were no errors. At the judges meeting the night
before it was brought to my attention that many of the Taiwanese players and
judges had never really run a Rochester draft before, at about 8pm I begin
a Rochester Tutorial session, which runs for about an hour. About 20 or so
players hang around, the most commonly asked question must have been "Don't
we add a 16th card?" Hmmm, I think that that section of the floor rules really
needs some work ...
The next day is 7am start, I wake sometime around 5:30am...
for most GP's I generally only get about 8-12 hours of sleep for the weekend.
I am mostly running on adrenline, although, it has been noted that generally,
on the last day as the finals are beginning I generally just collapse in my
chair. To be totally honest though, I would never want to be anyplace else.
Anyway, the Rochester goes smoothly except that, we have one
drafting problem, and the judge doesn't realize that he should stop the draft,
it is a minor error and dosent really impact on the tournament. It should
be noted that whenever you judging in Asia, they are a softly spoken people,
so you have to really get them to shout. With no stopages in the draft, we
are done in about 45 minutes. The players are given 35 minutes to construct
their deck. When judging in a non-English country, and you are using English
cards, please have some consideration for the players, with this in mind,
across the whole weekend, I gave the players about 5 minutes more than I would
normally give. About 20 minutes to register the sealed deck and about 35 to
At any rate the event is a huge success. Unfortunetly I did
not get enough time to run judge certitification for everyone, so I spend
the next two days running interviews. My interviews finished about 3pm on
Monday, so I meet with Dave and Alex, and we where meant to go sightseeing,
we end up just going shopping ;) It was some fun. By the way, if you ever
go to Taipei, computers equipment is very cheap! I mean very cheap.
If you ever see me at an event, why not come up and say hello,
I am always ready for a coffee or a chat. I am really looking forward to the
APAC championships in Singapore.