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Grand Prix - Taipei

Chris Zantides

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 angles.

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 some impressed!

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 construct.

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.


Chris Zantides

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