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GP-San Diego Trial-Salt Lake, UT

Bill Guerin

This is my report for the Grand Prix Trials - San Diego event that occurred on 30 October 1999.

- Location: Hastur Hobbies, South Salt Lake
- Judges: Myself as Head Judge, and Rob Neel (the person who runs the tournaments in Salt Lake) as assistant.
- Players: 25 (5 Swiss rounds, cut to top 8 booster draft)

I arrived on site at 9:00 a.m., and we promptly started registering people. No kinks occurred here, although one person called near the end of registration and said they were going to be late. We held on about 10 minutes, and then got things started and enrolled him when he walked in 5 minutes later.

I am about to start the announcements, when Rob informs me he needs to run home for the deck lists. I start the players' registration by having them sort the cards by color and alphabetical order, and have to hold the clock at 25 minutes for about a minute or two until Rob walks in with the deck lists.

We then finish registering, select the 4 people that will get their deck back (25*.15=3.75, rounded to 4) and I do deck checks on 4 decks. No problems creep up on these.

During this time, one person comes up to me and asks how to become a certified judge. I explain the process, as well as the fact that I couldn't administer the test for him. A little later, our level 3 judge (Karl Batdorff) walks in and I am able to introduce the person to him. (I unfortunately didn't get his name, but he did hang around to see how everything worked.)

We then reseat for deck building, and go through the 5 land rule. I had the players not mark the land on their list so they could take the 5 land out of the column that they would have normally put 6's in for the land they got, and then added the 5 in the added column. This was the first time for all involved in using the 5 land rule, and problems creep up in recording the lands they have and what they used. This extended the building time by about 10 minutes as the crush of people that inevitably occurred at the end of time to build require me to help most of them individually.

During deck building time, we had 2 sheets have errors on them. One of them had the inevitable switch of one card for another (Diplomatic Immunity marked, Diplomatic Escort in the pack). I issue the caution to both players, and replace the card.

The other error was more serious. A dark ritual was missing, and he was missing either one or two lands (we couldn't tell due to him having a foil, and not having had the player call us over with the irregular deck). I issue this task to Rob, and he comes back with the verdict - deck list stands, Procedural Error - Major issued to both people.

We then get started with the tournament. One question comes up in the first round - an "If I do this . . . " type of question. I explain that I will not answer this question, but will provide relevant rules. I seem to confuse the player asking the question somewhat, but the desired effect happens.

Also during this round, a player calls Karl over for a ruling, and he explains he's not part of the judging staff today. I then kid with him, as I get the same reactions when I play in a tournament instead of judging.

The round ends, and we have lunch until 1:15.

In the second round, I am about to do a spot deck check, when one of the people finds a card missing out of his deck. I ask if decks were presented yet, and both players answer no. He finds the card, and I issue a 5 minute extension to the game. The decks check out fine, and round 2 passes uneventfully. Another spot check in round 3 passes, and the round ends with no problems.

In round 4 I do my first real deck check, and a problem arises. One of the players is calling me over to report that his opponent is not here, and as I pass the deck check table, I tell the players to break down their decks and sort them by color and alphabetically. The players complain a little since they have already taken their first turns, but comply.

I then move to the absent player's table. His son is playing right next to him, and reports that he is taking care of a business problem next door as the business he owns. At this point I give him a game loss, but at Rob's insistence I remove the game penalty and extend the length of the game 10 minutes to compensate. (This turns out fine, as the late player loses and drops anyway after this round.)

I then return to the deck check. I start to go through the first player's deck, and find a card missing. I point this out, and move to the other deck check, which turns out fine. I then issue the game loss to the first player, extend the match to compensate for the time lost, and explain that they cannot sideboard for game 2 (since this is the first real game). The remainder of the round passes uneventfully, and we post standings.

Then we have the usual group of (6) people wishing to report ID's. We ask them to wait for the start of the round, and one of the pairings, as well as a pair playing to get into the top 8 to break down their decks similar to the method I used in round 4. The decks check out, and I start watching the pair playing for top 8. One of the players attempts to draw 2 cards for the Bargaining Table (X,T: Draw a Card. X is equal to the number of cards in opponent's hand) since the opponent has 2 cards in his hand. I feel I catch it soon enough, and just issue a warning and show his opponent the card before putting it back on top of the library. It does not make a real difference anyway, as the opponent wins the turn after the player really draws the card.

They start to shuffle, and the opponent accidentally flips a card while cutting. Another warning issued her, and soon after I step away from the table to do other things. The round finishes with no other problems, and we announce the top 8. The players wish to play straight through without a break, and we immediately start the draft.

Before this point, I got with the store owner and Rob, and neither had a problem with having no time limit for the top 8 rounds. So I announce it.

During the first pack, a couple of players reach for the packs, and I can't tell if they are just straightening them or looking at them. I announce the rule that the players are not to look at their cards, except between packs, and no further problems arise.

As players start building, one of the players comes up and tells me he wishes to concede, since he needed to be home an hour ago, and Rob quickly figures out the prizes for the top 8, and gives him his 8th place prize.

The quarter-finals pass quickly, and the semis begin. One of these matches passes quickly, while the other runs very long. Two out of the 3 games are decided by decking, and the 3rd nearly so.

The finalists get together, and one of the two admits he wouldn't go to San Diego if he won. The two of them ask if they could decide a split of the prizes and slot without playing. I answer yes, as long as they only split what they would get for 1st and 2nd. The person going to San Diego then gives the other person the 1st place product prize, and takes the 2nd place product prize and the byes.

The tournament ends at 8pm, and we all go home.

The one real problem we had was with the land swap, and I would change it for next time by having the people put negative numbers in the added column for the lands they give us.

I enjoyed being head judge for this tournament, and felt it gave me some valuable experience. I also look forward to head judging the State Championships on 13 November.

Until then,

Bill Guerin
Level 2 judge

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