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Chicago PTQ-Antwerpen, Belgium

Sheldon Menery


I always enjoy running tournaments at the Outpost in Antwerpen and this was no exception. Werner, Kim and Marc take good care of me all the time. It's worth the trip (nearly all the way across the country!).

The Outpost is a cyber cafe with a tournament room in the basement. Werner finally got a networked PC down there, meaning we no longer had to put tournament files on a floppy each round and run them up to the printer. We just had to run up to the printer. I was assisted by Level II-in-training Glen Monica and Kai Hortmann and Bart Genders, both of whom were doing one of their two "apprenticeship" tournaments. All three of them did a fine job during the day, leaving me little to do but supervise.

The Outpost usually draws players from Belgium, Holland, France and Germany. This time, there were no French players and only one German, but there were 16 Dutch players (where normally there aren't more than 5 or 6). There must have been coincidental local qualifiers.

This tournament continued a month of smooth events (see my Pro Tour London report). The players were more than well-behaved; they were courteous and pleasant to each other and to the staff. It's my experience that the tension of trying to make the final rounds makes some players nervous, edgy and less than pleasant, but there was none of that today. I tip my hat to each of the 43 players that showed up.

I answered very few rulings questions (as I predicted; see my report "How Classic Rules and 50-minute Rounds Will Make Me Fat"). The Belgian and Dutch players are developing a firm grasp of the rules (I give much of the credit for the Dutch players to Holland's excellent Level IIIs, Ghijsbert Hoogendijk and Jaap Brouwer), making our job far easier. Of course, there were still a few notable rulings:

Player A said "I'd like to go to my combat phase", to which Player B assented. When Player A then played an effect before declaring attackers, Player B was confused. I explained each step of the combat phase and play continued.

Between rounds, player asked if he could make his opponent de-sleeve. I informed him that he could only ask a Judge to examine his opponent's sleeves. He said "what if I just want to bug him?". I told him that would definitely be unsporting conduct. He replied "yeah, I thought so". The issue did not come up in a match.

A ruling question didn't pop up here, but it was an amusing play that a crowd of players enjoyed. Player A Confiscated Player B's Energy Field. Player B played another Energy Field. Player A sacrificed a permanent to his Claws of Gix, sending the Energy Field he controlled to the graveyard, shortly followed by the Energy Field of his opponent.

The only difficult ruling of the day the penalty to assign for shuffling the opponent's deck-face up. It was before the first duel of the match. The player didn't simply turn over the deck and accidentally look at the bottom card, he gave the deck a slow riffle shuffle. This seemed to me to fit under the Severe Procedural Error category. I gathered the other 3 Judges and asked them to play Devil's Advocate ("Give me a reason NOT to give a match loss here"). I find this an excellent training tool. It gives junior judges insight into how/why the senior judge arrives at a decision, and it puts them directly into the decision-making process (with an obvious safety net). None of the could come up with any reason to downgrade the penalty. They agreed that the player had potentially gained too much of an advantage in the match. I assigned a Match Loss.

I considered the possibility that allowing the offended player to look through the deck of the player that made the original error might be an innovative penalty. At a lower REL, I would have considered it even more strongly. I determined that even if this infraction was unintentional (I had no strong evidence that it wasn't), the potential for abuse was too great and that a Match Loss was appropriate. Interestingly enough, the player agreed with the penalty.

Having 4 Judges meant we had excellent coverage of the (moderately uneventful) Final 8. During a semi-final match, a player miscalculated his colored mana while playing a little too fast (trying to cast 2 things at once), but the situation was quickly and easily corrected.

Congratulations to the new King of Belgian Qualifiers, Pierre Girodroux, for his third trip in a row to the PT, and to Bas Postema (one of the most polite players I've ever met) for qualifying. Congratulations are also in order for Kai Hortmann, now fully certified as a Level I Judge. Thanks again to the Outpost for a great site and a great time. A final thanks to Bernie for driving (so that my wife could have the car). I'll see you folks in the Windy City.


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