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Pro Tour-Chicago

Steve Port

PT Chicago was the third Pro Tour I have attended. In 1998 I attended (briefly) New York where I was assigned a table to judge during the first day's draft before I caught a flight out later that day. Earlier this year I made my second trip to New York, serving only as a "fill in" side event judge on Sunday when they needed extra help.

For Chicago I was in for the long haul....along with about 20 other Judges. There were jokes made that for day 2 we had nearly enough judges to put one judge per table. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Nick Hable (formerly Level I, congratulations to Nick for passing his level II test, now there's just the wait for HQ to approve!) and I arrived in Chicago Thursday night sometime shortly after the Judges meeting began. We had originally planned on coming down Friday morning, so we had no room for Thursday night. We were told by the clerk at the registration desk that the hotel was booked. We began to search for other alternatives. We ended up asking a clerk later in the evening if there had been any cancellations freeing up a room and he informed us that they had rooms and that as far as he knew they ha never been fully booked! So we got a room, a VERY expensive room, but hey, at least we didn't have to drive!

At the Judges meeting recent rulings (Undiscovered Paradise being the most radically changed) and errata were discussed to bring all the judges up to speed. We were all asked what languages we spoke in case translators were needed. Testing times were assigned, I had the honor of testing for my Level III at 1pm the following day. So much for a day of question and answer sessions with the upper level Judges in attendance to help me prepare!

Friday morning came very early, I had been up all night trying to study, not getting to sleep till nearly 5am. I reported to the tournament site at 7:30 am. Teams were assigned for the day and I was placed with Sheldon, a US Military Programmer stationed in Belgium. Sheldon successfully retested for Level 3 just a few months ago at London and was quite helpful with advice for the big test.

Our group was assigned to post pairings and standings each round, then to float around the floor helping as needed between rounds. I was quite nervous as I walked the floor. This was my first time actually in a position to make rulings on the floor of "the Big Show" as Jaimie Wakefield likes to call it. Once the event began it became business as usual. I was involved in a few decisions mostly simple things.

Two instances stand out from the rest.

The first involved a Japanese player who knew very little English. He called for me because his opponent was doing something he did not think was right. I asked what help I could give and he was only able to point at the 2 cards in question, a squee and a nether spirit. I could not understand the Japanese player so I asked the other player what had happened just before I was called. He indicated that he had just finished resolving the Nether spirit's Triggered effect and wasn't sure what the problem was. I attempted to find Chris Zantides who was our "Stand In" Japanese translator. He does not actually speak Japanese, but evidently has some natural affinity which allows him to absorb what they mean. He quickly discovered what had happened (by asking the English speaking player again, doh!). It turns out that the player had put both Squee and Nether Spirit on the stack as triggered effects at the beginning of upkeep. This is not possible since a stipulation of the trigger on the Nether Spirit says that it will trigger if it is the only creature in the graveyard. Since the Squee was in the graveyard at the beginning of upkeep, only the Squee effect would get put on the stack.

The second situation was quite a bit more difficult, although I was only an observer I would have handled it exactly as Duncan, one of my "Judge Team" Teammates did, he did great under the pressure.

The Active player had a Mana Flare and enough land to cast a capsize with buyback on a LOT of stuff. He tapped his land and began to capsize his opponents land one at a time. He started with a Dual Land, then did an Island. At this point the Non-active player broke the regular chain of events by asking "Everything?". The AP said "yes, except the powder keg". Both players agree on the series of events up to this point. The AP says that the NAP began to "scoop" his lands up when he stopped and said that he wanted to make the Capsize counter it's self by using his wasteland in response to the capsize targeting it (the wasteland). The NAP insists that he was not scooping his land (indicating he was agreeing to the shortcut he himself proposed) but that he was merely stacking his land as he thought it out. The AP says the wasteland would have been the last land he attempted to bounce and agrees that the capsize should be in the graveyard after that attempt. The NAP is upset by this saying that because the AP didn't go in order there's no way to tell if he would have played it right. The NAP is getting pretty irritated by now and is very insistent that he has been wronged. Duncan MacGregor (the judge that took the call initially) ruled that since both players agree exactly where the discrepancy took place (at the point where they attempted to short cut the individual capsizing by doing a group), and the game was easily backed up to this point, they would start over from the point after the island was capsized and replay from there. Both players receive a warning for Failure to agree on reality. I believe they were also issued warnings for Procedural errors. Sheldon, our team lead had been watching the whole thing and agreed with Duncan's assessment. The NAP was not happy with this and the Head Judge, Nat Fairbanks, was called to the table. I left the table at this point because there were a lot of judges around and plenty of matches yet to be watched over, so I didn't hear the final verdict, but I believe the penalty and ruling were left as ruled by Duncan.

Shortly after this bit of fun I was summoned by Chris Zantides to take my test for Level III. It pains me to admit it, but hopefully some other Level III hopefuls can benefit from my experience...I failed my Level III exam. It was a difficult test for sure, but I was simply not as prepared for it as I should have been.

I am not giving up hope though! I will retake the test as soon as it is allowed and this time I will pass! I had my spirits raised a bit with the knowledge that I am in some pretty good company having failed my first attempt at Level III. There are several people I admire and for whom I have all the confidence in the world in their skills as upper level Judges who have been in my exact same shoes.

Nick and I were up very late Friday night, waiting for the rest of our room mates to arrive on a late flight. Once they arrived I treated myself to a booster draft, something I rarely get to do as a TO. By the time the event was over and I was in bed it was a respectable 3am. Time enough for 4 hours of sleep before day 2.

As I mentioned before, we were almost overstocked on Judges for the Main event on Saturday. I stayed with the Pro Tour matches for the first round, but then, after countless times of bumping into other judges wandering around tables, decided that maybe I might be better served by helping with the Qualifier or Super Series that were going on at that time. It turned out that they were both reasonably well staffed, so I played in the Qualifier. Yes, I, Steve Port, Played in a Pro Tour Qualifier. I proclaimed to everyone that would hear it that my plans were to go 0-3 drop. But I somehow messed that up. Second round pairings saw me matched with my Room mate! 258 players in the 2 slot qualifier and I got paired against the guy I came with! But did I complain and ask for a repair? Nope! I had fun! We ended up drawing (not intentionally). THEN I lost my other 2 matches making me 0-3-1. I dropped because the side events were beginning to take off and they needed some help staffing them. I ran drafts for the remainder of the day, night and next morning (till about 2:30am).

Day 3 was a pretty slow day side event wise, so I volunteered myself to be the 8th man in a scheduled sealed deck event. Wow, 3 days and 3 sanctioned events for me, that nearly doubled the amount of sanctioned events I've played in, and I am one of the oldest members of the DCI! I went 2-2 in the swiss round event and thoroughly enjoyed myself, especially when I beat that guy named "Bye" that was a tough match. That's right I got the most broken deck I've ever seen in this format and still managed to only win one match. But, again, the primary reason for playing is not to win...it's to have fun, and I did, mission accomplished.

All in all I had a great time at PTChicago even with a failed test, an expensive last minute room, and 3 sanctioned events in which my combined record was 2-6-1!

Steve Port
The Legion
WI/MN Premier Events TO
Certified Level II

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