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GP Boston Report

Nat Fairbanks

The largest North American Grand Prix took place at the Park Plaza Castle on February 24th and 25th. With a final total of 592 players it just edged out GP Philly '00. With about 17,000 square feet of space, the converted armory building had more than enough room, and TO's Tom Shea and Rob Dougherty made great use of it.

Player registration was the largest delay of the day, but all players were seated by 11:00am. In the future I would strongly recommend TOs advertise registration end times (say 9:30am) rather than round start times (like 10:00am). Even with that problem, Scott Larabee and Chris Galvin needed to enter everyones information into the computer and double check bye lists, a time consuming task for 592 players.

Once players were seated we took several additional steps to make cheating more difficult. First random seating was used for registration rather than assign your own seat, second unique decklists were used, so players could not bring in their own list, and decklists were collected before players were allowed out of their seats.

In order to facilitate decklist collection we also made an executive decision to allow players to swap as many land as they want, rather than the typical 5 land swap. This decision proved popular with the players, and no one in the top 64 actually started with an initial land setup that would not be possible using the 5 land swap and typical (6 of each) land distribution. In order to do this it is essential to make sure all players have 45, 15, and 15 as their distribution of cards that are not basic land.

In addition we did not return ANY decks back to the player who registered it, unless they were randomly given back their own deck. Only two players recieved their own deck back. In the future I will be using a percentage of returned decks between 0 and 15%. At 15% returned, the advantage goes to bringing in a rigged deck, and at 0% back the advantage goes to replacing game breaking cards in the deck with weak cards. By shifting the percent from event to event, players won't know which is best.

Once the first round started the event moved smoothly, with a good judge staff to rapidly answer players questions. Very rarely did a deck check take more than 10 minutes (my philosophy, if a deck hasn't been checked in 10 minutes, it either had a severe problem, or the judges haven't been doing it right.) Players still need to be educated that slow play does apply during the extra turns though, as most matches would slow to a snails pace once the extra turns began.

The judging teams were led by Mike Feuell, Collin Jackson, and Lynson Robbins, and staffed by B Tucker, Eric Mathis, Suzy Life, Ian Taylor, Jeremy Smith, Andrew Zorowitz, Steve Smith, Tony Bayer, Mary Lund, Jamie LaFountain, David Shuster, Seth Levy, Mike Canu, and Rafael Del Svaldi. Kudos also need to go out to John Carter and Matt Villamino, who ran judge certification and co-ordinated main event and side event judges respectively.

During day one we ran our judge teams in shifts, rotating through general floor duties, deck checks, and pairings and result slips during each round. By having three teams we were also able to have a designated break round for each judge team. This helped greatly at reducing judge fatigue by the end of the day.

Round eight ended at 10:30pm, and we announced the top 64. See the Sideboard for more coverage on the event. After we tore down some tables and set up the draft tables we were able to get back to the hotel and sleep for a full eight hours!

The next morning we laid out the stamped packs, and got ready for drafting. Collin made up a great set of cards for timing the draft. For booster draft the timing I use is as follows.

Open your [first, second, third] pack. Without looking at it make sure there are only 15 cards in the pack. You may begin drafting. [60 seconds] Layout the pack. [approx 5 seconds] Collect the pack. [55 seconds] Layout the pack. [approx 5 seconds] Collect the pack. Repeat, decreasing the time by 5 seconds each, once only 5 seconds are left allow them 5 seconds each pick. Once they pick up the last card give them 30 seconds to review the first pack, and 60 seconds between the second and third.

If a player hasn't selected a card by the time I say "collect the pack" then they should be given a random card from the pack. Players are to put all the cards they have drafted into one pile face down in front of them. They also need to hold the cards close enough that their neighbor can't see them, and shuffle them before laying them out for the next player to count and collect. As the head judge of an event using draft pods it's very important to cover pod drafting with them, as many judges have not done drafting at that level before.

Most important of all is to seat the players so that no neighbor is from their own pod, and keep them quiet during seating. Particulary with draft cards that are not stamped, as seating is the easiest time to swap cards.

Day two went even smoother than day one, and we were able to announce the top eight at 6:00pm. The most notable thing about the finals was the average age, as pointed out elsewhere, the youngest player in the top 4 was 27! With a judge at each table the finals ran smoothly, and Tom Swan emerged as the winner of GP Boston '01.

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