|Grand Prix Amsterdam - Judge Report
I should begin two weeks earlier. Between Christmas and New Year's Eve 2000 the German distributor of Magic organized the '100 Stunden Magic nonstop' event. 5 Extended PTQs (for Tokyo) in a row, a Grand Prix Trial, a German Limited Edition Sealed Deck and a lot of other side events all around the clock. I went there to make my level 3 test and passed the written exam. What I still lacked was experience at major tournaments, so I was offered a chance to judge at Grand Prix Amsterdam. An opportunity I couldn't turn down.
Fast forward to the Grand Prix. I took a train to Amsterdam and left Hamburg on Friday 12 at 12:41. My first mistake was to sit down in a smoking compartment. By the time I realized my mistake it was too late, or at least the train looked too crowded to get another seat, so I stayed and coughed. After about two hours I had to change the train. Good. I met a few players from Hamburg and joined them for the last part of the travel.We arrived in Amsterdam at 17:49. After a short search we found the Metro and drove to the RAI center where the GP took place. They registered and I introduced myself to the judges staff. However, I wasn't on the list of judges, probably due to the very late enrollment, and nobody knew me - my personal nightmare. Eventually this situation was solved and an extra hotel room was booked for me (a nice way to get a single room by the way ;-). I could walk to the hotel, finally check in and return for the informal judge meeting at 22:00. We introduced ourselves, talked and ate a few snacks brought by the judges from their countries. At 23:30 the site closed and we walked to the hotel together.
Saturday, January 13
Judge Team 1 (from left) Diana Thirring, Philip Schulz, Angelique den Brok and Jan Willem Barends
Day 1 began with a judge briefing at 7:30. We used the team leader system. The judges were divided into teams of about four members. The Head Judge, Jaap Brouwer, explained the tasks to the team leaders who passed the information on to the rest of their teams. My team's first task was registration and crowd control. Registration started at 8:00 and ended at 9:15. Then, after the players had seated, the Head Judge welcomed over 600 players and made the appropriate announcements. After that we handed out preregistered product and made sure that every table had enough basic lands available. We didn't use land stations, but instead put piles of basic lands on every third or fourth table, and let the players themselves exchange up to 5 basic lands. During the six rounds of Day 1 our task consisted of deck checking, being available to answer rules questions, and cleaning up the playing area. Whereby the latter seemed to be the major part.
The first day went quite smooth besides a Game Loss for Drawing Extra Cards. A relatively young player played first and took one mulligan. He played a land during his first and second turn and an Acolyte during his second. If you do the mathematics correctly he should have had four cards in his hand, but actually had five. He probably drew seven cards after the mulligan or drew a card during his first draw step. However, as the first turns had elapsed, it was too late to tell if he actually made an Improper Drawing at Start of Game or drew an extra card. So I had to give the more severe penalty.
Sunday, January 14
After not enough sleep Day 2 began at 7:15. And it began with some bad news, followed by a change of the Head Judge. Jaap Brouwer was ill, thus Gijsbert Hoogendijk took over. Day 2 consisted of two Invasion only booster drafts and the Top 8 draft. First, we had to arrange the tables for the draft, deck construction and feature matches. Then each judge was assigned a draft table. At about 8:10 the first draft started. The first problem arose when players looked at their cards. One of the players in my pod had a card that had some scratches across its back. The Head Judge ruled that the draft should continue. To search for a replacement of that card would have caused an undesired time delay. And a proxy card could have irritated players. After that incident the draft went well.
Head Judges Gijs Hoogendijk and Jaap Brouwer
During round 9 I made a deck check and found a marked sleeve. I told the player to replace the marked sleeve or desleeve his deck and went away. Big mistake! I missed to tell him that de- and then resleeving his whole deck was not an option, which was exactly what he did. That took quite a few minutes, and after that the players asked for additional extra time. Such a situation is unwanted, as one match could significantly delay the whole tournament. But If I remember correctly the match was finished within the normal round time.
After round 9 the second draft took place. No problems there. I had to write a few proxy cards during the next rounds. A player played Molimo, Maro-Sorcerer when he had only two green mana available. I gave a warning for misrepresenting Molimo's mana cost and let him take Molimo back to his hand.
After the last round I had enough time to get a meal and discuss earth-shattering issues with other judges, such as "Fawlty Towers"-episodes or famous Christmas meals in other countries. :-)
During semifinals and finals I had the opportunity to table judge. To be honest, I was a little nervous about that, but everything went well.
Questions & Answers
A Ruham Djinn (5/5 in this case) is blocked by Kavu Chameleon and Yavimaya Barbarian. Do the blockers still deal combat damage?
No, at least not both of them, that's what first strike is for. First creatures with first strike deal combat damage, then only those creatures that survived the first strike damage deal their combat damage. (The Chameleon didn't make it, just for those who are interested.)
Can you ignore its ability if you don't want to lose life?
No, its ability is not optional. When Phyrexian Delver comes into play its ability triggers and you have to choose a valid target if there is one. Only if there are no creature cards in your graveyard the ability is ignored.
Do you have to sideboard on a one-for-one basis?
No. In a limited tournament you may sideboard different numbers of cards in and out, as long as the deck limit of 40 cards is met.
Beginning of combat step
Is there such a thing as a "beginning of combat step"?
Yes, it is the first step of the combat phase.
What happens if Phyrexian Infiltrator is activated twice, first targeting one of your own creatures, then one of your opponent?
The trick works. First the "exchange control of Phyrexian Infiltrator and opponent's creature" resolves. Now your opponent controls Phyrexian Infiltrator, and you control one of his creatures. Then the "exchange control of Phyrexian Infiltrator and one of your own creatures" resolves. Whereby it doesn't matter that you don't control Phyrexian Infiltrator at the time its ability resolves. Assuming there are no other responses you end up with control of Phyrexian Infiltrator and one of opponent's creatures and your opponent now controls one of your creatures.
It was a great experience! If you ever get the opportunity to attend a Grand Prix as a judge, seize it! I enjoyed working with a lot of fine judges and within a wonderful team. And I wish to thank those who made it possible for me to participate, that includes but is not limited to Mela, Bernd and Cyril.