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Grand Prix Houston Head Judge Report

Sheldon Menery

Event: Grand Prix Houston
Site: Westin Galleria, Houston, Texas
Date: 5-6 January 2002
Players: 272

Judging Staff:

Sheldon K. Menery (Head Judge) 3, Alaska, James Shuman 2, Texas, Phillip "Chief" Robinson 2, Texas, David Welsh 2, Arkansas, Simeon Smilack 2, Colorado, Terry Stanley 2, Texas, Paul Schumacher 2, Texas, David Hibbs 2, Texas, Stephen Haley 1, Texas, Steve McMullin 1, Texas, Ken Flickstein 0, Texas, Jason Krysak 0, Texas, Brian Fram 0, Texas

Tournament Setup

I held my standard pre-tournament/post finish Judge meetings. You can read how I organize it in a previous edition of "Judge Points" here on the DCI Judge Certification page.

I broke Judge staff into two teams, one headed by Jim Shuman, and one led by Chief. The teams alternated administrative assignments. In odd rounds, Chief's team did deck checks and Jim's did postings/standings/results entry slips; in even rounds, they switched. They spent the first round checking all the decklists for legality, and moved into the normal deck checks during subsequent rounds. We had sufficient staff to check two tables per round while covering the floor and providing for breaks.


Sheldon Menery, Head Judge for Grand Prix Houston

Relevant Rulings

There were, once again, too many administrative errors by players. Players cobbled together decklists at the last moment, leading to otherwise-avoidable penalties. Fortunately (and correctly), the penalty guidelines have softened a bit regarding clerical errors. The penalties for these type of mistakes are no longer so harsh as to effectively remove players from the tournament, such as the case in previous years of the entire sideboard getting invalidated for leaving off a card from the decklist.

We also had a rash of players for whom this was the first major event and came unprepared or with an incomplete understanding of the Penalty Guidelines. For example, one player listed a 29-card sideboard; another came with an unsleeved deck of some new cards, some terribly worn.

In the middle of a match, a player received a Game Loss penalty for a Severe Procedural Error. He appealed the Floor Judge's ruling, but before I arrived, he had scooped his cards and the players were proceeding to the next game. I informed him that whatever the Floor Judge and the players told me about the situation, I had no recourse but to let the penalty stand because even if I were to overturn the Floor Judge's ruling, the game in question could not continue.

An infraction of which we saw a great deal was players failing to discard. Generally, failure to discard is just as bad as drawing extra cards and warrants a penalty as severe: game loss. The potential for abuse and extreme game advantage in keeping extra cards is simply too great to let go with a less severe penalty.

The Gaea's Blessing triggered ability was the source of numerous questions. When a player plays Intuition and gets 3 Blessings, the Blessings going to the graveyard trigger during the resolution of the Intuition, but wait to go on the stack until after the Intuition has finished resolving.

How to play Gaea's Blessing's triggered ability
with Planar Void in play confuses many players

Another popular question regarded the status of the Gaea's Blessing if it came up during the resolution of Oath of Druids and a Planar Void was in play. The answer depends on who controls the Planar Void. In the most likely case, where the Void is the opponent's (and thereby the non-active player), the Blessings trigger will go on the stack first, and Void's triggers (it'll trigger for each card put into the graveyard by the Oath) will go on the stack afterward. The Void's triggers will thereby resolve first, removing all the cards from the game (to include the Blessing) before the Blessing's trigger can shuffle them into the library. If one player controls both the Blessing and the Planar Void, that player can stack them how he sees fit. Stacking the Planar Void's triggers first will enable him to shuffle all the cards back into the library before the Planar Void can remove them.

Another common question involved Oath of Druids and playing abilities after beginning of upkeep. A player asked if the two players had an equal number of creatures, but his had Echo, would he be able to use the Oath of Druids after deciding to not pay the Echo cost. The answer is no, because in that scenario the Oath does not trigger. Its condition must be met at the beginning of upkeep (the player having fewer creatures); if not, nothing happens. Additionally, when the Oath's triggered ability resolves, the condition must still be true; otherwise, it does nothing.

Final Thoughts

The Judge staff was outstanding, from top to bottom. Not once did anyone complain about having to do any task, regardless of how unpleasant or tedious. The group showed a great deal of teamwork, blurring the lines between the two teams when needed; no tasks were left undone, and everything was accomplished quickly. I can't say enough good words about them.

Many thanks to super scorekeeper Scott Larabee, and the most excellent Event Horizons duo of tournament organizers, Tim and Sheila Weissman. They laid the foundation for a superior event, one that ran smoothly all the way through, allowing the judging staff to do what it came to do: maintain the DCI's integrity of the event.



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