|Grand Prix Heidelberg - Judge Report
Date: 9th, 10th February 2002
Site: Heidelberg, Germany
Format: Sealed deck, Top 64 draft
Attendance: more than 850 players
Head Judge: Justus Roennau
First of all, GP Heidelberg became the biggest Grand Prix ever held in Europe. The reason might be either that Heidelberg lies in the heart of Europe or the Magic community is rising. About thirty judges arrived in Heidelberg to organize the event and to explain rules whenever players would need them. The staff was fairly experienced because about one third of the judges were of the level 3. Justus decided to play 8 rounds of Swiss with 50 minutes for each round.
GP Heidelberg employed a judging team of 30 to handle 880 players
So 880 players flooded into Townhall Heidelberg and it immediately became quite crowded. Since there were less decks prepared than registered players almost all the judges went to prepare and register about 100 decks. After that, seating was printed. At the beginning, players didn't notice that there is the second floor, where the higher numbers of the tables were placed. So it took them about 15 minutes to find the correct tables. Finally, the deck construction begun.
As soon as the deck construction begun, problems occurred. The most frequent problem was that the content of the deck didn't match the registered list. The list is the basis for the content of the deck, so the registered list takes precedence and the extra card(s) were replaced so to match the list. If the list was obviously incorrect (for example contained only four rares altogether) the list was changed. Then, players received as many lands as they wanted and handed over the decklists. Although Justus reminded players to write the first letter of their last name (to help to order them alphabetically) - many of them didn't get it. Moreover, their names were, in the worst cases, illegible, so we had to look up their names in the computer, which was quite time consuming.
During the first round all the decklists were checked and some illegal decklists were discovered. Since all the problems were just clerical errors players in most cases received only a warning and we let them correct the mistakes. However we were quite strict at the deck controls and game loses were given. In my opinion, I would recommend further deck checks (for example before a second game), because players know, that we don't usually do deck checks after the first game so cheating is hard to discover and a penalty is not likely to occur.
With over 800 players, Deck checking at the Grand Prix was quite time consuming
The first day ran smoothly, the only thing that mattered was that the last round ended at midnight. So most judges got to their beds at 1:30 or even later. Being judge level 1, I could sleep one hour more, because side events started at 9 o'clock and that was pleasant.
The Top 64 players got to the next day. You can check the results out on The Sideboard. Unfortunately I can't give you any further information about the second day, because I was doing the side events. Initially, it looked like that it would be an ordinary day at the side events. However, one young man wanted to pass exams for level 1 and Thomas told me to show him how to run a booster draft. After that I realized that we miss such a thing in the Czech Republic. The point is that we don't have more than one judge at an event in most cases. An average tournament in the Czech Republic has no more than 80 players, so it is enough to have only one judge at the site. It is a disadvantage, I would say, because you can't discuss your decisions with anybody and you can't learn anything new from the rules.
I had to leave at about six o'clock in the evening. I was just about to leave when this situation occurred: It was a semifinal match - standard at a side event. One player found out, that his opponent had only 59 cards in his deck - an ordinary thing. The player realized it during shuffling the opponent's deck. Usually, the other player finds the missing card in the sideboard or somewhere else and has to admit his or her fault. However, the other player had no idea where it could be. What was really strange was that, that the first player had one black sleeve beside his sideboard - but he used blue sleeves for his deck and his sideboard! And guess what color of sleeves used the opponent - black. I discussed the situation with a senior judge and he told me that he knew the German player (who shuffled the opponent's deck) and that he might be cheating. So, he might have intentionally hidden the card somewhere, but no proof was available. I knew I would have to give a game loss to the other player in the end, but I decided to put pressure on both players to see how would they react to my questions. So I had a talk with them separately and it seemed to me, that the shuffling player did hide the card. Nevertheless, I had to issue a game loss to the other player. Even though the player received a game loss, he managed to win the match...
Well, that was Grand Prix Heidelberg in the view of a judge from Prague. I should also add, that some judges level 1 passed tests for level 2 and I was among them :-). I would say, that Heidelberg was a real success and I'm glad that I went there.