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PT Boston Head Judge Report

Nat Fairbanks

September 27-29, 2002

It's been a long time since I head judged a Pro Tour. Things can change a lot in three years, and they have, but there were still a lot of familiar aspects to PT Boston as well. The pro tour set WotC brought in was much better, and many of the faces were people I have never met, but a lot of the people remained the same, and the atmosphere was still filled with the excitement only a thousand gamers can bring. After spending Thursday evening trying to locate the judge list so I could make up judge teams ahead of time, I gave up and went to bed so I would be well rested for a couple of long days.

Friday morning I found James Lee first thing and made the judge teams and assignments for the day.

Team Massachusetts Team Rhode Island Team New Hampshire
Leader Akio Sugaya Leader David Vogin Leader Glenn Cannon
Scott Elliot James Lee John Carter
François Laroche Brent George Bruno Barracosa
Suzy Life Misha Zagorski David Lavergne
Mike Goodman Chris Wong Ben Drago
Ian Taylor Jeremy Smith

The judge handout had a complete description of duties, and each team rotated through assignments during the day. The quick reference penalty guide on the back of the judge handout was quickly overshadowed by Glenn Cannon's business card with a quick reference on the back.

Teams built their first set of decks and played two rounds before they built new decks again. It's a time consuming process, but it helps eliminate the luck in opening up a great set of cards. 121 teams started the day, and no one dropped until they built decks for the third time. After six rounds 40 teams had earned the 12 match points needed to advance to Saturday.

During round three a medical situation came up and the on site EMTs were called quickly. Ed Fear was actually the first to respond; he left his team's match and came to the player's aid without worrying about what would happen in his match. The player recovered from his seizures shortly, then went to the hospital for a full examination, just in case. He was back on site playing in the prerelease the next day. After Ed regained his composure he played out the rest of his match.

Nat Fairbanks, head judge, is a pleasure to work with
The most drastic difference between PT Boston and the numerous Grand Prixes I have judged lately is the number of players who don't speak English or otherwise share a common language. A game of Magic can be understood and played fairly well by two players who can not speak to one another, but if a question comes up and a judge needs to answer it, it can be very difficult to deal with the situation. James Lee does an excellent job scheduling multilingual judges, but they can't answer every judge call. It is very important for a PT judge to be able to deal with these difficulties and still be able to resolve the situation quickly.

That evening we had our first judge meeting, reviewed the day and prepared for the next. I made the judge teams for Saturday modified the judge handout to have more information on team Rochester draft, and began the job of filling out review forms for the team leaders. In the morning I printed out the handout and gave the judge briefing.

Saturday Teams - Feature Match Judge David Vogin
Team Maine Team Connecticut Team Vermont
Leader John Carter Leader Ben Drago Leader Scott Elliot
Bruno Barracosa Akio Sugaya James Lee
Duncan McGregor Misha Zagorski Glenn Cannon
Suzy Life Chris Wong David Lavergne
David Lavergne Brent George Mike Goodman

Team Rochester draft is a very labor intensive format, so even though we had a judge for almost every table we still wouldn't have minded having more help. The most difficult part was actually clearing other people out of the deck building area near the end of each Rochester draft. The tables needed to be clear before the players arrived, but a judge was still at each of the draft tables so the duty often fell to whoever I could find available who wasn't judging the PT.

Collin Jackson calling the first draft
After Collin Jackson called the first draft, and set the bar high for all that followed, Glenn Cannon, David Vogin, Akio Sugaya and I called the other four rounds on Saturday. Even though Collin clearly remained the player favorite, each of us who called the draft gained valuable experience. Once again the day went smoothly, and we ended on schedule. The judge meeting that evening was brief, as most judges were interested in getting some sleep, with a few foolish souls opting to play in a prerelease draft or two.

Sunday morning we gathered the judges for the semifinals, and began the drafts in the pit as soon as the teams got back from the photo shoot. After making sure the photographers had room to get the shots they wanted, and all the players could hear me, I began to call the semi final draft. I didn't get much of an opportunity to analyze the draft since I had to concentrate on calling it, but Sideboard reporters afterwards said each team thought they drafted better decks than their opponents.

Phoenix Foundation and 2020 advanced to the finals, and once again I called the draft as the other judges made sure the players drafted at the correct point and no other procedural mistakes were made. As I was calling the draft what actually impressed me the most was the length the photographer would go to to get the shot he wanted. Climbing a wooden ladder 10 feet into the air is not my idea of fun, but that's what it takes to get good shots for the Sideboard magazine.

In the end Kai and Phoenix Foundation emerged victorious; remaining undefeated in team Rochester draft. After the awards ceremony I participated in a Level 3 interview, then went back to my hotel room for some rest. Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend the judge dinner that night, but if it's anything like they used to be, fun was had by all, and I missed the best part of judging the Pro Tour.

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