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Grand Prix Copenhagen - Floor Judge Report

Michelogiannakis George

Event location: Lufkastellet, Copenhagen
Event Date: 12-13th of Octomber, 2002
Event Format: Onslaught sealed deck with Rochester draft top 64
Head Judge: Jesper Nielsen
Participants: 507

What's better than judging at a major event? Judging at a major event abroad,of course. Most of us don't have the luxury of having a Grand Prix next to their home so if the Grand Prix doesn't come to us, we have to go to the Grand Prix. A Grand Prix is also a great opportunity to meet the best judges in the world, the ones you only see in photos from sideboard's events coverage, the ones you have so much to learn from. Of course, a major event abroad could drastically help you to choose your destination and date, if you had already decided to go on holiday.

This how I got to October 10th , preparing my luggage for tomorrow's trip and contacting my friend at Copenhagen who would put me up for the weekend. It was not an easy week as I had been studying all the official documents as well as the Onslaught FAQ for the Grand Prix. These documents kept me company during my flight as well. It is better than being bored I guess.

After a short adventure which once again proved that my navigation skills need improvement, I found my friend's house, left my luggage and left for the GP site (with a small stop at the store where Kai Budde and casual play could be found). Luckily, I only had to ask 4 people to find the place this time (when I didn't know where I was in the map) but walking for 80 minutes can be tiring if public transport remains a mystery.

I arrived at approximately 7:00 p.m. and I rushed in to save myself from the cold. This was quite a shock though as the people I saw at the registrations were Gis Hoogendijk, Rune Horvik and Peter Coenen. These were the people I've been anxious to meet, and they were right in front of me. I introduced myself, while warning them that my hands were cold, and I then waited behind the registrations post, at the warmest possible spot.

The judge meeting was scheduled to be held at 8:00 pm so while I waited I took the opportunity to chat with other judges. Soon, it was time for the meeting so I entered the event site. There I saw all the other judges, the people I was going to work with for the rest of the tournament. We were divided into teams and our team leaders were introduced to us. After some other quick tips, we were offered a drink and a chance to talk as a team. At that point I asked my team leader the meaning of "crowd control" that we were scheduled to do tomorrow morning. The answer was simply that we had to organise them in queues and make sure they don't trample over the registrations post. Sounds simple.

The next morning was a bit tough since I had to wake up at 6:30 am to make sure I'd be there on time. I was there around 7:50 am and after some minutes of idling, I was asked to be present at the registrations post and assist as needed. The only assistance I gave (there were too many judges there) was that I answered two player's questions. Registrations closed so I headed back to the judge station. There we had a judge's meeting.


The judges' meeting included information on how to handle slips with barcodes
Seating was posted and the next thing to be done was handing out sealed decks.

After this was done, players were given 50 minutes for deck construction and registration. During this, I received two calls for decklist errors which were no problem to fix although you must be careful what card the player says is not in his decklist while being in his deck. It would be rather suspicious if two grinning demons were somehow not recorded. Apart from that, the two rules questions were easy to answer so this part of the tournament went smoothly (message to all players: always have a pen with you or at least buy one).

Before pairings for round 1 were posted, my team leader showed me how to set and reset the counters which were used to show players the time remaining in the round. I was assigned to set one of them at the beginning of round 1 as soon as the head judge announced the beginning of round 1. Then, I was given result slips to hand out, as soon as the round starts, as my team was scheduled to do so for rounds one and two. The announcement was made, round 1 started and so did the Grand Prix.

After handing out the slips, I started patrolling. During this round I got the following rules questions:

Q: With an Aven Brigadier in play, other bird soldiers get +2/+2?
A: Yes they do, the count both as birds and soldiers.

Q: Can I change the type of a creature as soon as it comes into play so I draw a card if I have a Wirewood Savage in play?
A: No you cannot do that. By the time you get priority to play the spell or ability to change the type, the ability had its chance to trigger but it didn't because it wasn't a beast.

Q: If there are two 1/1 elves in play, can I kill them both with a Crown of Suspicion?
A: No, as soon as the enchantment spell resolves on the one, that elf and then the enchantment go to their owner's graveyard as a state based effect so you do not get priority to sacrifice it.

Q: If a wall changes its type to goblin, can it attack?
A: Yes it is no longer a wall so it can attack normally.

There was nothing unusual during this round apart from the fact that I was starting to realize that staying hydrated is indeed very important. It was time for a refreshing bottle of water.

As pairings for round 2 were posted and players found their seats, I was assigned to cut the result slips and give each of my team members some to hand out. Continuing my streak of silly mistakes in tournaments, I messed up the order of the slips which was discovered by my team leader. He fixed the order and gave some to each of us to hand them out. This was done and once again it was time to patrol.

Round 2 seemed to be quieter when it started but didn't end the same way. While there were many judges on the floor at the area my team was assigned to patrol at the beginning, for some reason this did not continue to be as the round was ending. I discovered this at the time I got three calls at once and no other judge responded to them. They turned out to be result slip signing so no match was delayed because there were not enough judges responding to the situation. This was for a short while, it could have been because my other team members were answering another call, but it still was stressful. After this, the head judge asked me to take it slow, and he was right because stress is never good. At the end of the round, I confirmed with my team leader that unfinished games due to time counted as draws and we were them set to start round 3 in which my team was going to post pairings.


Judge Michelogiannakis George
I posted pairings on one of the three boards, escaped without being trampled over and went to the area I was supposed to patrol this round. At the beginning of this round, I saw the head judge talking to a person wearing a judge shirt. It was a player wearing a judge shirt, like ours and was told to remove it. The only thing that he could do was to wear it upside down since he didn't have a second shirt with him. Rather unusual incident but we have to be careful with these since we don't want a player answering judge calls.

Round 3 was the result signing round as I did nothing else but that except for answering an easy rule question. A player came to me at the end of the round telling me that he wanted to drop even though he did not tell the judge who signed his result slip. He gave me DCI #, name and table number as well as some form of identification and it was done. Then I got the pairings to post at another board for round 4, and round 4 began.

This round feature matches began. They were at the other room so I didn't see what was going on but I could always tell if they had finished or not from the crowd. As the round began, a player complained that one of the lights was aiming right at his face and he couldn't see a thing. This was true but again, unusual. After this was fixed, some time into the round a player asked me to fetch him a forest to add to his sideboard (I know this is not your idea of hot action but it's what happened).

However, this round turned out to be the most "exciting". 20 minutes into the round I was called at a table. As I understood, player A had attacked player B with two creatures. Player B picked up his pen as if he was going to note his new life total, but continued thinking whether he should block. Player A thought he was going to take the damage and immediately shocked him twice which was going to kill him if damage was dealt. I thought it was best to rewind to the beginning of the declare blockers step, before blockers were declared and let player A take his shocks back. I thought that player A received enough of a disadvantage by showing the two shocks in his hand and player B does not deserve a penalty for picking up his pen. I did tell player B though to be a bit careful when picking up his pen as it is a sign often players take as damage being dealt (that was not a caution, only a recommendation) and player A that there is no reason to rush.

Later, I was called at another table to solve a misunderstanding between two players. Player A had attacked with a creature and player B blocked with a first striker who could get +2/+2 from another creature. Then player A asked "first strike damage on stack?" and player B nodded (they eventually agreed on that). Player B then wanted to pump the first striker so it would kill the attacker. When I asked him why he didn't do it on time he said that he didn't know that first strike combat damage works that way. I responded that if he had any rules question he should have called a judge and that not knowing the rules, if you don't call a judge, cannot be taken as an excuse in a Grand Prix simply because anyone could say that he didn't know the rules and get away with something. Then I ruled that first strike damage was on the stack and the active player had priority.

Round 4 was over and now my team had only to floor judge an area twice the size as the previous rounds. I set the round counter again, and started patrolling. I got one good question this round:

Q: If I cycle a solar blast and my opponent has an Invigorating Boon in play, in what order do things happen?
A: The "draw a card" happens last because the abilities triggered after it was put on the stack. First, invigorating boon's ability resolves as it was put on the stack after the solar blast's ability, because the boon is controlled by the non active player. Then the solar blast's ability resolves and the player draws a card last.

Later into the round, I was called at a table to answer when X is determined for Sparksmith's activated ability. I answered that X is determined on resolution so the opponent can kill some goblins in response to avoid some damage, but this did not convince the player. He appealed and I went to get the head judge who was busy with another appeal at the time. He told me that he would be back as soon as possible but by the time I got back to the table, the question was answered by my team leader, so it was solved.

After this, a player called me to inform me that he drew 8 cards instead of 7 at the initial drawing. I game him a warning and told him to take a mulligan. He was rather pleased with that as he thought he would get a game loss. Covering twice the area is hard especially after finding out that two of our team members were gone, one was preparing the boosters for tomorrow's draft. The rest of the round was no problem though, other than being called to sign a slip with one of the two players absent...

Round 6 was the round we were scheduled to take our break! After many hours of standing up, a break can come in handy. Before that though, I was assigned to do a deck check to assist the team that was scheduled to do so. The team leader game me the number which turned out to be the same as the number he gave to one of his team members. So one table had two judges deck checking while another had none. Anyway the deck check was no problem and it was time for the break.

During the break there is nothing really for me to report other than to advise judges everywhere to take their break somewhere they cannot be seen by players because it's unavoidable to answer a call if a player spots you when you are sitting down. Also, I have to say that food tastes better when it's free.

For rounds 7-8 my team was dismantled and each member joined one of the remaining teams to cover gaps due to booster preparation for tomorrow. I was assigned simply to patrol at a given area - nothing new. These rounds had no interesting rules questions or anything interesting to report other than that we were given instructions to detect and eliminate collusion at round 8, as players took their seats and met their opponents. A few players didn't show up so they received a match loss for tardiness. After this, day 1 was over and players started leaving.

After rearranging the tables, we had a team meeting followed by a judge meeting We made some interesting points and discussed some incidents in day 1 and how they could have been handled better. This didn't change the fact that we had done a very good job indeed. After that, the head judge announced who would be moving to the side events (me included) and divided the rest into teams. He had a talk with me saying that he thought I did a good job (that was encouraging) and his reasons for placing me to the side events - which proved right. I then left after saying goodnight looking forward to getting some rest.

As side events judges were scheduled to arrive at 8:30, I had the chance to have some day 2 rochester draft action.


Drafting at the Grand Prix
Side events started at 9:20 a.m. with an 8 person booster draft but preparations and registrations had to be done beforehand. Soon, Thomas Ralph calls me and asks me to run the next draft with another judge so he can get experience (it turned out that he didn't need it, he managed fine). However before that draft started, we were told that the main event needed three judges from the side events and I was one of them. Our mission was to simply patrol since there were judges occupied at the main event with checking the decklists.

After round 1 concluded at the main event, I returned to the side events and was given a draft to judge which had already started. The draft went fine apart from the fact that it was in Chinese so I could not answer a single question. Luckily I wasn't asked a card specific question before leaving to take my level 2 test.

I took the test and returned to the side events. They were many of them by now and I patrolled answering questions from any draft as I was waiting my results from the written test so I couldn't handle a draft from scratch since I didn't know when I was going to take an interview and I didn't want to leave a draft without a judge. I had to run a draft after all because there was need for judges so I would politely ask one of the other judges to temporarily watch that draft while I took my interview.


Going for Level Two
Some time later, I was ready to take my interview .I had scored 94% in the written test and after having an interview which I really enjoyed (Gis Hoogendijk is a great person) I was congratulated for being promoted to level 2 from Gis and from fellow judges throughout the event, thanks guys!

I resumed my duties and all went well. Running 8 person booster drafts as side events of a Grand Prix is a great experience and I considered myself lucky to gain such experience. I got a second draft to run as well so it was a busy period of the day for me.

Time passed and it was time to prepare the area for the Grand Prix top 8. We moved the tables, made a draft table and several deck construction tables while the side events that weren't yet finished still continued. We had a short judge meeting before the top 8 describing what was to be done.

While the top 8 were drafting, I had nothing to do other than observing the side events, or what's left of them. I was assigned to help getting the pizzas for after the draft, an offer I could never resist.

After the draft was over, we had to clear the area from spectators to let the top 8 make their decks in peace. After that, the single elimination rounds started which decided the event's winner. During these rounds, I learned how to play mind magic and had a great time with fellow judges. I'll never forget how much fun we had.

It was all over, the Grand Prix was history. I said goodbye to all the other judges wishing to meet them again someday and I left after receiving product. It was an awesome experience, one every judge must have and one which will improve your skills. The only thing I could now do is plan my next trip to some other major event and remember this one.

Goodbye to you all and take care.



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