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Trial for Grand Prix Oakland
Judge Report

Terry Robinson

Site: Inn at Chester Springs, Exton, Pa.
Date: Sunday, January 4, 2004
Event: Trial for Grand Prix Oakland
Format: Sealed Deck
Attendance: 39

Most of my previous 32+ person tournament experience had consisted of running and judging Junior Super Series Tournaments, today I would be co-running the Trials for Grand Prix Oakland. Right off the bat I noticed a big difference. There are almost no players older than 15 in the JSS. Clearly I'm gaining the judging spider sense I've been told about.

The tournament structure was six rounds of sealed followed by booster draft for top 8. I was adequately prepared: I had been equipped with a legal pad and three and a half 20 packs of ballpoint pens. By the end of deck registering there would be but three remaining. This amazed me in that fewer than 64 people registered. I must have overlooked the nutritional value of pens since they apparently were being eaten.

Deck registration was uneventful until deck swap. After the first two registration errors I made the announcement to not call a judge until then entire deck had been registered, upon this, numerous hands shot down. All in all, only six deck sheets were in error and only two to any significant degree. Another error on my behalf was not realizing that foil lands in boosters counted towards the 75 total cards, frantically scribbled this correction at the top of two deck sheets to hopefully avoid later problems.

Due to high volume from the JSS and two dealers, we placed the land station in the lobby of the main room. A player commented this was a darn stupid place to place the lands, but in more colorful language than such. The "do you have a better place in mind, sir"/judge-death-stare combo quickly silenced him. In that I'm going for level II certification I probably should not have included this incident in the report, but at least this time I said "sir".

The six rounds of match play went surprisingly smooth. No reposts, quick deck checks and no chairs thrown, thanks mostly to skill of the judge I worked with.

Interesting calls:

-Marked cards: Almost every sleeve in the deck had some sort of odd marking on it as if it had been made with a fingernail or pen, abstract impressionism in my opinion, but no discernable pattern. No penalty but a mandatory re-sleeve and 5 minute extension, the sleeves are now on display in the Guggenheim.

-Invented rules: My cojudge decided to reduce the time before game loss after a round starts to 10 seconds. Luckily I could shout louder and it was raised to three minutes.

-Deck checks: One gentleman had an absolutely awesome sealed deck and had a deck check called against him because of it, twice! In the first match he'd won quickly enough that I humored the other player and performed the deck check on the perfectly legal deck. The 2nd time, I simply said "not again", and his opponent withdrew the request.

-Drops: More than 30 people dropped out of the 60 person tournament by round 5. Going into round six, only one player had less than 6 points, which nicely ruined quite a few tie breakers.

-Annoying player: One gentleman almost every round would call a judge and begin some obtuse penalty request beginning with "not to be annoying but" for things like tapping equipment along with equipped creatures or leaving an imprinted card in the in-play zone. Luckily his rules lawyering didn't help and he dropped round four.

The top-eight draft was uneventful, as were the single elimination rounds,
Congratulations to Gerard Fabiano we wish him well at Grand Prix Oakland.

So the notes-to-self-for-next-tournament-of-the-day:
-Remember foil basic lands in boosters for large expansions
-Remind players to call judge after they've checked the whole registration sheet
-Get a receipt if Tournament Organizer is buying you lunch.
-Don't where white after Labor Day.

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