Magic the Gathering

Grand Prix Dortmund

It was not clear whether I would be invited to Grand Prix Dortmund. I had heard through the grapevine that I was on the list of replacements should any other judge cancel his invitation. But in the end I was invited. At that point I didn’t know that GP Dortmund was going to be the most demanding but also the most satisfying Grand Prix for me so far.

The judges of Grand Prix Dortmund

Riccardo Tessitori, Italy’s level 4 judge was going to be Head Judge, and Justus Rönnau, Germany’s most prominent judge was going to assist him. Riccardo in his preparation mail asked what we would like to do at the tournament. Since I was looking for new experiences I replied that I would like to either judge the main event on day 2 (previously I had always judges side events), or lead a team (something I hadn’t done before at the GP level), or table judge in the top 8 (I had to refuse that on my last two GPs — at GP Nottingham I felt I was more needed at the side events, at GP Hasselt I didn’t feel very well).

I was pleased when I got mail from Riccardo telling me I was to be team leader of a Logistics team on day 1 of the tournament. Lubos Lauer (an experienced level 3 judge from the Czech Republic) was going to be my backup. When I arrived at the tournament, my first task was to set up table numbers together with Richard Drijvers, the team leader of the other Logistics team. This proved to be an unique challenge, since the tables were arranged in a very “creative” way, not in orderly rows. In the end we settled on a way to do it and used numerous signs to help the players. But we were promised to have regular rows again in the future.

Day 1 went well and I learned a lot in my function as team leader. I was judging on the green side of the tournament, Justus’s side. The logistics team had a hard job at Limited events: product must be prepared and distributed, land stations must be manned, and then the floor must be covered while the deck check team starts counting deck lists. After that it becomes a much more quiet job. Overall I think we did a good job and the tournament finished in a timely manner.

I also made my first ruling in front of a rather large feature match crowd. It puts quite some pressure on you to rule on a complicated rules situation when about 20 people are watching you.

At the end of day when assignments were given out for day 2, I was assigned team leader again, this time for the Deck Check team. Working on day 2 overall is easier than on day 1, since there are less players (128 in our case) and most players are rather experienced. Nevertheless the two drafts (which means we have to count deck lists twice in a total of six rounds) adds some additional burden.

Overall I think I made a worse job at team leading, mostly because I wasn’t as prepared to the task as on day 1. This was the first time I judged on day 2 of a GP, and although I knew about what was going to happen, I did never observe this closely before. I think I should have taken the time the evening before to get some input, but I was too tired. Nevertheless things went fairly smooth again.

I was also asked to call the second draft. While I had called drafts before, this was the first time I did it in front of a large crowd and with a microphone. So I was a bit excited, of course. Well, after I made my initial announcements and said: “Count whether you got fifteen cards in your booster. Pick one card, you’ve got 40 seconds.” I noticed that a stop watch, or any watch at all would be a good thing to have. Finally I used the stop watch in my cell phone. This worked well … for about two and a half minutes, after which my cell phone froze. It turns out that only the stop watch display froze, while the stop watch itself ran on. So I was able to go back to the main screen and through the menus to the watch again and just continue. This happened a few times more during the first booster. While players were checking their drafted cards after booster 1, I got the stop watch of George M, which worked much better. Exciting times!

At the end of the day I table judged the semifinals match between David Brucker (who was eventually to go on and win the GP) and Mathias Wigge. Hanno Terbuyken was our reporter, so we had an all-German match that was rather interesting and exciting. We had some preprinted pages for noting down life totals, land drops, and extra draws (which a table judge usually does). It turned out to be a bad idea to use them, since I used more time to understand this system and look for the correct column than I liked. Next time I will use my own system again.

After that I took over as spotter for the finals. Fairly uneventful from a judging perspective, but with an exciting comeback by Brucker in game 3 from a one-land hand.

I noticed at this events that one of my big weaknesses is the evaluation of other judges. I often don’t see what they are especially good at or could improve, especially if they are doing a fine job. This is something I should concentrate on in the future and I also got some helpful tips from more experienced judges.

This was probably my best Grand Prix so far. I got to meet many people again that I met before, and had some interesting talks. I learned much from the talks as well as the work in many different areas at this tournament. I also was able to recognize some of my weaknessed that I will be able to work on in the future.

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