My trip to Toronto began with a healthy dose of perspective and ended with a healthy dose of Chinese food. In between, there was plenty of Magic, plenty of fun, and plenty of heartbreak.
It all started in the Chicago airport. I happened into Seattle’s Jon Lundley, him of the Cardhaus. While we were chatting about nothing in particular, I noticed an elderly gentleman across the aisle from us. He looked a bit out of place drinking from a fast-food restaurant cup. Like all interesting or off-kilter images I see, I filed it away for later, perhaps to draw upon for some future writing assignment. I then continued my conversation with Jon, interrupted only by the tasty frozen yogurt delivered to me by Lisa.*
When we arrived in Toronto, I noticed the elderly gentleman again, this time waiting in the taxi queue. I noticed also that he had a tattoo on his forearm. Again considering this odd, I took a closer look, both at the tattoo and the gentleman. The gentleman, probably in his 70s or 80s, was obviously Jewish — and the tattoo wasn’t some trendy design, but a series of numbers. He was a Holocaust survivor. Before I had the opportunity to speak to him, he got into a taxi and sped off into the Toronto evening. Suddenly, long days of being on my feet the whole time didn’t seem to be all that difficult.
To get it out of the way, I’ll hit on Tom Guevin and his Animated Land/Sacred Ground issue. If you missed it in "Ask the Judge," the reason the combo doesn’t work is that a land creature dying due to fatal damage is not being destroyed by a spell or ability (the spell or ability just deals the damage); it is being destroyed by a game rule (a creature with damage equal or greater than its toughness), so Sacred Ground will not trigger. Sacred Ground will indeed trigger if you were to play a spell like Terror on someone’s animated land, because it’s the spell that’s destroying the creature.
On Day 1, I worked on Collin Jackson’s team. The Standard portion of the event was rather quiet, save for one disqualification. A player who was playing Rebels noticed that his opponent wasn’t cutting his deck after the player searched for a Rebel. He took the opportunity to search for a Rebel and then put a card at the top of the deck. He gave it a few phantom shuffles and presented it to his opponent. Several people noticed his poor attempt at sleight of hand. He was disqualified without much discussion. Let it serve as a lesson to a) always shuffle your opponent’s deck and b) don’t cheat (a lesson we’ll have reinforced later).
On Day 2, I worked on Team Rosewater in the Feature Match area (meaning just Mark and me). Two interesting scenarios cropped up: First, I warned a player for slow play. He wasn’t intentionally stalling, he was just being excessively deliberate. He would take a long time to make decisions, tap his permanents slowly, and just generally waste time unnecessarily. His slow play put his opponent at a time disadvantage. A second warning for the same offense earned him a game loss.
The DCI Universal Tournament Rules give players three minutes for sideboarding and shuffling. I happened to be standing over a match when game one finished, so I stayed there and watched. I reminded the players of their three minutes. I counted down each minute thereafter, and then gave them some extra seconds at the end. When they still didn’t appear to be interested in presenting their decks, I issued them both warnings for exceeding the Pre-game Time Limit. Unfortunately for one of them, it was his second warning for the same thing. Result: Game loss. Since he had just lost game one, it ended up costing him the match. The DCI is very serious about slow play.
On Day 3 I was the Team Leader of one of the teams. I had a super team, which included Belgium’s Glen Monica (L2), Holland’s Jan-Willem Barends (L2), France’s Damien Guillemard (L2), and Italy’s Davide Bitteto (L3). All I did was organize the team; the other guys did the rest. They are all excellent Judges, and were a distinct pleasure to work with. I expected Extended day to have some difficult rulings — but besides the Sacred Ground bit, it was actually rather easy.
Day 3 ended with a great meal at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse with Dale from Australia (sorry, but I’ve forgotten Dale’s last name), Chris Galvin, Scott Larabee, and Magic Brand Manager Joe Hauck. Super-great food, one-upped by super-great conversation. If you can get to a Ruth’s Chris, go for it. The crabmeat stuffed mushrooms are a beating. If you can share a meal with any of these four guys, jump at the chance. You won’t regret it.
On Day 4 I was on the team led by Canada’s Duncan McGregor (L2). Unfortunately, I was struck by a migraine early in the day. I spent most of the morning incapacitated, laying on a sofa in the staff lounge with something covering my eyes against the evil light. I recovered sufficiently by noon to get back to work, and caught the last two drafts. I really felt for my friends from Belgium, who were at one time in third place, only to run into the buzzsaw called Team USA.
By evening, I was feeling good enough to draft with some of the gang. Seven Judges/Staff members, along with a fascinating and beautiful Canadian woman by the name of Karen Wilson, squared off in an Invasion block booster draft. Florida’s John Shannon (L3) ended up carrying the day, while yours truly managed to scrub out after drafting a good deck.
Day 5 was a day of triumph and heartbreak. Congratulations to Tom van de Logt, who’s definitely one of the good guys. Congratulations also go to Team USA for coming from so far back to win it all.
As you certainly know by now, Dave Williams was disqualified for deck manipulation. The fact that someone cheated and got caught is not the heartbreak; that we call justice. The bad part is that Dave is someone who could have done extremely well for himself as a DCI representative. As they say in TV, his Q factor was high. Not any more. Another star falls.
The whole thing ended with the Staff Dinner (Judges normally don’t get invited, but I was there as the spouse of a Staff member) at a pretty cool Chinese place in downtown Toronto. We individually tried to decide on what to get, but then just decided to go for Menu C for the nine of us at our table. It turned out pretty well. I sat next to R&D member Henry Stern and tried (unsuccessfully, I’m sure) to sell him on my idea for a new mechanic: Reverse Trample. The meal, as good as it was, was eclipsed by the company. In addition to Henry and Lisa, I shared the evening with Randy Buehler and his wife Del, Jacky Yang, David Ong, Chris Galvin, and Paul Barclay. The highlight was when Richard Garfield came over and showed us the cork trick; get him to show you sometime.
The 2001 World Championships was like many other Premier Events. It was full of hard work, interesting happenings, great people, and overall a great time. Although I mentioned them a recent column, I’d like to once again recognize Diana Johns and Renee Roub, and the entire Pro Tour/World Championship Event Staff. These folks know how to put on a great show. I’m fortunate to be associated with them.
And that’s my Final Judgement.
Sheldon K. Menery
* For those of you who aren’t regular readers, Lisa is my wife of nearly 12 years, and now travels to the Pro Tour to run Side Events. You’ll definitely see her in New York and New Orleans.