Subject: $3000 Inquest Tournament Report (New York) (fwd)
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 1997 17:54:17 -0400 (EDT)
From: Patrick Lennon Johnson 

This weekend was the last of the Inquest Classic tournaments. Here is a
report of how my day went and some comments that I hope will encourage

First of all, I like Inquest's idea to support Classic tournaments with
generous prizes, but I thought that they could have used a different
qualifier structure. Instead of a 1700 rating and qualifier tournaments, I
think they should have used a bye structure similar to Grand Prix. That
way they could allow all players to compete for the big prize and still
reward players with excellent Classic ratings. I felt the current
structure excluded people who might have had fun and done well but hadn't
played a lot of sanctioned type 1 and 1.5  From what I hear the
tournaments were generally not very well attended and I think the Grand
Prix-esque alternative (which was suggested to me independantly by several
people) would have generated more enthusiasm for the tournaments.
My deck (an outgrowth of my pre-July 1st deck, which I built with help
from Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz, Chad Hastaba, and Sean Fleischman):
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Incinerate
2 Psionic Blast
1 Kaervek's Torch
4 Gorilla Shaman
4 Serendib Efreet
3 Erhnam Djinn
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Timetwister
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Regrowth
1 Balance
1 Zuran Orb
1 Sylvan Library
2 Mystical Tutor
4 City of Brass
4 Volcanic Island
2 Taiga
2 Tropical Island
1 Mountain Valley
4 Strip Mine
3 Mishra's Factory
1 Library of Alexandria
5 Mox
1 Black Lotus
1 Sol Ring (61 cards)
2 Hydroblast
2 Pyroblast
1 Stormbind
1 Disenchant
1 Earthquake
1 Force of Will
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Erhnam Djinn
1 Maze of Ith
1 Control Magic
1 Mind Harness
2 Birds of Paradise (15 cards)

Pre tournament: The field is looking very strong. Top players included
John Chinnock, Chad Hastaba, Steve OMS, Pete Leiher, Jon Finkel, Mike
Pustilnik, Rudy Edward, Andrew Cuneo, and some others I'm sure I'm
forgettting. 49 people total, so 6 rounds of swiss.

Round 1 vs Howard ? (Mirror, counters, Jayemdae Tome, Disrupting Scepter,
lots of mana crypts)
4 gorilla shamans in the main deck really hurt this guy. First game was
over really quick.
Side in pyroblasts.
Game 2 was almost as fast with him getting a land stripped and some
artifact mana eaten. He had a Disrupting Scepter and 3 land out, but had
to choose between using it and countering spells. I was casting my
serendibs and attacking. He got me down to a couple cards in hand but died
to the damage rush.
(1-0, 2-0)
Round 2 vs Jon Finkel (Mirror, counters, balance)
Game 1 I skillfully bolt Jon about a million times
Side in pyroblasts, disenchant
Game 2 I forget what happened... Oh yeah, I get amnesiaed for several
cards :) Jon mirrors me to death
Game 3 I play first, he declares a mulligan. My hand is pretty good so I
keep it. He shuffles, shuffles, shuffles, draws a new hand, draws a card
and discards. D'oh. Well, when someone draws no land, he must be
punished for it. Erhnam Djinn teaches Jon a lesson in proper deck
(2-0, 4-1)
Round 3 vs Pete Leiher (Juzams, Specters, Hymns, Necro)
Game 1 is all Pete as he destroys my land and hand and then Juzam visits.
Board in Maze, Birds, Stormbind and Control Magic
Game 2 I get a good draw and cast a quick Erhnam, which he contagions. I
cast another Erhnam, bash him for a couple turns just waiting for
something juicy to control. Pete obliges by casting a Juzam. I control it,
attack for 4, next turn attack for 9 and the kill.
Game 3 I play a first turn library after skillfully cutting Pete to no
land destruction. I draw extra cards, control a specter that Pete is
forced to contagion to kill. I ancestral myself and overwhelm him with
creatures and burn. He draws one puny card per turn, which doesn't match
up to the Library of Victory.
(3-0, 6-2)
Round 4 vs. Arnold Huhndorf (strange mirror deck)
A very pleasant German guy. His deck was designed to balance to few cards
in hand and no creatures while keeping lots of resources like sylvan
library and artifact mana. Game 1 I get a poor draw and don't pull
anything good, while he is paying life to draw extra cards with sylvan He
mirrors me.
Game 2 I think I have it with an erhnam and a serendib serving the
beatdown, and a handful of bolts. Arnold casts mana vault, force of wills
it, arcane denials his force, and balances to 0 creatures, 0 cards, 2
land. He has several artifact mana, a sylvan, and 3 cards coming his next
upkeep. He bashes me to death with triskelion (which is an underated card)
I wonder how I got beaten, I didn't see any creature control except for
(3-1, 6-4)
Round 5 vs. Paul Ferker (strange zoo with mix of creatures, swords, and a
weird sideboard)
Game 1 I get out a first turn library that he can't deal with in time. I
draw two cards a turn and kill him with card advantage.
Game 2 I draw 1 taiga, and a hand full of serendibs, incinerates, etc. A
couple turns later I draw and cast a sol ring. Next turn I draw a city of
brass but I'm dead anyway.
Game 3 I draw a city of brass and a strip mine. I draw another strip
but I have to use one strip on his Library of Victory. I am stuck at two
land for several turns while Paul puts out a Gorilla Shaman and an Erhnam.
I draw another city of brass. My hand consists of an incinerate, a bolt, a
torch, a balance, a serendib, and an erhnam. I think I made a mistake, I
cast balance, discarded 2 cards. I should have taken the pain to bolt
incinerate the erhnam and saved the balance. Paul's next wave of creatures
kill me.
(3-2, 7-6)
Because it's six rounds and my tiebreaks are good I have a shot at top 8
Round 6 vs Barry Pace (untouchables/drop of honey)
Game 1 I see him play tropicals and tundras and assume he is playing
control. I start bolting him agressively. He drops an insect too late. I
ancestral myself and burn him to death.
Game 2 He draws one land, I strip it. He plays lotus, Jolreal's centaur. I
earthquake for 2 and then serendib serves the beatdown.
(4-2, 9-6)
It takes them a while to calculate the final 8 and I make it as the 8th
seed. Six rounds of swiss means a couple people with 2 losses get in.
Top 8 Seeds: 1 Arnold Huhndorf, 2 Andrew Cuneo, 3 Pete Leiher, 4 ?, 5 Paul
Ferker, 6 ?, 7 Michael Pustilnik, 8 Patrick Johnson
Quarterfinals Re-match against Arnold Huhndorf
I have a tremendous advantage because I know what he is playing and that
he is vulnerable to creatures. He is slightly mana screwed first game and
has to force of will a gorilla shaman. This frees Erhnam and Serendib to
serve the beatdown.
Game 2 he is really mana screwed with one land, 1 mox, and 1 mana vault.
My gorilla shaman is like a kid in a candy store. A mishra's and an erhnam
knock Arnold out. He is kind of upset because he played well all day, was
the #1 seed and got two mana poor draws.
(5-2, 11-6)
Semifinals vs. Paul Ferker
Again, I have a tremendous advantage because I have already played him
and I know he is going to bring in meekstone and cop red against me.
Game 1 we trade bolts and creatures for a while. I break the stalemate by
mystical tutoring for an ancestral. I cast an erhnam, he tries to bolt me
to death but I demonic tutor for a zuran orb and kill him with erhnam. I
know he is going to bring in meekstone and cop red so I board in a
disenchant, a stormbind, and a 4th erhnam and I remember to use my
gorillas as meekstone removal, not really mox destruction.
Game 2 he crushes me as I get a poor draw while he summons weenies,
wheels, and bolts me to death.
Game 3 my superior sideboarding comes through. I play a sylvan, a
stormbind, and an erhnam. I use the sylvan to keep a monkey on top of my
library waiting for him to meekstone my erhnam. I stormbind his
blockers and finally he plows it. I draw ancestral with five cards in
hand, go up to 8, play Library of Victory. I get the broken Sylvan/Library
of Victory going. Paul can't compete with my card advantage. I torch him
to death after he tapped out to play cop red.
(6-2, 13-7)
Finals vs Pete Leiher
Now I am the one at a tremendous disadvantage. Pete knows I side control
magic against him. I hope to get an amazing draw so I can win the first
game and be under less pressure to win the sideboarded games.
Game 1 Pete gets the amazing draw. He hymns me and bashes me with
pump knights. Now I am in a bad situation. I have to win two straight
against an amazing player who is going to side in disenchants to deal with
my best sideboard cards. I decide to sideboard a little differently.
Instead of control magic and stormbind I bring in a 3rd mystical and an
Game 2 he rituals out a juzam 2nd turn. He hits me, hits me, I block with
gorilla, he hits me, summons a pump knight. I mystical tutor for balance
and cast it, putting me at 4. I start attacking with a mishra's before he
hymns me, plays a specter, destroys my mishra's and casts a juzam. I have
no cards in hand, a city, 2 volcanics, a pearl and a zuran orb in play. I
top deck a regrowth, regrow balance and cast it. We both do nothing for a
while. Later I play a sylvan, and slowly burn him to death, finishing him
off with an earthquake.
Game 3 I have no tricks left, he knows about earthquake, his disenchants
still make me reluctant to bring in control magic. In addition, its
getting very late and I'm really tired. I try to buckle down and
concentrate. He plays a lotus, land, juzam first turn. I take my medicine
for a while before I can tutor for a balance. I play a sylvan library, he
has a disk on his side of the table. We both do nothing for a while,
finally he casts necro, necros for some cards, and blows the disk. I
mystical tutor for a timetwister, even though I only have two land. I
think it's my only hope. He is done and I make a mistake. I start to pick
up three cards as if my sylvan was still in play. I forgot that it was
disked away. The judges confer and give me a warning. Pete was pretty
upset, I think he thought I was trying to cheat, but honestly I was just
so mentally fatigued (it was about 3 am at this point, I had been playing
magic for 14 hours) I forgot.. Anyway, I don't manage to cast timetwister
and Pete kills me with a juzam.
(6-3, 14-9)
So I lose in the finals. It was still a pretty good day. I offer Pete
congratulations and I hope he isn't still mad about my illegal sylvaning.
Hopefully there's no hard feelings. Anyway, I felt pretty good about the
day in general. I got to meet Rudy Edwards, I had only read his posts
before and he is a cool guy. I also got to prove that Control and Necro
are not the only good decks left in the classic environment, a well made
alternative can still beat them, even without Black Vise.
There was one thing that left me with a bad taste in my mouth though, and
it was the phenomenon of re-matches. I have held for a long time that it
is nearly impossible for one good player to beat another 2 games out of 3
twice in the same day and the same format. My theory proved to be true
again today. I faced three people twice and every time the person who lost
the first meeting was able to win the second time around, armed with
foreknowledge of the deck and sideboard, experience with the person's
playing style, etc. I'm not sure this is even a problem, per se. Maybe it
is part of the game. I just don't like it. Any thoughts?

Patrick Johnson