Plenty of Luck

Posted in Event Coverage

By Friedrich Rademacher

Prague was probably the event with the weirdest and funniest stories anyone has ever heard of. First, two players, one of them who had no losses from day one, got stuck in their hotel room. Kai Budde and Luis Sousa did not make it to the event because they did not have a valid passport, and therefore got stuck at the border.

I had a chat with Andrey Rybalchenko who had better luck than the players I've mentioned before. Andrey is from the Ukraine and he attended Grand Prix Prague. His history is quite incredible and hard to believe so here is what happened.

The Ukraine had a Pro Tour Qualifier for Los Angeles during the month of December 1999. Luckily Andrey won the PTQ and the organizers paid travel expenses as well as the stay at the hotel. The Ukraine has a very strict policy about who they give visas to. Normally people who've already been to America will get their visas again. But if you never were you have less than 10% chance to get a visa. Andrey had already been to the US twice but that was only mentioned in his old passport - not in the new one - so that his request for a visa was refused. Andrey realized that he needed something else to get the longed-for visa. The Ukrainian officials needed to have a fax from a US Senator to get Andrey a visa. They told him he could only get his visa one week after the PT. That wasn't what he needed and so his hopes got smaller every day the PT got closer.

The day before the PT his telephone rang and a lady on the other end of the line said:

L: "Can you be at the embassy in half an hour with your deck?"
A: "Deck? What deck? What embassy?"
L: "Um . . . your umm . . . own constructed Magic deck"
A: "Ok . . . I'll be there."

Andrey asked some friends of his if they had any decks and what they had was a Type II Stompy deck with Cursed Scrolls. So he took that deck to the Embassy still not knowing what was about to happen. When the Ambassador approached him and asked him if he really played Magic he promptly replied yes, still not knowing of the Ambassador's intentions.

Ambassador: "Is there Magic in the Ukraine?"

So he challenged Andrey for a game. The ambassador's deck consisted of older cards but not power nine or something. He was playing the big old Legends. And as you can figure out he lost tremendously against Stompy. The first time he saw a 2/2 creature it happened like this:

Ambassador: "What? 2/2? Buuuuuhh! That's no creature. A 6/6 is a creature!"

After two hours of hardcore gaming and losing, the Ambassador finally believed that Andrey really played Magic. He went out for half an hour and when he came back he had Andrey's passport together with a Visa. Andrey was filled with joy and he went to the PT. The only sentence that keeps showing up in my mind is something that nobody can deny: Magic works in mysterious ways!

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