by Randy Buehler
In a telling display of the camaraderie that runs through this tournament, Dirk Baberowski and Gary Wise split a pair of practice games while they were killing time waiting for their real match to start. Their draft was also friendly. After Gary split the first pack, Dirk took the half without the Icatian Phalanx and announced "Banding is too complicated -- I don't want to play with that guy!"
Dirk used Vodalian Illusionist to great effect in game 1. Despite being obviously frustrated about his inability to draw a third island, he was still able to attack into Gary and threaten to phase out his creatures after damage went on the stack. Gary was having mana problems of his own that allow Dirk to beat him down to 8, in addition to prevented Gary from dealing with the Illusionist. Eventually, Dirk used Abduction to steal Gary's Phalanx and attack for 8. That forced Gary to chump block with Master Decoy, but Gary untapped and cast Monk Realist to destroy the Abduction. That stabilized the ground, for the time being. Dirk started using his Whispers of the Muse instead of his Illusionist. Dirk Whispered up a Rath's Edge and that left Gary on death's door. Gary found a Wizard Mentor and a Highway Robbers, but Dirk's Illusionist prevented Gary from ever successfully picking up the robbers and Gary died 4 turns later.
Gary drew a lot of land in game 2, but Dirk couldn't find a second color for a long time and their mana situations more or less canceled out. Dirk played a Rhox, but Gary played a Blinding Angel. Dirk had Waterfront Bouncer, but he elected to just keep taking 2 a turn and not getting to attack so he could Whisper up a hand of good cards. Eventually Dirk had so many cards that he could Bounce the Angel every turn and serve with Rhox.
Gary never came up with an answer to Rhox, but even if he had, Dirk have 4 other ways in his hand to win the game. Gary seemed very depressed about losing his 7th game of the weekend. He explains to anyone that will listen that he knew he wasn't among the best players here and he gets by on hard work and preparation. It's really hard to prepare for this format and so Gary isn't doing well. When Gary gave this speech to me I said "Welcome to my world!" Nonetheless Gary doesn't want to finish last. Brian Hacker also lost this round so Gary remains only 1 game into last place.
In other news, Jon Finkel beat Chris Pikula to create a three-way tie for first between Finkel, Pikula, and Pat Chapin. Pikula now has an 0-5 career record in Invitational Solomon draft. After going 0-3 in Solomon draft in Rio two years ago and 0-2 so far today, Chris was heard complaining "Gaad! -- if I pull a Donais ..."
Dirk - 2 (Now 4-4)
Gary - 0 (Now 1-7, last place)