GP Birmingham 2018

GP Birmingham 2018

The UK’s second and third Grand Prix of the year due to the new double-header GP format brought out this year takes us the UK’s second city, Birmingham. This means a Wednesday start and a four working day weekend which will be good preparation for the similar pattern I will be doing in Toronto.

Once again I was scorekeeping as flex cover for the weekend. This meant that I would be used wherever there was need. Most of the weekend this meant picking up Scheduled Side events most of the time but also covering breaks on On Demand events too. I also spent some of the weekend learning a little bit about Wizards’ Large Tournament Reporter (WLTR) as I am using it in Toronto next week to run the PTQ.

It felt really strange getting up on Wednesday for a GP but I needed to pick up the car and meet the gang in Birmingham. It was also strange travelling solo for a home GP. Luckily we would make up for this pretty much every car ride for the rest of the weekend! With car collected and bags packed I set off for Birmingham in glorious sunshine and a very good mood.

Wednesday evening saw the Cardiff judge crowd meet up with a couple of others to try our hand at eating Chinese hotpot – essentially a boiling pot of stock to which you add a variety of ingredients to cook and then eat, similar to the 70s dinner party classic of fondue. As usual with these experiences, the company is what makes the memories and it was a classic example of that with much hilarity ensuing.

Turning up to work a GP on a Thursday was an odd sensation, but that quickly went away as I settled into my routine for the day. Players were also affected by the idea of turning up to an event a day early and thus we were pretty quiet in the hall with almost all the events having under one hundred players which is really the cutover point between most scorekeepers and those able to work at a GP. Registration opens an hour before the event is supposed to fire and normally we see surges at the start of that period and then the last twenty minutes or so and the test of GP scorekeepers is being able to manage that load whilst also dealing with their other event turnaround and prep tasks.

Being quiet was not an ideal state for a couple of reasons. Firstly, scorekeeping is very much a burst activity – you’re extremely busy in short bursts with plenty of downtime in between. Having small events means that the burst periods are less intense and makes it harder to switch on from the down times. Secondly, for this particular show I had organised a social activity for the users of the UKISA’s Discord channel and lots of quiet time meant I had more time to panic that we wouldn’t meet the minimum bar spend and I would lose my deposit!

Luckily, the gathering went really well and I am definitely going to be running more in the future.

The weekend went pretty much like any other for the rest of the weekend. Player numbers picked up on Saturday and Sunday and helped us get into a nice groove. Being quiet did create an opportunity for me to start learning how to use WLTR, which will help me run the Sunday PTQ in Toronto next week. I also had a lot of opportunity to speak to judges I don’t see that often and do a little mentoring and development work.

Despite the success at the Discord party and the chance to learn some new things I ended up walking away from this event a little bit down on where I am right now. Some of it was event related, I felt like this is the first show since being taken on as a scorekeeper where I didn’t improve. I was competent and I think I cemented my position as a reliable member of the team, but in terms of taking next steps I just don’t think I moved forwards at all. This is a difficult thing for someone like me to realise. I thrive on never standing still. This stems from a severe case of imposter syndrome/inferiority complex where I feel then need to constantly prove I deserve to be there and to be considered adequate. Luckily, the scorekeeper team is pretty tight knit and there is a level of support and comradeship that usually keeps these things under control. The combination of a quiet weekend and a long weekend probably meant this support was stretched pretty thin.

There was also a realisation this weekend that I feel a lot like I’ve reached my ceiling in the judge program. Scorekeeping is a lot of fun and I have more fun doing it than any other role I’ve done so far, but it’s a very flat structure in terms of progression. On the admin side, there is some scope for progression and opportunity to develop but that isn’t really there in the scorekeeper role. As a judge, L3 is now not really on the cards as there is almost no realistic way to meet the requirements without going back to making losses at events and spending another year grinding GPs with no financial or practical support.

Finally, it’s dawned on me that the judge program is so poorly designed to handle people with my particular set of hang-ups and issues that even if I were to reset my goals I would still be unsuccessful. There are just too many barriers put up to prevent those who struggle in social situations progressing.

To end though, I want to bring back some positivity. This was the first show I’ve done with friends since leaving Wales and it was one of the best weekends of my life. I want to thank those that contributed to making me laugh like I haven’t laughed in years and, similar to how I felt when I moved to Wales in the first place, you really do only appreciate things when they’re gone!

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