Hopefully I’ll have some time to write more regarding the 2014 Magic Hall of Fame and what my ballot looks like, but I wanted to be sure to get this small story about Paul Rietzl out there before others submit their ballots.
I got to see some important moments at a recent Grand Prix Minneapolis involving Paul that I think speak highly of his character and sportsmanship, both of which occurred on Day 2.
I saw Paul go to time in one of his matches against a player I didn’t recognize. Paul had a completely dominating board presence, and his Courser of Kruphix revealed even more answers on top of his library. His opponent had no cards in hand and effectively no chance of winning.
Paul calmly and politely explained the situation, something along the lines of: “I’m just going to put my hand on the table here so you can take a look at it. A draw’s no good for either of us, and I think you’d agree both that I played at a reasonable pace all match and that I’d clearly win this match if it went to its natural conclusion. Would you be willing to concede?”
The opponent declined (and please understand I’m not trying to get into the ethics of the situation here).
Paul didn’t push him. Paul didn’t get upset. Paul simply said ‘OK’. They filled out the match slip, and Paul wished his opponent good luck in the later rounds.
Two rounds later, Paul again went to time, only this time, the situation was reversed. Paul was the one up against the ropes, and it was clear that, if the match played out with more time, he would not win.
Clearly, a professional player is looking for all the points, and all the highest finishes he can get. And especially after what just happened two rounds earlier, Paul could’ve easily been tilted by his opponent’s lack of concession and used it to (try to) justify not conceding here as well. But Paul didn’t do any of those things.
It’s rare to get to see someone on both sides of the situation so closely together, and was a relief to see Paul behave incredibly sporting both times.