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The 2001 Open de Paris

by Gilles Delcourt and Derek Evans
edited by Jens Kreutzer
support by Eric Platel

Vastly more important than any old tennis championship (well, at least for Netrunner players), the real French Open (or rather, Open de Paris) took place on May 26-27, 2001. The following is a joint report of the event by Derek Evans and Gilles Delcourt, who were there for us. First, Derek's impressions:

It all started when Eric Platel announced the French Open Championships for 2001. In his email he said that everyone was welcome, but that he could only host Derek Evans and Gilles Delcourt. Well, with a personal invitation to stay at someone's flat for the weekend before he'd even met me, it was the least I could do to take him up on the offer.

First I had to check with my wife whether I was allowed to go to Paris for the weekend, and once I'd picked myself up off the floor I had to check she wasn't joking. I quickly applied for a passport and booked the train from Trowbridge all the way to Paris. The passport was easy, organising the train journey was a nightmare. I shan't bore you with the details and the amount of stress it induced, but on the day before travel, there was a local train strike called for the exact time I wanted to get to London, and it took all day to arrange an alternative route ... whereupon they promptly called off the strike - aargh!

The actual journey was uneventful and I arrived only 10 minutes late. Eric and Gilles were waiting for me and spotted my red hat and Welsh flag - no problem. Eric took us back to his place in a taxi to deposit our weekend gear, and then we headed out for a pizza.

Now just to make things clear: I have never before travelled abroad alone, and when I arrived in Paris, I was under the impression that I only spoke one word of French, bonjour. By the time we got to the pizza place, I realised I knew six words: bonjour, oui, avalanche, non, merci, and au revoir. The pizza was great and so was the company; the only problem was that Eric wouldn't let me pay for the meal or the taxi fare.

The next morning, Saturday, we took the Metro to the gaming hall. It was so relaxing just to follow Eric and not be the slightest bit bothered about what any of the signs said and what any of the stations were called. I didn't know, and it didn't matter.

When we arrived the place was buzzing. There were a hundred people there at least, but unfortunately for the Magic prerelease to be held at the same time as our tournament. Yannick and Eric put out a good display of cards and banners, however, so that people knew there was another event being held at the same time.

That day, the Sealed tournament was held, and we were given our cards in an orderly fashion and told how much time we had to build our decks, in French and again in English. Gilles made sure I understood, and I went about putting together my decks. My first match was against the only woman in the tournament, Caroline. I had already been told that she was a good player, so it was good news and bad news, really. Caroline spoke pretty good English, so deciding who played Corp first was not a problem (and it turned out to be me).

In this first game, the cards just seemed to fall for me: Filter and an agenda in my opening hand. Fetch tagged her twice as my only ice on R&D, but she suspected that I had no cards that made use of tags. Then I couldn't believe my luck when Caroline installed Broker and used it. Knowing there's no point in just using it once, I left it alone on my next turn. I think Caroline's next turn went something like run, add to Broker, draw, install Short Circuit. That was an opportunity I was not going to miss. First action: zap Short Circuit, second action: zap Broker, and that was the end of Caroline's chances as Runner. She got her own back as Corp, though.

The game started fairly normally; she scored an agenda early and I kept running R&D, which was costing me bits, meaning that I couldn't run every turn if I also wanted to improve my situation. Caroline built an SDF with two pieces of ice in front of it, and I got Short Circuit installed and started stockpiling bits. Then she finally rezzed the Code Gate that had been sitting in front of R&D the whole time. In her next turn, she installed something in the SDF, and I used all my bits to get Loony Goon, install it and run the SDF, getting through and finding it was some pointless upgrade. In Caroline's next turn, she installs another card in the fort and advances it once. She only has 3 agenda points and one advancement counter on the card, not enough bits for fast advance, so I'm happy to gain four bits, say done and run it on my next turn. Unfortunately it was Tycho Extension, and the game was over. Then Caroline told me that when the game started, she had four agenda cards in HQ, 50% of her agenda points, which is why she wasn't worried about me running R&D. Well played Caroline, and badly played me. 10-0, 0-10.

For the rest of the day I was always lucky with the cards: In my opening hand as the Runner, I have always had at least one breaker or The Short Circuit, and it seemed like Glacier would turn up only after I had scored an agenda. I can remember one game where I had a sentry breaker and a code gate breaker in play and the Corp had no walls, and another time when two of the three cards in my HQ were agendas and the Runner accessed the third. A draw was my most common match result, having three draws, one win and one loss. I was pleased by two facts: I never lost a game as the Corp, and I was the only player not to lose to the eventual winner (that was another draw).

I finished fourth on the day, which was far better than I had ever hoped for. I'd like to thank Eric for his hospitality and friendship, and such a well-organised day, along with Yannick. On Saturday night, I got to sit outside at a roadside restaurant, eat great food and drink great wine and watch the world go by - it was magical. I'd recommend a trip to a tournament in Paris to any and every Netrunner player. With my wife's permission, I'll be back next year. Au revoir.

Here is Gilles' report:

Let me introduce myself: I am the co-sysop of the Liege City Grid, in Belgium for those who don't know (er ... in Western Europe, for those that really can't figure it out). This was my second time at the French Netrunner Open and my fourth tournament or so in France.

I came to Paris on Friday evening (two and a half hours by train, not enough to finish a good Terry Pratchett reading), and was soon followed by Derek Evans from the UK. I have known him for some time chatting on the Net, but meeting in meatspace is something else entirely. Together with Eric Platel (our 3-star host for the weekend), we had pizza and started talking about Netrunner, the European Community, and lots of less funny things.

On the next day, we had a small breakfast and came to the place where it was all going to happen: a spacious game center called Ostelen. Surrounded by a frenetic Magic: The Gathering prerelease crowd, we ended up having 14 players for the Sealed tournament, thanks to the excellent organization by Eric Platel and Yannick Mescam (I have to mention here that those guys could have competed for the Top 5, but they dropped to just run the tournament: Hats off, guys!).

The Sealed decks were made from one starter, one Proteus booster and two Classic boosters. Most of the rare cards I got were unplayable in that format (Bio-weapons Engineering with only one source of meat damage, Elena Laskova with only two preps, etc.), but I also had some luck, getting four multi-access preps in my Runner deck. Games where quite tight, thus enjoyable. Many a time I felt that things could go drastically right or wrong depending on me or my opponent making the correct choice. I for myself remember one tragic error (blame it on the fatigue): The time when I got tagged and bagged to death without using that Wilson to avoid the tag!

Winner of the day was Jean-Yves Lamour, who I played in my last game. He took me by surprise, gaining 8 bits in one action thanks to his unexpected Organ Donor and proceeding to steal my not-so-safe agenda. This made the difference on that round, and his talent allowed him to win as Corp, too. By the end of the first day he was ranking first with 23 points out of a maximum of 30.

Derek, Eric and I (together with another French player and his charming wife) had a much-needed supper in a fine French restaurant. I have to tell you that there is more to participating in such a tournament than just competing with new talented opponents. There's also the delight of visiting places, discovering others, and enjoying a good meal. If Derek had a special interest in French wine (Eric was happy that I had brought along some famous Belgian beers), I for one fell in love with a dessert called "Ile flottante et ses fruits rouges." Hmm ... I tell you, there's nothing like a Netrunner tournament abroad.

Well, I'll skip over some interesting discussions we had late at night and my headache on Sunday morning to get to the Revised Constructed tournament. Still featuring five games, this had a little more attendance (16) despite the second edition of that Magic prerelease. I had great expectations for my Runner deck (a straightforward Lucidrine/Liberated Saving Accounts strategy), which had proved quite challenging even for the fastest decks during playtesting. On the other hand, my Corp deck was only a slight improvement over the classic Golden Loop (Golden 18) deck. Sure, it was going to concede a few agenda points on every match, but it had speed on its side, and with low-value agendas, I felt safe from those infamous Gypsy Schedule Analyzer stacks that I was expecting in large numbers.

In fact I was proved totally wrong. Neither were my opponents playing decks of the supposed kind, nor were my decks strong against them. In my first match, I played against Derek. He got me stymied when I accessed several Doppelganger Antibody. Without any bits at the start of the run and no way to get them back quickly, I couldn't stop him. This proves once again that a competitive deck is often a deck of the unexpected kind.

The next match was my revenge against Jean-Yves. He was expecting a lot from his Dieter Esslin/Fetal AI combo, but tore out a few of his remaining hairs when I trashed the whole ensemble with Death From Above (which I had included at the last possible moment when I remembered a similar deck played by Rik Geysels).

As the Runner, he was unlucky, and I had my first (and only) total victory of the day. Indeed the other matches didn't go too well for me, mostly because of my opponents' skill and their unusual deck designs (for my area). Here I have to mention Frederic "Crazy" Garnier's once again playing a more than unusual deck. Imagine facing a 120-cards Corp deck! And the little "tower of horrors" had only six agendas in it (all of them being Political Overthrow, of course). More than one Runner got killed after being a little bit too curious while digging the pile. His decks, and his talent of playing in an ever-surprising but efficient way, lead him to 5th place for the day, but Number One was Remy Berenger with his Rent-to-Own deck, as classic as it could be, and an efficient Runner deck based on small money preps and Elena Laskova (in fact, most of the cards for this deck came from the Classic expansion).

After a computer crash, we got the combined rankings: Remy took over a well-deserved first place, Frederic "Doomed" Garnier went second as usual, and I ended up being 7th, better than expected after a pitiful day in Constructed. I must give a special mention to Derek, who scored as well as I did, although he had to drop out of the last two matches (something about a train to catch to get back home - what a lame excuse).

Everybody got rewarded with nice prizes, including boardgames, DVDs, comics, T-shirts and more! This was definitely a brilliant organization by Eric and Yannick, and I can't wait to visit again for the French championship in November this year. Hope to meet you there too!

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