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Around the World and Back


Hello everybody!

One day, a friend mentioned something that happened just last January, and my thought was “Was it January 2015 or January 2014?”, when it actually was just nine months ago, not two years ago, like my mind was thinking.

This is to me a clear sign that 2016 was a year full of adventures… no, it’s not my bad memory, how dare you? … ok, ok, you are right, my memory is just bad and isn’t able to locate situations in the correct year, but it was indeed a very interesting 2016.

Let’s take a look at the most memorable moments of 2016, both tournament related and also life related.

Happy reading.

Winter: What a Beginning!

While 2015 started with a Grand Prix right on the first weekend of the year, 2016 started with an amazing adventure.

In the middle of 2015, I was joking with a good friend and fellow globetrotter, Matteo Callegari, about visiting the seven wonders of the world.

It was a period with a lot of news on TV about Syria, so we decided that it would have been wise to go to Jordan and visit the “city of stone”; we actually said “let’s go, before it’s too late”.

Our plan was the perfect one, as you could visit Petra during the day and also during the night, with the road in the canyon full of candles and even a night show in the entrance plaza (the one that got famous thanks to the movie Indiana Jones). What’s better than going there exactly at New Year’s Eve?

So we arrived in Jordan a few days earlier, we visited some archeological sites in the north, some villages in the parks in the center, and we finally arrived in Petra on the afternoon of December the 31st… only to discover that… a RIOT was about to happen.

Yes, a real RIOT!

On one side, there were people with their faces covered, preparing barriers in the streets; on the other side, armored vehicles of the army and soldiers with their faces covered, protective jackets and huge weapons!

We initially spoke with the rioters, and they told us that (very short version), somebody commited a fraud and stole all the money and even the houses of lots of people, and, after three years of negotiations, the government promised that they were going to help the people before the end of the year.

It was December the 31st, and the government hadn’t done anything to help them, so they were preparing a riot for the deadline of their agreement, which was the evening of New Year’s Eve.

Think about what Matteo and I said… “let’s go before it’s too late”…

We wanted to avoid a war, but we ended up in the middle of a riot! Did we really get there just *one day* too late?!?

The story is long and exciting, and involves shooting… ok, maybe not the correct verb… filming some videos for a friend who was working (and was on shift that night!) for Al Jazeera, speaking with both rioters and soldiers, being offered help and accommodation by people from Saudi Arabia, streets blocked by barriers of fire…

There were two aspects of that evening that amazed me:

1) When we approached them, both the rioters and the soldiers started by saying “Yes, I speak English” and “We apologize for the situation, this is not normal in Jordan, Jordanian people are good people”… both of them, rioters and soldiers. At the beginning, we were scared of putting ourselves in a very dangerous situation by being foreigners, but, after both factions actually *apologized* to us, we felt that we could walk freely in the middle of the riot exactly because we were foreigners.

2) The town was full of parked cars and shops along the streets; other than the burned bus above, there was zero damage; one car was even parked next to one of the barriers created by rioters (the car was actually part of the barrier, but had no scratch at all!)

What a New Year’s Eve!!!

A second, amazing adventure, which I actually mentioned in the 2015 recap article, was a 24 hours trip to the desert of Wadi Rum, in the south of Jordan.

For most of the time, we were just three people: Matteo, me and our local guide.

We ran down the desert dunes, we climbed rocks, we rode on the roof of the jeep, we walked for hours in a perfectly silent desert, we ate with the Beduins, we spoke about Islam, we woke up at 5 to see the sunrise, we listened to the wind, we watched the stars, we were freezing at night… we lived an experience that words cannot describe, probably the most fascinating experience of my life!

Oh, yes, there were also some Magic tournaments!

A Grand Prix in Japan, a Pro Tour in the US, a crowded Grand Prix in Italy... my three continents offered me events, as they kindly and usually do.

Here you have an iconic photo for the winter events (from GP Nagoya at the end of January):

Spring: Tough Times!

There are happy times, and there are sad times; this is life.

There are successes, and there are failures; this is life.

There are moments when we feel powerful and in control of our future, and there are moments when we feel powerless and overwhelmed by destiny; this is life.

Last spring, at the same time of another couple of emotionally intense moments, I had to say goodbye to my “kid”, the dog who has been part of my life for the last ten years, who had been showing signs of aging for a few months, before closing his eyes and finally resting in peace.

My mind arrived at a crossroad.

On one side, there was the road of the past, full of pain for what wasn’t there anymore; on the other side, there was the road of the future, full of new adventures and joys.

On one side, there was the road of fear, full of potential sources of pain and regrets, scary, which invited me to close my heart to avoid more suffering; on the other side, there was the road of opportunities and days worth, full of awareness that joyful moments from the past continue living inside us and that the future offers us many other joys.

Without any rational thought, something switched in my mind, and I almost immediately found myself peacefully enjoying the memories of the good times of the past, knowing that many other good moments would have happened in the future.

Somehow, since that moment, I was able to approach every situation as an opportunity of experiencing something new, without any fear, even situations that may seem negative from the outside.

The past is what brought us to the present, and the best use of it is by learning to build a better future, without being anchored to what doesn’t exist anymore.

Oh, yes, there were also some Magic tournaments!

Again, I jumped from a continent to another, with few breaks.

Here you have an iconic photo for the spring events (from GP Washington in March):

Summer: The Treasures of Travelling!

Summer has always been the season with the most sun, holidays, friends, happiness.

If the tradition is that in summer we try something new, I had to obey the tradition, right?

The first travel was to “my” continent, with GP Taipei.

Then it continued with a new continent, with GP Sao Paulo.

Back “home” for a conference in Barcelona.

The last stop was in North America, for GP Montreal.

Four continents in just a couple of months; that’s the life I love. Each continent has its characteristics, its food, its landscape and especially its culture.

If you haven’t travelled, you cannot imagine how different Japan is from the rest of the world, how Europe is in part identical and in part different from Latin America, or how different might be the attitude of a Canadian and a person from the US.

That’s the real value of my activity: the possibility of meeting and interacting with people from different cultures, styles of life and values. To me, it’s the most enriching aspect of judging.

Then, as an extra, this summer I got to visit the forests of Canada and the beaches of Rio de Janeiro!

It’s the contrasts that make us grow. It’s the meetings with different people that open our minds.

Oh, yes, there were also some Magic tournaments!

Four continents in a season, what a performance.

Here you have an iconic photo for the summer events (from GP Sao Paulo in July):

Autumn: New Challenges!

Another season with four continents (now I understand how I finally succeeded in getting gold status with my airline much earlier than I expected!).

Atlanta on one continent, Kuala Lumpur on another, Santiago on another, and finally the World Magic Cup, as always in Europe.

The best memory in autumn is surely the travel to Easter Island, a place on Earth that until 2015 existed only in the last chapter of geography books but wasn’t an actual place where people could go… before discovering that there are real people living there! Yes, when we are kids, we have silly ideas… now don’t tell me that people went to Antarctica, because I would never believe you ;)

These were some of the journeys where the challenge was about learning a language. My favorite country is Spain and I’ve also always liked their language very much.

A way to learn something is to learn it with a friend. A better way to learn something is to learn it with a friend… and also have a competition!

In summer, I challenged a friend, but I didn’t choose a friend at random; I wanted it to be a real challenge.

I spoke with friends and I found one who said he would be happy to learn some Spanish and “play this game” with me; the choice was made, and my opponent became George Gavrilita, who speaks fluently a few languages (he’s Romanian (1), he lives in Italy (2), studied at university in France (3) and China (4), and also speaks decent Japanese (5) and Portuguese(6); then he wanted to review his Portuguese (7) and also study some German during summer (8) before starting studying Spanish (9) in September… yes, I really hate him!!).

The competition ended in December, during the last Grand Prix of the year in Madrid, with a few Spanish judges deciding who had the best Spanish knowledge. It ended as a draw (a convenient result to make everybody happy!), but I know that at least one of them said “I vote for Riccardo, because George already speaks many languages”.

Yes, of course he won, there were no chances for me… but the next time you meet me at a tournament… podemos hablar español ;)

What Were My Plans for 2016?

It’s good to have an article at the beginning of the year stating the goals for the new year, because you can use it to verify which goals were achieved and which ones were not.

One plan was to go to Australia; it didn’t work out in 2016, but I’m actually writing this article from Brisbane, so it half-worked.

One plan was to visit Latin America, and it worked very very well, as I went twice and both times I visited wonderful places and met great people.

One plan was to learn a new language; ok, I can’t say I speak good Spanish, but I know I would be able to live and survive in a Spanish speaking country without any issue… and I was very proud about being able to assist people at tournaments in Spanish only! Learning never ends.

One plan was to write an article or two about non-Magic topics; I told you about some of my travels and I tried to add something more personal in this article, but I know I should try harder in 2017.

Plans for 2017!

My Magic continent is always Asia, so one of the goals will be to participate in all Asian Grand Prix events.

Then, though it’s an activity that I have already started in autumn, another goal is to continue my series of articles dedicated to tournament logistics.

Then we have languages, which are one of my great passions; in addition to continue practicing English, French and Spanish whenever possible, 2017 is supposed to be the year when I *start* studying Japanese; I expect it to be much slower than Spanish (Spanish is indeed very similar to Italian), but I expect it to be very fascinating.

On a more personal level, one goal is to complete the renovation works in my new house (I will describe it as “next to the beach”, but it’s actually at about 10 km from the sea and 6 km from a lake inside a natural reserve… which is indeed very good!).

Reading books, watching movies, spending time with friends and family, training… this should always happen, but let’s add it to the “official goals for 2017”, so that I will remember to tell you about them next January.

Judge of the Year 2016

At the end of the year, we take a look at all achieved results and we give an “evaluation” of the experiences we lived.

One of the key aspects of the judge program is that judges help each other, and it’s a pleasure to give the deserved recognition to the people who performed the best and who gave the best contribution to our system.

A judge who obtained huge successes in 2016 is the French former level five Kevin Desprez.

In addition to being a Grand Prix head judge and one of the Pro Tour head judges, Kevin has been selected for the role of “Grand Prix Head Judges Lead” and also “Program Coordinator”.

Indeed, great successes for one of the greatest Magic judges of all times!

(here is a photo from a few years ago!)

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

Was it a good 2016 for you? Are you ready for new adventures in 2017?

We should never stop dreaming about new experiences!

See you at many Magic events this year!


About Riccardo Tessitori

Riccardo Tessitori
Riccardo Tessitori

Riccardo Tessitori is a level 3 (former level 5) judge from Italy (and former Pro Player ^__^); he judged more than a hundred professional events, headjudged more than 40 Grand Prix events in Europe, the United States and Asia and has been headjudging Pro Tours and World Championships since 2009:

  • Pro Tour Kyoto 2009
  • Pro Tour Austin 2009
  • Worlds Chiba 2010
  • Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011
  • Pro Tour Barcelona 2012
  • World Magic Cup Indianapolis 2012
  • Pro Tour Dublin 2013
  • Pro Tour Valencia 2014
  • Pro Tour Brussels 2015
  • Pro Tour Madrid 2016
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