The Italian Almanac

magic cards

Wizards in Rome

Wizards from around the world will swoop into Rome for the 2009 world championships of the fantasy game 'Magic: the Gathering'. Some 5,000 participants from over 60 countries are expected to take part in more than 25 tournaments of the cult game to be held at the Palazzo dei Congress convention center.

Magic: The Gathering is one of the first modern collectible card games which has an estimated six million players in over seventy countries. The game was invented by American mathematics professor Richard Garfield and introduced in 1993. It can be played by two or more players each using a deck of printed cards or a deck of virtual cards through the Magic:The Gathering website or third-party programs. Each game is a battle between powerful wizards, known as ''planeswalkers'', who use the magical spells, items, and fantastic creatures depicted on individual Magic cards to defeat their opponents.

Garfield will be the guest of honor at the championships in Rome. Representing Italy will be the Italian National Wizards Team which was selected at the recent national championships in Rimini. The squad is made up of 20 people between the ages of 17 and 38 who have a vast knowledge of the fantasy world which will allow them to battle evil dragons and elves. Skills needed to play the game are said to include math, logic and common sense. The winner of the 2008 championships in Memphis was Antti Malin of Finland. This year, aside from the title of world champions, the winner will also receive a cash prize of $45,000.