Pokemon tournament draws young strategists

September 23, 2000

Pokemon tournament draws young strategists

By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer

A new wave of Pokmon frenzy arrived in Hagerstown Saturday when more than 100 people crowded into a vacant store in the Longmeadow Shopping Center for a tournament featuring the tremendously popular trading cards.

For the youngsters playing the game, the event was an opportunity to compete with fellow enthusiasts. They strategically deployed their Pokmon cards, each featuring characters with special powers, to outmaneuver their opponents.

For many onlookers - including parents and others not in the know - the competition was mystifying.

At the outset, youngsters dashed in weighed down with plastic boxes and file folders full of Pokmon cards bearing the likenesses of creatures such as dragons and other monsters.

The youngsters could compete in tournaments for one of three age groups up to 15 years old, or they could trade cards with other collectors.


In the competition, players select cards from their collections, carefully choosing the one whose character's powers are most likely to trump those of their opponent's selections.

The strategies used are complicated because there are more than 150 Pokmon characters with different capabilities, players said.

The Charizard, for example, is a dragon-like creature whose strength is among the greatest of all Pokmons, said Jeff Hayter, a Hagerstown youngster who came out to trade cards. It has a high "HP," or hit points, quotient, Hayter said.

Hit points represent how many times a Pokmon can take a hit from an opponent and survive, Hayter said.

Besides being a formidable game opponent, the Charizard is a valuable collector's piece; so valuable that Hayter kept his in his mother's purse for safekeeping Saturday.

"I don't bring it out. This is the card everybody wants," Hayter said, carefully displaying the prized piece.

Hayter got the Charizard in a box of Pokmon cards that cost him $80. The Charizard card alone sells for between $100 and $125, Hayter said.

Because the cards have different capabilities, card collections often reflect the personality of the owner, said John Conner, a player from Hagerstown.

"There is so much strategy you wouldn't believe," Conner said.

Willie Magoun of Wolfsville and Dustin Heffner of Martinsburg, W.Va., were all smiles as they sat down for a practice round Saturday.

Heffner said he had been playing about a year; Magoun had crammed the night before.

"I just started playing last night," Magoun said. "I have known how to play before, but I wasn't really sure."

Some adults play, but many of those in attendance Saturday were there to bring their children and had no clue about the complex competition.

"I still don't know what they're doing," said Penny Hayter, Jeff Hayter's mother.

Although Pokmon tournaments are popular in big cities, Saturday's was the first for Hagerstown, said Scott Paddack, a member of the Hagerstown Jaycees, which sponsored the event.

Winners of Saturday's tournament will have the opportunity to advance to regional competitions, Paddack said.

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