Magical thinking describes the process by which tournaments get completed through the sheer good will of non-participants, usually due to writers/editors not budgeting enough time to actually get their questions done. In rare cases, magical thinking fails, and the tournament itself is either not produced (as in the case of the 2007 Chicago Open Trash Tournament) or never fully completed (as in the case of FICHTE 2).
Magical thinking is the single biggest cause of poorly-written or canceled sets by otherwise competent people.
Steps Involved in Magical Thinking
- Procrastinate, wait for packets that ultimately won't show, and/or otherwise find excuses not to edit packets that have already come in or write questions for editors' packets.
- A few days before the tournament, realize you don't have enough questions and/or enough time to finish those questions, and send out a mass cry for help. This can be done via a public post, through e-mail targeted to people who will not be playing at the tournament, etc.
- Watch questions trickle in from people who heed your call and have some kind of community-oriented interest in the tournament sucking less than it would otherwise.
Tournaments Known to Have Used Magical Thinking
- Most tournaments produced by Charlie Steinhice
- Many tournaments produced by Matt Weiner in the late 2000's
NAQT and Magical Thinking
NAQT tournaments are often produced by a variant of magical thinking, in which R. Hentzel sends out a list of needs for the tournament a few days before it needs to be done. It is debatable whether this procedure constitutes magical thinking, as (1) NAQT only sends its needs list out to contract writers who get paid for this stuff, (2) the number of questions needed is often significantly fewer than in typical magical thinking scenarios, and (3) R. ends up writing many of those questions anyway.