Off a cobblestone street in the dock-and-warehouse district of Antwerp squats the site of Grand Prix-Antwerp. The location alternates between scenic and run-down, with a glittering river view as a backdrop for ancient warehouse buildings and potholed streets. This area of Antwerp is currently undergoing an urban renewal -- buying up the old buildings and turning them into expensive loft apartments has become the trendy thing to do, with rents already going sky-high in the search for river-front property.
Six-hundred fifteen players have turned out for the first day of the event, packing themselves tuna-style into a room that looks suspiciously like a converted warehouse. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer a spectacular view of the water and the city on the other side, and a thus scenically backlit Gis Hoogendijk head-judges his three-and-one-halfth event, the second-ever Grand Prix located in Antwerp. Antwerp, of course, is the headquarters city of Wizards of the Coast in Europe, and all the top folks have turned out to make this an excellent event.