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Power up your Pokemon

Is your Pokémon deck a little lacking these days? Then Pokémon USA’s card expansion pre-release tournament is just the remedy for you and your Pikachu. The event, Pokémon TCG: EX Power Keepers Pre-release tournament, will be held at Kings Games, 1685 East 15th Street on Saturday, February 10 at 12 p.m. Admission is $20. The tournament will allow players to receive and play with cards from the upcoming EX Power Keepers expansion up to two weeks prior to the official release date of the set. Each player will receive six packs of cards, according to Pokémon USA spokeserson Dallas Niebuhr. Prizes will be awarded to all finishers in each of the three age groups. Pokémon (‘Pocket Monsters’ in Japanese) are fictional creatures who possess different skills and characteristics. A Squirtle, for example, is a baby blue, doe-eyed turtle with a squirrel’s tail and a penchant for spraying water from its mouth when threatened. The game matches two players against each other in an attempt to knock out six of their competition’s Pokémon. The creatures’ unique attributes can be used to defeat the character on the opposition’s card. Players can rage in age from young children to adults, Niebuhr said. Sometimes, parents battle their children, she added. “It’s really neat,” she said. Alex Shvartsman, the owner of Kings Games, said expansion sets are released every three months, and offer plenty of options for gamers. “They explore the possbliy of what they can do with the new cards,” he said. “It opens up the possibility to build a different deck.” The new cards, which come nine to a pack and retail for $4, will officially be on sale later this month, giving tournament participants a leg—or a hoof, flipper, or claw—up on the competition. Players will be divided into three divisions: junior division, for those born in 1996 or later; senior division, born from 1992-95; and a masters division for those born in 1991 or earlier. Players are free to take the cards home at the end of the event. Additionally, all participants will receive a Pokémon TCG: EX Power Keepers Pre-release promo card and an EX Power Keepers notebook, while supplies last. Players who complete the tournament will also receive two additional booster packs of EX Power Keepers cards and a notebook from the expansion. Shvartsman said he is gearing up for the 2007 Pokémon New York State Championship, scheduled for March 10 at 11 a.m. at Kings Games. After that, competitors move to the regional and national championships, culminating in the Pokémon TCG World Championships in August, in Hawaii, where scholarships worth up to $7,500 are at stake. For more information, visit www.op.pokemon-tcg.com or www.kingsgames.com.

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