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US Nationals, Day 2

Columbus, OH, USA - Saturday, July 3, 1999

Mitch Smithson

Needing to get recertified (to become 6th Ed Legal), I headed over to Origins, and worked most of day two of the U.S. Nationals. The second day consisted of six swiss rounds of Standard Constructed play (actually rounds 7-12 of the whole event).

The head judge for the event was Mike Donais (level IV). The DCI Tournament Manager, Jeff Donais (level V) was in attendance, while numerous level III and II floor judges patrolled the floor (myself included). We were rather overstaffed, which gave many of the level II judges time to discuss judging issues and techniques with the higher level judges present.

From my understanding, the first day was rather uneventful, which was quickly made up for in the first (seventh) round on Saturday (which went over time by about 35 mins due to a situation). A couple of interesting situations are presented below with a few comments for future reference (players names aren't included).

1. "Judge, he stacked his deck!": Player A- Oath of Lieges in play. Before the end of last turn, had cast Enlightened Tutor for an Oath of Druids (which was on top). During upkeep, used OoL to get land. Shuffled deck afterwards.

Player B-Calls for a judge. Claims that he believes that his opponent stacked the deck. Says that Oath of Druids is still on top of Player A library. Judge checks this, and it is.

-This was handled very efficiently. For one, it was late in the round, and Player A more than likely did this unintentionally (though no judge was there to see it). In is rush to get the game back underway after using OoL, it was discovered that he had only riffle-shuffled his deck twice. Warning, game loss. Unfortunately, the loss caused player B to win the match, and player A was a bit unnerved by the penalty (understandably so). The judges in the situation handled everything well, explaining that though it may have not be intentional, those are the rules, and players should abide by them.

-When I am in situations such as this, after and sometimes before the penalty is issued, I often encourage both players to vigilantly maintain the game state, and to aid one another in following the rules. I believe I heard a couple of people (judges and spectators) were upset at how player B handled this situation. Though, from a gentleman's perspective it would have been nice for the player B to ask player A to shuffle the deck more, and then shuffle it himself when it was presented for a cut, it is completely within Player Bs rights to call for the judge. As a judge, calmy and casually suggesting such things (i.e., "the gentleman's approach") to players is a good way of helping them, yourself, and your fellow judges to avoid such situations in the future. Not only are we there to make judgements about the rules and issue penalties, but it is also our job to encourage sportsmanship and fair play. Always keep this in mind.

2. Judge, he's playing slow, and going over the time limit!: A judge is called for by both players to watch their match. Player A is a calcutated player that consistantly plays a well thought-out turn. I would not neccesarily call it slow play, but it borders it. However, the player consistently plays this speed. Player B is on the ropes, as the round is coming to the end, and speeds up his play. Player B begins to contend that player A is slowing down the pace of the game (player A is playing Living Death). Player A is thoroughly shuffling his deck after using Survival of the Fittest (table, riffle, and side shuffling). He goes over the shuffling time limit and the observing judge gives the player a warning and game loss. Tempers errupt. The ruling is eventually overturned, however, and for good reason (see the follow up), and the match continues, and because of the extent of the ruling, the round was WAY over-extended.

-The ruling was overturned because of a couple reasons. For one, it is our duty as judges to make sure that the players follow the rules of the tournament and game. Standing by and waiting for a player to break the rules, and then penalize him or her for doing so is not good practice. The judge watching the match should have informed the shuffling player that he was nearing the end of his shuffling limit. This, added to the fact that in no way was the shuffling player seeking any advantage (he clearly had the game won), was sufficient call for the ruling to be overturned (a good decision).

-Always keep in mind that if you are observing a match, and you can clearly see an infraction about to occur, step in and prevent it. That is your job. All of us, at one time or another, would love nothing more than to DQ everyone in the event, or give everyone warnings for anything and everything. But that isn't good for the players or the game. Being good judge is also about preventing infractions as well as handing out penalies for those that have already occurred.

-GENERALLY, when making a ruling, it is not good to bring extenuating factors (such as, clearly he was not seeking any advantage) into your rulings. Why? Most of the time you were not there to see the infraction occur. HOWEVER, If you are there, you do have the advantage of seeing everything that happened, and using those observations (such as, clearly he was not seeking any advantage) can and should aid you in making rulings and judgements.

As the day progressed, I met up with Dan Gray (level 4) and got re-certified during the last round of the event. Overall, the event went great, and the all the judges did a great job [except when I was busting my butt while they were all eating Jeff's b-day CAKE! :)]

Good luck, and may Gerrard's Wisdom be with you!

Thanks,
Mitch Smithson DCI Level 3 Judge
DCI Tournament Organizer
Simply Magic Premiere Events Coordinator
dcijudge@hotmail.com
www.geocities.com/simplymtg



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