|Danish Nationals Qualifier
The West Seeland Championships - April 18, 1999
47 players participated in a 7 round Standard tournament, judged at Rules
Enforcement Level 3
Judging Staff: Just myself. This is _not_ a nice situation - 47 players and
one judge, but judges are still quite hard to come by Denmark, so an event with
more than one judge is an oddity. Thankfully, this went very well - I had a
mostly disciplined, positive-minded bunch of players, so the only major downside
came around the deck checks. At one point, it took me more than 20 minutes to
complete a check because I was interrupted by other players' call for a judge
Disciplined players or not, a couple of difficult situations did arise:
- There was the deck check where I discovered that the cards (which had been
presented to the opponent before I announced the check) were distributed in a
spell-spell-land-spell-spell-land pattern. That is something I would usually be
very strict about, but what do you do when the culprit is this 10- or 11-year
old kid? I did not become a judge to bully little kids - and he readily admitted
that he had stacked his deck ("because my big brother told me it was okay to do
so") before shuffling. I decided to give him a single warning and a duel loss -
and a few words about randomization and the need for riffle shuffling or the
like. This was a difficult decision - emotionally, I felt that I was maybe being
too harsh on this enthusiastic little fellow, but I also wanted to make it clear
that this is something he should take very seriously if he wants to play in
tournaments. I think I'd do the same another time.
- And then there was this 'failure to agree on reality' situation with more
than the usual complications. Player A is one I've never judged before, and one
who don't frequent any of the stores associated with the top Danish competitors.
Earlier, I had given him a notice for unsportsmanlike conduct when he just
grabbed an opponent's sideboard and counted it without telling the opponent what
he was doing. Player B is one I've judged several times before, a Level I judge
whom I know to be likeable and easy to work with - but also a player who knows
the rules and takes advantage of it (in a correct manner).
The situation: Player B Fireballs Player A's 3/3 Spike Weaver. B claims that
A responded by moving one 1/1 counter to his Coffin Queen, then asks "Do you
have any responses?". B says no, and A reacts by moving another counter and
repeating the question. B says no again, and A then declares that he wants to
remove the last counter to use the Weaver's Fog effect. B then realizes that A
in fact has yielded priority twice, and that the batch should have been resolved
by now. This is what B tells me.
I ask A if this is what happened. He says something along the lines of "Well,
yes". I explain that he has yielded priority by asking for responses, he
objects, and I proceed with a short lecture on the lifecycle of spells, batches
and priority to respond. And A then says "Then I didn't move one, but two
counters before I asked if he had any responses".
Now, this was dumbfounding. It was obvious that A didn't truly understand
what was happening, and therefore it might be that he didn't understand what he
was telling me when he first answered my questions - and so didn't understand
that he had to be very precise. On the other hand, it might also be that he
simply changed his explanation to conform with the rules I explained to him. If
that was what he was doing, then he had more nerve than any other player I've
met. There is also the fact that B has superior rules knowledge which might make
his explanations seem more reasonable because he's using the 'right' terms -
which again might be confusing to his opponent.
I asked A if he knew that he was now telling me a different story than the
one he had agreed to in the beginning. He said yes. I thought it through quickly
and decided to give him the benefit of doubt: Two counters were moved, but his
Fog effect wasn't played. Both players got a warning, and I told A that he
should be more careful (and consistent) when telling a judge what was going on
in his games.
In hindsight, I'm not sure I handled this correctly. Player A was somewhat
fuzzy in his explanations, and this gave me a bad feeling - but still I let my
doubts count on his behalf. Looking at the tournament as a whole, I think I
should have been more severe with him, though. There was the unsportsmanlike
situation mentioned above, and later on he got involved in two more 'failure to
agree...' things. Both of these were solved pretty easily, but it still has a
bad smell to it when one player is in so many strange situations.
In the future, I won't let a player change his explanation of reality so
easily. And this Player A is certainly one I'll be very wary of.
Whew... That was a long one, but on to the lighter side and one of the most
beautiful finishes I've seen in a while:
Humility/Prayer guy is facing Enchantress/Stroke guy. Humility/Prayer guy has
got his combo down and a handful of counterspells and is merrily Grindstoning
his opponent's deck away. Now, suddenly Enchantress/Stroke taps all his mana and
says "I'll Stroke myself for 13". Humility/Prayer guy thinks a bit about this
and decides that the other guy is probably looking for a Disenchant or two. But
he's got lots of counterspells, and why would he want to interfere when his
opponent is helping him deplete his library? So he says "Go ahead". But what he
didn't think of was that the Enchantress/Stroke guy had a Mind Over Matter down.
And he starts discarding his hand, going "Untap your City of Brass... Tap your
City of Brass... Untap your City of Brass..." ... Using his 18-card hand to take
the Humility/Prayer guy to exactly 0 life! That was one that had both players
Overall, this tournament was a good experience, especially when considering
the fact that it was a first for the organizing club. They were well prepared.
By the way, take notice of this: As a judge, you should remember to give your
organizers a pat on the shoulder and a "Good work" when they take their job
seriously. They need praise, too, and an enthusiastic organizer is an organizer
who makes life easier for judges.
Level II Judge, Denmark