|Preparing to Judge (and Organize) a Tournament
Organizing and judging tournaments since January 1996, I've
learned quite a lot along the road. In this article I'll try to tell you what a
decent preparation is. The preparation described in this article is probably not
the ultimate preparation. But it'll give you a good start.
In this article judge and organizer issues will be mixed together.
A lot of head judges are organizers. This article starts with an overview of the
things that happen and things that are needed during the day of a tournament. In
this overview a lot of items will be described. After that a summary of all
those points will be given.
The day of the tournament
The day of the tournament is advancing and you wonder what can you
do to prepare? Just overview the whole day. You'll think up some things.
- Before the tournament starts you want to have the appropriate staff
available. To run a small standard tournament only requires a small staff, to
judge a rochesterdraft PTQ needs a whole lot bigger staff. Make sure you have
the right amount of people and some extra, just in case somebody gets sick.
- If you intend to use a computer-program make sure you and someone else of
the staff knows how to operate the program. Make sure you have enough paper if
you intend to use a printer. Make sure you have extra powercables. Lot's of
places don't have the powersupply points where you want to have your computer
- At the beginning of the tournament players need to pay and register:
- Make sure you have change; lack of change can create embarrassing situations
(and frustrations). Try to anticipate on the entrance and participation fee. For
example, if the fee will be $15, make sure you have enough coins (or bills) to
change bills of $20.
- Make sure you have the means to register the players properly, i.e. paper,
pens, tournament forms, deckregistration forms, and manamember forms. Very
experienced players will look amazed if you ask them if they brought pen and
paper! Bring some extra. Charge them if you feel like it, but just bring some
extra. If there are preregistered players, make sure you have a list with all
the names in a convenient format (e.g. sorted by name).
- After registration's closed and before the tournament starts there is one
very important thing you have to do, you have to brief the judges and the
players. Think of the briefing you want to give them. It might be handy to make
a list of points you want to tell judges and / or players. Some points could be:
- Short introduction of the staff, the task for each member of the staff
during the tournament;
- The format of the tournament, the number of rounds that will be played, the
length of a round, if there are any breaks (for lunch);
- If it's limited, the time for deck construction, the kind and number of
lands that players are allowed to add (and where they are located), what is and
what is not allowed (like talking);
- If it's a draft, the commands that will be used during the draft, the time
between commands and when players can look at their cards;
- The rules-enforcement level and what that implies;
- The amount of prizes available and the way they are divided.
- Dependent on the format of the tournament, first you have a draft and / or
deck-construction and / or start of the first round (for constructed deck). If
you play limited make sure you have enough product and other materials (like
- During the tournament the players need to find their seat. Make sure you
have table numbers to put on the tables. I myself always use those handy little
yellow stick-it notes. Easy to put on, relatively cheap and easy to remove
- Have all the appropriate judging materials available like a recent copy of
the Oracle, the comprehensive rules, the DCI Penalty Guidelines, and the
Standard Floor Rules.
As mentioned before, this is probable not a complete list of
points. Every organizer / judge has other situations to think of and to
anticipate on. If you have any suggestions to add to this list, let me know at
Make sure you have:
- Have the appropriate staff for the event;
- Have all the supplies to start & run the event well, like change,
computer supplies, product (for limited events), pens, sufficient paper, land,
tablenumbers, oracle, comprehensive rules, ; DCI Penalty Guidelines and the
Standard Floor Rules;
- Brief the judges and the players.
That's all basically. Hope you enjoy doing your tournaments as
much as I do.
Thanks for your attention.