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UD Prerelease-Detroit, MI

Memorial Day Weekend, 29-30 May 1999

James Lee

Greetings! My name is James Lee and I am a judge from Chicago having been given the opportunity to serve the DCI in Detroit. A year ago, while receiving instruction during my judge's exam with Jeff Donais and Mike Guptil, I swore fealty to the House Donais pledging my life and my sword. (I cannot say why I did not swear my honour to House Guptil except perhaps that the most revered Mr. Guptil is a formidible man and Jeff's curly hair is most disarming.) Since the Destiny Pre-release in Detroit was being hosted by Mike Donais, it was natural that I made every effort to be there.

Historically, I have been doing pre-releases in the Chicago area since Alliances, so the Detroit Neutral Ground venue was a new experience. The most notable difference was the size of the event. A little over two hundred were in attendance on Saturday and not quite one hundred came on Sunday. The dynamic of a smaller event offers a judge what I believe to be one of his most important roles - offering a point of personal connection for the game and the sport of Magic. Again, as I have had the fortune to observe time and again throughout the midwest, the judging staff amassed by Mike Donais brought honour to the event. Each judge offered quality assistance to the players and strove to be ready and available at the first sign of need. One things that was different from my experience in Chicago is that the Detroit players are more apt to simply raise their hands than to cry out, "Judge!" This caused me to miss some initial calls, but Mike's gentle tutelage soon had me developing a sharper eye. (Perhaps he has been trained by the great masters of Shaolin?)

Whenever I have the privilege of experiencing the judging skills of someone like Mike Donais, I try to watch for techniques that would be helpful to me in my future as a representative of the DCI. As always, this event was no exception. In the particular situation which arose, a player had a deck which played suspiciously well. After some comments from the floor, and consideration by the judges, Mike had a discussion with the player and performed a deck check. As it turned out, the player's deck had an additional rare card which would have reflected an anomalous pack. This was not originally brought to the attention of the judging staff and this contributed to the concerns expressed by the floor. However, after a thorough observation of the player's matches and considering the evidence available, there was no substantial indication that any intentional dissembling had occured. Mike had a private discussion with the player on policy and expectations regarding odd packs or starters in Limited events and the pre-release continued. This demonstrates a quality of judging which I have seen before from Mike and wish to emphasize in this report.

A DCI Judge must be a fair adjudicator of both the rules and the spirit of the tournament. Ideally, this means a correct judgment with all parties receiving the most righteous answer or result. However, this is not always possible and many of the more ambiguous situations which arise test the judge's ability in human relationships more than his ability to dig out the truth. In the event describe above, Mike took a path which both preserved the integrity of the event as it was progressing and protected the honour of the player. There was no hard evidence of any wrong-doing and Mike gave no overt indication of a negative judgment. In the end, all parties involved were satisfied with the thoroughness of his investigation and no one lost face as a result. All of this occured without inordinate delay or fanfare and a spirit of peace and control reigned throughout the process. This meditative confidence with a concern for the integrity and image of the players is a quality worthy of emulation. I am honoured to have been able to watch it in action at the Detroit Destiny Pre-release.

James Do Hung LEE
Judge Lvl 2
e-mail: <councillor@hotmail.com>

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