|QT-Mountain View, CA (PT-LA)
Peter Costantinidis, Level III
PTQ Los Angeles, 1-slot
13 Nov. 1999
Neutral Ground, Mountain View, CA
Judging Staff: Me (Head judge); Doug McCarthy, Level II; Bao Phac Do, Level I pending; Conan Blackwell, Level II
The format of this tournament was Mercadian Masques Limited with the Top 8
This was the first Northern California Limited PTQ since the Penalty
Guidelines went into effect on Oct. 1st. Before Oct. 1st, if a Limited
player was playing with at least 40 cards but just forgot to record one or
two, I would issue a match loss penalty and correct their decklist to
match the deck. The new guidelines specify a DQ for this under Rules
Enforcement Level 3. At last month's 4-slot PTQ in Reno, Nevada, I
discussed this with a higher level judge. I felt that going from a game
loss at REL 2 to DQ at REL 3 was too harsh of a jump. However, it was made
fairly clear that this is how it should be handled. And, I should go to
great pains to insure that the players knew how important it was to record
at least 40 cards in the "Used" column.
We let the DCI Reporter randomly assign seats to the players for deck
recording. Afterwards, we collected the decks into a pile and selected 8
random decks to be returned to the players that registered them. Eight
decks seemed like a good number, with each judge checking two apiece. We
randomly distributed the remaining decks. One other player ended up with
his own deck, so that brought the total players getting back their own
deck to 15%.
Before allowing the players to begin deck construction, I went to great pa
ins to make sure that the players knew that it was very important that
they register at least 40 cards in the "Used" column. I said that bad
things would happen if they did not. I told them that if they were
swapping land and expected to play with the land they were swapping in,
they must remember to include that land in the "Used" column. I said that
bad things would happen if they did not. I said that I was not going to
make any assumptions about what they meant, I was only going to count the
cards in the "Used" column. Well, except for the deck list where the
registerer registered the cards in the "Used" column instead of the
I also emphasized that bad things would happen if players did not write
their names on the deck lists. Only one player forgot to do so and got a
game loss during the first round.
I felt that I made a fairly impassioned plea for players to register legal
decks. Not enough passion, I guess. 5% of the players (3) recorded less
than 40 cards. During the first two rounds, I counted decks. If I was
going to have to DQ someone, I wanted to do it early before they had a
chance to get a good winning streak going and have their hopes for a Top 8
finish dashed at the last minute. Two of the cases were fairly straight
forward and the players took it well without complaint.
The third case was a bit of an exception. One player waited until just
about the last minute to bring to my attention a problem that appeared to
be made when the cards were recorded. He had already recorded 39 cards of
his deck when he noticed that the deck list registered an Afterlife but
the cards contained an Arrest. These are both White Uncommons, so counting
the cards wasn't going to reveal if this was a clerical error or something
else. Previously, I would have automatically given the player the card
that was recorded. The new Penalty Guidelines do not state a philosophy
for dealing with this issue, so I figured that I had some latitude and
decided to let the player keep the Arrest. I think that documenting the
precise algorithm I used for reaching this decision could be dangerous
because unscrupulous players could take advantage of it. However, one
thing I will say that I considered was the likelihood of this player
risking getting caught cheating in this manner just to switch an Afterlife
with an Arrest. Yes, this player was playing with lots of White cards in
his deck. I corrected the deck list to list Arrest in the "Total" column
and deleted the "Afterlife" and gave the player back his deck list. I also
gave the player a lecture about following the instructions to check the
validity of the deck list before beginning deck construction.
Needless to say, the mind-numbing experience of counting "Used" columns
made me forget all about the Arrest when I noticed that this player had
only recorded 39 cards. When I told the player he was getting DQ'd, he was
a bit upset and reminded me of the Arrest (which was in his deck) and
claimed that he thought I had added it to the "Used" column when
correcting the deck list. I don't know why the player thought I was going
to update his "Used" column. Perhaps in the rush at the end of the deck
registration period there was some confusion.
I considered a this and talked to the other Level II judges one-on-one
about it. I was fairly certain that I was not going to DQ the player and
wanted to give the other judges a chance to consider the situation and
think of what they would do. I think that it is important that Level II
judges have the opportunity to consider tough rulings. I can't remember
exactly how they felt, I know one thought a DQ would be too harsh under
I gave the player a match loss. I felt that downgrading the penalty one
"step" would fairer. A match loss is still quite serious, especially in
the first Swiss round. And, I wanted to maintain the seriousness of this
type of infraction.
While I was quizzing one of the Level II judges about token creatures in
Classic Rules, we forgot the actual wording on Flicker. We convinced
ourselves, the other Level II judge, and another Level III judge who was
playing in the tournament that you could remove a token creature from the
game using Flicker without it "dissolving". This was because state effects
are not checked during the resolution of Flicker, they would wait until
Flicker finished resolving. At this time, the token creature was in play
again. The next day I actually read the card before I made a foolish
posting to DCIJUDGE-L. Flicker can not target token creatures.
The 90-minute quarter and semi-final rounds are really appreciated by the
players. For judges it is another matter. I think that we came fairly
close to using up all 90 minutes in both rounds. The finals didn't take
quite so long.
During the first game of the finals, I had another judge check the
sideboards of both players. One of the finalists had one card swapped
between his sideboard and main deck. I stopped the game, giving a game
loss to the player. He took it amazingly well, showing great
sportsmanship, without a single complaint or objection. I wish more
players were like him.
This is already long, so let me mention just one more incident.
During the first game of the semi-finals, the player who was playing first
drew a card. Both he and his opponent realized the mistake fairly quickly.
This happened after mulligans were declared (there were none). The
opponent thought that the player should get penalized for drawing an extra
card. The REL-3 penalty for that is a game loss. I did not think that this
was a 121. It looked a bit like a 123, but I could not see how I could
interpret the 123 definition to cover this situation.
Since there was no doubt about which card was the extra card, I decided to
give the player a warning and put the card back after showing it to his
opponent. The opponent wanted the game loss. It was fairly clear that he
felt that I was being too soft. I refused to let him read through the
Penalty Guidelines. I told him that it is possible I was making a big
error in judgment, but that I did not think that I was. I suggested that
he call Tara (after the tournament, of course) and let her know what
happened. If I did a bad thing not issuing the game loss, someone would
let me know (and I would never make that mistake again!).
Elaine Ferrao sent me some e-mail that Monday saying she had been
contacted. She agreed that a game loss would have been too harsh. She
mentioned that 123 would probably be changed in the next version of the
Penalty Guidelines so that it would cover this situation. 123 would have
forced the player to take a mulligan.