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QT-Mountain View, CA (PT-LA)

Peter Costantinidis

Peter Costantinidis, Level III
PTQ Los Angeles, 1-slot
13 Nov. 1999
Neutral Ground, Mountain View, CA
57 Players
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 booster draft.

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 "Total" column.

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 the circumstances.

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.


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