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Welcome to the Fold

Sean Smith

I recently managed to certify as a level 1 judge so I thought I would offer some thoughts to anyone out there thinking of certifying.

I am a player who decided to help out the local area by doing some judging. This is my history on how I ended up a level 1 judge.

My first event judging was as a Level 0 helper at the Team Sealed Qualifier held in Denver, Colorado. It was a great learning experience. Waylay was still broken, people were confused, I was still learning. I knew the rules side of magic well, I had taken a lot of time to learn the new 6th edition rules as I felt I needed that knowledge to continue as a successful player. However stepping in as a judge showed me what was missing.

My knowledge of the floor rules and the penalty guidelines were lacking. While been able to explain why Waylay worked and why you couldn't "waylay" with a Prodigal Sorceror was a useful skill on that day, not being able to confidently adjudicate a disagreement over a players life total was definitely a shortcoming.

I learnt from that one day, that I had a lot to learn. Judging is about much more than knowing the Magic Rules. Since that day I have made great effort to learn about judging, I have sought out and gained an excellent Mentor who has been invaluable helping me gain these skills.

I now judge our local weekly tournaments about 2-3 times each month. It was the step to judging the weekly tournaments on a regular basis that provides the most reward. Sure early on you might make some mistakes, but very quickly you learn how to handle the common situations and have the confidence to deliver a ruling or a penalty and be able to support your decision.

I recently Head Judged the JSS Qualifier here in Denver, running a tournament with 62 players ranging in age from 8 to 16 was a challenging and fun experience.

Watching good judges is a good way to learn, recently at Grand Prix - Seattle I had the pleasure of watching Cyril Grillon (Level IV from France) in action. I was able to see how he handled some very difficult situations and took a few tips away to add to my own bag of tricks.

I am now planning on attempting to certify to Level II at our next Qualifier when James Lee is in town - wish me luck !

If you are thinking of certifying here are some tips from a relative newbie to the role.

1. Find a good judge and ask to help judge a couple of events with him or her.
2. Talk to your local Tournament Organizer and arrange to solo run a few small events.
3. Watch for excellence - Watch how good judges work - steal their techniques.
4. Never stop learning - read the rulebook, read the floor rules, play the game.

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