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QT-Mountain View, CA (PT-NY)

Don Barkauskas

"Diary of a Mad Head Judge"

With apologies to Sue Kaufman for stealing her title, here's my log of yesterday's QT.

Saturday, February 12, 2000

6:55 Alarm goes off

7:41 I decide that I _really_ should get up now

8:12 Take two Tylenol to ward off migraine that I will be getting later

8:23 Ride arrives

9:20 Arrive at Neutral Ground, Mountain View, and get a "cholesterol special" breakfast and a half gallon of Gatorade to tide me throughout the day

9:30 Assess situation

It's a NY QT with Extended decks. My staff consists of me (a Level 3), the TO (a Level 2), two Level 1's (one of whom is getting ready to test for Level 2), and two judges-in-training. There are 96 players, so we run 7 rounds of Swiss.

10:10 Go get 13 more chairs to accommodate everyone that showed up

10:15 Discover 2 people were not entered into computer

10:16 Go get 2 more chairs

10:20 Round 1 starts

As usual, all sorts of strange things happen when I'm HJ. My TO says that all the weird situations come out of the woodwork just because I'm judging. (It's not paranoia if it's true!)

We have a situation where a player accidentally draws 8 cards in his opening hand; we make him take a forced mulligan. The other exciting situation occurs when a player is using Mishra's Factories in his deck. I hate things like that; I have no choice but to DQ him, but it's depressing to have to do so. Luckily, he took it pretty well.

10:52 Someone asks if there's a liquor store nearby

10:52:05 I decide I _really_ don't want to know why the player just asked that

11:42 Round 2 starts

As usual, I settle down to count the decklists to make sure everyone has registered at least 60 cards in their deck and exactly 15 cards in their sideboard. I've been counting sideboards ever since I started HJ'ing, and I started counting main decks after an incident in which a Top 8 player had to be DQ'd for an illegal decklist, so his opponent got a bye. I decided that if you make it to the Top 8 in my tournament, you're going to have a legal decklist at the very least. Today's a good day --- there is only one person who registered a 59 card deck (he was DQ'd) and there is one person who registered a 16 card sideboard (he received a game loss and had his sideboard invalidated for the rest of the tournament). They both take the news extremely well, which lowers my stress levels considerably.

One of the stranger incidents of the tournament occurs in this round; Player A mulligans down to 6 cards, then Player B does as well. Player B then says "Why don't we both just redraw 7 cards?" or words to that effect. Player A calls a judge. The judge that responds (a Level 1) wants to DQ Player B for Collusion and/or Cheating. I, however, feel that that is extremely harsh. While it's definitely not kosher to do what he proposed, I feel it's different from the coin flipping situation that arose at PTLA in that he wasn't going to determine a winner or loser, but simply give both players an optimal chance to get a good draw. I decide on simply a Warning for Player B, which the Level 1 judge was adamantly opposed to. I don't think I ever convinced him.

The other incident that happens this round is when a player draws 8 cards for Necropotence, forgetting that it had been Disenchanted. I give him a game loss for "Drawing Extra Cards."

11:26 The lights go out

11:26:30 The lights come back on (let it never be said that I keep my players in the dark!) (for very long, anyway)

11:36 Lunch break (for the players --- our lunch hasn't arrived)

1:10 Round 3 starts

This is a fairly quiet round. We have one player who put his Sylvan Library draws on the bottom of his deck, rather than the top. After verifying that the bottom two cards were what he'd Sylvaned away, the judge puts them back on top and gave the player a warning for "Procedural Error --- Major." Another player Brainstorms without asking permission from his opponent (who was playing blue). Since the opponent didn't want to counter it, we issue a Caution for playing too quickly and leave it at that. The final rules question is a player who Brainstorms with only two cards left in his library, and thus loses the game with Necro in play because he draws out of his library!

The major incident that occurs this round was when a player presents his opponent with a deck that is missing a Counterspell (which had been dropped on the floor during shuffling). This was discovered a few turns into the game. I decide that the standard penalty for "Illegal Deck, Decklist Used" is appropriate in this situation, so I issue a game loss.

1:14 It's Tylenol time!

1:40 Pizza arrives

1:50 Pizza is gone (six judges can go through two pizzas in a hurry!)

2:14 Round 4 starts

The big situation during this round is when a player has shuffled and presented his deck to his opponent. Then the person sitting next to him asks "Where's my Force of Will?" It turns out that a FoW that had been removed from the game as payment had been accidentally shuffled into the player's deck. Due to the overcrowded situation, the TO feels (and I agreed) that we are at least partially responsible for this mess, so I decide to just give him a warning and not a game loss. If the game had actually started, I probably would have gone with the game loss. Technically, as soon as he presents his (illegal) deck, that should be a game loss, but I feel that it was not that serious of a situation.

The other incident during this round is fairly minor; a player taps three land, takes his hand off, says "Wait," and then untaps his land. The judge on the spot rules that he could do this, and his opponent appeals to me. I reverse the judge's ruling; the rule of thumb is once you let go of the lands, they're tapped. Both players are satisfied with the ruling; I take more flak from the judge involved! He is adamant that the policy I outlined is unfair to people casting large spells (e.g., Stroke of Genius) because it is impossible to tap 15 land without taking your hand off some of them, so you can't change your mind halfway through. Under 5E rules, I would have sympathized, but if you cast spells properly under 6E rules, it's a dead issue since you announce, then pay, and if you decide not to you can untap your land. This is the second major disagreement this judge and I have had this tournament. Check out his tournament report for his side of the story.

3:16 Round 5 starts

The only interesting thing that happens this round is a dispute about a timing issue. A player plays Illusions of Grandeur, then Donates it to his opponent with the last card in his hand. At this point, the opponent wants to Boomerang the Illusions in response to the "gain 20 life" trigger. This is a little shady, because he now knows that the player does not have a Counterspell in hand. After talking with both players, it is clear that they were both playing sloppily and hadn't communicated well. I rule that the 20 life had resolved (that the Boomerang player had waited too long), but then the player simply Boomerangs in response to the Donate, wins the game anyway, and everything works out.

4:15 Standings go up

4:23 Round 6 starts

The only interesting thing that happens this round is a player with mixed sleeves --- some shinier than others. There's no obvious pattern to the marked cards, so he merely gets a Caution and has to replace the sleeves.

5:26 It's Tylenol time!

5:45 Round 7 starts

In doing deckchecks this round, as we're looking at the sideboards, we discover that one player has some sleeves a full 1/8-th of an inch longer than others, and furthermore that six of the seven anti-red cards are in long sleeves while none of the others are. This is extremely distressing; it looks like I'll have to give a fairly severe penalty. However, when we get the actual deck, we discover that many of this player's sleeves are of the longer length, and there's no overall pattern. He had just bought the sleeves form the store and they came out of the box that way. It seems fairly clear that there is no cheating going on and there's no pattern to the marked cards, so he gets off with a Caution and an order to resleeve.

We also have an incident where a player who's finished with his match walks by a table and his friend who's playing whispers something to him. The opponent immediately calls for me. After talking with everyone involved, it seems clear that the player walking by did not say anything to the player playing, and only made a small hand gesture. I let everyone off with just a admonition to not do that sort of thing, although in retrospect I probably should have giving Warnings to both players involved.

7:02 Top 8 starts

The Top 8 this time is diametrically opposed to the previous QT. This time, there are 2 monoblue control decks, a monoblue Stasis deck, an Elf/Coat of Arms deck, a Burn deck, an Control/Oath deck, a BWR deck, and a GRW deck. In the quarterfinals, the monoblue control decks play each other, Stasis beats the GRW deck, Oath beats Elves, and Burn beats BWR.

8:20 Semifinals start

It's monoblue versus Burn and Oath versus Stasis. Monoblue wins on essentially two mana screws. The other match takes a long time (control on control --- go figure!). After losing the first game, the Stasis player gains a huge advantage in the second but fails to take advantage of his situation. His opponent keeps Oathing, alternating between a Morphling and a Spike Weaver. The Level 1 judge watching the match leans over to me and whispers "If a player [the Stasis one] is missing an obvious way to win, is he stalling?" I point out that (a) he was behind 1-0, so stalling was just going to lose him the match, and (b) even if he were ahead 1-0, he'd just want to win the match rather than stalling. Eventually, the Oath player concedes and they play game three, which the Stasis player pulls out.

9:33 It's Tylenol time! (I've now taken the maximum dosage for a 24 hour period!)

9:50 Finals start

The Stasis player offers the monoblue player the following split --- Stasis player gets the invite and the monoblue player gets the rest. The monoblue player declines and they play the first game, won by Stasis. The Stasis player offers the same split again, even though he's up 1-0! After considering the situation, the monoblue player concedes. Congratulations, Dan DuBois, on qualifying for PTNY!

10:32 Finals End

11:11 Leave Mountain View

12:11 Arrive in Berkeley

12:20 Zzzzzzzz...

Don Barkauskas
DCI Level 3 Judge

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