Name: Stacy L. Williams, Level 1
Event: Junior Super Seriers
Date: April 2, 2000
Location: Lincoln Nebraska
Note: While this is a lengthy report, I hope you all will read it in
total. At first, it is very usual, but I later discuss ejecting
spectators which I hope is beneficial to all.
I am happy to report that our recent Junior Super Series (JSS) was a
big success. We held our event at HobbyTown USA. Thom Walla, Level III,
assumed the head judging duties while I was in charge of the floor. We
also had one judge in training, Clef Haworth, who is an excellent player
and has wonderful people skills, especially when dealing with children.
One of our major concerns in this area is that we do not have very many
We were somewhat worried about this event because the previous JSS event
had only 12 participants which resulted in several players "drawing in"
for the top 8 with a 1/0/3 record. We have taken some affirmative steps
to encourage young players to learn Magic in this area. For one, our
judges make it a habit to volunteer their time for JSS events.
Furthermore, Clef and I have begun giving deck building seminars on
Saturday mornings before our regularly scheduled events. We have also
recently applied for the Guru program to foster more participation by
younger players. I'm happy to report that at this event, we had 39
players, of which the majority have been playing Magic for less than 6
Because of the number of players, we held six rounds of Swiss reducing
down to the top 8 for single elimination. The format was Standard, so
legal decklist and construction was a problem. Because so many players
were new, more than half the decks contained more than 75 cards. Several
decks also had numerous singles. This made deck list screening before the
event somewhat difficult. Basically, we counted cards to insure each
player had at least 60 cards, and a 15 card sideboard, if used. We found
10 or 12 decklist errors before the event started, and allowed the players
to correct these errors. One deck was had so many problems that Clef let
the player use one of his own personal decks. The young man who used the
deck was very sporting and won the best sportmanship award. Of the 39
players, only 11 had previous JSS experience, and only 15 or so had
previous sanctioned tournament experience. As judges, we kept this in
mind when making our rulings.
It goes without saying that we gave a lot of cautions which required a lot
of explanations to the young players. For the most part, the players were
receptive and polite. We stressed that we could not coach players on how
to play, but we were also a little more liberal with our explanations of
how the phases work and so forth. And, as you'd expect, nothing major
occurred and no written warnings were given. The event was very smooth,
. . . Well, except for one thing. . . . I had to eject someone.
Before I get into the substance of the ejection, I want to stress to all
judges that no matter how smooth and event goes, and no matter what the
REL is, do not let your gaurd down, and know that at any moment, you may
have to call all your judging skills into play and make a very hard call.
Here's what happened:
Player A was playing the classic Bargain deck with Rectors, Renounces,
Soul Feast, fast mana, etc...
Player B is playing some Green Fatty/Armageddon deck.
The match is a fairly important one, as we were in the 4th round, and
Player A, a very experienced tournament player, had already suffered one
match loss. I believe Player B was playing in his first sanctioned
event, but I may be wrong. At any rate, Player B had very little, if any,
sanctioned tournament experience. The situation begain when Player A
asked for a ruling.
I went to the table with the Judge Trainee and assessed the state of
the game. As best I remember, Player A had a Bargain and the Skirge in
play, 14 life, and 5 cards in hand. Player B had an Albino Troll, and a
forest in play, 5 cards in hand, and 14 life (From 2 Skirge beats).
Apparently, Player B had cast Armageddon on his last turn. They were in
their 3rd game, both having won one game. The problem was that, during
Player A's turn, Player B looked at the top card of his library.
Essentially, both players agreed that Player B asked Player A if he was
done. Player A said no, but Player B thought he said yes, and went to
draw a card, looking at the top card. I decided that due to the
circumstances that I knew at the time, that
Player B "looked at extra cards" rather than "drew extra cards" so I did
not issue a game loss. (We could debate the merits of this decision, but
it is not important to the ejection).
I decided that since Player B just looked at an extra card, the rules
required that I reveal it to all players, and return it to the top of the
library, unless the card gave Player B some significant advantage. The
top card was a forest. I looked at Player A's hand again and saw that he
held a Llanowar Elf, Titania Preist, Haunted Wompus, Worldly Tutor, and
Crop Rotation. I checked his Library and saw he was playing with Geae's
To me, it seemed he had an advantage now because he knew he had a land
coming that he could use for the Elf, then use the other land for the Crop
Rotation for the Cradle, then cast the Priest and get his 6/6 comes out
the following turn. If he did not know it was a land, he may have chosen
to Tutor for another elf or a wild dog. Using the Crop Rotation to get
the Cradle with only one creature in play was like replacing a forest with
a forest. He needed two creature before he could Rotate his only Mana,
and he now knew he had one coming. I asked the players if they thought it
was an advantage, and Player A stated that he thought it was because
Player B had tutored before and he now knew whether he should tutor,
assuming he had one in hand, or draw the land. Player A said this without
the advantage of knowing what was in Player B's hand, (like I said, he is
an experienced player). Player B agreed that it was an advantage, so,
since we all agreed it was an advantage for Player B to know what the next
card he would draw was, I decided to randomize Player B's deck and
continue the match. Both players were in agreement. Had this not been a
JSS, I'm sure I would have handled the situation much differently, but
because of the REL and it being a JSS, and the players general
satisfaction, I went this way.
So far, so good. The match continues, and Player A continues with his
turn, ditching a card to the Skirge for a black mana, cast dark ritual,
Yagmoth's will, put a land in play, and began to go off and win the game.
When it was apparent that the game was in hand, (Player A had to cast his
last soul feast, which was in hand, had well over 10 life, and plenty of
cards to draw for mana via the skirge) my trainee asked what advantage I
saw that made me randomize the deck. He did not know what Player B was
So, I told him and explained my ruling, and differences that the REL and
JSS factors had. Then, out of no where, a bystander, told me I couldn't
do that and I had to award Player B the match because I had "coached"
I said, what do you mean? He said the match was still going and I just
told Player A what Player B was holding, and that would be coaching so
Player a should be issued a match loss. He asked me again why I explained
myself to the trainee. I explained to him that the match was essentially
over, and that while I agreed with him that my discussion at that
particular point was poor form, I did not see how it in any way assisted
Player A in his win, and said that I would not issue any penalities. I
apologized to Player B, who said ok, and then scooped up his cards and
left, because by this time, he had lost. The bystander then got very
indignant with me, and wanted to know why I said anything and what I was
going to do about it.
I told him that I understood his point, but that I had made my ruling and
that I need not explain myself. Is said that since he was not a
participant in the match, he could not appeal it and that while I told him
I understood his point, the conversation was over.
Well, the conversation was not over for him. He insisted on continuing
and said again and again "why did you do that, how's that not coaching?"
As a side, I later learned that the bystander was Player B's brother, and
that he had been "coaching" player B all day. After I ejectecd the
bystander, I had 3 other players come up to me and say that he had been
helping his brother all day. This is something I would have caught if I
didn't have my guard down. Which again illustrates that you can't let
your guard down no matter what the REL or the event.
As a judge, I'm not one to argue. I give my ruling and that's it. If
players want to appeal, they can. I told the bystander that he was not
involved in the match, and had no rights of appeal, and again, I told him
"this conversation is over." He continued. I told him he could either
end it now, or leave. He choose to continue. I then instructed him to
leave the play area, as he was disrupting the event, and escorted him from
the play area. Once out of the play area, he became very unruly. I told
him I would not listen to his complaint anymore, to which he said, "what
about my freedom of speech, you can't stop my freedom of speech, I'll sue
you." Well, this did not set well with me. You see, as a profession, I
am an attorney. I told him that an actionable freedom of speech
impengement requires a state actor which I am not. That threw him a
little. I again said the conversation was over, and that he could either
stop talking about it or leave. Well, he then said that I couldn't make
him leave because "this is public property, I have a right to be here."
I then contacted security and had him removed, and further told him that
if he returned, I would file a complaint for trespassing.
I'd like to note that this conversation took place inside the store. I
kept looking for the head judge for assistance, unfortunately, he was busy
dealing with store business and I could not see him. However, another
store manager was watching, and he was in full agreement with the way I
handled the situation.
What I learned from this situation is that you must approach every event
as though the Pro-Tour was riding on it. Even when I am volunteering
during a JSS, I have to approach it with the same procedure I would for a
PTQ. Make rulings according to the REL, but follow the same procedure no
matter what the REL. I admit I should not have discussed the reasoning
for my ruling with the Trainee within hearing distance of the players
while the match was still in progress, even though it was over for all
intent and purposes. However, once the bystander pointed this error out
to me, I again assessed the situation, and determined that I had no affect
on the match and did not do anything further. From then on, it was doomed
to fail because the bystander was not going to get what he wanted, that
being a free win for his brother.
While I'm saddened that I had to eject him, these things happen. I've had
to eject players before, and a spectator one other time. Luckily for me,
I have previously discussed these matter with the store owner and felt
confident that if need be, I had the authority to eject a disruptive
person from the store. My head judge agreed with the ejection as our goal
it to have a pleasant environment for the players. We had several parents
there that day as well, two of which commented to me personally that they
thought I did the right thing in having him leave. At this time, I have
not received any complaints about ejecting him. I would suggest that all
judges discuss the topic of ejecting players and/or spectators, and how
you would handle such situations. None of my other ejections required the
assistance of security, although one nearly did, but I hope this situation
will help other judges think about what they would do if they needed
assistance in removing unruly players and/or spectators.
I'd welcome any comments by email at Scandolf@hotmail.com