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JSS-Lincoln, NE

Stacy Williams

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 young players.

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 months.

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, and uneventful.

. . . 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 Cradle.

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 holding.

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" Player A.

Hmmmmm?

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



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