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APAC Championship

Wearn Chong

First of all, I would like to congratulate the organizing team for a very well planned APAC Championships 2000. It was great to see the whole event run smoothly without any big problems, and everyone enjoying themselves, including the judges!

The APAC Championships in Hong Kong was a truly great experience for me. For about 3 days I was able to work with judges from all over the world, and the interaction was a great example of teamwork and team spirit. I was also happy to be able to work under Mark Brown again, the senior judge whom I got my Level 1 certification through in November 1999. Being able to also get my Level 2 under him during this event was a great feeling!

One of my experiences at this event involves handling people. I admire the way one of the senior judges, James, handled a fellow judge's behaviour. This judge, whom I shall call A, has a habit of interrupting people in midconversation, among other things. His behaviour was a source of great annoyance to those he worked with. Where most people would just avoid him, James was one who sought to help him improve and be a better person. He was tactful and considerate in the way he pointed out A's flaw and advised him on how to improve himself. From watching the way James handled that situation, I have been motivated to improve my own people-handling skills.

Working at the event, I have realized that I need to be more thorough in my understanding of the penalty guidelines, mainly in its philosophy and how to apply it. This came about when I was unable to see that a player was deliberately playing slowly after winning the first game when time was running out. The player who was affected complained to me after the match in the presence of the Head Judge, Chris Zantides and also my senior judge, Mark Brown. I didn't think the player was stalling. However, after talking to the Chris and Mark, and in hindsight, I have changed my opinion. I now realize I need to be able to use my judgment better to spot situations like this, although I take heart in the Chris' comment that calling a slow play/stalling situation is very hard.

I feel that one of the things that need to be improved in tournaments that have an international attendance is that players should be required to communicate clearly the relevant phases of their turn. This came up in a match between a Japanese player (A) and a Malaysian player (B).

Throughout the game that I was watching, both players frequently used a short hand wave to indicate their end of turn. A was playing Replenish while B was playing Accelerated/Control Blue, and the incident occurred in the dying minutes of the match (game 2) with B having won the first game and in control of the second. A was on low life and had an Opalessence and no other global enchantments, while B had a Masticore that was attacking every turn with lots of lands available.

It was A's turn and he played Attunement, which B allowed. A then gestured and B thought that signaled him ending his turn. B then activated Masticore's ability to kill the Attunement. A responded by using Attunement. After drawing and discarding, A then cast a Parallax Wave. This is where the dispute began. Looking at the match, I thought that A also indicated ending his turn. However, A explained to Ron Foster (a senior judge from Japan) that he was only asking whether B was going to counter the Attunement, not indicating that it was end of turn. B disputed that and said that A had indicated ending his turn.

Ron ruled that it was a miscommunication and so allowed A to continue with his main phase. This created a significant disadvantage for B as he did not have enough mana left to kill the Parallax Wave. With the Wave in play, A removed the Masticore and proceeded to win the game from there on. As such, the match ended in a draw. Listening to the background talk, it was clear that many spectators felt that the ruling was unfair to B as he was about to win.

Talking to Ron, I understand the reason for his ruling. And the miscommunication could truly have been the case. However there is the possibility that A could have used language barriers as a means of gaining unfair advantage. He could bend situations to his advantage using 'language' problems just as in the situation above. I can foresee this being a method of cheating, and it is almost impossible to catch. How about requiring players to clearly state phases and steps, i.e. draw, attack, end etc. so that such situations do not arise? The concern is mainly with the end step as many players with and without language barriers use hand gestures to indicate ending their turn. Perhaps this requirement should be added to the tournament rules?

Well, that's about all that I have to report regarding my experiences and happenings throughout the APAC Championships. Being able to work with an international selection of players and judges was a great experience, and one that I hope to take part in again in the future.

Wearn Chong
Level 1 Judge (going to Level 2!)

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