|2001 European Championship Report
This year the European Championships took place in Milan, Italy at the end of June. I will not go into the statistics (which can be easily found at the Sideboard Online). I would like to point out some problems and interesting situations that arose over the course of the weekend. These observations may prove to be valuable to other judges.
Player registration took place on the eve of the event. As I had some free time, I volunteered to help out and was assigned to crowd control, which was to consist of letting players in one by one, so as to minimize crowding. This however proved to be just one of the tasks I was to do.
The site of the 2001 European Championships
We found that at least half of the players did not have their waivers filled out and we had to pass out blank ones. As the players were not allowed into the site, they had a hard time filling them in at the door. Some of them managed to get as far as the registration desk, before finding out what they had to do. These people filled out their forms at the desk, thus creating a crowd.
For future registration, it would be beneficent, to have some tables set up for players to fill out the waivers, before approaching registration and blocking the queue.
Day One: Standard (7 rounds)
For the first day, I was assigned as senior judge (a.k.a. team leader) to one of the five teams working the main event. As this was the last week of June, Apocalypse was not legal yet, so there were no new decks, no new card interactions and thus no problems from the usual. I can't recall any interesting rulings apart from two decidedly loud events.
The first one was the disqualification of one the players. The official story is available online. I was not directly involved, so I will not make comments. However, this allows me to raise the problem of professional conduct. During premiere events it is usually apparent when there is something amiss because the round is being delayed. Players will come up and ask questions or wish to provide evidence/testimony. In the latter case, they should be pointed over to the HJ or TO; in the former case they should be nicely asked to remain calm and wait for any announcements. It is my opinion that judges should not speculate or give out information, unless specifically asked by the person in charge of the event. They will probably be given a full explanation during the judges meeting in the evening.
The second event involved an interesting call by the head judge. During a routine deck check, the judges had found a pattern on the sleeves (4 Phyrexian Scutas were marked). In the opinion of the head judge, this was enough to warrant a DQ. However one of the judges vouched for the player's honesty. Thus the head judge decided to make the penalty 2 Match Losses, which is a heavy penalty, but does not carry the stigma of being removed from the tournament.
Head Judge Gis Gijsbert Hoogendijk
Day 2: Rochester (4+3 rounds)
During day one, Cyril Grillon and Jakub Wysoczanski (who was doing the judge certification) talked to me about the two level 3 candidates, who were to be tested during the event. It was agreed, that to be able to evaluate their skills properly, they would be assigned teams. Thus myself and another team leader were "demoted" to floor judge status. We were to evaluate the candidates' leadership skills by allowing them to prove their merit in a real situation. I found this to be very interesting as I have not been part of the level 3 certification process (apart from my own certification). Being managed (instead of managing) was also a nice refresher.
During the second day, a potentially explosive issue did come up. I was called over to a table at the beginning of the round. One player suggested that his opponent did not roll his die properly. I tried to diffuse the situation by getting them to agree on a re-roll. This did not go well with them and one of the players said: "I will not let my opponent cheat while rolling the die" (this is not the exact quote, but the word 'cheat' was used). This triggered alarm bells in my head and I knew we could have a major argument here. Fortunately, the head judge was passing by our table and I called him over. After hearing out the situation, he solved the problem with a variation of my suggestion. He rolled the die himself, letting one of the players choose odd or even.
Day 3: Finals (Top 8)
I was scheduled to the semi-finals. This was going to be a new experience for me. I have table judged finals before, but never on stage. However, I was not the too nervous. Besides, the unorthodox commentary provided by Gary Wise and Ben Ronaldson during the quarterfinals easily let me relax.
George (the other judge assigned to the semifinals) and I decided, that I would take the Montreuil-Zink match. We were assigned cameras first, because our match expected to end earlier (due to the decks). We started the third game, before the first one at the other table came to a conclusion. The match was so interesting, that we were taped all five games. Pretty annoying, when you want to scratch.
Adam (center) flanked by Alex Shvartsman and Rune Horvik
I ended up doing the finals as well, which I think was a great honor and I am very happy that I was chosen to do this. The finals were a little anticlimactic compared to the semifinals. I was close to issuing Nitter a Warning for Unsportsmanlike Conduct, after he tossed his opponents Ensnaring Bridge back onto the table. I decided, however, that it would not be wise to interrupt the match. When talking with Cyril afterwards, we agreed that I should have given at least a verbal caution, especially since we did not have microphones.
After the awards ceremony, I stopped by Jakub's stand, to see how he was doing. He still had a large number of candidates to test and interview. I decided to pitch in and help a colleague. The judge tests went smoothly, but a thought occured to me. A lot of the people, who ask about the judge tests, do so because they have nothing better to do. The first test is actually convincing the person assigned to do the certification of your motives. This does not prove sufficient, as there are people who still get a dismal score on the written exam. I think that the DCI should take more steps to educate players on the meaning of the judge certification process and the skills and knowledge that is required of a candidate.