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PTQ (New York) - Judge Report

Jeremy Smith

[Note to readers: I originally submitted this report for a PT Qualifier for the Chicago Pro Tour last year but due to administrative changeovers it was never posted on the judge web site. For the record, I have since become a Level 2 judge and judged numerous other events (mostly in my home state of Rhode Island or in Massachusetts, but I've also done Pro Tour-Los Angeles this year and other large events) but this was one of my first. Hopefully you'll eventually be able to compare it to my future reports to see what's changed.]


171 players vied for a Pro Tour slot at the July 29, 2000 Chicago Pro Tour Qualifier in New York City at the Neutral Ground game store. The format for the tournament was Masques Block Constructed and ran with eight rounds of Swiss competition, cutting to a Top 8. Judges for the tournament were Eric Smith (Level 3) as Head Judge, Steve Zwanger (Level 2) as acting Head Judge, and Morgan Chang (Level 1), Greg Genega (Level 1) and me as floor judges.

The tournament began at 10:45 a.m. and, considering the huge number of people present and crowded conditions, ran quite smoothly. Other than a few people forgetting to drop and then not showing up for subsequent rounds, there were very few procedural problems. I will, however, cover a couple of significant issues in more depth below.

A number of rules and procedural questions came up over the course of the tournament. Many have been covered on the judge mailing list, but I'll mention them anyway for those not on the list and to show how I personally dealt with them. Since I'm a Level 1 judge, I generally consulted with Eric and/or Steve before making relatively complex rulings or giving out penalties.

Among the issues that came up were the following:

-- A player attacks with a Blastoderm. His opponent taps his Waterfront Bouncer and a blue mana, discards a card and says he is bouncing the Blastoderm. Since the play was illegal, as Blastoderm is untargetable, we reversed the play and, since the tournament was at Rules Enforcement Level 3, gave the player a warning for misrepresentation. A similar situation came up later when a player tried to Snuff Out a creature using its alternate play cost when he didn't have a swamp in play.

Blastoderm/Bouncer is not a real good combo

-- A player asked if, with a Kor Haven in play, he could play a second Kor Haven and tap it for mana before it was destroyed. I told him that he couldn't because legendary destruction is a state-based effect and would be checked for before he could tap for mana.

-- A player asked if Wave of Reckoning damage goes on the stack. We told him that it doesn't -- only combat damage goes on the stack. Other damage is dealt on a spell's resolution.

-- If a creature is Briberied from a player's library and then removed from the game with a Parallax Wave, it returns under the control of the creature's owner.

-- A player was playing a Cowardice deck and his opponent announced he was activating his Chimeric Idol. The other player responded with a Disenchant targeting the Idol. They then said that the Idol would be returned to his hand. However, I asked the player of the Disenchant about when he was playing the spell and he said that he did it in response to the activation (which is the same as how I saw it happen, but I just wanted to clarify the situation). Since the Idol's ability had not yet resolved, it was not yet a creature and thus went to the graveyard instead of bouncing to its owner's hand. Additionally, his lands would still be tapped.

What would happen if the player activated the idol again in response to the Disenchant?

As I mentioned above, a couple of major issues came up. During the final round of Swiss, one match was nearing the time limit with no victor in sight. One of the players apparently said something along the lines of, "Since neither of us will make Top 8 if we draw, maybe we can make some kind of arrangement so one of us can make it in." His opponent called over a head judge, who asked both players about the situation. The first player then supposedly said, "Concession is legal at any time." The head judge felt that there was sufficient enough evidence to feel that the first player was attempting to collude (or at least coerce his opponent to concede) and disqualified him from the tournament.

Later on, the player approached me and asked what I thought of the situation and then told me his side of the story. He said that he had never explicitly stated anything implying collusion and that he was merely pointing out that a player may concede at any time. Although that situation was possible, I felt that the head judge made the right call since he was actually present for part of the situation and directly heard statements that to him implied collusion. The player mentioned that he was planning to appeal the situation to the DCI, though, so the actual outcome may possibly change.

The second major problem came up during a semifinal match. One of the players was taking an extremely long time to make his plays, even with fairly basic moves like searching out a rebel at the end of his opponent's turn. I told him partway through the first game that he was playing slowly, and that even though the time limit was longer -- 90 minutes as opposed to 50 -- for the Top 8 matches, he still would have to pick up his speed.

However, he did not speed up for most of the match. His opponent won the first game, and they were in the middle of the second game when the player asked how much time was left. I told him that there were 15 minutes left, and he seemed quite surprised by this fact and somewhat mad that he hadn't been kept apprised of the time. Incidentally, his opponent seemed a bit taken aback, but since he hadn't been playing slowly, he wasn't especially perturbed.

The next few turns proceeded with the first player continuing to play slowly until he drew a Rath's Edge, which could possibly serve as the kill card since the board had turned into a stalemate. This caused him to speed up as he tried to deal enough damage before time expired. Meanwhile, his opponent slowed down his play a bit. The first player complained that he was possibly stalling, but both Eric and I felt that he was simply taking more time to see if he could punch through enough creatures to win or to at least draw the game with his Thrashing Wumpus. Once the game went to extra turns, the first player resumed his slow pace.

Eventually, the time limit expired and the game drew after extra turns, a turn before the Rath's Edge would have possibly dealt the killing blow. This meant that the slow player's opponent won the match 1-0 and advanced to the finals. The player who had been playing slowly complained to the other judges and me that we should have told him earlier in the match how much time was left. He also felt that we didn't tell him that the 90-minute time limit would be enforced.

I responded by telling him: Though it would have perhaps been a good idea, keeping constant time for the players was not required. While I'm not trying to make an excuse here, I don't feel that I did anything inherently wrong by not telling him (and his opponent) how much time was left. All he had to do was ask and I would have told him, but I'd rather concentrate on adjudicating the match than making sure I constantly tell players how much time is left. It's really the responsibility of players to keep track of time or at least ask for it, rather than blaming the judges for not giving it.

-- I had in fact told him earlier that he had been playing slowly and needed to play more quickly.

-- We told all eight players at the beginning of the Top 8 that we would be playing with a 90-minute time limit. Since we had enforced the rules strictly (but fairly) during the Swiss rounds, there should be no reason to believe we would be more lax -- and in fact, should be even more diligent - during the Top 8 rounds.

The finals proceeded without a hitch, and the tournament finally ended at about 12:45 a.m.

So what did I learn? Well, I got some experience working under judges I had not previously worked under, which enabled me to hear different judging philosophies that I had not heard before. I got some more practice making rulings and giving out penalties at an REL 3 event -- I've also judged a team PTQ and a regional tournament, so this gave me a bit more insight into judging large tournaments. It was much different from running a booster draft, where you can virtually let the players run the draft themselves. And as I said, though keeping time wasn't specifically my responsibility, in the future I'll try to avoid situations like the one in the semifinals by making sure players are kept apprised of time remaining in a round.

Incidentally, I had originally planned to take the judge test for Level 2 certification that day, but decided not to since I wanted to get another big tournament or two under my belt and study up some more on the rules before I took the test. Hopefully a tournament like this one will help prepare me for advancement. Judging by the size of it and the questions that came up, I think it was a pretty good workout.

If you'd like to tell me what you think of any of the above situations or my report in general, feel free to e-mail me back at jeremy@smith.net.

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