|Dutch Nationals Qualifier - Head Judge Report
Location: Buurthuis 't Terphuus, Enschede, the Netherlands.
Head Judge: Jasper Overman
Other Judges: Edwin van Eijk, Bertil de Groot, Jarno Spijker, Ruud van Warmenhoven, 4 level 0's as draft table judge/deck count help.
Tournament: Dutch Nationals Qualifier. The top 10 after Swiss will be eligible to play in the Dutch nationals.
The story of this report started at GP Antwerp. I had arranged to take my level 2 judge exam there with Rune Horvik. Unfortunately, he didn't want to test me, since I hadn't head judged any PTQ's or national qualifiers. Luckily for me, Gis Hoogendijk was there to explain that level 1 judges in the Netherlands are never asked to head judge these events, since there are enough level 2 judges, so I could still take the test, and passed it. As expected, in return for this, Gis asked me to write a head judge report of a PTQ or nationals Qualifier.
Before the tournament: preparation
Because the tournament was a draft tournament, I would need quite some help from other judges. Ideally, you want one judge to call the draft, and one judge per draft table. It's possible to get this number of judges to a tournament, but this scheme would make sure that the judges have very little to do in between rounds, and judge compensations would put an excessive strain on the budget. Instead, I asked some players that were already qualified for the Dutch National Championship whether they would like to help during the draft. Since these players never miss a tournament in the city, I could easily bribe them into helping by offering them a free draft.
When we (Edwin picked the computer and me up by car) arrived at the site, we already saw 10-15 people inside. That was not expected, since it was well before 10.00, the advertised time that the site would open. With the help of some of the players, I re-arranged the tables for the draft, while Edwin installed the printer. At about 10.20, we could start registering players. There was room for 64 players, and I had already 80 pre-registrations by e-mail. Since the pre-registration process is about 1000 times as easy as getting up early and going to the site, only 70% of those people are expected to show up. However, there were also 15 people at the site that had NOT pre-registered, and the room was already pretty crowded.
Registration went smooth though, and at 10.40, we had registered 39 people. 2 others had called that they were underway. So only 41 out of 80 pre-registered players showed up. At this point, we started registering all players that decided to show up without pre-registering. By the time the 2 late players arrived, we had exactly 64 players, and the master list was printed at 11.05, which is just about perfect. 3 players showed up a few minutes later, and unfortunately couldn't play.
The first draft
In the weeks before the tournament, there has been quite some controversy about who can and who cannot play at qualification tournaments. The website of the Dutch organizer of premier events (PS-games) only listed as already invited players the top 4 last year, the World Champion, players with 20 or more pro points, then added people from the rating list to get 50 invitations. That means that only 40 people were invited on rating, instead of 50, as written in the DCI policy.
Because of miscommunications between PS-games, WotC Belgium and the head judge of the tournament the week before in Utrecht, a lot of players qualified on rating thought they could still play the qualifiers. In Utrecht, 2 players showed up who were number 53 and 59 on the rating list. They were invited based on the international WotC policy, but they were not listed on the PS-games website. Since then, I checked and double-checked this invitation policy on this matter, and these players were not allowed to play. I checked the pre-registered players before the tournament, but failed to check the players that showed up at the tournament, but were not pre-registered. The number 48 of the rating-invite list was in the tournament. At the moment I found out, I was ready to start the draft, and didn't want to stop the tournament to replace a player. You can imagine that I was quite happy to learn that the player dropped after round 4. In retrospect, I should have replaced the player. There were some players who showed up late, so it was possible to just put in a new player, and start the draft from there. However, I was afraid that doing so would cause too much delay and hassle.
Jasper Overman, Head Judge
The draft itself went smooth, except for a 16-card booster in the second Odyssey pack. I took a card from the pack at random (A Dreamwinder) and the player was pretty happy to put the Dreamwinder in his collection after the draft, with my signature on it.
I told the players they had 25 minutes for deck building and registration and to my surprise, most people were finished on time. About 15-20 people did not bring basic lands. I did ask the TO to organize basic land, but I did not receive any. Obviously, we did have some basic land at the ready, but not enough for everybody, so we only gave lands to those people that requested it. Most people did either have enough lands, or could borrow land from other players, so this was not really a problem.
Round 1 was pretty hectic, because all the deck lists have to be counted. I had four extra people to help count the decklists, so I asked them to do a complete count, including total number of cards drafted. Out of the 64 decklists, 10 contained one or more problems. One decklist contained 62 cards maindeck and was from a beginning player. One decklist had 39 cards, and would be a matchloss. The other decklists all had legal decks, but had missing or too many cards in the sideboard. In addition to a game loss, you have to find the missing/extra card(s), and for 9 decks, that's a lot of work at the start of round 2, so I decided to catch these players as much as possible at the moment they report their match result. I marked the names of the players on a sheet next to the scorekeeper, and whenever a player with an error would report his result, I'd make sure a judge would walk with him to check the deck and sideboard. At the start of round 2, we already had 1 match loss, 6 game losses, and 1 warning.
At the start of round 2, several things happened at the same time, and I wasn't really on top of things at this point. One of the results from the round 1 was entered incorrectly. It's a simple matter to exchange the pairing for the 2 players for whom the result was entered incorrectly, so there was no need for a repairing. However, I still had to tell at 6 tables that one of the players received a game loss. While I'm talking to one of the players that got their results mixed up, Ruud wants to talk to me. Ruud passed his level 1 exam 2 weeks ago, so is still an inexperienced judge. He asked me my opinion on a case of 'bad shuffling'. I'm not entirely sure how he described the situation to me anymore, but as I understood at the moment, he was called over by player A. Player B had first distributed his land evenly among his deck, then, according to player A, did not shuffle sufficiently. At that moment, I should have gone over to the table, and interviewed the players myself. Instead, I asked Ruud what he thought about it, and he said that player A was very inexperienced and apparently did not master the riffle shuffle, but did shuffle his deck after mana weaving. At this moment, I decided that a game loss was an appropriate penalty. Ruud agreed that it would be a fair penalty, and handed out the penalty while I continued my round to the tables were one of the players got a deck-related gameloss.
Later, after the tournament was over, I heard the story of the mana shuffling case from a player at the table next to the incident. As it turned out, player A did not shuffle AT ALL (maybe made a cut or 2) after mana weaving.
I should have investigated the matter myself, and then I probably would have found out that a) the deck was mana-weaved, and b) the level of (in) experience of the player. Now, mana weaving is a serious offense, and should be penalized. However, it's not listed in the penalty guidelines, so the only entry it falls under is cheating - Other. That is a very harsh penalty for an inexperienced player, who very probably is not aware that this is illegal. In fact, all cheating penalties assume intentional breaking of the rules by the player, which was probably not the case here. However, I should have talked to the player myself, and probably for quite some time, to make sure that he did indeed not know that it's not allowed, and to make sure he'll never do it again. Deciding on an appropriate penalty is a judgement call, which should be made by me, after I got ALL the facts. Checking whether people have informed their opponent that they received a game loss for a clerical error is far less important than a possible case of cheating.
In the mean time, some of the level 0's already started with the deck checks. Unfortunately, they were not properly briefed on how to do that, so they took the decks before the players presented their decks to each other. My intention was that an experienced judge would teach one of the level 0's how to do a deck-check, but the experienced judges all had business elsewhere, and were not actively coaching the deck-check. This is not good, because a good deck-check is something you have to learn, and good instructions are essential. I helped them to complete the deck-check just within 7 minutes, which is long for a draft deck, but given the inexperience of the judges still reasonable.
The tournament was nicely underway by now. The problems during round 1 and 2 were over, and some my level 0 judges participated in a side-event draft. That's not a problem, we still had 4 judges for 64 players, no sweat.
The second draft had one incident, somewhere near the end of the second pack. A player took too long to decide what to pick, and the judge at that table decided to stop the draft to make the pick for that player. Ideally, the draft isn't stopped for this kind of incident, but the judge was on the other end of the table, so couldn't reach the player in time. After restarting the draft, a problem occurred at another table. For some reason, not everybody had the same number of cards in front of him. The problem was easily solved, it happened when I stopped the draft, and after counting all cards on the table, we could continue. If you ever have to stop a draft, before you continue, make sure everybody has the same number of cards passed to him, and the same number of cards drafted.
Deck Construction 2
Because of the large amount of game losses in the first draft, I made an announcement, urging everybody to please count AND recount their decks before handing in the lists. This did help, to a certain extent. The first player who finished his deck handed it in after 5 minutes. I asked whether he had counted his list, and yes, he did. 5 minutes later, I handed him a match loss for listing only 37 cards. As I expected, he dropped from the tournament immediately.
There were 2 other people with match losses for 39 card-decks, but all players did register 45 drafted cards this time, so there was a lot less stress than during round 1. Because the side-event draft was over, I once again had 5 or 6 people counting deck-lists, and all were counted before round 4 started.
In round 5, I had to give the only game loss for a play-related problem. Player A forgot to sacrifice a permanent to player B's Braids. Unfortunately for player A, he had only one land in play, a Swamp, a Putrid Imp in his hand, and drew a Swamp. I was called over before the card was in the hand, but it was already seen. This is technically still a case of 'looking at extra cards' but this was too much strategic advantage to let go on with a warning, so I had to upgrade to a game loss.
The last round went smooth, with several people still in contention frantically counting and arguing over which tiebreakers would make it and which wouldn't. I find it always amusing if players ask you 3 or 4 times whether they make it if this-and-this, or that-or-that, but I made sure they didn't spend too much time on it.
Looking back, I think I did an OK job for my first tournament (of this size) as head judge. There were some problems, but overall, the tournament went smooth. I think I made two errors, and had one major oversight in this tournament. The errors were the fact that I let the already qualified player play, and that I did not investigate the bad shuffling case. The major oversight is that I did not anticipate nor prepare for the logistical problems of running a draft tournament at this level, with so many players. The other judges helped where they could, but many were also inexperienced, so things could have been better. In retrospect, it would have been better if my first tournament as head judge was either a sealed deck or constructed tournament. Those tournaments are a lot easier to manage.