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PTQ Houston Athens Greece - Judge Report

Michelogiannakis George

Event location: President hotel - Athens Greece
Event Date: Saturday 14th of September
Format:Odyssey Block Constructed
Head Judge: Apergis Dimitris (level 2)
Floor Judge: Michelogiannakis George (level 1)
Coordinator: Miltos Kyrkos
Participants: 40

It was the beginning of September when I found out about the upcoming PTQ in Athens for PT Houston. Since I happened to have the weekend free, and since I had a place to stay in Athens, I began thinking whether I should travel to Athens. The decision was made after contacting Peter Coenen (DCI manager of Europe) who told me that PTQ experience can prove (and it indeed proved-thanks Peter) really useful in improving as a judge but also for level the 2 certification exam. I contacted Miltos Kyrkos (head coordinator for Greece) asking whether there is any need for judges. The answer was positive and I asked details about the event after informing that I would be judging at the PTQ. I bought the boat tickets from Heraklion to Athens (and back) and started preparing for the event by studying the rules and asking various rules questions on the judge list (thanks to Rune for answering).

I arrived on early Friday morning and after catching up on some sleep, I prepared a type 2 deck for an FNM. As funny as it may sound to many of you, I hadn't been to a 22-player FNM before as we have an average of 9 in Heraklion. The FNM was a pleasant experience and gave me the chance to meet with many people and have fun. We finished at 10:15 and I headed back home thinking of the next day.

Since many players wait until the last minute to record their decklists, checking for mistakes prior to the start of round one is a big plus
I woke up at 7:50, surprisingly early for my standards but I guess I'd better go to the event site as soon as possible. I got the judge handbook, pen and paper as I had planned beforehand and arrived at 9:20. The head judge had not yet arrived but I met the scorekeeper and got a chance to answer some players' rules questions as they were building their decks and writing their decklists.

After a few minutes, the first players started registering at the scorekeeper and handed the first decklists. The head judge then arrived and we started checking the decklists before the tournament started. This gave us the chance to discover errors without penalizing the players, especially new ones. During this check we came across 3 sideboards with less than 15 cards. We called the players over and informed them that the sideboard must contain exactly 15 cards and if they hadn't got that many, they should add basic lands. Other than that we discovered no other errors but I made a useful discovery: there are actually people out there with worse handwriting than mine

Registration and decklist checking were no problem and at 10:45 we were ready to start the tournament. While the coordinator welcomed the players and announced the pairings, I was numbering the tables by putting number tags. Then, I posted the pairings and the tournament began.

While the players were taking their seat, the head judge informed me that tabled 18 was going to be deck checked. I then patrolled near that area while keeping an eye at table 18 waiting for the players to present their decks. This happened and we then did the first deck check of the tournament. The decks were fine and we returned them back to the players while granting them 5 extra minutes. I have to improve my speed though...

I got no really interesting rules questions during this round. The two I can recall being asked had to do with Mirari:

Question: "With a mirari in play, can I copy the same spell twice if I have 6 mana free?"
Answer: No.,Mirari has a triggered ability and triggered abilities trigger only once every time their trigger condition is matched. Mirari's condition is playing an instant or sorcery so it triggers only once when you play the spell, the copy is not played so the ability does not trigger twice.

Question: " If I Mirari a Skeletal Scrying for 3, do I remove 3 or 6 cards?"
Answer: You get to remove 3 cards but you loose 6 life. This is because the loss of life is part of the effect but the removal is an additional casting cost as stated by the card text. When putting a copy of a spell in the stack (as Mirari says) you do not pay the spell's casting costs again, so you don't remove another 3 cards.

The rest of the round went on smoothly. I patrolled the area concentrating on the matches and helped a table with finishing their match after time expired. All result slips were filled and processed, and we announced that it was time for round two pairings.

Before pairings were posted, the head judge informed me that he received complaints that a specific player had a weird shuffling technique and may be stacking his deck. He showed me the player and told me to check him when I am available. Then he told me that table 12 was going to be deck checked and the round was beginning (11:45)

This time the deck check resulted in a game loss for failure to desideboard to one of the two players. That player had switched three cards from his sideboard with three in his main deck in the previous round, returned the three sideboard cards from his deck to his sideboard but forgot to do the same with the main deck cards in his sideboard. Thus, he had a 57 card deck. We explained the error and awarded the penalty.

During this round, I was called at a table. One player had looked at his own sideboard during their first game. I explained to the two players that this is not permitted but since the player who looked at his sideboard can gain no advantage at the current game I was not going to award a game loss. Instead I awarded a warning for procedural error major and the game continued as normal. I suspected that that player's opponent was hunting game losses for his opponents, but I couldn't do anything about it despite that I did not appreciate that.

Michelogiannakis George (left) with Head Judge, Apergis Dimitris
While I was patrolling, I noticed that the player the head judge told me about (weird shuffling) was shuffling for the third and last game of the current match. I observed his shuffling technique and I ran to check his deck when he presented it to his opponent. I showed it to the head judge and we both could see that it was stacked in a 4 spell two land basis. The head judge awarded him a game loss for procedural error severe and he was clearly very unhappy with it. For the rest of the round he was constantly complaining to me and the head judge. First he complained because I "chose" to check his deck out of 40 players. The head judge told him that he told me to do so. Then he complained that he had no presented the deck to his opponent, that he wanted to sideboard, and that I should have asked him "are you presenting your deck to your opponent?". The answer was that he placed his deck in a position clearly showing his intent to present it. He made no motion of reaching his sideboard and judges never ask the player if he is presenting his deck because the obvious answer would be no. He then tried to make it personal since his opponent happened to be from the same city as me. I told him that the head judge told me to check him before pairings were made and that he had no right to imply such thing, I was rather insulted. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to explain all these in detail as I was busy (time was finishing and I had to go for the end of game procedures) but mostly because of the player's frustration at that point which is partly understandable because he lost a match this way. I tried to put this behind me because I hate fighting.

Round two ended ten minutes earlier than expected and so round three started at 12:40. This time, we included a "Please shuffle your decks very well before presenting them" in the round three announcement. Table 16 was going to be deck checked.

After players were seated, we discovered that a player was missing. We spent 4 minutes trying to track him down before he showed up. We only gave him a warning for tardiness though because the round had started earlier. This however prevented us from doing the planned deck check so we decided to do it in the middle of the match, between games. The deck check was okay this time so we only gave the players a 5 minute extension. We did recommend one player change his sleeves though but he was highly unlikely to be using them to his advantage. During this round I received one question:

Question: " When a player casts a Cunning Wish, does he get to look at the sideboard to make the choice or does he have to choose the card before looking?"
Answer: "Choose" as well as "search" imply looking at the designated zone before picking out a card. If the player was required to pick a card before looking, the wording would be similar to Cabal Therapy

The player appealed and the head judge upheld my decision. I remember being asked this question again by a player between matches although it seems an easy question.

The rest of the round again was trouble free. There was a table with tension between the two players because one accused the other for slow play. I had seen no signs of slow play but I kept a closer eye on that table for the rest of the round. No apparent slow play.

Round three was over and round four was underway. We announced that there was going to be a 45 minute break and so the fifth round would begin at 3:30. Table 8 was this round's lucky one to have a deck check.

We deck checked table 8 which had no deck problems. I seem to be speeding up in deck checks, but only a little. 15 minutes into the round, I was called over at a table where a player had forgotten to sacrifice a permanent to his Braids. That player had the Braids and 6 lands on the board. I ruled (also by looking at his hand) that his intension of sacrificing a land and keeping the Braids was clear and so I only awarded him a warning for procedural error major. However I made it clear that the next such case would be a game loss.

This round had no challenging rules questions. The only ruling I made was that after combat damage is dealt, activating Glory's ability to give protection from a certain color was not going to save the already dead creatures. However 10 minutes after that I was again called at the same table as before. The same player had again forgotten to sacrifice a permanent to his Braids and I awarded a game loss to him. He never made this mistake again which is pleasant. I hate giving looses in such tournaments.

The round continued and ended smoothly with me patrolling and observing as many games as I can, carefully. The next 45 minutes (the break) was a chance to recharge my batteries and get something to eat. I've got little to say about this break since I was mostly resting. The only interesting fact was that I got the chance to ask the head judge if he found any weaknesses in my performance or if he had any recommendations at all. He said that I was doing fine which was pleasant.

As we announced that round 5 was starting, we noticed that a few players had not yet come back from the break, so we decided to wait another 5 minutes. As usual, pairings were announced and posted. We did no deck check this round because it distracts us from answering player's questions and because it would be better at this point to take a closer eye at shuffling techniques of players. We are only two judges after all and although there are usually less or equal to two judges in PTQs, it is still not enough to have deck checks, answer questions in a timely manner and do administrative tasks such as posting pairings at the same time.

Although I received no rules question in this round, it proved to be the most difficult round in this tournament. 10 minutes till the end of the round, a player comes to me and complains that his opponent used improper language at him. His opponent was right next to him and I got the chance to interview them both. What I noticed immediately was that they could not agree on almost anything about the state of the round in which player A (the one who came at me complaining) cast upheaval. Player A said that he had two cards in hand while player B said that player A had only one. Player A said that he had not played a land that round while player B said that he did. Player A said that it was the eighth round while player B said that it was the seventh. Also, player B indeed used very improper language at his opponent who in his turn demanded that I do something about it. I was rather confused at start because it was really sudden.

When I finished interviewing them both, I told them that should they have any disagreement or question about their present game state, they should call a judge. Since they had turned in their report slip, there was nothing I could do about their match. However, since player Bs behavior was out of line, I called the head judge who was then at the only table left in this round. I went to that table and the head judge dealt with the two players.

Michelogiannakis George, has been working hard to enhance his rules knowledge in preparation for his Level 2 test
At the end of the round, I asked about the incident and it turned out that player B had been given a warning for unsporting conduct minor and nothing was done about their match. This would not be the end. The two players had a fight when the tournament was over (when the quarter finals took place), right outside of the tournament site. I think it's because of player B and his challenging behavior but since it was after the tournament and outside of it, there was nothing I could do.

Round 6 started at 4:30. For the same reasons as round 5 we held no deck check, which allowed us to focus more on the games. This round, unlike the previous one, had no surprises or remarkable facts other than one rules question:

Question: In response to my opponent's Spurnmage advocate's ability, can I cast a Krosan reclamation to the two cards in my graveyard he targeted, to counter the ability?
Answer: No. The ability had three targets, the two cards in your graveyard and the attacking creature. You must remove all three targets if you want it to be countered. By casting the reclamation you remove the two targets so the ability will affect the third (the creature) as normal.

Round 6 finished, standings were posted and we were getting ready for the top 8 playoffs. Before top 8 started, a spectator came to me and suggested that I table judge one of the four tables. The two players had played before in the swiss rounds and there was some tension between them. This is because one of them thought the other played slowly which caused frustration and misunderstanding between them. I told the head judge this and he said that he will be table judging at that table. Therefore, I sat down at another table while keeping an eye on the other two. All went smoothly at the quarter finals, good matches were played and we are now moving on to the semi finals.

I table judged one of the two tables at the semi finals. I've got nothing to report in this round other than ruling that a player cannot respond with aether burst to sacrificing a creature to cabal therapy's flashback.

The final was like the rest of the top 8, peaceful and interesting. It was a good match between two players and we were more spectators than judges. In 50 minutes it was over and the PTQ was now history.

While I was walking away from the tournament site, I had a mixture of feelings. I did know for sure though that I wanted sleep badly. It was not only the mental concentration but also all that time that I was standing. I couldn't stop thinking of the two players who had the fight and if I could do anything to stop that. Also I was thinking of the player who was issued a game loss for stacking on round two and if I had made any mistake in his case. However, the tournament was a success and it was one of the few PTQs in Greece with two good judges.

Have a good time everyone!

Until next time,
Michelogiannakis George

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