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The End of the Three Judge System

Thomas Ralph

Tournament Details:

  • Date: August 31st 2002. Scheduled start time: 2:30 pm.
  • Tournament Organizer, Head Judge, and scorekeeper: Thomas Ralph (Level 2)
    Secondary Judge: Cormac Smyth (Level 2)
    Tertiary Judge: Seán FitzGerald
  • Site: The Hairy Lemon, Cork.
  • Format:Odyssey Block Constructed
  • Number of Players: 11
  • Rules Enforcement Level: 1

Taking advantage of what might prove my last opportunity to play tournament Magic, I organized a Three Judge System event for the last possible day - August 31st, 2002. Despite the clash with Grand Prix London, eleven players showed up, including four who were issued with new DCI numbers.

I arrived just before the venue opened at 2:00, with six players awaiting me outside the door. Four more arrived soon afterwards, and those who hadn't done so already set to work completing their decklists, while I issued DCI numbers to the new players and collected the forms (thanks to Rune Horvik for rushing me some new DCI numbers because I wouldn't have been able to handle all the new players without them). Unfortunately there was the usual suite of delays, one or two players coming late, and so on. However I was able to get the players registered and pairings made ready to start round 1 at 15:00. This tournament was run on paper, with the details transferred later to DCI Reporter for uploading.

As we were under some time pressure, I chose to run 45 minute rounds (another relic of the old Tournament Rules). Even so, only four matches went to the five extra turns during the tournament. Here is a selection of some of the rules questions and notable actions that came up during the tournament:

In my match, I played Roar of the Wurm using Flashback. My opponent wanted to flashback his Krosan Reclamation in response to return my Roar of the Wurm to my library, and asked me if that was legal. Not wanting to appear biased, I called Cormac Smyth the secondary judge, who explained that Roar of the Wurm was no longer in the graveyard by the time he could play Krosan Reclamation.

I had announced at the start of the tournament that we were using the optional rule requiring players to shuffle their opponents' decks before each game. I reminded some players that they also had to cut their opponents' decks after an in-game shuffle (due to Diabolic Tutor) and had the option of shuffling as well.

A player attempted to play Deep Analysis during his opponent's end phase. As Deep Analysis is sorcery, this constituted Misrepresentation (another thing that no longer exists now) and the player received a caution. This particular player has never received an official warning although he has played tournaments since 1998. It is possible, folks!

At the beginning of a game, a player drew her hand before she declared her choice of who was going to play first (she had lost the last game). Per the Magic Floor Rules, she was required to play first (which is what she wanted to do anyway). I saw no need to issue any penalties; it was her first tournament and even then a trivial thing.

At the end of that same game, her opponent, who was on 2 life, used Glory to give all his creatures Protection from green (the colour of her only untapped creature), and attacked for the exact amount of damage to win. The untapped creature was a Wild Mongrel, however, and she remembered that it could change colour and block one of the attackers! She won the next turn, although ended up losing the match 2-1.

A player had looked at his opponent's hand with Mesmeric Fiend and wanted to record the cards on a page. The opponent argued that this should not be allowed, but I ruled that as long as he did not take an excessive amount of time, it would be allowed.

In Round 3, the players at the top table finished their second game with six minutes remaining. Right away I could see that one of them (the player whom I mentioned earlier on that has never received a warning) wanted to draw out the match and avoid losing. He took the full three minutes to sideboard, shuffle, and present his deck. He took a mulligan, and drew his next hand with 20 seconds left in the round. Then he mulliganed again. The time ran out, so the game didn't start (possibly this was a wrong ruling) but the player received a caution for slow play. Perhaps a time extension would have been warranted, but this would have slowed down an already too-slow tournament.

Eventually Cormac Smyth was the winner, defeating Seán FitzGerald in the final. I came third. Goodbye to the three judge system (we held a moment's silence in its memory before round 3) and thank you for reading.

Thomas Ralph
DCI Level 2 Judge
e-league Level 3 Judge
e-league Judge Director
I welcome opinions on this and my other judge reports - email me at judge@thomasralph.com.



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