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Ontario Provincials 2002 - Head Judge Report

Duncan McGregor

Location: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
Date: November 2, 2002
Format: Standard (w/ Onslaught)
Attendance: 125
Judges: Duncan McGregor - 2 (Head judge)
Mike Clark - 1, Przemyslaw Kozlowski - 1, Michael Isaacs - 1 (scorekeeper)

The story of Ontario Provincials 2002 actually starts a year before. While tournament attendance had been increasing steadily through Invasion block, the attendance at Provincials 2001 caught the tournament organizer, Marvin Paguirigan, and me by surprise. Our crowd more than doubled, from just over 60 in 2000 to 132 in 2001, and we were forced to spill over into another room to accommodate everyone. This was also hard on the judging staff, which consisted of me and one other judge, Michael Isaacs. Michael has been working with Marvin for years, and while he knows DCI Reporter very well, he doesn't actually judge very often, in the sense of walking the floor and giving rulings. We managed to survive the day somehow, and I wanted to make sure that we were better prepared this year. When I spoke to Marvin, I was pleased to find that he had made arrangements for two other area judges to be present, and that our tournament site had a capacity of 200. This proved to be more than sufficient, and when our attendance proved to be 125 we rearranged some of the table numbers to provide more room for the players. The fact that our attendance was 7 people less than the year before also let us shave one round off the tournament, as we dropped below 128 people.

Registration proceeded normally, with Michael taking money and me putting the players into the computer. When Mike and Przemyslaw arrived, I showed them where the Oracle, Floor Rules, and Penalty Guidelines were stored on the computer, and then put them to work checking the decklists. Between the three of us, we managed to examine all of the decklists by 9:45, 15 minutes before the official start of round 1. By counting the main deck to 60+ and the sideboard to exactly 15, and watching out for Invasion block cards, we avoided having to give out a number of game losses. Notable among the errors we caught, as well as the normal 56 card decks and 13 card sideboards, were the deck with no land registered and the player who had registered "4 Looters". We spoke to everyone and asked them to be more careful in the future. Mike and Przemyslaw then spent a good part of round 1 alphabetizing the decklists. Starting with round 2, two of us did a deck check every round while the third walked the floor.

At 9:55, we posted a master list of player names and DCI numbers, and asked all players to make sure that they were on the list. We had one player whose DCI number had been entered incorrectly due to sloppy handwriting, and corrected him then. We also had a number of players who thought they weren't on the list, usually, again, because their name was inputted wrong due to bad handwriting. We made sure they knew how their name was written on the sheet and asked them to write the correct spelling on their first-round match result slips. We were able to post the first-round pairings at 10:05, and proceeded into round 1 with no further delays.

In round 1, we had one situation come up where a player received a warning for not drawing to his opponent's Howling Mine. The opponent pointed it out as soon as the player played a land, so he received a warning and drew the card. I also found out during round 1 that the Verduran Enchantress and Enchantress's Presence triggered abilities are different; the Verduran's ability is an optional draw, while the draw from the Presence is mandatory.

Note the different wording of these triggered abilities

Round 2's interesting rules question regarded the interaction of Time Stretch and the 5 extra turn rule. The players were informed that there were 5 turns total, and the Time Stretch turns counted against these 5.

We also gave out a number of warnings this round. At one table, a player had Howling Mine out, and both his opponent and then he forgot to draw the extra card. This was noticed on the opponent's next turn. I gave them each a warning and told them to proceed without drawing the cards.

At another table, a player cycled Krosan Tusker, and went to search his deck for a land before drawing the card, which is correct. However, a spectator told him that it was the other way around, so he instead drew a card and then started to look through his deck. The player's opponent called for a judge at this point. We knew which card from the players hand was the most recently drawn, so we had him put it back, gave him a warning, and made him resolve the abilities in the correct order. I also instructed the spectator to not interfere in games from this point on.

Then, as I was writing the warnings on the player's results slip, I was also forced to give a warning to his opponent. The opponent holds the most lifetime Unsporting Conduct warnings of any player in Canada, and considers this to be a point of pride. He asked if I would give him another one, and when I said no, he waited for his opponent to do something and then said, "F*** you!" He then turned back to me and I gave him his warning. Under normal circumstances, I might not have given a written warning for this, but just asked the player to stop; given the conversation we'd just had, I decided that I should give him one because otherwise he'd keep trying to get one, which could get _very_ disruptive.

During round 3, a player played a Words of Wilding when he had a Verduran Enchantress out, and tried to deny the Enchantress draw to the Words. He was told that he could not do this, as the Words are not in play yet when you draw the card.

An unfortunate situation came up during this round. One of the floor judges came up to me to double-check a ruling before giving it. A player who was playing first drew a card on his first turn, then played an Island and Careful Studied. I checked the Penalty Guidelines, and verified that the base penalty was Warning, but that if a significant advantage was gained, it could be upgraded to a game loss. Given the situation as described to me, and the advantage that could have been gained had the opponent caught it, I agreed that Game might be called for, and the judge went back to issue this penalty.

About ten minutes later, the same judge and I were standing together when this player came up to ask about the penalty. In talking about it, I learned that the Careful Study actually hadn't resolved yet at the time that the opponent noticed that he had an extra card in hand. With this information, I agreed with the player that perhaps the game loss had been harsh, but said that if he wished to appeal the ruling, he should have done so at the time it was issued, as it would not be overturned later. The player was unhappy but understood, and left. I have been trying to think since if I should have dealt with this differently, treating it as an appeal and visiting the table myself instead of just talking with the judge about it, even though we were fairly busy at the time. I believe now that I should have done so. This was not a clear-cut case where a ruling could be quoted directly from the Penalty Guidelines, but required the issuing judge to use their discretion. By giving the floor judge guidance without visiting the table myself, I deny myself valuable information, and replace it with any assumptions I have made. This is something that I would urge all judges to be careful of in the future.

In round 4, a player played a Zombie Infestation, which his opponent tried to counter with Memory Lapse. The player used Compulsion to discard a Circular Logic and madnessed it onto the Lapse, and the opponent responded with another Lapse on the Logic. The player, who was tapped out, then drew for Compulsion before letting the Lapse resolve. Both players were able to identify which card had been drawn, so that card was revealed to the opponent and put back on top of the player's library. The Logic was then put on top, then was drawn by the Compulsion ability, then the Infestation finally went on top.

Round 5 had two non-trivial problems. First, a player at one of the bottom tables reported that his opponent had failed to show up for the round. This in itself isn't a very large problem; we gave him 3 minutes before game loss and then 10 minutes before match loss, and then marked him as a no-show to be dropped. When I went to enter the result into the computer, though, I recognized the name of the player, and realized that he was still in the room, standing nearby and watching a match. I checked the match results from the previous round, and found that he had marked a 'Yes' under the 'Drop?' heading. This was a problem, as I didn't want to give him an unearned match loss on his DCI rating. The pairings for that round were good to me, though. Including him, we had an even number of players, so no-one had a bye yet, and his opponent had 0 match points. Now I just needed to figure out how to re-pair them without messing everyone else up.

I started by backing up the tournament files, always a good idea before trying anything that you haven't done very often. I tried the Ordered Pairing option first, but while I could assign a Bye to the player's opponent, Reporter wouldn't let me leave the Ordered Pairing with the player unassigned. I decided to try dropping him from the tournament first, from the Edit Players menu, and Reporter offered me a couple of choices here - asking if I wanted to drop his opponent as well, or if this meant his opponent won by full points - and then got to the option of 'Ordered Bye?' This was exactly what I was looking for, as it dropped the player from the tournament and gave his opponent the bye. Whoever programmed that function into DCI Reporter has my heartfelt thanks.

The second major problem of the round didn't have nearly as elegant a solution. I was called over to a table to appeal a ruling issued by one of the judges. One player, A, had, on his turn, said, "I'll declare my attack." His opponent, B, then tapped out using his Opposition to tap all but one of A's creatures. A then said, "Back into my main phase..." and when B agreed, he flashed back a Roar of the Wurm from his graveyard, discarded Anger to his Wild Mongrel and tried to attack with the Wurm and his other untapped creature. This is where the yelling began. A said that by responding to his attack, B had prevented him from leaving his main phase, so that he could still cast the Roar before attacking. B said that A had entered his attack phase, and that by saying "Back into my main phase," he had understood A to be going into his second main phase.

Duncan McGregor learning by watching Mike Donais in action
The floor judge's initial ruling was in favor of A, saying that by responding to the declaration of the attack, B had prevented him from leaving his first main phase. However, I felt that this might not be correct, as there appeared to be several miscommunications here. After discussing it with the judge, I ruled that the players would be returned to where A passed priority in his main phase, and play would proceed from there. I stood with them for the remainder of the round and made sure that they declared everything unambiguously, as immediately after I told them to proceed, A started off with "I'll declare my attack." Sigh.

Round 6 started off with a deck check of the feature match table. The Tournament Organizer has, for the last couple of years, been running feature matches, where one match each round will be played in a very visible area so that spectators can easily watch them. The judges will either select the feature match randomly or choose a table with two tournament regulars, not necessarily the best players but ones who come out a lot. At the end of it, each participant gets a free pack of the latest expansion. The feature match players in this case were surprised to be deck checked, but we explained that we randomly select a table each round, and their being the feature match didn't affect it at all. We had to give the same speech to a player in the next round, when he was deck checked for a second time that day.

I was also called on to appeal another ruling. Player C had discarded a Glory to his Wild Mongrel, and then attacked with the Mongrel and a Phantom Centaur into Player D's Wild Mongrel. D blocked the attacking Mongrel with his own, and before damage went on the stack, D discarded a card to his Mongrel to give it +1/+1 and make it red. Damage went on the stack, and C activated Glory naming red. D then pulled his Mongrel back from where he had put it to block, apparently having thought that C's Mongrel was a 2/2, so that his own Mongrel would live. C said that D's Mongrel was dead, and D then wanted to discard another card to keep his Mongrel alive. It was at this point that a judge was called.

The judge had ruled that D's Mongrel would die, and D had appealed to the head judge. When the situation was explained to me, I looked around the play area, and saw that D's last life total change was a five-point reduction, so I asked if that was the damage from the unblocked Phantom Centaur. When D admitted that it was, I said that damage had obviously resolved off the stack, so the Mongrel was dead.

In round 7, I was called over to a table where a player had attacked, cast a spell, and then untapped and drew a card for his next turn before the opponent had taken a turn. This player was warned and the card was replaced. I also had to take control of another match this round when I had to give a player a warning for failure to sacrifice to his opponent's Braids. The opponent also made a play error, immediately after, and between that and the fact that the players each appeared annoyed with the other, I stayed at the table until their match had finished.

After the seven rounds of Swiss, we announced the top 8 competitors, then posted the final standings. We gave the players 5 minutes to talk to the judges if they believed that an error had been made, then considered the standings to be correct and gave prizes to the players who did well but did not make top 8. We then set the top 8 up at tables and started them playing. I would have liked to have a table judge at each table, but Michael was needed to help clean up the site, and Przemyslaw had not table judged before, so we let the quarters run with the judges acting as floaters. In the semis, Mike table judged one of the matches and Przemyslaw the other, with me supervising, as it can be hard to record all the details of the match and watch for rules problems at the same time. We managed to get through these without incident, and I then table judged the finals, which also passed without a problem. The last prizes were awarded, and Lam Phan was given the 1st place plaque and the title of Ontario Provincial Champion.

Overall, this tournament was a success. Mike, Michael and Przemyslaw, and Marvin, all did their jobs well and contributed to a smooth tournament. I would be pleased to work with any of them again. I'd been playing instead of judging for most of October, and Provincials made a fine return to the black-and-white. Thanks again to everyone who helped make it so.

-- Duncan McGregor

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