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PTQ Venice (Helsinki) - Head Judge Report

Johanna Knuutinen

5th of January 2003 -

The morning of the PTQ day was freezing cold. It was at least -20 degrees Celsius outside. I arrived at the tournament site, a youth center, at 10 o'clock, which was the advertised start time for registration. I was pleasantly surprised to find a much larger number of players than I had anticipated. We had hoped to get about 40 players; it turned out that we had 68. I don't even remember the last time we had that many players in a PTQ. The convenient date (it was still Christmas holiday for most schools) and the new format may account for the sudden interest in PTQing.

I set up the laptop (provided by one of the players) and started registering players, while my fellow judge Pasi set up the chairs and table numbers (the tables had already been set up by a couple of players - yes, I have some nice players in my area. I found out that we had brought barely enough paper to make table numbers - oops. Of course, we had no printer. This is not a problem when you have only 30 players, but it becomes slightly more annoying when you have 68.

I waited for a couple of slow writers to finish their deck lists and made my beginning of tournament announcements just before 11 o'clock. For the first round I let the players look at the pairings on the laptop screen, which wasn't really a good idea. For the remaining 6 rounds I shouted out the pairings, which was much faster, there were usually only one or two guys who didn't hear the first time.

During round one Pasi and I counted all the decklists. We found a couple of Illegal Main Decks and one Illegal Sideboard. I applied the penalties at the start of round 2.
Pasi had to go to work after round 1, so for the remainder of the tournament I was running the tournament all by myself. The 68 players kept me busy enough. I didn't have too much time to sit down. Here are some of the situations that I had to deal with during the day:

Player A calls me over. He has a Tangle Wire in play. He explains that his opponent Player B claims that he is allowed to tap an already tapped permanent when resolving Tangle Wire's effect. I pointed out to him that the card specifically says that you must tap untapped artifacts, creatures or lands. Player B then scooped up his cards. I said that it wouldn't have been necessary, as I wasn't planning to give him anything more than a warning. He said "I didn't play right; I think it's fair that I concede". Section 25 of the Universal Tournament Rules and common sense told me that there was nothing more to do.

I was asked about stacking triggered effects. The active player wanted to choose the order of triggers controlled by his opponent, but I pointed out that he doesn't get to do that.

Player C calls me over. He tells me that Player D scooped up his cards. Since players normally don't call a judge when their opponent acknowledges that they have lost, I knew that I was about to hear something not sensible. The situation was this: Player D attacked for lethal damage, Player C had nothing. After the attack was declared, Player C cast Krosan Reclamation, targeting two cards in Player D's graveyard. Player D resolved the reclamation and then picked up his lands and other permanents. It was at this point that Player C called for a judge. I explained that although Player D shouldn't have been so hasty, he had obviously won the game and Player C seemed to be trying to rules lawyer his way into a win because there was nothing else he could do. Player C was not happy with this. He cited a ruling by another judge at another PTQ, where the "hasty" player was given a game loss for a game that he was about to win. I told him that I didn't agree with that judge (using slightly harsher language) and gave him a warning for Unsporting Conduct. I had heard about the incident at the other PTQ, but I didn't remember at the time that Player C himself had been involved in that incident too.

Soon after this I was called to another table, where Player E complained that after losing the match, Player F had picked up Player E's deck and looked at it. Player E was upset about this. Of course, this isn't acceptable, but I didn't see any reason to penalize Player F, since after two or three games he probably had already seen most of Player E's deck, and the match was over. Furthermore, both players were using blue sleeves. In fact, earlier in the match Player F had given a spare sleeve to Player E to replace a broken one. I told Player F to be more careful. Player E was happy with this.

I almost made a mistake while trying to figure out what was going on with a stack involving a bunch of effects, spells and madness triggers. I had the wrong assumptions about the situation because I didn't listen to the players enough. Fortunately I realized what was going on, answered the question they were actually asking, and made sure they resolved the stack correctly. It is a bit of a stupid mistake, to not listen to what the players are asking.

During round 4 a player called me over to inform me that he was having a nosebleed and he couldn't play very fast because he could only use one hand (the other hand being engaged in holding a handkerchief to his nose. Fortunately, a player who had already dropped out volunteered to help him by holding his cards.

Here are some of the rules questions I answered:

Question: When I sacrifice Yavimaya Elder to get a card, which happens first, the card-drawing or the land-fetching?
Answer: The land-fetching, just like with Krosan Tusker.

Question: When do I pay for Propaganda?
Answer: During the Declare Attackers step.

Question: If I Terror a Palinchron in response to the coming into play ability does my opponent still get to untap lands?
Answer: Yes, the ability is already on the stack and will untap lands even if Palinchron has left play.

Question: If the target of my Gilded Drake's ability is removed before the ability resolves, does my opponent still get the Drake?
Answer: No. The exchange won't happen if one of the things to be exchanged is no longer in play. And since you can't make the exchange, you must sacrifice the Drake.

Question: If a face-down creature is removed from the game with Parallax Wave, is it going to come back face down or face up?
Answer: Face up. It's a brand new creature, it doesn't remember being face down in the game.

In Extended events you sometimes encounter players who have recently come back to Magic, and thus are not very familiar with current rules. I had to explain the structure of the Beginning Phase and why you don't take mana burn if you have mana in your pool when moving from Upkeep to Draw.

After Round 6 was finished I realized that we didn't have time to play Round 7 at the youth center. Not one round had finished before time was called and the extra turns took about 5 minutes on average. We had only booked the site from 10 am to 6 pm. Because of this, I didn't do too many deck checks. They would have caused further delays. We had planned to play the top 8 at the Safe Haven card store in any case, but now we had to move there for Round 7. Before moving I announced that it might be a good idea to drop if you're not doing well and you don't want to play in the crowded and smelly card shop. So we ended up with 29 players for round 7.

Nothing really interesting happened during the top 8. One of the finalists was only 14 years old - his opponent was ten years older. Eventually the older guy won.

This was the first event of this size that I've run all alone (except for the help that I had during registration and round 1). I certainly had enough to do. There were a couple of situations were I was needed in two places at the same time. I should perhaps use more aggressive recruiting strategies with the local Level 1 judges...

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