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European Championships - Judge Report

Graham Hopkins

After being a level 2 judge for 15 months and getting just about all the experience that it was possible to get at local and national tournaments in England (Head Judging several PTQs and table judging at the final of the English Nationals) I realised that in order to work towards level 3 I would need to gain experience at high level international events.

Fortunately the European Championships were being held in London this year so there was opportunity for several English judges to work at the event and I was one of those selected. Although I consider myself to be quite a competent judge and tournament organiser I was still rather apprehensive about doing a good job, being unsure how things would be organised. However a few days before the event I received a briefing note from Rune Horvik, the Head Judge, which contained in some detail the procedures we would be adopting for the tournament.

At the judge's meeting the evening before the event Rune gave a further briefing on how he wanted the event to run over the next three days and we were able to discuss some key issues, such as the impact of the 8th Edition Rules, which was minimal, the draw action being the only significant change at this event, and also that we would allow players to untap land tapped in error before they had played a spell or ability, in the style of Magic Online. This discussion ensured that all judges would have a consistent approach, if there is one thing that does annoy players it's inconsistency amongst judges at one event. The meeting was also a good opportunity to meet judges from all over Europe. The tournament was also piloting a new schedule of Day 1, three rounds standard, four rounds Rochester draft, Day 2 three rounds Rochester draft, 4 rounds standard as a means of preventing team-mates using the final draft to help one of their number into the top eight.

Setting up for the drafts
On Day one I was allocated to the Pairings team under Adam Cetnerowksi. Allocating teams for one job all day was a new experience for me as the norm in England is to rotate the jobs so that everybody gains experience in different areas, however for an event like this the specialist teams work really well as there is no potential for confusion over what you have to do during the next round. The teams were Pairings, Slips, Deck Checks, and Logistics. The Logistics team set up the drafts, land stations, etc, the other roles are obvious.

On Day two I was moved to the Slips team under Ray Fong. A task which got easier as the day went on and players started to drop from the event.

Day 3 was the top eight playoff and I moved to work on side events.

Judge's de-briefing at end of day
The whole event ran very smoothly from my viewpoint, there were very few rules issues, although a few players are still unaware that a face-down morph creature going to the graveyard doesn't trigger Compost or Vengeful Dead.

The main areas of discussion at the end of day judge's de-brief related to appropriate penalties to rules infringements. In one particular case a player counted his opponent's zombie when drawing cards for Graveborn Muse, told his opponent he was going to draw two cards, his opponent agreed. Then when the player drew a third card for the draw action the opponent called a judge and reported that the player had drawn the extra card. A game loss penalty was issued and upheld by Rune, but there was some discussion about whether the player had been lured into that position by his opponent agreeing to something that he knew to be wrong and whether this constituted unsportsmanlike conduct or whether a players should simply know his own cards and take more care. A difficult call and one which needs to consider the circumstances of each individual case.

Although the floor judging was rather quiet, with less awkward questions than you would get at a typical pre-release, I learned a lot about the policy and procedures side of running a major event and it was great to work with some very experienced judges that I had never met before. Next on my plan will be to apply to judge at a Grand Prix outside of England.

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