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GP Genova - Team Leading

Lubos Lauer

Site: Genova, Italy
Number of players: 585
Number of rounds: 8
Date: September 13-14, 2003
Format: Block constructed
Head judge: Silvio Vitali

Genova hosted 585 players from 19 countries. With these numbers, it became the biggest Italian GP. Around 25 judges were needed to take care of those players and Silvio Vitali (level 3) lead the event as a head judge. Team leaders were assigned as follows: Peter Coenen, Riccardo Tessitori, Barthelemy Moulinier and Lubos Lauer (see below for details).

Team Team Red lv Team Green lv Team Blue lv Team Yellow lv
Team Leader Peter Coenen 2 Riccardo Tessitori 3 Barthelemy Moulinier 2 Lubos Lauer 2
Diego Fasciolo 2 Lorenzo Lami 2 David Gallien 2 George Michelogiannakis 2
Alfonso Bueno 2 Daniel Ahlberg 2 Gionata Dal Farra 1 Giancarlo Corrado 1
Cristiana Dioniso 1 Stefano Viciani 1 Sauro Panzacchi 1 Sergio Nuzzo 1
SE after round 4 Fabrizio Mecci 1 Salvatore La Terra 1 Enrico Boccabianca 2 Massimo Giannetti 1

Head Judge Silvio Vitali
Although the staff of judges were not so experienced compared to staffs at other GPs, everything was smooth and without major problems. My team was working exceptionally well; maybe it was thanks to friendly and easygoing Italian judges who were on my team or George, who did the team leading when I was having a break.

GP Genova was my third opportunity to lead a team and from the feedback I got, I made some progress since the first time (GP Prague). This article is not about the GP Genova itself, but this GP served as an inspiration for this article. Team leading is the main topic here and I hope you will find some good ideas in this article.

The article is divided into several parts; each of them deals with one particular issue. They are presented in the order these issues usually arise.

The beginning - tell your team members, that you are their team leader as soon as you get the schedule. Try to have a small talk with each of them, so they know who you are and that you are an open, friendly person. The atmosphere is one of the most important things, because it has a great impact on how the team members co-operate.

Team meeting - plan your team meetings in a way that you will not be disturbed. At my first team leading, we were called back to the stage, because the head judge wanted to talk with all the leaders. Because of that, my team had almost no meeting at all. Be sure you have at least 10 minutes and adjust the duration to the amount of time you have.

At first, an introduction should be made. In my opinion, it is useful to tell the others also something that is not connected to judging. For example, that you are a student of anthropology and that you love rafting. This is to soften the atmosphere and people will be more relaxed. The result is that they will not be afraid to ask questions, if they are not sure about something. Then focus on your tasks that you are going to do and explain how it will be done. It is extremely important to tell them, what they will be doing. Try to make them feel sure what the next few hours will be like.

Do not forget to choose one person who would be the team leader when you are taking break and tell everybody, that this person will know when you are out. It should be someone who you knew before, who can lead a team for some time.

Cooperation with other teams - after the meeting, it is a good idea to talk to other leaders about all the tasks. If you haven't met the leaders before, it is also good idea to introduce yourself to them and have some talk before you discuss the "work". If you are the deck check team, make sure somebody will cover your area when you are out (this applies also to logistic team during the first round). Then coordinate with logistic leader collection of the deck lists as well as checking the deck lists.

During the rounds - your main task, except the leading of course, is to share your experience. Try to teach your members as often as possible. For example, when you are deck checking one of your members finds a problem. He gives you the deck list and asks you what the penalty should be. Don't answer! Ask him what penalty he would give and what infraction he thinks it is. If you tell him right away, he won't learn much. However, you must be careful about this as well, because if you do this too much, they might stop coming to ask you.

Sunday at GP Genova
If you have some tasks to do, don't do them on your own. First, you have to delegate tasks - that is why you are there, and second, you have to know, what your members do and how they do it. Try to observe them, so that you know, what they do well, what they do wrong and be sure you tell them at the end of the day. If there is not much to do during a round, make up quizzes, so that they won't get bored. In this way, you may find out what they know about penalty guidelines and comprehensive rules.

Another thing is to let them know why they do things in a way you want them to do. If you just tell them for example: "Take the decks when they are presented." that is no use. They have to know, why right at this time.

In the middle of rounds - it is useful to make one or two meetings during the rounds. It depends how much time you have or whether you have something you want to tell your members. In this case, tell other leaders you will have a meeting at the end of a round, so they can take care of your area. Again, make sure you have the time to do it; otherwise it will have no effect. At this time, tell them just the most important things, that can't wait, leave other things for the evening when you have more time. Give them some positive feedback, so they feel good and are eager to judge the rest of the tournament.

Take notes. Take notes of interesting situations, so that you can tell your team members at the end of the day, because that is something they can learn from. Take notes when somebody does something well or wrong. Good things should be said publicly during the team meeting at the end of the day. Criticisms should be made privately, so that the person is not upset and can think about his mistakes. Tell him or her, what is the correct way. Sometimes you would want to tell others about the mistake, so they can learn from it as well. Then refer to it anonymously. People are more accessible to criticism when others don't know about it.

Deck checking is definitely a Team activity
Personal approach - people are happy when others are interested in what they are doing. Go and ask your members (each one separately) how they feel, what they have done already, whether they need advice and so on. Ask them what they plan to do in future, whether they want to advance to level 2 and when, how long they have been playing magic, what is the community like in their country and similar things.

End of the day - there will be a judge meeting at the end of the day, so encourage your members to share the most important problems with others. Once again, prepare the meeting so that you have time for it. This may take up quite some time. First thing you would probably do is to thank everybody for his or her work. Some people always say: "You did a great job." Well, I would not say this if it weren't true. If we did not do a very good job, I am sorry, but we will have to work on it.

Hopefully, it will be a good job and you can tell them this. Before you start anything in detail, ask them how they feel. Let them speak before you, in order to get the impression they have. If you start first with some details, you might take some words from them and they won't have anything to say. After they have finished, tell them what you liked and what they did well. Then you can move on to the interesting situations that arose during the tournament. Before you tell them everything, ask them how they would solve the situation. Ask for opinions, comments or similar situations. If it is a good team meeting, it will take more than 20 minutes, maybe more. Thank them again - it was a pleasure to work with you in a team.

Feedback - the most important thing is to give feedback to all of them personally. At the first day of a GP, you might not have time to do this (because you have to fill the review forms and it is better to fill out these first before you talk to them). Never mind, you can do that the next day and you will be able to think about it thoroughly then. The only advice I can give here is: be sincere. If you are afraid of telling him or her the truth, you take the chance away from him or her to work on correcting their mistakes.
As I see it, a good review should contain at least one "needs to improve", because when there is none, the person might get the impression, that there is nothing really to improve (assuming that you are not reviewing Rune or Jeff). It should also contain some "very strong" areas, so that the person knows, where he or she is strong - what he or she did well.

I can tell these things from three times being a team leader. I hope I have given some of you at least some ideas what to do when you are a team leader. If you have any comments or feedback feel free to email me to lauer_l@hotmail.com.

Lubos Lauer, lvl. 2
Czech Republic

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