Judge Situation in Berlin

Christoph Meise, a level 1 judge from Berlin, complained about the way I portrayed the judge situation in Berlin at the moment. According to him there are more judges that would be willing to judge if they were just asked by the TO.

Well, even if counting graciously, I count about 6 active judges, available for larger events, in Berlin. That’s not enough, especially since there is no guarantee that all these judges stay active. Also, there is no “judge community” in Berlin. My personal community, i.e. the other judges from Berlin that I talk to about judging consists of roughly 3 or 4 people. Ideally it would consist of all the people that judge regularily or are interested in working those larger events. Personally, I did not know about the desire of other judges to judge at events like PTQs.

So, what can we do about the current situation? flame- confirmed my suggestion that if there is no active level 3 judge in your area to build an active community, the lower levels must take matters in their own hands and Andy Heckt called the theme of the judge program for 2006 “Building a Community”. Well it seams the goal is clear, even if the road there is still shrouded in mist (at least to me). I think I will begin by founding a local judge mailing list and possibly a web page and see where the road leads to. But first, I will enjoy Christmas. It’s not 2006 yet, after all.

I would really appreciate thoughts from other people about this!

Good Bye, Amigo

A few days ago, Amigo Spiel + Freizeit announced in their newsletter that they will pass Magic Operated Play (OP) on to Wizards of the Coast, starting 2006. They will continue to distribute Magic in Germany and Austria though.

I am a bit sad to see them go. I think they did their job fairly well and I hope that WotC will be able to keep up or even improve on that standard. I also liked to work with the Amigo people at several events, like Grand Prixs, German Nationals, or PTQs. They are really nice people and I certainly had a good time. They did also show interest in the concerns of TOs and judges and the things that were going on in Germany’s Magic scene.

I also fear that the German Bundesliga, an institution where Magic teams play each other in a league system may be discontinued. But I think we need to wait and see what will happen.

PTQ Honolulu in Berlin and 2-Headed Giant Event

PTQ winners Michael Diezel (left) from Leipzig and Fabian Barth (right) from Berlin

Saturday we had a Pro Tour Qualifier for Pro Tour Honolulu in Berlin. The Extended event took place at the FUNtainment Game Center as usual. Our staff consisted of scorekeeper Huy (L2), Falko (paluschke) from Greifswald (L2), Crille (L2), and myself (also L2 – can you spot a pattern there?). Peter, the store manager, was acting TO.

The event was largely successful, though exhausting. We had a total of 121 players. Crille had to judge a 30 person Yu-Gi-Oh tournament as well, so we were a bit light on judges. Currently we have a (slight) judge problem in Berlin. We have a few active level 2 judges, but basically no “junior” or learning judges. This leads to a judge shortage at important events like this PTQ. It also doesn’t give us judges the opportunity to play at these events, since we have to work at every one of them. This situation is partly due to the fact that we have no active level 3 judges, so there is no one that actively looks for new judges and interests them in judging. This is a problem that I am looking to address in the future. If we have no active level 3 judges, I guess we level 2s must see to do this job. Well, I would appreciate hints on how to build a local judge community and how to go looking for appropriate candidates.

But back to the tournament. In one situation I messed up. A player had played Ghastly Demise on a “big” creature with only two cards in the library. In response the opponent has sacrificed Scrabbling Claws to remove a card in that players graveyard and drawn a card as well. I misread Ghastly Demise and therefore ruled that all actions up to the announcement of the Demise had to be reversed. This was not a problem since the drawn card was the only card in that player’s hand, so it could be shuffled back into the library. Only when I was about to leave the table, I noticed that the play was indeed legal, so I ordered the players to redo the actions they had done: Put Demise and Claws in the graveyard, let the Claws player draw a card again. The Claws player was visibly (and audibly) upset, since the newly drawn was obviously worse than the old one. Could I have handled this better (except not making the initial mistake, of course)?

We also had two DQ situations: In one case Falko called me over. One player had started to draw three cards off of Cephalid Coliseum without Threshold. (Seems to be en-vogue, eh? Hey, when Pros can do that, why not us?) That player had taken the first card in his right hand, but had not combined the card with his other hand cards yet, when his opponent stopped him. Well, a standard case of Looking at Extra Cards and a Warning, it seems. Only problem is: Falko asked him: “Did you see the card you was about to draw?” The player replied: “No”, while the opponent claimed he had seen the card. A bit later the opponent conceded that he might have seen that it was a blue card. The question was: Did he lie to a judge?

In the end I decided that this was not DQ-worthy. The player claimed that he understood the question “Did you see the card?” to mean whether he knew what card he had just picked up. I don’t think that just knowing the color of the card fulfills that. Also, a DQ in this case would have been very heavy handed, especially since it did not matter at all, whether he had seen the card or not. The Looking at Extra Cards penalty would have been issued whether he had or not. In the end Falko gave him a Warning for Looking at Extra Cards and another one, because of his unclear communication with the judge.

The other DQ situation was in the top 8. We had given out all booster prices before the cut to top 8 was made (according to standing after swiss rounds) and had asked all top 8 players whether they wanted to drop before top 8. Of course, everybody wanted to play for the flights and invitations to Honolulu. This was a 2-slot qualifier, meaning that the finals would not be played out and the winners of the semifinals would get the flight and invitation.

Three quarterfinals were already over, while the fourth one was taking its time. A crowd was gathered around that match. Standing in that crowd were the two opponents of an upcoming semifinals match. Asks player A: “So, do you really want to go to Honolulu?” ― “Yes.” ― “You know, I still have this half of the amateur display I won.” This conversation took place inmidst the crowd with a judge standing right beside them. Of course I started a DQ investigation.

After talking with all people involved, I did not find conclusive evidence that the player had not meant it as a joke as he claimed. It was a very, very close call. I asked several people involved. The opponent claimed this had been a serious offer, while other people claimed they thought this was a joke. What swayed me in the end that there really was no chance that this could be abused in any way. Had this conversation gone any further, it would have been a clear DQ. Had the players left the premises, it would have been a clear DQ. Anything.

Nevertheless I made it abundantly clear to everybody that this was a very close call and that this was a really stupid joke. I will not tolerate such a “joke” a second time. In the end I gave the player a Game Loss for Procedural Error ― Severe, because his (mis-)behaviour caused a DQ investigation that had a severe impact on the timely ending of the tournament.

A bit embarrassing was the fact that we lost the deck list of one of the players in the top 8. So instead of handing both player the deck lists of the opponent, I asked them just to hand over their decks so they could look it over. We found the missing deck list the next day. It was at the last register (XYZ) in our deck list folder. The player’s name was Barth though. I have no idea why it ended up where it did.

My own “Mr. DQ” card

Sunday was a Two Headed Giant in-store event that I judged alone, although later Huy came by and helped me a bit. We had 18 teams, which also was quite a good turnout. It seems 2HG is fun and I certainly look forward to future events.

Of course the most embarrassing moment of that tournament was when the prizes were given out. Peter, our TO and store manager, had the great idea to “produce” a special series of cards that will be given out to the winners of current events. They feature employees of the store or judges that regularily work there. On Saturday the card of the former store owner, Theo Buskase, was given out. Today it was my card’s turn. Well, I guess, they meant well …

To give a bit of background: For some reason my events are always the most … let’s call it exciting. When other people, especially Huy, are head judging, things are going really smooth, people are nice, and everything is fine. When I head judge, the cheaters, the stallers, and the unsporting people seem to come out of their holes. Well, I only disqualified two people in my judging career (and took part in the disqualification of a third), but for some reason I am now “Mr. DQ”. A questionable honor, indeed …

At next week’s marathon event we will hand out Crille’s card though and eventually it will be Peter’s and Huy’s turn. But I had a hand in the creation of their cards, so they will get the honor back 😉