PTQ Berlin in Berlin I (FUNtainment)

Last Saturday (August 2nd) was the first of two locale PTQs for the Pro Tour in this very city. It was held at the FUNtainment Game Store. Going into the event I expected 70 X players. 70 is about the normal number for Block Constructed PTQs (which are never very strong), and X was going to be an unknown number to account for the fact that this was going to be for a local Pro Tour. It turned out that X was -12. A turnout of 58 players was very disappointing, but this was in line with the turnout at other PTQs. Dortmund also had 58 players and PTQs in the US and UK also reported a low turnout. We had the normal amount of players from outside Berlin (mainly from Hamburg, Magdeburg, and Poland), so this means that the Berlin players were underrepresented. We can only speculate about the reasons for the low turnout: Maybe it was because of the format or the fact that we have summer holidays in Germany. Maybe it’s also a combination of multiple facts.

The judge staff consisted of Kersten, who was going to be scorekeeping trainee, Christopher, Wolfram (my current trainee judge), and myself as head judge. The low turnout allowed me to coach both Kersten and Wolfram a bit, although things got a little bit hectic when we started a side event Grand Prix Trial (for Grand Prix Copenhagen) after the 4th round. This had exactly eight players, so it went straight to top 8.

During round 1 I’m checking deck lists, when I notice a Russian Reflecting Pool among the pile of lists. As I go hunting for the deck that this card belongs to, I come across a player (let’s call him Adrian) who uses the same sleeves. When I ask him whether it’s his card, he denies it and tells me that he counted 60 cards in his deck when he shuffled. I confirmed this by counting his cards again. He then asks his friend Bertram whether he was lent this card and Bertram claims that it was indeed one of the cards lent to Adrian. But since Adrian has a legal deck, I let them play on and went back to the judges station. When I count Adrian’s deck list, I notice that he marked down 61 cards on the list! Just as I am about to go back to the table, Adrian comes up to me and tells me that he remembers that he actually plays 61 cards. Well, I give the Game Loss for Deck/Decklist Mismatch. Since Adrian has just lost game 1, this means he lost the match. Had he remembered earlier, the Game Loss would have been applied to the game in progress …

During one of the later rounds we have scorekeeping problems. When Kersten went to fetch food there was some confusion that resulted in players being dropped from the tournament that wanted to play on and other drop being missed. I had the chance to show Kersten how to manually repair situations like this. Since it affected players in the upper third of the standings, I couldn’t just award byes to fix the situation. Also, players were already seated, so repairing the whole tournament would cause too much trouble. In the end I had to manually pair three tables and the tournament went on.

A player that was in contention for top 8 was deck checked. I noticed that his sleeves were in a really bad state. Most sleeves were just dirty, wrinkled, and generally unacceptable. But I noticed a total of four sleeves in a better condition. Two of those cards were Profane Commands, the others were lands. After taken a short look at the sleeves, I was able to identify both Profane Commands without more than glancing at the cards. I issued a penalty for Marked Cards – Pattern, although this was a borderline case that could also be ruled as Marked Cards – No Pattern. Of course the player had to resleeve. What I don’t get: The player had new sleeves with him. Why didn’t he use them in the first place? I know that the player had played a few PTQs before.

Be careful how you counter!

During swiss rounds Charles tries to counter Daniel’s Demigod of Revenge. Since he doesn’t announce that he waits for Demigod’s trigger to resolve before he counters, I rule that Demigod returns to play. This is the standard ruling for this situation. Daniel made it to top 8 and there a similar situation arises. He plays Demigod and his opponent, Evan, puts a Cryptic Command into play, without announcing modes or tapping mana, yet. Daniel claims/asks “[Demigod] trigger on the stack”. This time the ruling is not that clear, since Evan didn’t finish playing the Cryptic Command. Nevertheless I ruled the same way as before, since it was clear to me that Evan wanted to counter the Demigod and did not announce that he wanted to wait until the Demigod trigger resolves. Evan argued that both he and Daniel were experienced players, and knew how to correctly counter a Demigod. While I believe that that is true, I require some kind of visual or verbal clue that the player intends to wait for the trigger to resolve. Just knowing how to play it correctly is not enough. I made Evan announce the Cryptic Command correctly and have the Demigod return to play. I educated both players about clear communication, saying what you intend to do, and letting the opponent finish playing his spells before interrupting.

The tournament ran quite slowly. Especially during extra turns we should have watched the time more closely. Slow Play penalties are difficult to give. But one judge reminded players three times during a match to play more quickly, and didn’t hand out a penalty. This is clearly wrong. One reminder should be enough. But there were more delays: We waited for a few late players at the start of the tournament. Unfortunately a few trains arrive at a time that makes it impossible to arrive on time at the tournament site. So waiting for late players is common. I wonder whether we should just move the start time of tournaments where we expect players from outside Berlin and Brandenburg a quarter of an hour back. Then there were the scorekeeping issues. And finally seating the players alphabetically at the start of the tournament costs time. (But allows judges to be more efficient by collecting deck lists in a sorted manner. It also allows the head judge to make announcements without players being disturbed by shuffling or talking to their opponents.)

There were a few interesting rules questions:

  • I have taken control of a creature via Sower of Temptation and Sower becomes another creature, thanks to Mirrorweave. Do I keep the creature? You keep the creature. Sower’s ability just cares that you keep control of the object that used to be Sower. What happens if the former Sower dies? Your opponent gets his creature back. Same reasoning.
  • I control a Figure of Destiny that is currently a 4/4 Kithkin Spirit Warrior. Now my opponent play Mirrorweave, targeting an Eager Cadet. What happens to my Figure of Destiny? It’s now a 4/4 white Eager Cadet with creature types Kithkin Spirit Warrior and without abilities. Mirrorweave’s copy effect applies in layer 1 and changes the Figure of Destiny to an Eager Cadet. The enhance effect of Figure of Destiny applies in layer 4 (type changing effects) and 6b (other power/thoughness changing effects) and overrides the value set by the Mirrorweave.
  • I attack with an animated Mutavault. My opponent player Pollen Lullaby with Kicker and wins the clash. Does Mutavault untap during my next untap step? It does. Pollen Lullaby changes the rules of the game and doesn’t remember the objects that attacked.

This Sunday there is another PTQ at the Der Andere Spieleladen. I’m really looking forward to it, although I’m worried that the turnout will be low again.

PTQs for Valencia

It was a hard weekend. I was head-judging two Pro Tour Qualifiers for Valencia. The first on Saturday in the Der Andere Spieleladen here in Berlin, the second on Sunday in the Heldenwelt in Magdeburg.

Saturday we had 66 players. I had two floor judges (Robert Zemke and Christopher Eucken, both level 1) as well as two staff employees helping out. This turned out to be just the right number of staff for this event. The event went rather smooth, without any major headaches. The most problematic situation arised during top 8 when one player started with extensive trash talking and disregarding judge’s instructions to stop. Only after I made it very clear to him that I would issue the appropriate Unsporting Conduct penalty if he continued (a Match Loss at Competitive REL), did he stop.

Like at most PTQs here in Berlin we had a few Polish players. In general this is not a problem, since they speak English very well and I do all announcements in German and English. But it is always a problem if they with each other in Polish while another player is still playing. When players or spectators speak in English or German I am able to automatically filter out “harmless” chatter, e.g. a spectator telling a player that they will fetch food for themselves now or two spectators speaking about their last match. This is not possible when people speak a language I don’t understand. Therefore I ask them to stop communication more often than I ask players I can understand. This is not an ideal situation, but one that is hard to resolve, unfortunately.

In one semi-final match two of the Polish players were paired against each other. Both had card-identical decks, so the match was played in a rather light mood. The finals again were rather quiet. The event ended at about 23:30.

Unfortunately I did not get much sleep that night, so I was rather tired when I met my co-judge Kersten Rückert (L1) at Berlin Central Station at seven in the morning. Magdeburg’s judge situation is even worse than Berlin’s (it seems they don’t have any active judges), so they had to import judges from outside. This meant Kersten and me. One other judge unfortunately had cancelled his participation. At Magdeburg main station we were greeted by Peter from the Heldenwelt, who supported us as scorekeeper. With a total of 57 players (a good turnout, considering the location, and time during holidays) we were unstaffed by about one judge.

The tournament took place in a basement that consisted of two long halls with fairly high, vaulted ceilings. This gave the event a nice, medieval touch. One hall contained the playing tables, while the other had the scorekeeper and judge’s tables and the feature match area. The halls were connected at the end by two small doorways. Actually the layout was rather good, because the separate scorekeeper and judge tables meant quiet, relatively disturbance-free working. And you could use this hall to get quickly from one end of the playing area to the other one.

Teardrop was doing coverage of the event (in German). I like coverage for these smaller events. I think many people who can’t make it to the tournament can still follow it and see how their friends are doing. It helps the community in a local context the same way coverage of Pro Tours and Grand Prixs help the community at large.

Unfortunately the coverage was ill-fated. During round 5 one player of the match that was originally going to be covered was disqualified. (The other player of that match followed a bit later.) The next (and last) round of the tournament, the feature match was between two players who would make top 8 if they won the match. A spectator noticed marked sleeves though. When I checked the sleeves, I pulled out two cards that had especially bad, but different, marks, without looking at them. It turned out I had singled out two of the three Psionic Blasts in the deck. After a short glance at the sleeve of the third Blast I was able to consistently identify all three Blasts. After a short investigation I came to the conclusion that the player did not know about the marks and they occured because of wear during play. Nevertheless I had to issue a Game Loss for Marked Cards — Pattern. This is always a hard penalty to give in a situation like this (it effectively decided who got to top 8), but there was no way around it.

In the top 8 (which were played back in the store) Kersten had to give another Game Loss for Drawing Extra Cards, but apart from that the matches rent quiet and well. I was especially grateful that the final match between Jim Herold and Frieder Michel Drenger went rather quickly, since I and Kersten had to fetch the last train back to Berlin. We ended the day like we had started it: Sitting in the train, eating tasty and healthy food from McDonalds. Congratulations to Jim, who had already made top 8 the day before in Berlin and now has Pro Player level 3 status if he attends Pro Tour Valencia.

PTQ Geneva in Berlin

Yesterday the Pro Tour Qualifier Geneva in Berlin was held at FUNtainment. We had 110 players, a rather high turnout, among them many players from Poland. It’s always nice to have these guys around. One thing I noted, though, was that I stepped in multiple times when a player and a spectator were speaking in Polish. When players and spectators do that in German I often don’t step in, since I hear what they say and most of the time it’s not about the game. So I subconsciously filter that talk out. I can’t do that for a language that I don’t understand, though.

Helping me were acting TO Peter, Christoph (L1), and Kersten, my promising judgeling. While we were understaffed by one person for this event (but aren’t we always?) the event went rather smooth. The main problem was that we couldn’t do as much deck checks as I would have liked to and that sometimes we couldn’t cover all the matches in overtime. One more judge would have been quite beneficial in these cases, but as I have explained before, we don’t have that many active judges anymore and a few possible candidates chose to play instead of judging.

Also of note was the high number of appeals I got. During the first two rounds I had three appeals, while I usually get about one per tournament. But this became less during later rounds.

About a quarter of an hour before the tournament began we had a call in the store. A rather young boy asked whether it was possible to participate in the event where “you can qualify for the Pro Tour”. I told him to hurry up, since we wanted to start soon. He showed up a bit too late with his mother, but I still let him participate. This was obviously his first sealed deck tournament, and I absolutely forgot to mention that the cards were in English. I would have liked to have more time to talk to him before the event to explain everything, but unfortunately didn’t have the time in the stress at tournament start. Well, he build an 80 card deck, playing all the basic lands from the tournament pack, although I had explained to him that he can get more lands if he wanted to. Not very surprisingly he went 0-4 drop. I am kind of sorry for him, and wish I could have found more time for him.

In the last round I handed back the decks from a deck check seven minutes into the round. The players from a neighbouring table asked me: “Can we get extra time? We didn’t start playing yet, since we couldn’t decide whether to take an intentional draw.” I explained to them the errors of their ways.

Team PTQ Charleston in Berlin

Yesterday we had a team PTQ for Pro Tour Charleston in Berlin. The turnout was pretty with 23 teams for a total of 69 players, although we had a few players from Hamburg and eventual winners, Team Hans (Hans-Joachim Höh, Pro Tour Honolulu quarterfinalist Maximilian Bracht, and Stefan Urban), came from further away even.

At first I was a bit worried, since my staff was rather inexperienced. Besides level 1 judge Christopher Eucken I had help from two judgelings (Lars-Peer and Kersten). Lars-Peer had helped us before and left a good impression as scorekeeper. Therefore I used him as scorekeeper again at this event, since I wanted to get much floor time. On the one hand I have done a lot of scorekeeping lately and wanted to hone my floor judging skills again. On the other hand I wanted to be able to give feedback to Christopher and our new judgeling, Kersten.

My team did good work and we managed to have a smooth event, so my worries weren’t justified. We had one situation where a player of team A had finished his match and leaned over to get a better look at the board of another match. Doing this he got a glimpse at the hand of the opponent team’s player of that match. He talked a bit more with his team, but after investigating I could determine that it was very unlikely he disclosed any information about the hand to his team mates.

The cut to the top 4 was rather exciting, since two last round matches in which all teams were still in contention for top 4 drew. In the end Team Hans slipped into top 4 on secondary tiebreaker over the Hamburg Hammelpriesters (Sebastian Homann, Merten Jensen, and Dennis Johannsen). Unfortunately during the top 4 there were two game wins by ruling (although in the end it probably didn’t matter in both cases). In the first situation Heartbeat player A combo’ed and finally tried to cast Maga, Traitor to Mortals. His opponent B claimed that A didn’t have the three black mana available that B needed for that. A had one Swamp and one Heartbeat of Spring out, but had used Early Harvest before to untap his lands. But B claimed that he knew exactly that among the three lands tapped to play the Heartbeat the player had used his Swamp. This would mean that A had no black mana left in the pool when he untapped with Early Harvest and therefore only two black mana still available. A couldn’t remember which lands he had tapped for the Heartbeat. B pointed out the three lands that were still neatly grouped together and also claimed that A didn’t move his lands around while playing stuff.

I had my attention divided between that match and their neighbour’s match, so I hadn’t taken notice what lands were tapped for playing Heartbeat. But B’s claims were largely consistent with my own observations. Additionally neither A nor B had made any notes about which mana was still available. A’s strongest argument was: “Using the black mana would have been stupid, since I knew what I wanted to play.” Since a lot of spells, including tutors had been played, there was no sane way to rewind the game state and I had to rule on it. Based on the fact that A failed to note down or announce what mana he retained when playing spells and based on B’s certainty about the tapped mana and the consistence with my own observations I ruled that A didn’t have a third black mana available and wouldn’t been able to play Maga.

The second ruling involved a very close third game between players C and D. C sacrified a creature during D’s turn to remove Ghost Council of Orzhova from the game. D asked: “When do you do that?” to which C replied: “End of turn.” Doing this End of Turn would leave C with no attacker during his own turn, since the Ghost Council would only return at his own End of Turn. Only when asked “Really?” did C correct himself: “No no, of course during the Second Main Phase.” Kersten was watching this match. When I discussed this with him, he thought about ruling by intent and let C activate the ability during the second main phase. I disagreed. This has been a sloppy play on C’s part, since he did not announce at first when he wanted to use the ability. D tried to clear up the game state by asking when he did that. To which C (probably lulled by the slow game) replied with the wrong answer. Since the “sloppiness”, i.e. the unclear game state, was cleared by D’s question, I do not think that Ruling by Intent applies here. In cases like this I follow another principle that I call Responsible Play: If a player uses explicit language (“End of turn” in this case) he will be held to it. Of course immediatly correcting oneself is perfectly ok for me: “End of turn. No wait, second main phase of course.” But in this case only the opponent asking “Really?” tipped him off that he probably made an error. If D hadn’t asked “When do you do this?” and had just let it go and then claimed that the Ghost Council’s ability was activated end of turn I would gladly rule by intent. (And in this case D would probably also face an Unsporting Conduct penalty.) Clearing up the game state on D’s part makes all the difference here.

On a side note: By asking this question D may have lead C into answering wrong, i.e. D might have known that Second Main Phase is the “right” answer and might have hoped that C answers wrongly. But in this case I see this as perfectly ok. He didn’t misrepresent the rules, the only thing he did was clearing up the game state and making use of the opponent’s lack of concentration.

The finals were tough and exciting. Team Hans played the Line-Inn Crew (Adrian Rosada, Dennis Jenkel, and Oliver Wieske). Stefan and Oliver had won their matches so the teams were drawn 1-1. The final match between Hajo and Dennis was also drawn, but finally Hajo managed to squeeze out a win. After the finals Team Hans drove on to play another PTQ in Bochum today. Good luck, guys!

Decklists (courtesy of the great EvilBernd)

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 😉

Final Judgment is not a Bounce

I just remembered another situation from last week’s PTQ in Hamburg. I was watching a match between two players I didn’t know during one of the early rounds of the tournament. Player A played a Final Judgment and player B picked up all of his creatures and put them into his hand. During his turn he started to play them out again. At first both players seemed content with this. While I was still considering what I overlooked though, A seemed to notice his error, grabbed the Final Judgment and read it again. He noticed his error and asked what they should do. B had now also realized his error and removed the cards he had bounced from the game. I rules that these cards are RFG now, since nothing important had happened in the meantime. (B had drawn his cards and played out one of the cards that should have been RFG. He could untap the mana he’d paid and play something else instead.)

After they did that, A pointed to another Judgment in his graveyard and stated that he had played the other Judgment just before that and that the the second Judgment he had just played was unnecessary. Therefore he picked up the latter Judgment and returned it to his hand. I ruled that both Judgments had been played and that I can’t reverse something that had happened a few turns before. So both Judgments stayed in the graveyard. I gave both players a Warning.

This situation was so ridiculous that I failed to intervene in time, since I was really thinking that I had to miss something. Two players misplaying Final Judgment as bounce … Anyways, I’m now off to the Magic Marathon, a monthly Standard REL 3 tournament at the Magic Center.

More PTQ Bits

Here are some more bits from the PTQ that I forgot to mention in my last entry:

During the last Swiss round I was watching a match whose winner would make top 8. Player A had Heartbeat of Spring in play so that each land produced double that mana. A was at 1 life and did some splice action involving Soulless RevivalHana Kami, and Ethereal Haze every turn. This left him with 1 mana left in his mana pool, which he sunk into a Sensei’s Divining Top. After he had done this several times he didn’t announce the sinking part in one turn. So I said: “So, you burn for one.” The player explained that he of course sunk his remaining mana into Top as he had done before. I accepted his explanation since he had demonstrated his actions before and from the way he reacted I had no reason to assume that he had really forgotten about this mana. It seemed to me as if he had just taken a shortcut for actions he had previously explicitly announced.

There was actually a tense situation after the Swiss rounds were over and prices were given out to people not in the top 8. A player from my hometown Berlin (let’s be creative and call him M) had played against another player (O) during the last round. The winner of this match had a shot at top 8. (But it later turned out that whoever had won this match would only end up at 9th place.) The events played out as follows according to an investigation conducted by Tim and Philip: M had won the match but got distracted and forgot to fill out the result slip. O then filled out the result slip incorrectly, noting that he had won. He signed his own name, but didn’t hand in the result slip. (The signature of M was missing at this point.) When the result slip finally arrived at the scorekeeper’s result entry box it had two signatures. It couldn’t be determined who had signed for M or how the result slip ended up in the result entry box.

So Philip and Tim discussed what to do. O confirmed that he had lost the match, so the result of the match was uncontested. Also it was obvious that M’s signature was not M’s signature. It couldn’t be determined who had forged his signature though. Since we were waiting for the top 8 to start, I went over to them and heard of this story. After pondering it for a while, I told them: “I’m sure you will find a solution.” and went away again. This is the moment when you are glad you are not the head judge’s shoes. After a while I went over again, having pondered the issue myself. Just when I was about to suggest to change the result slip according to the actual result of the match, Philip and Tim both came the to the conclusion that the result would stand. Since a decision was finally made, I didn’t comment on this any further as not to further delay the tournament. I feel that both decisions (letting the result slip as handed in stand or changing to the actual result) have their merits and this was really a decision that could go either way.

From the PlanetMTG forums I later learned that there had been a similar case in the tournament before and that it had been ruled the same way.

Finally at the start of one of the Swiss rounds I overheard a player saying somethink like: “Then call a judge.” When I went there, both players assured me that a judge wasn’t required, but then one of the players (X is a nice letter I haven’t used today) added: “I just doesn’t like to be called [some names I don’t remember].” His opponent claimed that he didn’t said any of these words and also the players at the neighboring table who were watching obviously amused claimed not to have heard anything. From the way they were telling me I had the feeling that they were lying. So I took them both away from the table and called over head judge Tim. Well, it couldn’t be determined that X’s opponent had used any insults. In the end Tim gave a stern lecture to all players involved.

Both players were clearly pissed off during the rest of the round. When X was in a situation that didn’t look good for him (but was still not hopeless), he conceded. He was clearly very pissed off and said something something like: “I have enough. I don’t want to play against assholes like this. I’ll just concede.” He grabbed the result slip, marked a win for his opponent and a drop for himself on it. At this point I decided to let the insult against his opponent slip, since moods were not good at this point and I didn’t want this situation to spin out of control. Also X had already dropped from the tournament. I did inform Tim afterwards though. In retrospect letting this slip was most likely an error, though.

Well, that’s it for now. If I remember anymore interesting situations, I will surely blog about them.

PTQ Los Angeles in Hamburg – Judge Report

Yesterday was a PTQ for PT Los Angeles in Hamburg. I planned to go there with a few friends anyway and since the TO Philip Schulz had asked for judges on the German judge list, I applied. We targeted our arrival at about 10, but between weekend traffic on the Autobahn, a broken route by Map24 and several closed streets on that route, we managed to arrive exactly at 11.

We were four judges total: Besides me there were Tim Richter (HJ, he passed his L2 test yesterday as well, yay!), Stefan Kurhofer und Johannes Schnoor. Philip was scorekeeping. We had 86 players, although it was a bit sad to see two thirds of Phoenix Foundation playing in a PTQ (Marco Blume and Dirk Baberowski). All in all the event ran smoothly, although there were of course a few interesting situations:

One situation involved Ghostly Prison and Godo, Bandit Warlord. The question was if a player had to pay for the Prison twice for the same creature if there were two attack phases (due to Godo). After consulting with other judges I ruled that you had to pay twice , although I wasn’t sure. The ruling was on the grounds that the way Ghostly Prison is worded, it will apply to every time attackers are declared. This ruling was later confirmed by judges on #mtgjudge.

I was called over to another situation that involved a player looking at another player’s hand cards without any effect allowing him to. The situation was not easy to resolve, especially since there were two issues mixed up. Player A had played Enduring Ideal before and was just in his upkeep resolving the Ideal as well as a Honden of Night’s Reach and a Honden of Infinite Rage. The players were not quite clear, whether the Honden A had just searched with the Ideal would also trigger (it won’t) and how cards B had to discard and how much damage the red Honden would do. Since A could explain to me the correct stacking order of the Honden and Ideal triggers (stack Honden’s first then Ideal), I rules that B would discard three cards and the red Honden would deal 3 damage.

Nevertheless the complicated issue was that A had placed his one remaining hand card face-down in the middle of the table while searching through his library. B had picked it up and looked at it. A claimed that B had asked “What’s this?” and A had answered “My hand card.” before B picked it up. B couldn’t remember whether there had been such a conversation. Also, B maintained that it didn’t matter, since A couldn’t play any spells anyways, due to the Ideal. I went to Tim and Philip and discussed that situation. I thought that a Game Loss was appropriate here. I think that B was confused when he looked at the card and did not think much about it before he did. Otherwise we would probably talking about a disqualification in this situation. Nevertheless I think that this is a very abusable situation. Looking at an opponent’s hand card can give you crucial information if not caught (Ideal or no Ideal). Tim went over himself and ended up giving B a warning. Also while we were still discussing the situation, B went over to us and told us that he would concede anyway, which he did.

Another situation that caused a bit of discussion was when Stefan went over to Tim and myself. A player had played a Cranial Extraction and accidently looked at his own library and shuffled it. Since he had reordered his top cards due to Sensei’s Divining Top before, Tim and I felt that a Game Loss was the only appropriate penalty here, since the game state was damaged beyond repair. I have to admit that I failed to ask Stefan some necessary question in this situation. (“Why didn’t the player’s opponent stop him when he looked at his own library?”, “Why did the player shuffle it when he noticed that it was the wrong library?”, “What targets did the player announce for the Extraction?”) Anyways, when we later discussed the ruling with Philip, he told us that he had just given a Warning for announcing the wrong target (his opponent instead of himself). While this is a sneaky way to prevent a player from getting a Game Loss, I don’t agree with that. I feel uneasy, since this seems to be easily abusable. Maybe the player noticed too late that he grabbed the wrong library and then used this opportunity to get a free shuffle? As I noted before, I am missing some information about this situation.

Finally there was the obligatory “DQ situation”. During one of the last Swiss rounds, Stefan asked me to help him. (I was not sure what the exact question was, though.) At a table two players were playing for a possible top 8 spot. The extra turns were practically over, but both players were tied, which would mean elimination for both of them. So they were discussing if one of them would scoop to the other. Always a slippery slope. Player C asked us judges whether they could role a die to determine the result. We denied this of course. They discussed a bit more and D asked C whether he would like to concede. C replied with: “Was würde mir das bringen?” (“What use would that be to me.”) Now this term can mean two things: “What are giving me for it?”, which would be a request to be bribed, but also a rhetorical “No, why should I?” In this situation it sounded to me to be the latter. Nevertheless I stepped in and told them that I would not tolerate the discussion going into this direction. In the end the players called it a draw.

Later Tim approached me. It seems that he interviewed C about this and he wanted to know my opinion. Actually I was a bit confused at first and was not sure what situation he was referring to, since I hadn’t viewed it as “serious”. I told him about my interpretation and in the end Tim decided just to give a Stern Lecture.

At the end of the day, I table judged the quarter finals between the two Berlin top 8 players, Gabriel Huber and Rosario Maij, which Rosario won 2–1. Since the people I drove with were eager to leave, I didn’t have the chance to judge or watch the half finals, but I later learned that Rosario went on to win his and so won one of the two flights to LA. Congrats to him as well as the other finalist, Fabio Reinhardt!

PT London, Terrorism, and Miscellaneous Other Stuff

As you will have heard, there was a series of bombing in London today. Of course, tomorrow Pro Tour London is supposed to start, so many Magic people are gathered in London at the moment. I haven’t heard about any harmed Magic players or judges so far, so let’s hope for the best.

Wizards plans to run the Pro Tour as planned. Personally I welcome this. We should try to continue living our lives as normal as possible and cancelling such an event sends the wrong signal. Also, many people have taken holidays or spent money travelling to London and they should not be disappointed. Life goes on.

On a more happy note, I’ve been invited to judge German Nationals this year. I’m really looking forward to judge a big event again and to meet nice people. Finally, I will travel to a PTQ in Hamburg the weekend after next. I will go with friends, and since Philip Schulz was still looking for judge, I applied. If I’m not accepted as judge, I will play in the event, which should be fun as well.