2:1 Conversations

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AuthorJurgen Baert and Frank Wareman
Date Published2011-11-21
Original SiteJudge Wiki
LinkThis article is only available on the wiki; see below.
TagsTournament Procedures
Recommended for Levelall levels
AbstractWhat are 2:1 conversations?

The 2:1 conversation comes in many flavours and forms, but at its base, the concept is quite simple: two judges sit down and talk to third judge about any Magic or judging related topics. The 2:1 is foremost a mentorship and feedback tool to help judges and the program along to develop. The targeted judge is often L2, but this need not be the case.

Setting the atmosphere

The 2:1 is most often a casual, informal chat. It is not a test or interview, nor does it carry any weight towards assessment of the targeted judge. The program aims to educate and to learn from these talks, not to evaluate judges. As such, both sides in a 2:1 should see and treat this occasion as an opportunity for learning. For the single judge this might mean asking questions that have been bothering him or her, getting advice on how to deal with the local community, etc. For the other two, this often means getting to know this judge a bit better, and learning "how stuff works" in another part of the world.

2:1s can be followed up with a review, but this is not necessary. It should always be clear from the start that judges are free to discuss any topic -- including dissenting opinions, but that not everything will necessarily end up in a written review. Still, if one of the parties is an L3 judge at a GP, the 2:1 presents a good opportunity for the expected review from that GP for that L3 -- if you're that judge, ensure everyone is ok with the content of the review before posting it.


At the start of a 2:1, it's important to make the goals clear for everyone, as well as the form / rules of the 2:1. Reassure the targeted judge that this is not a test, just a friendly chat, and that basically anything goes: whatever they want to talk about is great, as long as it's related to the judge program.

Typical topics for a 2:1 include:

  • the local Magic OP community of the targeted judge
  • his or her feelings towards the judge program
  • any questions that those judges may have
  • level definitions and advancement (how to get from L2 to L3)
  • problems/issues in the local community between two people or groups
  • organized play programs such as GPs, PTQs, etc
  • ways of working at GPs
  • motivation for judging; how to make it even more fun

Normally, a relatively lengthy talk should follow easily following the introduction, but sometimes conversation doesn't start flowing easily. In those cases, don't try to stretch the chat unnaturally.

Organizing 2:1s

Most of the time, 2:1s are done at large events such as GPs. Typically, a few judges will allocate some of their time at the event to make sure people receive their share of attention from the judge program. Selecting the people to talk to is a group effort. The Judge Manager, Regional Coordinators and other senior judges likely have a decent idea of who would benefit from a 2:1 - but coordination here is key. After all, it's not very useful to give judges several 2:1s in a row; on the contrary, the judge may end up feeling watched rather than cared about.

Managing time is important when running 2:1s. It's too easy to fall into the trap of planning, walking around and trying to get a hold of people without effectively using the time you have. Making appointments and keeping track of them helps here. When you make such an appointment with a floor judge at the event, ensure that his or her team leader and head judge are aware that they'll be stolen from them! When you take the judge apart, keep some track of time: a typical 2:1 shouldn't last longer than half an hour. Spend some time taking and ordering notes, as that'll prove extremely useful afterwards.


As stated before, a 2:1 is confidential unless the targeted judge wishes to have some things reported. Still, as one goal of the 2:1 is for the judge program to learn, getting feedback is valuable. Giving a short summary of issues that came up to the senior judges helps the program a lot; just don't violate a promise of confidentiality.