HJ Report US Nationals 2010

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AuthorEric Shukan
Date Published2010-08-26
Original SiteJudge-L, wiki.DCIFamily.org
LinkThis article is only available on the wiki; see below.
Tagshead judging, MIPG, judge community, Nationals
Recommended for Levelrecommended levels. if no value specified, defaults to all levels.
AbstractEric reports about his experience being the HJ of US Nationals 2010. He writes about some interesting situations, but mainly about the fantastic team he had available at the event.

US Nationals 2010, Minneapolis, MN

Head Judge Report

I was nervous six months ago. I admit it. When I was asked to HJ US Nationals in 2010, at first I was thinking, "Oh, boy! This is a big job, and I've never done it before. I'm scared." But then I started thinking about my DCI family and friends, and how they'd all help to make my job easier and to make the show great for the entire community. Many of these friends have some serious skills, and then I realized that with my skilled friends at my side, we could do anything. And I began to look forward to the fun :)

The process of pre convention judge staffing was fairly smooth. As travel was booked, Ryan Stapleton handled flight and room postings so that we could ride/room together. It worked like a charm, because after checking the list and sending some emails, I had the pleasure of riding from the airport with two new friends - Joe Klopchic and Sam Strauss. Our subsequent lunch at a great side walk café is a fond, memorable experience for me.

As we began Last Chance Qualifiers (LCQ's) on Thursday, Jason LeMahieu, our PE manager, wanted to get each judge a chance to HJ their own flight. Wanting to meet with as many judges as possible, and wanting to gain some experience with possible Standard archetypes, I joined in and HJed the first Standard flight. This turned out to be a crucial experience that impacted the Main Event, as I'll describe later.

On Thursday night I had a Team Lead meeting. We strategized, and ALL the participants had something to contribute. I tell you, nothing beats preparation the night before, and I strongly recommend this if possible. Breakfast in the morning can serve this function as well (and we did that, too), but there's no time pressure on the night before.

Our preparation on both days paid off. On each day, we finished the Main Event prior to 7:00 pm. In fact, were it not for an appeal in the feature match on the last round of each day, we'd have finished before 6:30 pm. I'd like to recognize John Alderfer and Nathan Young, who ran the Logistics Teams on Day 1 and day 2, respectively. John, especially, is the Master. As smooth a tourney ops judge as ever there was. Steven Zwanger, in conjunction with Ryan Stapleton and Eric Levine, executed the Deck Checks function as smooth and transparent as could be. Sam Straus and Rob McKenzie nailed the Feature Match duties (as did all the others they recruited), and Jim Shuman and Justin Hovdenes were top-notch on Paper Lead. Really, EVERYONE was solid, and in fact the staff functioned as a unit so well that in one of the Standard/Draft table rearrangements, we beat the scorekeeper Nick fang, and he's fast :)

Tournaments, though, are not just about logistics; we also have to adjudicate the game. One of the reasons we finished so fast was that floor judges consistently made great calls. Here are a few of the rulings:

1. Player A casts Bloodbraid Elf and cascades into land, land, Stoneforge Mystic. He comments that he's going to search for the equipment anyway, so is it ok if he doesn't shuffle the two lands to the bottom, and his opponent says ok. He reaches to pick up his library to search it, and simultaneously reaches into his graveyard to return a Vengevine onto the battlefield. Player B says that since he asked about the shuffle and picked up his library, he missed the Vengevine trigger. Alex Bastecki ruled that Out-of-Order Sequencing applies (we are at Competitive not Professional), and that Player A's actions were simultaneous enough so that his intent was clear and he was trying to shortcut to a specific result. I agreed, and upheld his ruling.

2. Sam Strauss sensed something fishy when a player for a list penalty in draft claimed that he needed to desideboard only after Sam came to see him at the table prior to Game 1. Seemed like the player may have intentionally sideboarded to optimize game 1 against this opponent. I wanted to see who he had played last round in the draft, but it turns out he had a bye, which made things more fishy. The player said he was playtesting after the deck construction, but his conversation about details and names was suspect. Basically he couldn't remember much, and his story was continually changing. Fortunately, he at last provided the name of the friend that he was playtesting with, and when I interviewed the friend, I was immediately convinced that everything was ok. I mention this incident, because the investigation went from ok-to-bad-to-verybad-to-wonderful, and emotionally for Sam and me, it was a real roller coaster ride. This'll make for a great article that Sam and I will work on, about how your instinctual reactions are good, but that it is no substitute for a thorough investigation, including efforts to HELP the players' case.

3. A player announces Fireball, taps 5 mana specifying 2 targets and x =3D 3, then goes on to say that he's dealing 2 damage to creature A and 1 damage to creature B. Well, Fireball doesn't allow the player to specify the specific distribution of the damage. X=3D3 with 2 creatures will be rounded down to 1 damage each. So, do we hold him to his error, or do we say that he illegally cast the spell by trying to distribute damage (a GRV that we'd back up?) Interesting. Kyle Knudson made the call that we hold him to his error. I agreed on appeal. The player is a Competitive and also at US Nationals. Needs to know how cards work, and really, he did satisfy Fireball's casting requirements. Good call, Kyle. Just so happens that 3 minutes later, another exactly identical Fireball case appears.

4. This one may be the toughest call. A player casts Ponder and copies it with Pyromancer's Ascension. As he looks at the first card for Ponder, he sees that it is Foresee, and he proceeds to perform a complete Foresee action, including scrying 4 and then drawing 2. About five seconds passes while he is looking at the 4 cards to scry. His opponent says that he knew that Player A was looking at 4 cards and that he thought something might be wrong, but that it took him several seconds to figure out what was going on. During this time, Player A completed the scry 4 and draw 2. Now, we have a possible DEC infraction, because he should have drawn 1 from ponder. On the other hand, we have a GRV (and possibly FTMG) for resolving Ponder incorrectly. What to do? After consulting with 2 judges to test my thoughts, I went with GRV only. The new rules in the IPG for DEC state that it is NOT DEC if there is a GRV or PCV immediately preceding the draw. In other words, the drawing extra was due directly to a GRV, so we apply the GRV only. Once we decided that it was a Warning infraction rather than a GL, we had to fix the extra cards problem, which we did by restoring the scryed cards and two cards from hand at random, shuffling the library except for the Foresee (which the player had revealed) and for the scryed cards from turns ago, then continuing Ponder starting with Foresee and looking at two more cards. Perfect? Of course not. Adequate, yes. And the game MUST continue, based on the penalty assessed; therefore, we have to come up with something. Please don't let your evaluation of the infraction be influenced by whether or not you can restore equity. We used to do that years ago, but no more.

5. Kudos to Toby Barnes for keeping ears and eyes out to protect our event integrity. His diligence and follow up resulted in us being able to prevent the exposure of hidden information in a DQ situation.

Along with tournament operations, we all come here to have fun and to hone our skills, and with this in mind, I provide some of the personal interactions that made the event fun and instructive for all the judges:

6. Kali Anderson brought in AWESOME mint cookies on Thursday for LCQ's. Then she brought more stuff on Friday. She's the best!

7. Ryan Stapleton helped us out by creating a document that listed various flight times and rooming arrangements. Because of this, we were better able to coordinate rides and rooms when we arrived. Thanks, Ryan.

8. Steve Peterman is a local judge who volunteered...to do the laundry! Yes! He offered to wash our black judge shirts at his house. No one took him up on it sadly, but the offer makes him THE MAN!

9. Adam Shaw, Jacob Faturechi, and Ryan Stapleton all provided interesting seminars. Thank you, gentlemen, for your time and efforts. I'll post the topics on this list tomorrow. Contact them if you wish more info.

10. We have a new official nickname for one of our judges. The story begins by reminding you of our main event judge meetings with which we begin each day. On Friday, I went over exactly three cases of specific rules that might come up. Two of them involved DEC and a resulting game loss penalty. Well, by round 5 Damien Beaumont had adjudicated all three of these situations and issued the appropriate penalties, including a couple of GL's. It got to the point where if I were playing in a match and he were coming over, I'd be thinking I'm dead meat :) Therefore, Damien has now acquired the nickname "the Reaper" Be sure to watch his reaping technique next time you judge with him.

And this brings me to the conclusion of my report. I thank all the attending judges for bringing their skill and companionship to bear upon this event. It ran smoothly because YOU guys made it so. I also thank TO Steve Port and his staff, for a great room layout and setup, and some good company. In addition, we congratulate both Alexei Gousev and John Carlock on their successful transition to L2 at this event.

Best of luck to everyone in the future. Until we meet again...

Eric Shukan
HJ US Nationals 2010