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Let me be the judge of that…

October 14, 2011

Yesterday I mentioned that I witnessed one of the most ridiculous ruling situations I ever seen or heard of during my years playing Magic: the Gathering. And I’m not the guy who would keep you fine ladies and gentlemen out in the dark more than necessary. So, let the story begin.

It’s in the latter rounds of the Grand Prix Milan day 1 and I’m birding my friend Joakim Almelund playing for his survival in the GP (he was x-2 at the time). He is playing against this native Italian fellow who is not exactly playing in a brisk pace. He wasn’t slow playing but he took his time and was playing in a considerably slower pace than Joakim.

Anyhow, Joakim managed to grind him out in game 1 with the help of a Manor Gargoyle but game 2 wasn’t going too well. Deep into the second game when both players have a considerably amount of lands in play, the Italian “opts” to only pay 3 mana for his Slayer of the Wicked on one of his turn before passing the turn. Me and our mutual friend Elias Watsfeldt who are spectating notice this immediately and Elias steps forward and tells the players to hold on, something is wrong with the gamestate and then he called over a judge.  The Italian probably just made an honest mistake but things should be corrected in the right way. Nothing strange so far, just the ordinary procedure.

But here things starts to take unexpected turns. When the judge arrives (who is also Italian), Joakim’s opponent literary jumps up from his chair and starts to argue and wave with his hand in a way like only Italian stereotypes can do even before the judge had open his mouth. The opponent’s skills in the English language are shaky to say the least so the discussion is solely in Italian and neither we who are spectating or Joakim understands a thing about what is going on. After a lengthy discussion with the judge, the judge turns to Elias and asks him to explain what was wrong with the gamestate. Elias explains the issue with the under-payed Slayer of the Wicked, which both players soon agree on happened. The judge issues out a warning for “insert-appropriate-mistake-here” like expected but then turns to Elias again and kindly explains to him that the Italian opponent is disturbed by his presence spectating the match and aks him to for the rest of the match please stand at least 3 meter from the table(!).

To be fair, this is certainly not an unreasonable action. It’s within your right to ask a judge remove a spectator who is disrupting the match in anyway (although is very seldom it happens). But here I would argue that neither Elias or myself was disrupting the match in anyway except for just Elias who had stepped in and made sure the gamestate was upheld correctly. We had been watching the match from about a meter away from the table at all times, we hadn’t communicated with Joakim in anyway during the whole match and we hadn’t even been behind the Italian fellow at any point of the match. Also it was kinda weird that just Elias was asked to keep his distance while nothing was said to me at all who had also been there the whole time.

Anyway, Elias wisely choose not to fight the law and kept his distance for the reminder of the match and the judge asked the players to start playing again. Now, this ordeal had taken several minutes to sort out and naturally Joakim asked for extra time. The judge at the table bluntly told him no, he would not award any extra time to the match at all. Joakim being the experienced player he is off course snapped appealed and soon the head judge for the green side was at the table. The headjudge was also Italian so Joakim, given how nonchalantly the first judge had been treating him, asked if the other headjudge could take the case instead. This proposal was shoot down and after another lengthy discussion they were award a mere 8 minutes extra time for everything, which was roughly half of what the whole situation had taken at this point.

Right or wrong, the case was now sorted out and the players went back to playing. Time for the rest of the GP players was about to be called, so there wasn’t much time left to play on. Naturally, the Italian opponent mushed Joakim to player faster even though he was the one who had been easily taken the most time in the match at this point. A turn or two went by before Joakim concluded the game was out of reach and therefore scooped up so they could play game 3. Joakim’s deck was quite fast so at least he could easily win a game in just a couple of turns.

Since time was at a premium, Joakim shuffled up fast and presented his deck after a pileshuffle and 3-4 riffle shuffles. I don’t really know why but I suspect out of some sense of retaliation from the Slayer of the Wicked-incident, his opponent called him for insufficient randomization to the first judge who was still at the table. Now, 3-4 riffle shuffles (or equivalent) is a bare minimum as far as shuffling goes but consider how tight it was on time in the match you could understand the rush Joakim was in. The judge didn’t issue an official warning but told Joakim that he should watch out with his shuffling in the future. After this Joakim opponent presented his deck after a “mana weave” and 3 mere overhand shuffles. This is off course not enough “shuffling” by a long shot which Joakim also noted and snapped called him back for insufficient randomization. This however was deemed as an okay amount of shuffling by the judge at the table. Joakim didn’t appeal this time, probably because by how it went last time the headjudge came to the table…

Joakim ended up mulling to 4 in the final game and it wasn’t much of a game at all as his opponent had a reasonable draw. I missed some detail here as I was conversing with other swedes about the match at the time but from what I have been told and what I did see there was some shady moments during the few turns that was the 3rd game. Joakim repeatedly asked the first judge who now was sitting at the table on how much time there was left and first after asking several times the judge actually answered him. There were also something weird that happened at the end when the match was first awarded extra turns, then they were withdrawn before the were awarded again. I’m sorry that I’m missing out some details here but we who were following the spectacle were busy reeling in our jaws that had dropped to the ground long before this happened. We just couldn’t believe that this series of events actually just happened. Joakim did indeed lose that game and was subsequently eliminated for day 2 play. But that wasn’t the real letdown. All the Swedes who were following the match just felt so disgusted about how the judges had been handling the whole match.

Now, I’m not a judge nor do I have perfect knowledge on how exactly everything is supposed to be proceeded by judges so I reserve myself the possibility that most of the rules issued by the judge might be correct. I would love to be filled in on this. But anyhow, what certainly is wrong with the whole scenario that I just told you about and what’s bugging me the most is the arrogance and negligence towards Joakim during the whole match.  The judges didn’t communicate with him on the same level as his opponent and the rules seemed to be different when applied to each of them. There is just no excuse for that.

Myself along with a few other Swedes urged Joakim to send in a complaint to the DCI because this kind of treatment is just not acceptable. I really don’t wish anyone, anywhere to suffer from this kind of treatment in the future, period. I hope he will and then hope that someone within the DCI takes notice of this incident.

Bernhard over and out.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. GregTorson permalink
    November 5, 2011 08:51

    Great post at least I think so. Thank you for enlightning this info. P.S. why don’t you make another header?
    Well, at least to something like this the jammer website has.

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