Gunnar Holmstedt

Greetings Judges! This week’s Judge of the Week is Gunnar Holmstedt, L2 from Lund, Sweden! (although some Swedes claim that Lund lies in Denmark)
Gunnar started judging as a L1 in August 2010, and made L2 in June 2011!

Why did you become a judge?
Why not? I’ve always had an interest in rules. I study linguistics and have studied mathematics before, so I’m good at rules and structure. When I decided to become a judge, we had no active judge in the south of Sweden, so I thought that becoming a judge would make it easier to run events around here. I had mostly GPTs in mind at that time. It turned out that I would do a little bit more than run GPTs.

Occupation: Student
Favourite card: Delver of Secrets
Least favourite card: AEther Vial
Favourite format: Legacy
Favourite non-Magic Game: Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer
Best tournament result: Semifinalist at my so far only PTQ as a player.
Random fact about yourself: My random generator chose the following fact: I play the violin and have done so since I was a kid.

Tell us your favourite judge story.
At a convention in Malmö, there was a legacy event, 8 players, 3 rounds of Swiss. 4 judges are playing and end up 5th-8th. Judges can’t play, right?

How has being a judge influenced your non-Magic life?
I’ve improved a lot of skills, especially organizational skills and leadership skills. When I started judging I was the only active judge in my area, but as we got more judges and bigger events, PTQ’s and such, I got to work more with staffing events and also head judging with other judges.

This has helped me a lot working with other events as well, for example while working with late registrations for Lundaloppet, making better signs that help people find where they should go.

You were nominated by Gilbert Hedegaard and David Frendin because of your impressive work at mentoring.  Please tell us how we can achieve success by mentoring at our local Judge scene.
So, let’s get underway with the novel on mentoring…

Mentoring is a very practical skill; it’s about providing the right challenge at the right time in order to help the candidate achieve his goals. You have to be very flexible as a mentor, since every candidate is different and has different starting point and different goals. Mentors are also different, find a style that suits you and be yourself.

I think of mentoring roughly in the following metaphorical way:

The student’s goal is the next floor and the mentoring process is the stairs that lead to the next floor. It will require some effort to walk up the stairs, but if the steps are of the right size, the stairs are a help.  If the steps are too big, they are an obstacle. If they are too small, you’re not getting anywhere, and you end up doing the same thing over and over, and that’s not good, just ask Sisyphus.

Being creative in creating challenges that help the candidate’s development in areas where he needs it is the challenge. It isn’t necessary that it’s done during a tournament; it can be in a more relaxed setting.

These are some important things that I think help a lot for mentoring:

Humor
Using humor in mentoring helps a lot, it can be used both as a way to make your students more relaxed and can also be used to illustrate important things. It’s always easier to remember fun things and attaching a concept to a fun story or something comical makes it easier for people to remember and understand things.

Intuition and understanding
Getting a feeling for concepts is really important, they should work with things and get a feeling for it and if needed you’ll help them, then you discuss with the afterwards. Using examples is really important for understanding, since it helps the candidate attach an often abstract concept to a concrete situation, as well as it lets him think about how to handle things and reflect over his own solutions that he made.

The local scene
Applying this to the local scene, FNM is a good training ground for a judge candidate and what I like to do is to have the candidate shadow me for the first round of the first event and then gradually take over, and during the event make sure that you get a chance to discuss rules and policy, either from situations that come up or from your mental library if you don’t have many calls.

Most of the time, for the second event, the candidate can run the event entirely by himself, but I like to be around as a backup, so that he can turn to me if he really needs it. And after that I like to play in the event with the candidate judging, when I feel that the candidate is pretty close to being ready to test.

JUDGE!
Calling for a judge with candidate judging will put some pressure on him, because he will be in a sharp situation and he can’t really ask you. It will be a big confidence boost for him when he handles that well and you will be able to provide good feedback. Just make sure that you don’t go to the last step too soon.

Having a plan like this gives you the possibility to be very flexible and adjust the tempo at which the challenges progress, so that each step become flexible and the candidate can take huge steps if he’s ready, but if needed, you can make a step smaller or help him across the step.

What motivates you to continue being a judge?
Mentoring and helping people. When judging, you get the chance to help players in situation that they might not fully understand themselves, and while doing so, you can help them improve their knowledge, so that they know these things for future events and also you get a chance to mentor judges and judge candidates, so that they can also help run future events even better.

Meeting new people and seeing new places. I’ve made a lot of new friends through judging and these are people that I probably wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise.

Also, judging always brings new challenges and that’s always fun.

What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
We have a very good atmosphere. The players TO’s and judges are very welcoming to new players it’s easy to become a part of the community. The community is also very diverse, ranging from strictly casual players to pro players and Hall of Famer Olle Råde.

What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other judges?
Road trip back home from GP Ghent with Andreas Quvang Jepsen, Mikael Ristovski and Robin Widegren. The trip featured nice discussions, a stop at the border shop in Flensburg and Immigrant Song. It was a rather long drive, the Belgian labyrinths, erm, I mean roads were fun in retrospect. We had a great atmosphere in the car and there will be more road trips!

If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Tom Lehrer. He is a true master of satirical songs and although his songs are mainly from the 1950’s and 60’s, they are still relevant today. He captured the funny side of really serious things in a very good way. He had a very good way of capturing the funny side of serious things and listening to his songs is the funniest history lesson you can get. Refer to my comments about humor in mentoring. The best way to understand why I chose Tom Lehrer here is really to listen to his songs.

What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
I would probably travel less with no Magic GP’s to judge.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to thank David and Gilbert who nominated me. I was a bit surprised to be nominated actually!

Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements is true, and one is false. Figure out which!

  1. I’m helping out with answering rules questions from a local magic community in the Philippines, that doesn’t have any judge.  Due to time zones, there can however be some delay between questions and answers though.
  2. I’m very interested in cooking and when I visit friends who live in Student dorms, I’m always the one cooking and I always bring my own set of chef knives.
  3. Outside of my studies, I do stand-up comedy shows, to earn some extra money.
The answer to last week's Two Truths and a Lie...
Federico Donner was never DQed for Manipulation of Game Materials! Ask him about all those decks if you see him!
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