First things first: Don’t insult, demean, bully, harass, or threaten your opponent, or anyone else at an event. Really, just don’t.
Unfortunately, not everyone you meet at a tournament is going to have an understanding of basic respect and courtesy. However, this doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. If telling the offender point-blank to stop the behavior doesn’t work, you can also call a judge or talk to the tournament organizer. Be aware that you can do these things at your match, or speak to a tournament official in private (for example, if your opponent’s body language is making you feel unsafe).
When you call a judge, hopefully he or she will take the time to understand and if necessary, defuse the situation. There are certain penalties that he or she might give to the offending player. The most minor of these is a Warning for Unsporting Conduct — Minor, which will be given out for things like swearing or non-bigoted insults — the sort of thing you might refer to as “trash talking.” A Game Loss will be handed out for repeated instances of Unsporting Conduct — Minor, as well as any instance (even the first) of Unsporting Conduct — Major. Examples of this are when a player uses racist, sexist, etc. language, or slams his cards on the table in anger after losing a game. The most serious penalty is a Disqualification for Unsporting Conduct — Aggressive Behavior. This includes not just overt physical aggression but also making threats or damaging tournament property (yes, you will get DQed for flipping over a table).
Note that while specific Unsporting Conduct infractions only technically apply at Competitive events, the expected behavior applies across all sanctioned events, and threats/aggressive behavior earn a Disqualifaction no matter what the event (along with a possible suspension/ban by the DCI). A tournament organizer has a vested interest in making sure players are comfortable at the store/venue and in events. Inappropriate behavior can result in refusal of service even without being assigned an infraction. If you simply treat people the way you’d like to be treated, then you won’t run into any problems.
If you’re in a situation where there is no on-duty judge (aside from the Tournament Organizer), the judge doesn’t feel that your concerns warrant giving a penalty, or the player has received multiple penalties but still won’t change the behavior, you may still have recourse if you explain your concerns to the Tournament Organizer. This may entail anything from the TO having a stern talk with the player in question, up to the player being asked to leave the venue and/or being excluded from future events.
Today’s Tournament Tip written by Jen Wong