November 2017 Anniversaries

Here are the November 2017 judge anniversaries!

20 years

Darren Gamble from Calgary, Canada

15 years

Igor Cattani from Firenze, Italy
Andres Martinez from Rimini, Italy
Fabio Simoncini from Montespertoli, Italy
Salvatore La Terra from Catania, Italy
Zachary Reyburn from Las Vegas, United States
Kevin Desprez from La Madeleine, France

10 years

David Lyford-Smith from Reading, United Kingdom
Anders Thidemann from Aarhus C, Denmark
Roel Jans from Sittard, Netherlands

5 years

TJ Clark from Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
Brandon DeJean from Lafayette, Louisiana, United States
Derrik Smith from Greeneville, Tennessee, United States
Gregory Rome from Montrose, Mississippi, United States
Ivan Seleznev from Togliatty, Russia
Ruiming Chen from Fuzhou, China
Brant Abeln from Edina, Minnesota, United States
Hokuto Kanbara from Kyoto, Japan
Josh Ross from Davenport, Iowa, United States
Brendan Charan from Melbourne, Australia
Matthew Stangel from Platteville, Wisconsin, United States
Noah Koessel from Eureka, California, United States
John Galbraith from Santa Paula, California, United States
Cristiano Piu from Rome, Italy
josh hibbler from Petoskey, Michigan, United States
Jacopo De Rosa from Rome, Italy
Angel Ruiz Guerra from Sevilla, Spain
Mickael Li Thiao Te from Lyon, France
Marc Pibernat from Sant Antoni de Vilamajor, Spain
Philippe Josse from Longjumeau, France
Konstantinos Brouzioutis from London, United Kingdom
David Strütt from Lausanne, Switzerland
Mattia Pellegrini Miani from Udine, Italy
Francesco Giorgio from Napoli, Italy
David Sorba from Etoy, Switzerland
Timothy Murphy from Orangeburg, New York, United States
Malte Irmer from Haßbergen, Germany
Walker Robinson from Antioch, Illinois, United States
Simon Carmichael from Belfast, United Kingdom
Tom Gibbs from Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Alexander McLaughlin from Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
Arthur Stifelman from Porto Alegre, Brazil
Justin Luttrell from Springfield, Illinois, United States
Renier Rousseau from GreenStrone Hill, South Africa
Christopher Zaal from Pretoria, South Africa
Jason Benner from Missoula, Montana, United States
Aljaz Osojnik from Ljubljana, Slovenia
Svarun Leskovšek from Ljubljana, Slovenia
Yong Ming Lim from Brisbane, Australia
Jackie Lee from Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
Stefan Kuntner from Vienna, Austria
Fabian Januchowski from Bonn, Germany
Scott Mayer from Riverwoods, Illinois, United States
Elliot Van Wormer from Klamath Falls, Oregon, United States
Sony Searles from bloomington, Indiana, United States
Addam Love from Superior, Wisconsin, United States
Ricardo Sánchez from Madrid, Spain
Stephen Speck from Wilmette, Illinois, United States
Leonard Havliček from Bregana, Croatia
Steven Bezzio from Seattle, Washington, United States
Charles League from Ashland, Virginia, United States
Justin Martin from Florida, United States
Kai Sternitzke from Salzgitter, Germany
Benjamin Upton from Auckland, New Zealand
Rubén Ayllón Montesinos from Cuenca, Spain
Michael Wayne from Glen Burnie, Maryland, United States
Nahuel Vignatti from Santa Fe, Argentina
Tobias Olofsson from Årjäng, Sweden
Samuel Akers from Apple Valley, Minnesota, United States
Jonathan Reasoner from Baytown, Texas, United States
Jamie Arnold from Morristown, Tennessee, United States
Per Carlsson from Uppsala, Sweden
Michael Piotrowsky from Belton, South Carolina, United States
Alexander Byatt from Melbourne, Australia
Tyrel Cameron from Melbourne, Australia
David Porzio from Greer, South Carolina, United States
Serge Yager from Victoria, Canada
Bryan Brahmer from Fountain Inn, South Carolina, United States
Charles Lee from Sydney, Australia
Alex Tune from Austin, Texas, United States
Will Morell from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
Florian Zarges from Darmstadt, Germany
Mark Brezinski from Belmont, Massachusetts, United States
David Maddox from Thomasville, Georgia, United States
Colja Würdemann from Bremen, Germany
Cliff Cheung from San Jose, California, United States
Gregory Havlik from DeKalb, Illinois, United States
Daniel Gluck from Orlando, Florida, United States
Juan Gonzalez from Fontaine L’évêque, Belgium
Mike Torrisi from Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Orlando Gonzalez from Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela
Mattias Hjelmström from Skövde, Sweden
Yunho Choi from Busan, South Korea
Hyunwoong Park from South Korea
Minqi Chen from Singapore, Singapore
Matthew Toledo from East Durham, New York, United States
Andreas Eibel from München, Germany
Stefan Günther from Magdeburg, Germany
Chong Lam Khaw from Subang Jaya, Malaysia
Sebastian Fieber from Potsdam, Germany
Jan Brinkmann from Braunschweig, Germany
Brandon Martin from Scarborough, Maine, United States
Irma Derkach from Kozelsk, Russia
David McDarby from Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
Julien Al-Rubei from Rangsdorf, Germany
Roger Glasser from São Paulo, Brazil
Kade Boveington from Cape Coral, Florida, United States
Robson Falcão de Oliveira from Vitória da Conquista, BA, Brazil
Renato Kitagawa from Contagem, Brazil
James Farlow from Lismore, Australia
Zachery Tracy from Fort Myers, Florida, United States
Alexandr Omelyanchik from Kaliningrad, Russia
Benjamin Autin from Houma, Louisiana, United States
Devon Van Camp from Lethbridge, Canada
Christopher MacKenn from Cape Coral, Florida, United States
Gabriel Nieves from SJ, Puerto Rico
Vincent Fleury from Tucson, Arizona, United States
Giacomo Gambini from Pesaro, Italy
Jeffrey Schlichter from Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Aaron Sewell from Auckland, New Zealand
Henry Moore from Auckland, New Zealand
David Pitstick from Centerville, Ohio, United States
Sergio Alexandre Carnevale from Genova, Italy
Benjamin Anuworakarn from London, United Kingdom
Thomas-Moffitt Stage from Fresno, California, United States
Luigi Sbrocca from Pesaro, Italy
George Williams from Sydney, Australia
Jose Tamargo from Barcelona, Spain
Ben Johnston from Dallas, Texas, United States
Hannah Wines from San Antonio, Texas, United States
Vitaliy Glukhov from Moscow, Russia
Sean Choate from College Station, Texas, United States
Stephen Oliveiro from Portland, Oregon, United States
Samo Seljak from Idrija, Slovenia
Ki-won Kim from Seoul, South Korea
Anastasiya Rozhkova from Moscow, Russia
Jake Henry from Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Levi Brooks from Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Weipei Bu from China
Marco Kesseler from Schwarzenbek, Germany
Steve Rogers from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, United States
Yu-Wei Zhang from Taipei, Taiwan
Dan Livant from Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Jorge Santos from São Paulo , Brazil

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

Kindness is his foundation

Kindness is his foundation

This month, we have 3 headliners: Darren Gamble, Kevin Desprez and David Lyford-Smith! First, lets celebrate Darren’s 20 year anniversary as a judge! Jon Goud had prepared this for Darren’s monumental anniversary:

20 years in the judge program is an incredible achievement – and I started flipping through old ‘back in the day’ photos of Darren for inspiration. I started noticing something as I looked through old photos of GPs, Canadian Nationals, and many many judge dinners … Darren was one of the few pictured that are still actively judging.

Darren certified in 1997 – Tempest block would be the new set that fall, and the game had yet to grow through art design changes, the sixth edition rules overhaul, the M10 rules overhaul, mythic rares, and the list goes on! Young Randy Buehler would win Pro Tour Chicago that fall – his debut PT appearance! ‘Sequences’ and ‘Batches’ were likely on his level 1 test … which would have been administered by a L3 (the only level at the time that could certify new judges)

In that time Darren has judged many many tournaments of all shapes and sizes, certified and mentored innumerable judges in his home province of Alberta, and been a touchstone of integrity and energy at every event. Even after all these years he is a bottomless well of enthusiasm and hustle. I’ve never seen him do something sluggishly or absent-mindedly.

Much has changed in the last 20 years, and much is changing now both in organized play and the judge program. I look at 10-year-old pictures of Darren in his ‘zebra shirt’ alongside judges who have long since stepped down or who I don’t recognize at all. I think about how not all of us have ‘survived’ turbulence in the past, and it’s quite possible that in the years to come more of us will step down.

But it makes me feel safe to know that Darren will be there for those of us still judging years from now – he’ll be there to show us how to hustle, he’ll always up for a beer and a game of Commander, and always happy to share his ‘back in the day’ war stories to try and educate us young folk 🙂

Congratulations Darren, and we all hope to be judging alongside you 20 years from now!

More than just a scarf

More than just a scarf

Next, Guillaume wrote a few things about Kevin’s 15 year anniversary:

A couple of days ago, Sophie Pagès asked me if I was ok to write something about Kevin for his 15th anniversary. My first reflex was, wooooh 15 years is a pretty long long time. Then I realized that I’ve known Kevin for almost 15 years; first as a player, then as a judge. Finally it made me realize that I’m not twenty anymore… but that’s another story.

Fifteen years is a long period of time, but when you think about Kevin’s impact on the judge program, you realize that it can’t be done in just a couple of months. I could start to talk about Kevin’s influence on the French PTQs scene from something like 10 years ago, but let’s focus on the Kevin Desprez as a L3.

First of all, Kevin has been a keystone of the judge program in France for quite some years. This happened when 3 or 4 French L3+ stopped around the same period and Kevin was the last one until Daniel Kitachewsky finally passed his L3 and came to support. At this time, the MSN messenger window between Daniel and Kevin was the center of decisions for the French community 🙂

During this period Kevin was mentoring a decent group of L2s and some of them finally got their L3 and came to help to support the community. At the international level, one of his first big mark of influence was on the Investigation Committee. When he became the lead of the committee around 2010, he worked hard to create a structured document with philosophy support. The general concept of this document is still used today and allows the committee to handle most of the cases with pretty good consistency.

Kevin also worked a lot on the work flow, allowing players to have an answer regarding the outcome of their disqualification in a decent timeframe, while it was pretty erratic before that. Another point of interest in Kevin is an unusual trait of character: when you are working with the same group of people, doing the same things for years, it’s super easy to take habits and to stick to them. What always impresses me with Kevin is his ability to ask himself questions about everything, all the time. Take public transportation with Kevin in a country he never visited and you will quickly see what I mean. 😉 He is not only asking questions, he is also trying to find the best answer and if the current system is not the best answer he will design something to replace it. I could mention these recent ideas:

– In trial registration, he asked if the staff was able to take money at the table to give judges the ability to fire a huge number of trials from at the opening of the venue, without any waiting time for the players.

– In the sleep in special system, he crafted a process helping to answer to this question: “How to do the most efficient system to generate a great player experience, without risking to open the door for cheating?”

One of the most recent and visible impact that Kevin had on the program is the GP HJ program. While some people had concerns about the automatic maintenance of the GP HJ in the past, Kevin accepted the challenge and tackled this issue. I said challenge, because we are talking about evaluating other skillful people which for a large part of them are friends and trust me the job is not the most pleasant thing to do, but it has to be done. Kevin has been able to craft a process were a committee is able to evaluate different candidates anonymously, removing a maximum of bias in the candidates evaluation.

All of these initiatives have always been combined with a large amount of documentation and mentoring. If sometimes you feel Kevin has strong opinions, it’s true! But don’t be afraid to continue to discuss and to give your best arguments. As a very rational person, Kevin is very careful to listen to the facts and if at the end your suggestion makes more sense than the initial plan, he will probably go for it. Kevin is always giving his full attention to you when you enter a discussion with him. It looks like he believes that in every discussion there is a gem hidden that could improve the program or lives of others. Seeing him thinking about your craziest arguments and making them running in his head is something quite fantastic to see. Sometimes his conclusions go even farther than what you initially wanted to achieve!

One of two famous judges with the first two initials DL

One of two famous judges with the first two initials DL

Finally, we get to David’s 10 year anniversary! Jack remembers the last 10 years here:

David’s ten-year lifetime as a judge has been a winding road of responsibility, professionalism, and excellence. At a time, David was only Level 2 judge on the main land-mass of the UK. Slightly later, he was one of the few Level 3 judges in the region, when that group could have their meetings at a single table in a Starbucks. David handled coordination of Level 1 certification and Level 2 certification for periods that I have personally experienced. He has served as the Head Judge of a Grand Prix (and indeed, he did so wearing a pointy witch’s hat). He has served as the Regional Coordinator for the region, leaving me with boots to fill that I still have worries about, to this day. He’s served as a sphere leader for the Player Experience sphere, spearheading (or sphere-heading) a multitude of projects, initiatives — both player- and judge-facing — and for each of these tasks, he’s inspired awe from many more judges, players, and Magic-involved individuals than just myself.

Throughout all of these roles, where I remember first seeing and experiencing the phenomenon known as “DL-S”, is as the Head Judge of a PTQ many years ago. Seeing David command a judge team, hundreds of players, and steer a ship through choppy waters to the end of the day has always been a fond and powerful memory of mine. One of the few things that he didn’t get to do “at the time” was be the Head Judge of Nationals. He got to show the English community exactly how well such a role suited him recently, and that memory of “Head Judge DL-S” was refreshed for me.

If I search my email account for “David Lyford-Smith”, what comes up is more than half a decade of advice, witticisms (or, as he would refer to them, as one of the most “street” individuals I know, “bants”), and relentless time and effort put in to improve me as a judge and as a person. That chain starts with “I want to become a Level 1 and I’ve been told you’re the guy to talk to” and ends somewhere yesterday providing information on yet another task David does for the region. I can believe DL-S has had this impact on an absurd number of other individuals. David has been a major positive influence for myself and the region, and I’m proud to call him a friend.

To ten more years!

Happy anniversary to all of you!  We look forward to many more years of judging from you all.

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October 2017 Anniversaries

Here are the October 2017 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Monsuporn Lauhaphand from Bangkok, Thailand
Hector Fuentes from Mexico, Mexico
Arthur Edson from Kentwood, United States

10 years

Matt Danner from Seattle, Washington, United States
Atipong Pathanasethpong from Khon Kaen, Thailand
Andrew Plinston from Auckland, New Zealand
John Tong from Sunnybank, Brisbane, Australia
Enrique Manuel Guzmán Mosqueda from Mexico DF, Mexico
Jorge Sirvent Orts from Alicante, Spain
Konstantin Schukraft from Ludwigsburg, Germany
Tsutomu Date from Aichi-ken Kariya-shi, Japan
Josh Barkon from Pottstown, Pennsylvania, United States
Masaya Honda from Shizuoka, Hamamatsu-shi, Japan
Justin Hovdenes from Rapid City, South Dakota, United States
Sergio Perez from Alcorcón, Spain
sebastien bernaud from saint etienne, France
Stéphane Thirard from Morestel, France
Eduardo Sajgalik from Plymouth, United Kingdom
Ivan Morel from Courbevoie, France
Nicolas Poyet from Saint Etienne, France

5 years

Anthony Morris from Gulfport, Mississippi, United States
Ariel Sandoval from Santiago, Chile
Tyson Henning from San Francisco, California, United States
José Miguel Caldera Amundarain from Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela
Mason Andjelkovic from Lara, Australia
Sam Smit from Houghton, Michigan, United States
Rafeal Jenkins from Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Roudi Bachar from Halifax, Canada
George Roehr from Yardley, Pennsylvania, United States
Matthew Bernard from Halifax, Canada
Mark Manning from Sydney, Canada
Michael Fan from Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Hitoshi Iizuka from Himeji-shi, Japan
Junhao Pan from shanghai, China
Veljo Hagu from Tartu, Estonia
Harunobu Takeda from Chiba, Japan
Jacob Boschee from Rapid City, South Dakota, United States
Leonard Dominguez from Ciudad de Mexico , Mexico
Christian Mejia from Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela
Wu Jingting from Nanjing, China
Yin Xin from Nanjing, China
Michael Barclay from Brisbane, Australia
Seth Veit from Bemidji, Minnesota, United States
Damien Miller from South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Richard Wilkins from Leland, North Carolina, United States
Christopher Meyer from Maryland Heights, Missouri, United States
David Miguel Garcia Lopez from Plasencia, Spain
Kimball Polanik from Wilmington, North Carolina, United States
Robin Nielsen from Henån, Sweden
Elizabeth Hare from Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Marek Augustin from Přerov, Czech Republic
Ciro Brizzio from Mar del Plata, Argentina
Josh Shishilla from Melbourne, Florida, United States
Filipe Guimaraes from Trofa, Portugal
Marco Lazzazzara from Roma, Italy
Thomas Sowders from Coppell, Texas, United States
Jarvis Roach from Cedar Springs, Michigan, United States
David Mantel from Temple, Georgia, United States
Lawrence Matthews from London, United Kingdom
Mohammad Nazri Ishak from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tomas Klimes from Prague, Czech Republic
Jan van der Ham from Delft, Netherlands
Egor Kuznetsov from Astrakhan, Russia
Sergey Izherskij from Astrakhan, Russia
Erik Vande Vooren from Kentwood, Michigan, United States
David Meetze from Greenville, North Carolina, United States
Harry Frank from Greenville, United States
David De Loach from Denton, Texas, United States
Jacopo Borrelli from Lugo, Italy
Lin Meise from Bradenton, Florida, United States
Anthony Haviaras from North Port, Florida, United States
Cody Coffelt from Nampa, Idaho, United States
Kellen Neal from Snellville, Georgia, United States
Cory Leeman from Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
Jonathan Rackowski from Raleigh, North Carolina, United States
Caitlin Nestick from Plano, Texas, United States
John Hessler from Plano, Texas, United States
Richard Bednarik from Ostrava-Vítkovice, Czech Republic
Jiri Kubos from Ostrava, Czech Republic
Daniel Restrepo from Medellin, Colombia
Manuel Inacio from Merced, California, United States
Dominik Lewis from Ludwigshafen, Germany
Steffen Jäger from Wald-Michelbach, Germany
Brian Miller from Burtonsville, Maryland, United States
Davide Rinnen from Piacenza, Italy
Andrew Turpin from Sparta, Wisconsin, United States
Kevin Hundt from La Crosse, Wisconsin, United States
Taro Ito from Kofu/Yamanashi, Japan
Hao Du from Beijing, China
Matthew Balcom from New Minas, Canada
Patrick Frentzen from Tönisvorst, Germany
Jacob H. Haven from Stanford, California, United States
Jonathan Connolly from Fremont, California, United States
Thomas Cao from Mountain View, United States
Ward Poulisse from Gouda, Netherlands
Jun Akahane from Nagano, Japan
Zhu Bin from Beijing, China
Noah Stromberg from Columbus, Ohio, United States
David Van Dusen from chesapeake, Virginia, United States
Christopher Morger from LARAMIE, Wyoming, United States
Kyle Hislop from dorval, Canada
Mickey Walkup from Madera, California, United States
Jake Kindsvogel from Gaines Township, Michigan, United States
Albert Wooten from providence, Rhode Island, United States
Louis Rowe from Stantonsburg, North Carolina, United States
Michael Potente from Wilson, North Carolina, United States
Brandon Schmidt from Grants Pass, Oregon, United States
David Scopac from Brighton, Massachusetts, United States
Goyet Quentin from Lyon, France
Steve Giannopoulos from montreal, Canada
Joe Rittiner from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
Jonas Breindahl from Copenhagen, Denmark
Gonzalo Alonso from Zaragoza, Spain
Natalia Ruiz Estepa from Sevilla, Spain
Fernando Valverde from Sevilla, Spain
Kenichiro Arai from Tokyo, Adachi-ku, Japan
Kyle Taggart from Burnaby, Canada
Piovan Jerome from Paris, France
Dmitry Pyatov from Vladivostok, Russia
Vasiliy Saenko from Vladivostok, Russia
Adam Hubble from Ridgeland, Mississippi, United States
Steven Wood from Panorama City, California, United States
Ian Smith from Pocatello, Idaho, United States
Matthew Bevenour from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, United States
Alex Valencourt from San Diego, California, United States
Daniel wegner from temecula, California, United States
Abeed Bendall from Calgary, Canada
David Delgado from San Francisco, California, United States
Germán Más from San Juan, Argentina
Jeff Sirkis from Tallahassee , Florida, United States
Mihail Turetskiy from Moscow, Russia
Mary Angel Davila from Buenos Aires, Argentina
Johnnys Torres from Valencia, Venezuela

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

Happy to go to Dairy Queen?

Happy to go to Dairy Queen?

This month we have 2 judges being featured, both for their 10 year anniversaries! Justin Hovdenes and Enrique Manuel Guzmán Mosqueda both have been with the program for a decade. First we have Justin, who had 2 RCs step up to the plate, wanting to express their appreciation:

Scott Marshall:

So, the background story on how Justin became a judge…

Years ago – not sure exactly when, but definitely before Shards block – he played in a Denver PTQ. In one round, he was one of the last matches playing, and during the post-game discussion with his opponent, he said something like “yeah, my only hope was to stall you out”. Obviously, he and I had a chat about his poor choice of words! He wasn’t actually Stalling, it’s just that the strategy of his deck in that matchup was to prolong the games as much as possible, and he didn’t know the significance of that word.

Later, his was the last match, and at the end of turn 5 – with at least 3 judges watching – he said to his opponent “well, we can just roll for the win?” and picked up a die. This time, my chat with him led to him writing a statement, after being DQ’d. He put a lot of effort into writing that statement, and afterwards asked me a number of questions about becoming a judge. I pointed him to various resources, limited though they were at that time, and didn’t expect to hear much more after that.

Some time later, he asked to come be an L0 at another event, and take his test. I happily accepted – esp. knowing how isolated his community was, and what they’d gain if he certified – and we scheduled it. Justin did a fine job at the event, and then took his test. He had prepared, perhaps more so than any other candidate I’d worked with – but only on the rules. He didn’t know that policy would be about a third of his total score! He ended up getting nearly 100% correct in the rules section, and just barely enough right answers on policy, and achieved a passing score.

I believe – but wasn’t involved and can’t easily confirm – that he applied himself to both rules and policy knowledge, and nearly aced his L2 test!

Since that time, the inexperienced player I had to DQ became one of my most valued judges, even driving through South Dakota blizzards to judge at Denver events. He’s continued to apply that dedication all over your region, and I think we can both say that his inauspicious start led to a great judging career!

Rob McKenzie:

Justin (aka Hovey) is a good friend of mine, and he is in an unusual position in the judging community. He is very far from other L2 judges. The closest to him is a 3-4 hour drive away. He is the Area Captain for what I call the “Western Dakotas”, the west half of both South and North Dakota. That’s a larger area than the states of Minnesota or Wisconsin, but it’s mostly just isolated communities with long drives between them. He is the only L2 in this area.

It’s really an interesting place to be in, because it means that the only contact someone might have with the judge program at all is Hovey coming in and running their PPTQ. He is responsible for certifying multiple people, training in store-level folks in a couple of stores, and trying to maintain his skills when he is the most public and well-known member of the judge community for a long, long way in every direction.

Hovey does a great job of this, and is even pretty engaged in the region as a whole. For the last two conferences in Sioux Falls he has been involved in investigations workshops, first as an actor, and then writing his own scenarios. Hovey flew out to Minneapolis so he could come to our Leadership Conference this year, and when the conference got snowed out by a blizzard he was one of the primary folks presenting during an impromptu streamed panel session we put on as a replacement. He never complained during this process, just provided great information about store level organized play, compensation for PPTQs that are both small and far away from a judge, and acted as a great ambassador for the judge program, like he always does.

The other half of this is that Hovey is very experienced – he has judged at a huge range of events across the country and around the world, at literally every level. Hovey has judged World Championships, Pro Tours, and Grand Prix, along with 12 player PPTQs. He treats every event like it is important, and really brings a weight of quality judging to a place where you would be surprised to find a judge of his caliber.

I’ve been super pleased to have worked with Hovey for so many years, and I love having a judge and program ambassador I can really rely on in a place where the community really needs someone great like him.

¡Buen trabajo!

¡Buen trabajo!

Next, Carlos has gathered some thoughts about how Enrique has shaped his region in the past few years:

Emmanuel Leal, L2 from Mexico
Enrique is a judge with a high commitment to excellence. As an example, he helped prepare a seminar about layers for about 4 months, going over scenarios and questions for the attendees that helped both of us learn more about layers.
We were also impressed when he got a high score in El Erudito, a quiz contest designed to help judges become better at rules. Even though he didn’t use tools like Yawgatog, he still scored better than most of us.

Daniel Gallegos, L2 from Mexico
I met Enrique a few years ago and during this time I have realized that he is a very valuable person and an excellent member of the judge program. Since then we have been together in some projects and conferences and it is always a pleasure to work with him because he is responsible, firm, committed and a very charismatic and kind person. These qualities make him an ideal team player.
I think Enrique and I have many things in common and our vision of the judges program is usually very similar. I hope to last as many years as he will in the program and I wish him to continue doing great things with that excellent personality he possesses.

Carlos Ho, L3 from Panama
Most people outside of Mexico don’t know Enrique, as he hasn’t traveled to big events yet. However, ever since the Hispanic America North region came to be, I noticed Enrique’s willingness to participate in the community and to try to help out. He’s a mainstay at our conferences, and enjoys presenting seminars. It’s a pleasure for me to congratulate Enrique for all of these years of service and for his increasing participation in our community.

Happy anniversary to all of you!  We look forward to many more years of judging from you all.

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September 2017 Anniversaries

Here are the September 2017 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Frank Wareman from Den Haag, Netherlands
Davide Brambilla from Lecco, Italy
Adrian Estoup from Temperley, Argentina
Jeremy Albert from Mount Vernon, United States
Jared Sylva from Salem, United States
Jun Yanagisawa from Matsumoto-shi, Japan

10 years

Miklós Tóth from Budapest, Hungary
Ondrej Hatala from Martin, Slovakia
Alexandros Kyriakidis from Thessaloniki, Greece
Bruno Santos from Sao Paulo, Brazil
Niko Leporati from Soliera, Italy
Alexandre Dos Santos from Paris, France
Mike Garee from Rosamond, California, United States
Mikhail Stroev from Khabarovsk, Russia
Michael snodgrass from fort wayne, Indiana, United States
Jose Maria Gallardo Mancebo from S/C de Tenerife, Spain
Hector Rodriguez from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
Gonzalo Garcia from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
Ian Ferrel from Santa Barbara, California, United States
Samuel Reed from Winooski, Vermont, United States

5 years

Adrian Pietura from Warszawa, Poland
Blake Wasung from Sylvania, United States
Łukasz Bylica from Świdnik, Poland
Yonatan Kamensky from Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Dale Van Vleet from Merrillville, United States
Tommy Collins from Auckland, New Zealand
Mark Day from Mississauga, Canada
Yi-Xun Wang from Taichung City, Taiwan
Ric Pittman from Charleston, West Virginia, United States
Timothy Marotte from Nashua, New Hampshire, United States
Andrew Douglass from Danvers, Massachusetts, United States
Ralph Glätsch from Hamburg, Germany
Ian Fagundes from São Paulo, Brazil
Wei Quan Wong from Singapore, Singapore
Vincent Roscioli from Bristow, Virginia, United States
Jedson Winter from Linwood , Michigan, United States
Gonzalo Perez from Bilbao, Spain
Robert Romine from Cookeville, Tennessee, United States
Peter Macaluso from Tampa, Florida, United States
Ricky Powell from Lynchburg, Virginia, United States
Walter Emmitt from Greeneville, Tennessee, United States
Michael McGee from hainesport, New Jersey, United States
Martin thernlund from Kalmar, Sweden
David Nilsson from Ronneby, Sweden
Cheol-Min Shin from Seoul, South Korea
Jasper Heijdra from Hoorn, Netherlands
Grae Gadzinski from Eagle, Idaho, United States
Jakub Roh from Stablovice, Czech Republic
Candy Tan from Portland, Oregon, United States
Jona Perkins from Portland, Oregon, United States
Derek Peterson from Boise, Idaho, United States
Phillip Drennon from San Leandro, California, United States
Eric Cheung from Lake Forest, California, United States
Diego Loayza from Lima, Peru
Rudá dos Reis from Bauru, Brazil
Kenan Rhoton from Barcelona, Spain
Ben Litz from Lexington, Kentucky, United States
Douglas Holz from Rio Grande, Brazil
Harold Williams from Plano, Texas, United States
Sergi Herrero from Barcelona, Spain
Francisco Martínez from corbera de llobregat, Spain
Milton Gómez from Managua, Nicaragua
Jordan Johnston from Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Alexandr K. from Cherepovets, Russia
André Marcatti from São Paulo, Brazil
Brian Brown from Durham, North Carolina, United States
Chris Crampsie from St. Petersburg, Florida, United States
Danny Maher from Strongsville, Ohio, United States
Timothy Jansen from Chicago, Illinois, United States
Joshua Dobson from Southbridge, Massachusetts, United States
Nick Crocker from Mount Pearl, Canada
Alexander McNease-Lewis from Boston, Massachusetts, United States
carette thomas from clermont de l’oise, France
Roger Dunn from Orem, Utah, United States
Jan Bangert from Düsseldorf, Germany
Jun Yu from North Hollywood, California, United States
George Queen from Ogden, Utah, United States
Dennis Price from Los Angeles, California, United States
Michael Friedman from Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Youngjun Kim from Seoul, South Korea
John Kmiecik from Detroit, Michigan, United States
Asier Sánchez from Sestao, Spain
Ronald Thompson from Seattle, Washington, United States
Bret Siakel from Chicago, Illinois, United States
Soo hong Sim from Busan, South Korea
Alexander Ferdynus from Mississauga, Canada
Dan MacDonald from Woodstock, Canada
Kil Ho Lee from Busan, South Korea
Sander Nobel from Hilversum, Netherlands
Priscila Maldonado from Miami, Florida, United States
Allion Salvador from Seattle, Washington, United States
Michael Cormier from Clearwater, Florida, United States
Chen Chen from Shanghai, China
Sean Thielman from Manchester, United Kingdom
Gong Jiawei from shanghai, China
Dan Oksman from Gnosjö, Sweden
Takehiko Matsumura from Saitama, Japan
Joshua Anderson from McAlpin, Florida, United States
Arnau Rosas from Castelldefels, Spain
Carl Butcher from Stevenage, United Kingdom
Pau Canadell from Castellfollit de la Roca, Spain
Leonardo La Marca from Milano, Italy

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

Everyone’s a part of his family

Everyone’s a part of his family

This month we are featuring 4 judges’ anniversaries: Adrian Estoup, Frank Wareman, Jared Sylva, and …me! We are also celebrating one L3 anniversary: Oli Bird! First, Carlos has collected some words on how Adrian has shaped his region as RC:

Carlos Ho, L3 from Panama City, Panama
I don’t remember how I ended up talking to Adrián before my first trip to Argentina, for GP Buenos Aires 2008. We chatted on Google Chat about random stuff, including how to reach Iguazú Falls and a little known place in Argentina called San Ignacio Miní.

Adrián was a L2 back then, but very eager to know how things worked in the program and how to run good events. He started traveling to GPs in Europe, honing his tournament logistics skills, while getting himself deeply involved in the efforts to build a solid Latin American judge community. He was a L2 when he became an important part of the community-oriented judges in Latin America, looking way beyond the borders of Argentina, trying to help out as much as possible. Some of the best memories I have is meeting with Adrián, Damián Hiller and Alejandro Raggio at a McDonald’s outside of Disneyland Paris to discuss the Latin American community.

Damián and I couldn’t wait for Adrián to become L3 so he could help out even more. Once Damián decided to look for a change in the Regional Coordinator position in Latin America, Adrián was the most obvious choice to fill in those shoes. One thing all of the judges from the current Hispanic America North region have to be grateful to Adrián is that since Damián had worked hard on building a solid infrastructure for Latin America, Adrián could focus on the countries up north, putting a lot of focus on helping Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. ¡Gracias, Adri!

Julio Sosa, L3 from Buenos Aires, Argentina
I remember that my first interactions with Adrián were quite sporadic, random chatters about judging after I got to L2, but no more than that. I used to see the L3s as a group of unreachable people, far from the rest of us mundanes. As time passed by, we started getting in touch more and more frequently and our conversation topics started to diversify, getting to know the person behind the black shirt; distances were getting shorter, L3s started to look more like normal people, and I gained a friend on the way.

I consider Adrián as one of my biggest mentors within the judge program. Not only because of what I have learned from him, but also for the opportunities he has given to me to find my place in the judge program and as a L3 in our region, I’m not sure if my journey within the program would have been the same hadn’t I known Adrián. I am very grateful to have met judges like him to look up to them, and I hope him to be around for many many more years to keep learning from him.

Agustín Mopty, L2 from Buenos Aires, Argentina
I once recogniced Adrián for his involvement in the lives of the judges in his region. “Lately, I noticed that you’ve been worried for the well being of all the judges you can reach, every judge near you and that you can know about, not just for their work inside the judge program”

In every region there should be one or more headlights. Ideally, one of those is the RC. I hope in every reigon they have the possibility to reach out to their RC as we do here, knowing he will be there to help us, with our work in the program or just with something else in our lives.
“I worry too much about judges”, he said to me once. “You worry about people and you should never stop being the person you are”, I replied.

The tallest GP HJ?

The tallest GP HJ?

Next, we celebrate Frank Wareman’s 15 year anniversary with a piece from his RC, Richard:

With 15 years in the Magic Judge Program I had to dig deep to find some memories from every stage of Frank’s career as a judge. Luckily for me no bridges were burned and no lines were severed, so it wasn’t as hard as you may think it to be to get some more insight in Frank’s earlier years as a judge. We start off with some words from Jaap Brouwer (HoF):

“I’ve known Frank from the beginning of his judge career until I basically stopped being an active judge. During my judge career I ran very often into very nice, motivated, enthusiast and knowledgeable judges. Not very often though into someone that had all this, plus that little extra spark. That attention for detail, overview of situations before, during and after events and understanding how ‘stuff’ could be organized better next time. Stuff being random stuff like communication, process, structure and people. After having had judged a couple of PTQs, GPs and PTs it soon became apparent that Frank had this spark.

I was pretty certain that the rest of the judge world saw this as well. And they did. But Frank not only had qualities, he is also Dutch. For some reason most of the Dutch seem to be delivered into this world with this ‘feature’ called stubbornness. There’s a difference between right, and being acknowledged that you’re right…if Frank didn’t get his way, fierce discussions ignited. So it took a while before Frank saw the highest stages of judging. Which makes perfect sense, because there were quite a few people that needed to be convinced for his point of view! But fortunately he managed to do that. He, the community, and many tournaments were and are better of because of his presence.

Beside being an excellent judge and an asset to the magic and judging community, he was one of the pillars that I could lean on during the many (past) events that I had the pleasure to judge. Last, but not least, he was and is a good friend. Thanks Frank!”

Frank has been a sounding board from the moment I passed my L2 exam [early 2004], through all my years as his Regional Coordinator, and hopefully for many more years to come.
Frank has made many friends within the Magic Judge Program and I, Richard Drijvers, am happy to call myself one of them.

This isn’t just true for me, but others have chimed in to say approximately the same:
Kevin Desprez:

“Frank, you’re certainly the impersonation of cool headedness. Or should I say cold headedness, considering in the middle of the winter in Memphis, Tennessee, you told me that you’d rather keep sitting straight under the AC because your brain functions best in the cold? I think this is what made me point out that’s what a troll would do. Sometimes I wish I never said this, as I can’t remember you were massively trolling until then 🙂

I guess it took me until writing these words to realize it was no surprise you’re one of the few who, when things are on fire, manages to keep calm and rationally tackle one issue after another until everything goes back to normal.

At which point getting a cortado is totally the correct move!

​Oh, and thanks for making that call in Paris in 2006, I think it went… fine!”

As I said, there’s plenty of ‘old’ stories to be told, but the impressive thing is that Frank’s influence didn’t stop there. This is why we are celebrating his 15th anniversary as a Magic Judge. Niels Viaene shares a more recent memory about Frank:

“When I think back to judges who have had an influence on my life as a judge Frank stands out in a very personal way. He helped me be a more structured and professional person through a seminar on planning, which is about the only seminar that stayed with me in such detail. Frank was also the one who put responsibilities on me and explained that where I was going (I was a L2 at the time), people would start expecting things like that from me. And finally, Frank has been one of the few high level judges whom I felt comfortable enough giving and receiving any type of feedback, knowing it would be perceived as an exchange between people that respect each other.

For all of this, Frank, I thank you, and I look forward to judging together with you in the future.

As we say back home, congratulations on 15 years and onto the next 15!”

All in all I think we can say that Frank has helped many a judge to become better. Whether this was as a Magic Judge or as a person. For this Frank, I think we all owe you a big THANK YOU!

King of SCG

King of SCG

To round out a trio of 15 year anniversaries for L3s, we have some words from Nicholas about Jared:

What could I possibly say about Jared Sylva?

Let me start with telling you about my first Grand Prix — it was Boston, back in 2005. At that time, I was an L1, and Jared was an L2. I didn’t see a whole lot of Jared that weekend, but I distinctly remember him giving me a quick lesson on doing deck checks and, as has been the case for Jared’s entire judge career, he was helpful, quick, and efficient. At the time, I primarily knew Jared through his brother, who was a classmate of mine in college. In our interactions at events, he always made sure to check in, see how I was doing, and so on.

A few years later, in 2007, Jared and I drove to Roanoke together as the newest members of Star City Games’s Organized Play team. Over the next five years, Jared and I spent countless weekends together running the Open Series. We’d spend countless weekends packed into a cargo van, stopping only when absolutely necessary, working as hard as humanly possible to do a good job. Even back then, Jared was one of the most keen logistical judges I knew. He was always looking for a way to make things better, and more efficient. On top of that, he was always working as hard – if not harder – than anybody else. I remember more than one occasion where Jared would be up late at night, typing up decklists and making sure everything was just right.

I was there when Jared got promoted to Level 3, at Worlds in New York City in 2007. I was there when Jared Head Judged US Nationals in Chicago in 2008, wearing a red-and-black judge shirt that was four sizes too big for him. I wasn’t there when Jared got promoted to Level 4 at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica in 2012, but only because it happened during the Regional Coordinator conference. Each time, I was completely unsurprised. I’ve worked as closely with Jared as almost anybody, and I know how much effort he puts into being as good as he is.

For the past six years, Jared has also been the Manager of the Organized Play department at SCG. His fingerprints are all over the Open Series, and SCG’s long and successful stint as a Premier Tournament Organizer. I know many judges who look up to Jared, and talk about how he inspired them and helped them to improve. I count myself among those judges. Jared is simply one of the finest judges alongside whom I have ever worked. He’s also one heck of a karaoke singer, a die-hard fan of the New England Patriots, and father to two lovely little girls (named, appropriately, Liliana and Aurelia).

Congratulations, Jared, on your fifteen years of service. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to call you a colleague, and a friend.

Witty and clever caption

Witty and clever caption

Last (and probably least), I’m celebrating my 5 year anniversary! I was hesitant about getting a feature but got some very encouraging words from the RC group… so here we are! Scott and I sat down electronically so he could ask me some questions. Here is what Scott put together:

This month, we do something a little different – we’re celebrating the anniversary of this project’s leader, Ronald Thompson, an L3 from the Seattle area. As his RC, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Ronald on a lot of occasions, and on different tasks, and always marveled at his (seemingly) boundless energy and enthusiasm – this is a judge who truly wants the Judge Program to be a better place, and at the rate he’s going, that’s a certainty!

To introduce more of you to Ronald, I conducted this informal interview.

Uncle Scott: When/Where did you certify? How about L2?
Ronald Thompson: Now that I think about it, I’ve always leveled-up at a Starbucks with James Lee. James has proctored every judge test I’ve taken (that has required proctoring) and I now consider him my good luck charm/judge grandpa. I’m very lucky to have him as my judge mentor!
(US: Hey, we have that in common – only not the Starbucks location; Mr. Lee was involved in my L1, L2, and L3 tests!)

US: Who/what inspired you to become a judge?
RT: A while back, I had a bad experience with a judge at a local tournament. It involved name calling and yelling from the judge’s side of things, which was really intimidating and scary at the time. I contacted their RC at the time and had a bad experience from that too (this time it involved some victim blaming and mostly apathy). I felt really bad about the whole situation and strongly considered quitting Magic. After talking with some other people, though, they helped me realize that these judges were just a couple of bad eggs in an overall positive community. I realized that I can help make a difference and decided to be a positive person in the Magic community to offset the small number of bad eggs.

US: Why do you continue to judge?
RT: I get to travel and hang out with friends! I still really enjoy the game but traveling is such an incredibly important part of my life and, along with all of the great people I get to spend time with along the way, it substantially overshadows the game at this point.

US: What’s the one thing you wish more players knew? How ‘bout Judges?
RT: All players already know this (I just wish they would take it into consideration more frequently), but judges are just normal people too. We need breaks, don’t have all of the answers, can make mistakes, and like to play/watch Magic. I think players sometimes hold judges on too high of a pedestal. I wish judges knew their own personal limits better! I’ve seen too many judges either burn out of events, projects, or just judging, from over-committing. Take care of yourself and remember to practice moderation!

US: All-time favorite deck(s)? Card(s)?
RT: My pet deck is Legacy Reanimator. I have an all-foil (minus duals) deck built that I have a ton of fun playing. It is fun for me to see people’s reactions to my deck (even my sleeves are foil!). Second to that would be Modern Robots. My favorite card would be Fiery Gamble. I’m a sucker for random effects and this one hits all of the right buttons for me. If I could make a Magic card, it would probably involve the phrases “Roll a 100 sided die.” and “You win the game.” (US: I’d play that card!)

US: How about favorite art?
RT: Semi-seriously, probably Skeleton Ship. It’s just so ridiculous! As far as legitimately appreciating the art, though, I don’t have a particular favorite one. I really like the styles of Raymond Swanland, Chippy, and Jason Chan, though!

US: How often do you play? Favorite formats?
RT: I play in every pre-release in person and draft occasionally online. Otherwise, I don’t play much these days. My “real life” is more of a priority at the moment. That might change at any time, though, and you might see me battling at GPs every once in a while. My best GP finish was going 8-1 in day 1! (…and then 2-4 in day 2)

US: Well, speaking of real life… tell us about your childhood?
RT: I was a military baby, so I moved around a ton when I was young (we moved about twice a year). My family didn’t really settle down until I was 6 or 7, when we moved into my grandma’s house near Duluth, Minnesota. We stayed there until I went to middle school in Aurora, Colorado. I stayed in Colorado until I graduated college and then moved to Seattle, where I’ve been living for over 10 years now. I’ve lived and traveled in a lot of places and so far Seattle has been my favorite.

US: What do you do to support your cardboard crack addiction?
RT: Well when I first started judging, I used to have a rule: all new card acquisitions must be funded by judging compensation or through trading. This was particularly difficult for my foil Legacy deck… but I got it done (it took almost 4 years). Now that it is mostly complete and since I don’t play competitive very often, I don’t acquire new cards very often anymore. I have a pretty sizable trade binder now of desirable cards and trading with me can be a frustrating experience. Usually, lots of people will find stuff they want and I won’t find anything I want… Most of my cards sit in my basement, collecting dust because I’m too lazy to trade or sell them. I do collect English sealed boosters, though. I have one of every set, except ABU and Arabian Nights. If you have one of those 4 and are willing to trade for it, contact me! 🙂

US: What other activities keep you off the streets or at least out of trouble?
RT: I’m really into traveling, bicycling, and video games. I am usually not a very talkative person but if you genuinely want to hear some of my travel stories, I will open up to you really fast (especially if there is alcohol involved). I think at this point I’ve been to… 30 countries? I like to backpack and live like the locals when I travel, so I’ve got some good stories! I used to be a lot more into bicycling (at my peak, I was cycling 300-400 miles per week). Now I like to just bike to commute or relax. I still will go on my big bike tours periodically but I’m not out to set any records. For video games, I am super into Overwatch and Hearthstone right now. I can also really get into certain indie games (I have over 600 hours in Binding of Isaac and I don’t think I stopped playing Braid from start to 100% complete).

US: Like music? Got a favorite artist/album/song?
RT: My music tastes are all over the place and vary from week to week. The only genre of music I don’t like is country (the twangy, drawl stuff). I’m really into bluegrass, electronica, metal, and video game/movie soundtracks. Generally, I like to just choose a song I am really into and then start a Spotify radio station based off of the song. Lately, my go to song has been Vampires by The Midnight.

US: How ’bout movies? Best movie ever?
RT: I don’t think I can pick a favorite movie (or even a genre). I generally will watch anything that is high quality, except horror films (too cheesy, unless it genuinely scares me and then too traumatizing). I like to watch documentaries (things like BBC’s Planet Earth or Vice’s Guide to Travel – Liberia) when I don’t really know what to watch. Some of the more memorable movies for me are Wayne’s World, The Matrix, and Miami Connection.

US: How ’bout books; favorite book, author?
RT: My favorite book has to be The Food Lab by Kenji López-Alt. It is well written, incredibly practical, and has great photos. That probably isn’t the type of book most were expecting… For more fun, I like to read fantasy books. I’m still very eagerly waiting the third book in the Kingkiller Chronicle series by Patrick Rothfuss and I am currently reading The Republic of Thieves (book 3 in the Gentleman Bastards series) by Dan Scott.

US: What do people need to know about you, that they won’t learn from your Judge Apps profile, Facebook, etc.?
RT: I don’t buy anything with palm oil in it (or at least, I try not to… sometimes the labeling is misleading). Also, I won’t tell you my birthday but I will tell you it is coming up soon!

Quiet and wise

Quiet and wise

Let’s not forget that we also have one L3 anniversary to celebrate! This month we recognize just a single Level 3 Anniversary, but it is a big one. Oli Bird is celebrating 15 years as a Level 3 judge. We got a few comments from his current and former RCs. First, David Lyford-Smith said:

“What to say about Oli Bird? Oli is my internal model of strength for many of the L3 qualities, and embodies many of the abilities I aspire to as a judge. Since I began my journey, Oli has been present as a wise voice, but also a caustic one when needed. Oli’s never one to say something simply if he could say it in a riddle, and he’s always up to playing games when he means something seriously; but regardless of his mischief, you should always listen to what Oli has to tell you and think about what he really wants you to take away. Hard lessons are hard for the teacher, too, and Oli is the best person I know at handling that.

There are endless events where Oli saves the day, about 20 minutes before anything ever goes wrong, by spotting something ahead of time and getting it done before anyone else notices. He’s got an instinct for tournaments that’s invaluable.

Ultimately, as a mentor, a colleague, a peer, and a friend, I wouldn’t be who I am, nor would the judge program be half as good, without Oli Bird. He’s the very best of us, and we’re very lucky to have had him for so long. I hope we have him forever.”

And current Regional Coordinator, Jack Doyle shared his thoughts:
“Oli Bird is an incredible model of a Level 3 judge. Fifteen years in the role has given him a large oversight of many changes throughout the judge program. He is a patient mentor, an excellent event judge, and a contributor of far more of his time to people and to processes than can be reasonably expected.

Oli is one of the major reasons I am still a judge, and definitely one of the contributors to me being an overall better person. Oli is a master of words, and he knows exactly the tone and force to apply to every conversation to achieve desired results, whether that be de-escalation or education; praise or critical feedback. If you’re ever at a dinner table with Oli Bird, know that there are four different conversations happening, and you are most definitely a part of only one.

In the region, Oli is one of the guardians of the Level 3 process. That’s not to say he is a barrier, he catalyzes bringing out the best in many judges, and he has had an incredible impact on so many of us in the UKISA region. Oli is a mentor to many, a friend to even more, and a voice of reason for any who choose (correctly) to interact with him.

So thank you, Oli. You give a lot of yourself to make us better as judges and as humans, and we are all grateful for that.”

Congrats, Oli and many more years of wonderful judge service!

Happy anniversary to all of you!  We look forward to many more years of judging from you all.

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August 2017 Anniversaries

Here are the August 2017 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Nathan Long from Durango, United States
Mark Finefield from St. Peters, United States

10 years

Niels Viaene from Gent, Belgium
Giammaria Muratori from Rimini, Italy
Chris Ingersoll from Burlington, North Carolina, United States
Debi Rivkin from Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Deric Slabberts from Witbank, South Africa
Sam McKoy from Gold Coast, Australia
Barry Swan from Zipaquira, Colombia
Kamen Kamenov from Sofia, Bulgaria
Gary Wong from Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Stefan Petrov from Sofia, Bulgaria
Arthur Hsu Ping Wu from Taipei, Taiwan
Chien Lin Fu from Taipei, Taiwan
Chih-hao Tseng from Taipei, Taiwan
Juan Acosta Garcia from Almería, Spain
Denis Sokolov from Vilnius, Lithuania
Andrey Avila from San Jose, Costa Rica
Bernd Buldt from Fort Wayne, Indiana, United States

5 years

Andrew Teo from Singapore, Singapore
Andi Setiawan from Jakarta, Indonesia
Aharon Verno from Reading, Massachusetts, United States
Alexandre Darras from Brussels, Belgium
Daniel Lessoff from Voorhees, New Jersey, United States
Pavel Shmelev from Togliatti, Russia
Robert Graves from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, United States
Lance Kibe from Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, United States
Joshua Stein from New York City, New York, United States
Elveg Sangaji-Goryaev from Samara, Russia
Jeremiah Glick from Oakland, Florida, United States
Joshua Hudson from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, United States
David Darling from Silver Spring, Maryland, United States
Michael Raucher from Ellicott City, Maryland, United States
Jonathan Decicio from Santa Rosa, California, United States
Jonas Grohmann from Bielefeld, Germany
John Armstrong from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
Christopher Yates from Washington, District of Columbia, United States
Matthew Tuskey from Detroit, Michigan, United States
Kentaro Nasu from Toyota, Japan
Will Cee from Auckland, New Zealand
Jacob Brown from Chicago, Illinois, United States
Kennan Allen from Merced, California, United States
Gary Freedman from Auckland, New Zealand
Tine Rus from Ljubljana, Slovenia
Carmen Campbell from Caledonia, Michigan, United States
Myles Pirro from springfield, Massachusetts, United States
Genta Moritani from Yamaguchi-city, Japan
Naoto Chinen from Okinawa,Naha-shi, Japan
Eric Paré from Laval, QC, Canada
Sam Williams from Arlington, Virginia, United States
Chandler Stieh from Anaheim, California, United States
Bryan Scholl from Jacksonville, Florida, United States
James Risk from East Lansing, Michigan, United States
Angus Abbott from Canberra, Australia
James Newkirk from Vancouver, Washington, United States
Luke Payne from Melbourne, Australia
Robert Fitzgerald Bellone from Galway, Ireland
Victor Rogachevsky from Maple Grove, Minnesota, United States
Jonathan Rauscher from Parkland, Florida, United States
Paul Baranay from New York, New York, United States
April King from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Toby Hazes from Arnhem, Netherlands
Frank Roelofs from Leiden, Netherlands
John Bates from Nashville, United States
Lyle Waldman from Toronto, Canada
Tyler Wilcox from West Jordan, Utah, United States
Heinrich Schild from Herborn, Germany
Zijian Tian from Beijing, China
Aric Parkinson from Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Pierre Liebsch from Cologne, Germany
Toma Graves from Eagle Mountain, Utah, United States
Jutamanee Chaiyakam from Bangkok, Thailand
Makis Matsoukas from Athens, Greece
Daniel Alström from Linköping, Sweden
Blake Sanford from Greenville, North Carolina, United States
Christophe De Blois-Richer from Montreal, Canada
Christ Kallas from Schaumburg, Illinois, United States
Michael Castellon from South Berwick, Maine, United States
Peter Richmond from San Francisco, California, United States
Christopher Stegall from San Antonio , Texas, United States
Amanda Stevens from Albany, New York, United States
Michael Clark from Lakewood, Colorado, United States
Dan Hartman from Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Jacob Burton-Edwards from Fishers, Indiana, United States
Simon Nielsen from Copenhagen, Denmark
Robert Pittman from Houston, Texas, United States
Alex McElhaney from Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
Cristóbal Vigar Guerrero from Madrid, Spain
Valentín Macías from Coquimbo, Chile
Jae-jeong Lee from In-cheon, South Korea
Brenden Lutzi from Shertz, Texas, United States
Edna Murcia from Monterrey, Mexico
Rio Kivell from Dundas, Canada
Dooyoung Jeon from Seoul, South Korea
Juanpablo Saracho from Zapopan, Mexico
Phillip Fortner from Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Sean Wagner from Grand Junction, Colorado, United States
Marco Rivera from D.F., Mexico
Jonathon Chappell from Mississauga, Canada
Alex Sherman from Lagrangeville, New York, United States
Benjamin Coursey from Rumney, New Hampshire, United States
Mark Young from Hillcrest, South Africa
Andrew Smythe from Nanaimo, Canada
Anastacia Tomson from Johannesburg, South Africa
Chad Goodman from St. George, Grenada
Jason Horning from Coon Rapids, Minnesota, United States

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

Rules Guru

Rules Guru

This month we are featuring 3 judges: Nate Long, Barry Swan, and Paul Baranay. First, we are going to celebrate 15 years with Nate Long! His RC, Scott, sat down with Nate to get to know him better:

Nathan Long, often appearing in cyberspace as Natedogg, has been answering rules questions for a really long time – longer than the Modern card frame has been a part of Magic. Of course, at first he did it for fun; now, he’s one of the NetReps (along with Callum Milne and yours truly), an official source of Answers to all of your Questions.

To celebrate Natedogg’s judge-iversary, I conducted a short interview, for your reading pleasure.

Uncle Scott (US): When/Where did you certify? how about L2?

Nathan (N): Way back in 2001, I signed up for a few message boards: namely, the Wizards of the Coast forums and MTGNews (the site that led to MTGSalvation). I noticed they had a rules forum, and after lurking for a few weeks, I noticed that I knew the answers to some of these questions, so I started posting answers. After a while, a local-ish judge by the name of Chris Richter noticed me and where I was from (central Minnesota) and encouraged me to test for Level 1. So I did, and Level 3 judge (at the time) Steve Port passed me for my level 1 certification.

A few years passed, and I would work the Legion prereleases (back when prereleases were at a regional level instead of a store level), and the occasional FNM at my local store, as well as continuing to answer rules question online. Early in 2005, Chris told me that there was Grand Prix coming to Minnesota that summer, and recommended that I test for Level 2 so I could work the floor of the event. So in March of that year, Chris tested me and I passed the exam and became level 2, and that summer I worked my first GP.

Fun fact: on each exam, I managed to miss one rules question. And if you ask, I can even tell you what those questions were. So keep in mind the next time you take an exam that even one of the most knowledgeable rules gurus couldn’t manage to ace the rules portion of the exam =)

US: Why do you continue to judge?

N: I find it fun. I like to be able to leave the middle of nowhere every once in awhile and see what’s going on and meet other people. Judging gives me an excuse to take some time off of work as a movie theatre manager and get to interact with players and other judges, many of whom I’ve probably only really met online.

US: Got any ridiculously funny stories to share – like Best Judge Call Ever material?

N: The call that sticks out in my head was this one: it was an event that was designed for younger players (I think you had to be 16 or under), and I got a judge call. I arrived at the table, and it was a life total dispute. The problem was that neither player was visibly tracking their life totals (apparently, both players had been tracking their own life total and the opponent’s life total in their heads, and mid-game there was a dispute as to what the defending player’s life total was). There was no real way for me to figure out what the life totals were supposed to be, and neither player could agree on what life totals should be. I kind of just had to assign what I thought were correct life totals for the players, then went and grabbed pads of paper and pens for each player and told them to visibly track their life totals.

US: What’s the one thing you wish more players knew? How about judges?

N: If you call for a judge, please raise your hand and keep it raised. Especially in a large event, it can take a moment to figure out where you are and the best way to get to you, and if I just hear “Judge”, it can be hard to figure out where you are.

For judges, please take breaks. Judging is very tiring, and you may not even realize how tired you actually are until you stop for a minute. I know you’re really motivated and you want to show everyone how good of a judge you are, but you have to remember to take care of yourself at the same time. Try to set aside a couple minutes every round to just stop and get some water. Your body will thank you later.

US: How often do you play? favorite formats? all-time favorite deck(s)? card(s)?

N: I don’t play much Magic really currently – mostly on Magic Online (I didn’t have a local store here in Durango until about three months ago, so I’m starting to play paper Magic again). When I play, I mostly only play one of two formats: draft or Commander.

My current favorite Commanders are Kresh, the Bloodbraided (I do like things to die, and I do like to attack with a huge creature – turns out I may be Gruul at heart) and Hazezon Tamar (especially people who don’t understand the commander. First, they wonder where my tokens are (“just wait a turn and they’ll show up”), then they waste removal on my Hazezon before my next upkeep (meaning that I get to keep my Sand Warrior tokens forever)).

My favorite pet deck that’s not a commander deck is my Graceful Antelope deck. Many, many years ago, a writer named Anthony Alongi held a contest to create the best deck based on the card Graceful Antelope. I managed to win third place, and eventually built a version of the deck. My deck is more based around “Cast Graceful Antelope, put an evasion enchantment on it like Armadillo Cloak or Serra’s Embrace, then cast Cataclysm and start smacking you with my Antelope (and changing any land you might play into a Plains). I made my locals afraid of the “Antelope deck”.

US: Muggle stuff; I know you’re from Minnesota; what brought you to Durango, Colorado? Why do you stay?

N: After graduating from college back in 2005, I wasn’t really doing much with my life at the time – I had yet to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. A friend of mine had moved to Colorado, and encouraged me to move there as well. Since I wasn’t really doing anything else, I decided to do that, and I’ve lived here since the beginning of 2006. He has since moved away again (turns out having a wife and kids motivated him to move back closer to their families), and I’m kind of still trying to figure out what to do next. Ideally, I’d like to move to the Seattle area and get a job with Wizards (I do some work for Wizards already, but would like an actual paying job), it’s just a matter of figuring out how right now.

US: What other activities keep you off the streets, or at least out of trouble?

N: On my days off, I usually spend time on the computer or playing video games on my Playstation 4. I was into Destiny for a really long time (I’ve put in almost 1800 hours into playing Destiny), and I’m really looking forward to Destiny 2 this fall. I’m also a big JRPG fan. I played through Persona 5 this spring, and I’m currently in the middle of my annual playthrough of Final Fantasy VI.

US: How ’bout movies? Best movie ever?

N: Even though I work at a movie theatre, I don’t really like to spend much time watching movies there (turns out that the last thing you want to do on your day off is go back to work, even if it’s to watch a movie). I usually catch whatever the latest Marvel superhero movie when it comes out. My favorite movie though is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I love that movie, and I even have a giant 10 ft. banner of the characters hanging up at the theatre in our projection booth.

US: How ’bout books; favorite book, author?

N: I’m into sci-fi and fantasy. I read a lot of Jim Butcher and Neil Gaiman. Currently, I’m in the middle of reading The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman, as well as the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. I’m also patiently waiting on the third book in The Kingslayer Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, as well as the next book in the Game of Thrones series, but I’m probably far from the only judge waiting for the next books in those series.

Want some coffee?

Want some coffee?

Next, Adrian has a few words about Barry Swan, who is celebrating 10 years in the program:

Barry was always one of the silent members of the Colombian community but not less active. For many years he has been working tirelessly on regional projects and promoting good habits among players, shops and judges. It’s always someone I can count on to guide new candidates from the north of this new region. Such is the case in Ecuador that without Barry’s help it would have been impossible to achieve what is being achieved in such a short time.

Thank you Barry for being part of this community, thank you for coming from UK and making the Latin American judges community ever better. Hope see you in the short time in a tournament or maybe climbing a mountain.

2/2 for 2

2/2 for 2

Last, but not least, Paul Baranay is celebrating 5 years with us! John Alderfer says this:

This month, we celebrate Paul (or ‘Bearz’ as he is fondly known by many) Baranay’s 5 year anniversary as a judge. You may have seen Paul in burgundy at GP Las Vegas this year (and at more shows in the future, as he is a member of the GP HJ group). Possibly you’ve followed his blog “Bearz Repeating”. Or maybe you’re aware that he’s the one coordinating the improvements on Judge Apps. Either way, if you’ve had the pleasure to interact with him in any way, you’re well aware that he is an amazing individual that we are lucky to have. What a truly impressive 5 year run, so much so that there was some incredulity about it only being 5 years. Enter Shawn Doherty, Paul’s former RC – ‘I can confirm that Bearz certified only 5 years ago. Interesting fact: Bernd [Buldt – who certified as a judge 10 years ago this month] is the judge that certified him for L1. Paul moved to my region shortly after certifying and Bernd sent me a note about him. To quote: “You might want to take him under your wing a bit, he seems to have potential.”’ We’re still exploring the limit of that potential, may we not see the end of it for years to come!

Happy anniversary to all of you!  We look forward to many more years of judging from you all.

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July 2017 Anniversaries

Here are the July 2017 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Evan Carrier from Erie, United States
Nathan Young from Toledo, United States
Ryan Stapleton from Chantilly, United States
Takafumi Sugiki from Toyama-shi, Japan

10 years

Daisuke Okabe from tokyo kita-ku, Japan
Fumiki Nakano from Utsunomiya-shi, Japan
Benjamin Millman from Calgary, Canada
Eric Bojorquez from Merida, Mexico

5 years

Patrick Hannesschlager from marseille, France
Brian Perry Jr. from Ossineke, Michigan, United States
Rodrigo Páez from Antofagasta, Chile
Pakhawadee Palungwachira from Bangkok, Thailand
Carlos Velásquez from Girón, Colombia
Kenneth Ernesto Peralta Pop from guatemala, Guatemala
Keith Temple from San Diego, United States
Lev Kotlyar from Moscow, Russia
Nick Sirman from Ottawa, Canada
Daniel Bretherton from Hamilton, New Zealand
Erik Milan from Pampatar, Venezuela
Daniel Bretherton from Hamilton, New Zealand
James Back from Oxted, United Kingdom
Vladislav Polovinkin from Voronezh, Russia
Ted McCluskie from Ottawa, Canada
Sebastian Beroiza from Antofagasta, Chile
Patrick Hinton from Wooster, Ohio, United States
Jeff S Higgins from Tualatin, Oregon, United States
Evgeniy Bryzgalov from Perm, Russia
Andrew Murch from Roseville, California, United States
Ryan Hockersmith from Rock Hill, South Carolina, United States
Tony Soliz from La Habra, California, United States
Ana Maria Leal Oliva from Cadiz, Spain
Ryan Bez from Santa Barbara, California, United States
Sonia L’hopital from Sydney, Australia
Benjamin Brueseke from San Diego, California, United States
Lev Kotlyar from Moscow, Russia
Christopher Thompson from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, United States
Mathias Bove from Odense, Denmark
Bruno Gomes da Fonseca from Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Sam Marston from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
Bryan Spellman from Denver, Colorado, United States
James Passfield from Berlin, Germany
Pierrick Visentin from Paris, France
Charlie Ringer from Isle of Wight, United Kingdom
Stephen Matousek from Portsmouth, Virginia, United States
Shai Friedmann from Ginnegar, Israel
Daniel Toledo from Valladolid, Spain
Petit Arnaud from Douai, France
Mike Marushia from Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States
Lily Chen from Amsterdam, Netherlands
Nathaniel Graham from Columbia, Missouri, United States
Jonathan Ruth from Normal, Illinois, United States
Craig Teppert from Greeley, Colorado, United States
Andrew Rula from Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Jayson Kemper from Fayetteville, Arkansas, United States
Megan Green from Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Eduardo Gavilan from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Pedro Pappaterra from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Bradley St. Pierre from Franklin, Massachusetts, United States
Guarocuya Batista from Distrito Nacional, Dominican Republic
Marcus Hensing from Copenhagen, Denmark
Nadav Shiffman from San Diego, California, United States
Cory Ashline from Topeka, Kansas, United States
Andrew Smith from Muncie, Indiana, United States
Chi Zhang from Shanghai, China
Carl Atherton from Middlesbrough, United Kingdom
Camden Adkins from Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Andrzej Siwoń from Warsaw, Poland
Paul Serignese from Glastonbury, Connecticut, United States
William Culala from Amarillo, Texas, United States
Ben Lawler from Lexington, Kentucky, United States
Daisuke Taki from Machida, Japan
Milton Figueroa from Miami, Florida, United States
Ivan Markov from Sofia, Bulgaria
Robert Liu from Sydney, Australia
Yao Yao from China
Amber Kintner from Jefferson City, Missouri, United States
Ricardo Teixeira from Barreiro, Portugal
Aurélie Violette from Paris, France
Alex Lowe from Hamilton, Ohio, United States
Janusz Bulakowski from Gdansk, Poland
Patrick Vorbroker from Roanoke, Virginia, United States
Chris Parsonage from Edmonton, Canada
Meng Jin from Shenzhen, China
Gustav Kjellström from Stockholm, Sweden
Corey Sarsfield from Brooklyn, New York, United States
Brett Schmuckler from Dresher, Pennsylvania, United States
Nicholas Chmielewski from Brisbane, Australia
Jorge Camejo from East haven, Connecticut, United States
Jesse Onland from Waterloo, Canada
Ishon Avila from Toledo, Ohio, United States
Stephen Whelan from Mount Pearl, Canada
Aaron Arnold from Fort Collins, Colorado, United States
James Peiskee from Stephenville, Texas, United States
James Kerr from Midlothian, Virginia, United States
Eric LeBlanc from Metairie, Louisiana, United States
Robert Knox from Chicago, Illinois, United States
Antti Koivisto from Tampere, Finland
Joakim Söderqvist from Stockholm, Sweden
Gregory De Bonis from Sao Paulo, Brazil
Javier Campos from Mexico City, Mexico
Sebastiaan Bergers from Arnhem/Nijmegen, Netherlands
Tim Allen from Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Brock Sprunger from Eugene, Oregon, United States
Fabrí­cio Gomes from Teresina, Brazil
Daniel Virag from Budapest, Hungary
Paul Richardson from Bedford, United Kingdom
Alvaro Monasterios from La Paz, Bolivia
Pietro Sanjines from la paz, Bolivia
Jason Reed from Merced, California, United States
Mark Hartley from Tampa, Florida, United States
Vladislav Gankov from Sofia, Bulgaria
Carlos Ignacio Ballivian Pedraza from La Paz, Bolivia
Carlos Mercado from La Paz, Bolivia
Andre Crivello from Cudahy, Wisconsin, United States
Martin Melander from Stockholm, Sweden
Nicholas Estorga from Moreno Valley, California, United States
Paul Reinhardt from Pensacola, Florida, United States
Calvin Rarie from Navarre, Florida, United States
Scott Willis from Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Dmitry Kireev from Kemerovo, Russia
Genevieve Goneau from Ottawa, Canada
Josh Lewis from Richmond Hill, Georgia, United States
Michael Cleaver from Cranford, New Jersey, United States
Hector Casanova from Santiago, Chile
Brian Thomas from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States
Kevin Greeson from Lancaster, California, United States
Forbes Chatchayanusorn from Bangkok, Thailand
Ben Meyer from San Diego, California, United States

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

Batman underarmor?

Batman underarmor?

This month we are featuring 6 judges: Jeff Higgins, Ryan Stapleton, Michael Wiese, Davide Succi, Walter Zara, and Antoine Bouaziz. First, we have Jeff’s RC (Scott) sit down electronically for a mini-interview with Jeff:

Jeff S. Higgins has been a wrecking ball – in a good way! – for five years, and the Judge Program is better for his contributions. Rather than just scrape together a bio, I thought you’d enjoy this interview, conducted between Jeff (SHiggins), and his RC, Uncle Scott (US).

US: So, you certified at GP Anaheim in 2012; who/what inspired you to become a judge?
SHiggins: I was in a local player group down in Southern California with Leo Maros, and I had been hating the current standard format so I tested on Sunday of that GP. I really wanted to stay connected to the community without needing to play in every event.

US: Why do you continue to judge?
SHiggins: This is the best gaming community I’ve been a part of. I’m pretty good at running events and creating fair & fun opportunities for all players, and I want to continue to help make that possible.

US: Got any ridiculously funny stories to share?
SHiggins: My judge existence is full of ridiculous things; from getting immortalized by Reddit, to having Phillip Wulfridge troll me with a homemade shirt, to Frank Stanley and Max Perlmutter making a posterboard of me.

US: What’s the one thing you wish more players knew? Judges?
SHiggins: I wish more players would communicate with opponents more. So many calls I take are because of people not communicating because they think they are getting a competitive edge, and they’re often wrong. I wish judges stopped looking at levels as an RPG system.

US: How often do you play? favorite formats?
SHiggins: I love drafting the most. I don’t play a ton, but when I’m at home I’ll usually hit up an FNM.

US: All-time favorite deck(s)? card(s)?
SHiggins: Deck would be Theros Standard Abzan or Zendikar Standard Cruel Control. Cards Cruel Ultimatum or Garbage Fire

US: and how about favorite art?
SHiggins: Garbage Fire; I own the art.

US: On to some Muggle stuff: what do you do to support your cardboard crack addiction?
SHiggins: Contract work around Portland and judging. I don’t buy a lot of cards.

US: Do you like music? got a favorite artist/album/song?
SHiggins: No favorites, but Rolling Stones, Blink 182, and most electronic music (house, trance, etc), are the things I listen to the most.

US: and, how ’bout movies?
SHiggins: My favorite movies are Ghostbusters, Dodgeball, and The Departed.

US: Books – favorite book, author?
SHiggins: David Halberstam is a huge favorite of mine. The Coldest Winter is my favorite book of his; it tells the story of the Korean War, and does an amazing job at that.

A “staple” of the mid-Atlantic

A “staple” of the mid-Atlantic

Next up, Ryan Stapleton is celebrating 15 years in the program! His RC, Nicholas, celebrates with a few thoughts:

Ryan Stapleton has been a mainstay of the Mid-Atlantic region for a very, very long time. We’ve shared many events (our first being US Nationals in 2007) and fewer games of EDH than I’d like. One of the things I value and enjoy most about being Ryan’s colleague, and his friend, is that he knows how seriously to take judging. He takes it just that seriously, and no further. Ryan has a fantastic attitude when it comes to judging, and the kind of steady calm that makes it hard to panic, even if it seems like there’s plenty of reason to do so. His infallibly positive attitude has helped me get through a number of events.

What you might not know about Ryan is that he’s also one of the pillars of our regional community. Ryan regularly organizes events locally — hosting gatherings at his home or simply hosting dinners out — and has set a fantastic example of community-based judging that I wish I’d see more of. Ryan keenly understands how a strong judging community can really enrich one’s own participation in the program, and I know that many judges in the region have been the beneficiaries of that understanding. Ryan’s been a judge for more than a decade, and his experience is an invaluable resource to the judges with whom he works.

I don’t know any judge in my region like Ryan Stapleton, but I wish I had a lot more judges in my region like Ryan Stapleton. There are so few judges with the same relentless enthusiasm and eagerness to conquer any task as Ryan. You can ask him to do anything from help run on-demand events to Head Judge an 800-player event, and he’ll approach it with the same positive, eager, fearless attitude. Ryan is truly an asset to the region, and to the program at large.

Thank you, Ryan, for your many years of dedicated service making Magic better in the Mid-Atlantic. It’s an honor to call you a peer, and a privilege to call you friend.

Saved my butt a few times

Saved my butt a few times

There are a quartet of Level 3 anniversaries to share this month. First, July marks the 10th anniversary of Michael Wiese certifying for L3. Current German-speaking Regional coordinator, Stefan Ladstätter, has this to share about Michael:

“I am very proud to announce Michael Wiese’s 10-year anniversary as L3! Michael became L3 almost by accident. It was during US Nationals in 2007 where he was interviewed for the role of L2 Trainer. Imagine, back in those days, only L3+ judges and L2 Trainers were allowed to test L1s! His panelists were so impressed by his passion and skills that they made him L3 on the spot!

It was only a matter of time until he became Regional Coordinator for the German-speaking countries, a role that he served for 7 years. During his stint as RC, he oversaw an immense growth in number and quality of the judges in our region, guiding our community with patience, humor and never-ending goodwill. These traits not only make him an awesome judge and leader, but also one of the best mentors I have ever met. From my first GP to becoming Regional Coordinator, Michael has been a key influence on me as a judge, and I’m still humbled to follow in his footsteps.

Michael is also well known for his logistics expertise at events big and small, local and global. Scores of GPs have benefited from his planning and his quick thinking. Whenever I witness him at an event, I am amazed at the seeming effortlessness with which he fulfills even the most demanding tasks, not to mention the fun everyone has in his company, both on duty and off.

Michael, while you haven’t been as involved lately as you used to be—little ones and a demanding job can do that for you—your impact on the judge community cannot be understated. You have touched and enriched the lives of countless judges, and to me you exemplify the best qualities of a judge—professionalism and kindness. I hope you’ll stick around for at least another 10 years!”



Next, Italian Regional Coordinator, Cristiana Dionisio, shares some thoughts about a pair of Italians who both reached the 5-year mark of being Level 3: David Succi and Walter Zara:

“Davide’s technical and logistics skill are only one aspect of his great qualities and contribution. In recent years, Davide has taken the lead of the Italian L2 certification sphere in Italy and Malta and together with his team, he has helped dozens of judges to become L2, to be better in each L2 requirement, to understand how to be part of a community.

His advice in the Italian L3 group is vital and his experience in big events are always great assets. Davide is an awesome Team Leader, HJ, judge, friend. Thank you Davide for your support, challenge, wisdom in these years as L3 in the Italian community and in the international events.

Behind the scenes leadership

Behind the scenes leadership

Walter’s best quality is his capability to understand people, to be empathetic, to communicate with others.

Since he became L3 he has taken the lead of the communication sphere doing a great job as a leader of a huge team of people who work every day to provide support to judges, players and TOs in our local forums and FB pages. In the Italian L3 group, Walter often proposes a vision of situations that I and other L3s don’t see, providing, in that way, a wide spectrum of options and possibilities that we wouldn’t consider without his input.

He is present on a daily basis in the communication channels and people can rely on him each time they need a L3 presence.
Thank you Wally, keep rocking!”

Community compassion

Community compassion

Finally, we hear from French RC, Guillaume Beuzelin (with help from some others), about Antoine Bouaziz and his 5 years at L3:

“Antoine Bouaziz is a judge with very special set of skills comparing most of us. The first thing that stroke people in general are his quality regarding his human relationship and his will to understand and help other people to improve and develop their potential. I asked very few people to help me to write this text but I’m sure I could have gather dozen of testimonies like Kevin and Mikaël wrote.

From Kevin Desprez:

Antoine, you are a unique judge by many aspects.

I remember that day where you tested for L1. You were by far the most prepared candidate I had seen in the weekend. I was a bit skeptical though as I couldn’t imagine someone would create their DCI number only to take the L1 test.

Back to a time where most judges were heavily playing and were sliding to judging, this was one of the many unique aspects of yours.
Another of these is how much you care for people. I’m unclear I’ve met someone who is as considerate of others as you are.

No matter what you were going through, you were always considering others before yourself.

I’m fairly sad your job is pretty restrictive for your ability to attend events, as you are a powerful and inspiring team leader.
Happy anniversary.

From Mikaël Rabie

I met Antoine in a FNM in Paris 9 years ago. I was in Paris for exams, and I found a shop to play Magic on Friday. It was weird to see someone in a judge shirt for an 8 players tournament, asking if I needed some advice. It was a few years later that I discovered that he was going to each shop providing some help and gathering information. He developed this way the Parisian community, looking for potential judge candidates, and proving to shops the usefulness of judges.

The second quality that Antoine develop and that is super useful as a level 3 is his Magician skills. Since he passed L3 5 years ago, he has been able to catch a player marking his cards in a pretty interesting way, another one marking his opponent cards while shuffling to be able to manipulate the deck later in the game. Antoine assisted couple of head judges undercover to give his opinion regarding a potential deck manipulation. As his technical level is clearly above the average level of the judges in general we could be in a position where we would blindly follow his judgement, but Antoine, as the teacher he likes to be, likes to explain the whole situation explanation how, why and what a player is doing something. A potential downside of paying more attention of deck manipulation could be to start to develop a paranoia thinking that everybody is cheating, but once again Antoine does a pretty good education job to prevent this happening.

To sum-up, I would said that Antoine is an exceptional judge that not enough people have the chance to interact with In Real Life but who is bringing a real added value to the program. Today let’s highlight a man from the shadow.”

Congratulations to all of these fine judges and many thanks for their years of service to the program!

Happy anniversary to all of you!  We look forward to many more years of judging from you all.

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June 2017 Anniversaries

Here are the June 2017 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Dave Gale from Cheddar, United Kingdom
Lian Pizzey from Derby, United Kingdom
David Pope from Johannesburg, South Africa
Dan Smith from Nottingham, United Kingdom
Francesco Spognardi from Isernia, Italy
Gareth Tanner from Portsmouth, United Kingdom
Nicholas Taylor from Chelmsford, United Kingdom
Lloyd Dodson from Overland Park, Kansas, United States
Kenji Suzuki from Chiba, Ichikawa-shi, Japan
Kaname Kamishima from Toyama, Toyama-shi, Japan

10 years

Alexander Syomkin from Moscow, Russia
Brian Hellevang from West Fargo, North Dakota, United States
Junichi Yabuta from Tokyo, Japan
Chris Nguyen from Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Toshiki Ogihara from Sinjuku-Ku, Japan
Luke Powell from New Braunfels, Texas, United States

5 years

Andre Diamant from Montreal, Canada
Ivan Saenz from Guadalajara, Mexico
Luis Guadarrama from Guadalajara, Mexico
Susan Waldbiesser from Brownstown, Pennsylvania, United States
Nita Flaskerud from Rochester, Minnesota, United States
Dennis Pedersen from Akarp, Sweden
Pavel Krasheninnikov from Moscow, Russia
Dylan Burrows from Eustis, Florida, United States
Shin’ichi Katagiri from Shizuoka, Japan
Nicolas Baptiste from Valence, France
Nazzer Nicerio from Hasuda-shi, Japan
Marcie Eaddy from Florence, South Carolina, United States
Elliot Raff from Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Tommy Liu from Toronto, Canada
Derek Vandiver from Sautee, Georgia, United States
Brian Cooper from Perryville, United States
Seth Black from Toronto, Canada
Ioannis Economides from Nicosia, Cyprus
Kobi McLeod from Brisbane, Australia
Roman Chekhonin from Novosibirsk, Russia
Tomislav Trnski from Bjelovar, Croatia
Sean Stackhouse from Pittsfield, Maine, United States
Erik Robertson from Tucson, Arizona, United States
Brandon Qing from Little Elm, Texas, United States
Katie Temple from St. Petersburg, Florida, United States
Mattia Rebecchi from Pavia, Italy
Diego Roca Suarez from Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Dane Looman from Morgantown, West Virginia, United States
Phillip Konkle from Oxford, Ohio, United States
Hyun-myung Park from Seoul, South Korea
James Risner from Lexington, Kentucky, United States
Oscar Amado from Guatemala , Guatemala
Louis Kaplan from Iowa City, Iowa, United States
Ricardo Vicente from Torrejon de Ardoz, Spain
Alessandra Mottini from Lissone, Italy
Victor Gutierrez from Malaga, Spain
Jose Moreira from Trofa, Portugal
Davide Forti from Milano, Italy
Timmy Tossavainen from Malmo, Sweden
Marcello Klingelfus from Sao Jose, Brazil
Petit Arnaud from Douai, France
Wind Pang from Singapore, Singapore
Sigurour Andresson from Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
Matthew Karr from Cookeville, Tennessee, United States
Josh Oratz from Bellevue, Washington, United States
David Park from Chino Hills, California, United States
Saverio Adamo from Prato, Italy
Daniel Brandt from Bielefeld, Germany
Max Ackerman from Plantation, Florida, United States
Sergey Jmaylov from Kaliningrad, Russia
Eric Drotzer from Pembroke Pines, United States
Hampus Bergqvist from Malmo, Sweden
Brian Henrichs from Oregon City, United States
Alessandro Ingargiola from Cagliari, Italy
Patricio Ponce from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Bolivia
Yu Win Yew from Penang, Malaysia
Christopher Thompson from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, United States
Rick Lee Hup Beng from Penang, Malaysia
Jeremy Rich from Northport, Alabama, United States
Nathan Horne from Glen Allen, Virginia, United States
Casey Sutliff from Miami, Florida, United States
Adam Cai from Northport, United States
Yue Ming from Beijing, China
Robert Towers from Marquette, Michigan, United States
Junsuke Miyamoto from Yokohama-shi, Japan
Chikara Aoki from Kokubunji-shi, Japan
Leonardo Morena Labruna from Sao Paulo, Brazil
Martin Varga from Košice, Slovakia
Daniel Bleck from Brookline, Massachusetts, United States
Guido Quintana from Castelar, Argentina
Quang Vu from Wyoming, Michigan, United States
Kazuhiko Saito from Fukushima, Iwaki-shi, Japan
Bruno Gomes da Fonseca from Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Darlam Da Costa from Teresina, Brazil
Frantisek Kascak from Vranov nad Toplou, Slovakia
Randy Sheffield from London, Canada
Casey Chong from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Emmanuel Leal from Reynosa, Mexico
Jorge Rodriguez de leon from San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico
Alessandro Riva from Veniano, Italy
Vincent Chin from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Pablo Sandoval from Santiago, Chile
Christopher Vizzone from Keaau, Hawaii, United States
Sarah Lockwood from Calgary, Canada
Kiennan Materne from Hilo, Hawaii, United States
Kush Singhal from Lake Grove, New York, United States

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

Retired but not retired

Retired but not retired

This month, we have a total of 4 anniversaries to celebrate: Kenji Suzuki, Emmanuel Leal, Gareth Tanner, and Shawn Doherty! First off, we have Kenji’s RC, Mitsunori, who has a few things to say about Kenji’s 15 year anniversary:

“It was 2008 I met Kenji first time when he came back to Japan from Canada and started judging again. Many judges were pleased with Kenji’s return. He is actually elder judge. We are on his 15th anniversary for certification but we know he helped GP Tokyo 1999. But at that point 2008 I did not know anything about him. Now he is one of best the judge I really want you to know about him.

Kenji has a lot of success story, HJed GP Hiroshima, our RC … but such topics that you can find easily are not featured today. Father. I believe he is a role model of active retiree-L3. I respect his judge-work-life balance.

Kenji decided to step down to L2 when his second baby became about 9 month old. His announcement was humble and polite but we could find an important thing in it. Always he was able to rebalance and keep himself being judge when life changes. He found the way of judge with one baby. He found another way of judge with two baby. *note: I am sorry but he is a little stereotype-busy-Japanese. He has great job, literally our future rely on it.

Normally, it is a pleasure to bless but lonesome when my friends stop judging because they got better job, married, baby, second baby or various event happened on their life. But I felt honestly ,at Kenji’s farewell speech in GP Chiba, expectation to next season. Kenji put a period to L3 and play new role.

Today, he join XP team and dedicate broadcasting fellow judges’ exemplary actions. And sometimes he give us valuable forum post. One more thing, he judge at store as much as he is comfortable.”

Our favorite truta

Our favorite truta

Next, Carlos talks about a judge in his region celebrating 5 years in the program:

“Emmanuel is one of the few L2s in the northern reaches of Mexico and has been actively involved in mentoring, certifying and helping other judges grow in his country. Fellow judges Erick López Basulto and Alejandro Reynoso, who were tested by him, mentioned that he has always been a great teacher, someone who has opened their eyes to new ideas and has encouraged them to take a step forward as judges. Noé Alfredo Álvarez also remembers how invested Emmanuel has been in improving the community in the northern states of Mexico, helping out at multiple events throughout those states and certifying a new generation of judges who are now key members of the Mexican judge community. Omar González commented that one of Emmanuel’s greatest strengths is his project work, which has shown other judges in Mexico that there are infinite ways to participate in the judge program and help it grow. Finally, both Álvaro Ibáñez and Pedro Márquez wanted to let Emmanuel know that they admire his leadership within the Mexican community, which wouldn’t be the same without his participation in it.

Thanks for these last 5 years, Emmanuel!”

An historic judge!

An historic judge!

Rounding out the last of the normal anniversaries is Gareth Tanner, who is celebrating 15 years! Jack has a few words regarding his contributions:

“Gareth Tanner was a long-respected name in the UK community when I entered it. His tireless work on forums and mailing lists brought education and policy updates to many judges, myself included. I have strong memories of an intermittent quiz and question project that Gareth spearheaded in the UK community, keeping judges engaged and thinking about rules and policy. Although family commitments have reduced Gareth’s event density, he still co-manages a Level 2 Study Group that a significant number of recent Level 2 judges in the region have praised for help along the way. Gareth is always thinking about similar ideas, trying to find a way to contribute in any way that he can, to build infrastructure and systems where he sees them lacking. Fifteen years is a long time commitment from anyone, and I know that Gareth has contributed significantly to my own knowledge, as well as that of many, many other judges. Gareth, it was a pleasure to see you back on the floor recently at a large UK event, and I hope to see more of you – and your work – in the near future.”

Sometimes we take him seriously

Sometimes we take him seriously

Finally, we have one L3 anniversary this month: the Anniversary project’s very own Shawn Doherty! His RC, John, wrote something for this 15 year L3 celebration:

“Shawn Doherty has been a Level 3 judge for 15 years.

Wow. While I am nowhere near the gifted storyteller that Shawn is (few are – his knowledge of the history of the program and his sense of humor combine to make for some wonderful narrations), I do want to take a little space to commemorate this anniversary. But where to start?

I could start with the fact that he spent almost a third of that period (about 5 years) as the Regional Coordinator for the Northeast US. His home state of Delaware was tacked on to the region so that he could “temporarily” take the blue shirt. He was no stranger to community work, having previously grown the Chicago community while living there. As his successor, I can attest that the Northeast has definitely benefited from his guidance through these years.

Similarly, I could highlight his excellence at tournaments. Shawn is a member of a small group of judges who has been on staff for over 100 premier events (Grand Prix, Pro Tours, etc.) with a long history of local events as well. It is my opinion that his understanding of events, what needs to happen and what can go wrong is strong enough that he pulls off the impressive feat of making whatever task he’s assigned to look easy (I mentioned earlier that he has a reputation as a storyteller – I’ve seen lesser judges steer into trouble emulating his style without realizing just how much is happening in the background).

Wherever you look, it’s clear that we, our events, and our community have greatly benefited from Shawn’s contributions. Congratulations on 15 years at Level 3, Shawn, and thank you.”

Happy anniversary to all of you!  We look forward to many more years of judging from you all.

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May 2017 Anniversaries

Here are the May 2017 judge anniversaries!

10 years

Kevin Smith II from Camden, United States
Alexey Kostylev from Moscow, Russia
Lasse B. Jensen from Sandved, Denmark
Dan Dziuba from Memphis, United States
Olle Liljefeldt from Linkoeping, Sweden
Tobias Fjellander from Lund, Sweden
Maxwell Knowlan from Vancouver, Canada
Matthew Baker from Burnaby, Canada
Abraham Corson from Alexandria, United States
Jukka Autio from Helsinki, Finland
Marco Tabarelli from Freiburg, Germany
Markku Rikola from Tampere, Finland

5 years

Ran An from Beijing, China
Isa Grieb from Bern, Switzerland
Aljaž Skok from Izola, Slovenia
Satoshi Akama from Tochigi, Japan
Max Imberman from Sarasota, United States
Exol Rodriguez from San Juan, United States
Bradley Boose from South Woodslee, Canada
Simon Schmidt from Dormagen, Germany
Eduardo Arribas from Zamora, Spain
Michalis Pantelides from Nicosia, Cyprus
Erik Morton from Gainesville, United States
Kevin Baldwin from Torrington, United States
Mikey Brown from Aldershot, United Kingdom
Rommel Fariduddin from Penang, Malaysia
Fon-Leang Chew from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Beowulf Carter from North Charleston, United States
Mario Varas from Santiago, Chile
Alex Williams from West Lafayette, United States
Chih da Yu from Taipei, Taiwan
Andrej Rutar from Ljubljana, Slovenia
Robin Dolar from Ljubljana, Slovenia
Bernhard Hoeger from Schwechat, Austria
Christopher Piedra from Miami, United States
Andrew Atkinson from Melbourne, Australia
Andreas Photiou from Nicosia, Cyprus
David Manasco from Minneapolis, United States
Chris Bradley from Memphis, United States
Will Higgins from Chicago, United States
Alejandro Sanguesa from Zaragoza, Spain
Dominik Chłobowski from Waterloo, Canada
Nate Polson from Tracy, United States
Yu Wang from Changsha, China
David Besset from Chatillon, France
Esther Trujillo from Madrid, Spain
Sean Argo from Tampa, United States
Donald Sheldon from Tucson, United States
Dustin Ochoa from Tucson, United States
Gustavo Jaar Gomes from São Pauolo, Brazil
Branden Thoma from Holly Springs, United States
Micah Greenbaum from Plymouth, United States
Luis Name from Panama City, Panama
Ryan Brady from Plainville, United States
Christian Axten from Tustin, United States
Steven Farkas from Saint Louis Park, United States
Ryan Lewis from Goldsboro, United States
Ken Bearl from Saint Francis, United States
Casey Swanson from Sioux Falls, United States
Arthur Reynolds from Andover, United States
Steph Newland from Lakewood, United States
Derek Johnson from Blaine, United States
Christopher Ajemian from Deltona, United States
Sean Lewis from Sacramento, United States
James Hedges from Raleigh, United States
Eric Rath from Iowa City, United States
Jordan Bird from Lehi, United States
Sun Wcheng from Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Pablo Sandoval from Santiago, Chile
Suh Jae Yong from Seoul, South Korea
Jong ho Shin from Seoul, South Korea
Samuel Friedman from McAllen, United States
Russell Cutting from Adelaide, Australia
Tomãs Paim from São Pauolo, Brazil
Raoul Zimmermann from Cambridge, United Kingdom
Ronnie Coopersmith from Blacklick, United States
James Jerman from Dover, United States
Jason Welden from Columbus, United States
Xuanxuan Hao from Hangzhou, China
Adam Blumenthal from Auburn, United States
Lindsay Burley from Hanover, United States
Niklas Ramquist from Uppsala, Sweden
Stefan Seiser from Graz, Austria
Keith Blackard from Austin, United States
Adam Katz from Cape Town, South Africa
Sergei Pringiers from Cape Town, South Africa
Brendan Adams from Warrington, United States
Lucio Lambertini from Buenos Aires, Argentina
Caleb Crotts from Tuscaloosa, United States
Christian Krug from Erlangen, Germany
Semen Filimonov from Tomsk, Russia
Aleksandr Moiseev from Tomsk, Russia
Piotr Andrys from Gdynia, Poland
Maxim Nazarenko from Novosibirsk, Russia
Meghan Baum from Detroit, United States

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

This month, we have 7(!!!) featured judges: Isa Grieb, Lasse Jensen, Sergio Pérez Marcos, Teun Zijp, Gianluca Bonacchi, Louis Fernandes and David Zimet!

Somehow, Isa has no picture!

Somehow, Isa has no picture!

First, we have Isa Grieb from Switzerland. Michael Wiese and Stefan Ladstätter both wanted to express their appreciation for her hard work. We’ll start with Michael:

I believe i first met Isa at GP Vienna 2013, so about one year after she made L1. I got to know her as a more or less shy person. But that’s only the first impression, if you get to meet her. With the help of her Local L3s (so basically Jeremie Granat and in the beginning Joel Krebs who moved away shortly after) she started to organize and develop the judge community in Switzerland. First by organizing judge meetings with various topics and goals and by leading discussion on various msg boards. Sometimes that wasn’t easy, because of some contrary wind in the Swiss community. You need to know, that the Swiss community is somehow hard to manage (and to be honest I don’t really know why, but maybe that’s just the Swiss nature 😉 ), but in the end she is successful, so it was a easy pick to made her Area Captain of Switzerland one and a half year ago. But if you think that’s all she is doing, your wrong. She loves judging (not that big surprise, isn’t it?) and she even traveled to another country to HJ a small PPTQ for a new store. Also she is active in various projects, most of them are tied to giving feedback or to highlight people who gives good and a lot feedback (you might have read an article from the Review Milestone Project in the past). I believe this is because she likes giving feedback and she is able to deliver constructive feedback to another judge.

I am really happy that I get to meet and to know her. Thanks Isa for everything you have done and for everything you are doing in future.

And now her current RC, Stefan:

Isa prefers to stay invisible, and so much of the work Isa does within the region remains Behind the Scenes, for example the frequent talks we have over Discord, where Isa manages to both question me as RC and to motivate me to continue doing the right thing and providing great suggestions how to propel our region forward. I met Isa first at GP Stockholm 2016, and we had a long long chat there about the situation in Switzerland, where Isa serves as Area Captain. What I realised then and there: 1) Isa is setting very high standards for everyone, but especially for herself. 2) Isa is fiercely protective of the Swiss Magic community, but also the idea of Magic as environment where people of all stripes can find a safe environment and enjoy themselves. This is something that can’t be valued highly enough, and fighting for this goal is one of the most worthwhile endeavours within the judge program. Thank you Isa for fighting the good fight, and for not giving up. You have opened my eyes to many aspects of judging and our community, thanks for being a great teacher!



Next, Lasse Jensen is celebrating 10 years in the judge program! His RC, Johanna, says a few things:

Lasse is one of the veterans of the Danish judge community, possibly even the longest-serving active judge in Denmark. He tested for L1 in 2007 at GP Stockholm (at the judge testing booth ran by Adam Cetnerowski and Carlos Ho, where many legends were born) and for L2 at GP Manchester in 2012. Lasse has been working GP’s in Europe for many years. While he usually doesn’t go to many events per year, he has built up a reputation as a reliable on-demand events judge who will happily start drafts rather than seek more prestigious roles. Lasse’s presence on a tournament floor is quiet, calm and confident, and the younger Danish judges have all learned a lot from following his example. And speaking of the younger generation, Lasse has taught his eldest daughter to play Magic! She sometimes attends GP’s with Lasse, with GP Copenhagen 2015 being her first time playing the main event. Maybe by the time Lasse hits his 15th judge anniversary, the family will have two certified judges – or perhaps one judge and one GP champion. Lasse, congratulations on this 10 year anniversary, and thanks for all your hard work!

Most romantic RC?

Most romantic RC?

This month there are a handful of Level 3 anniversaries to celebrate. First, at Pro Tour Barcelona, Sergio Pérez Marcos and Teun Zijp both certified for Level 3. Alfonso Bueno has this to say about Sergio:

“This month is the fifth anniversary of one of the strongest pillars in the international judge community and, of course, in the community his Region: Iberia (Spain and Portugal). Sergio became a judge the same day Planeswalkers became a thing (the Lorwyn prerelease), since then he became more and more involved in the local community, soon after that he made the L2. Then he became more involved in the Regional and International community and he became an L3, since then he has become the Regional Coordinator of Iberia and a GP Head Judge.

This was his story as a judge, but he’s much more than that to many of us, he’s a friend. For me he’s a very good friend, we frequently travel the world, judge, sightsee and sometimes SCUBA dive together. One thing we also do frequently is taking the earliest flight on Monday morning and running the Madrid airport in order to arrive in our jobs in time.”

A popular judge!

A popular judge!

Richard Drijvers shared some thoughts about Teun from judges in his region:

“Only 5 years? Really?! Has it really been only 5 years since Teun’s L3 certification? It feels so much longer…

I remember when I became a judge, Teun was already working the local scene at PTQs and the likes. He was a level 1 back then, but that was all you needed to judge competitive REL back then. (Or REL 3 as it was actually called.) Teun didn’t feel much for certifying for L2, because he didn’t need it. He was happy doing events in Castricum and the occasional PTQ. Then the first redefinition came and Teun all of a sudden didn’t feel like he was L1 anymore. He aligned more with L2 now.

Since I had just gotten my L3 certification, I volunteered to test Teun for L2 at an event in Utrecht. I vividly remember that, about halfway through checking his answers, I went looking through all the pages of his L2 exam for an extra copy of the answer sheet, because I was almost certain I had accidentally left it with the papers I had given him. I mean, how could one otherwise have a perfect score on an L2 exam?! I was rest assured a little bit when I found out Teun had actually answered the very last question wrong.

That’s kind of when I found out the following about Teun during the test evaluation and interview;

Frank Wareman
“Teun is known for his excellent rules knowledge. He is very people oriented and rules focused, very special combination and a great teacher. I always appreciate the discussions I have with him about policy, both tournament and rules. For some reason we are always on different ends of the spectrum, but I respect his opinion as it is always well motivated and open for discussion.”

Still it took about 6 years until Teun would again no longer feel like he was L2. At which point he felt more like an L3, which was something the other L3s in our region had known for a while.

So Jurgen Baert helped in fixing that:

“Teun had one of the first new style panels. Carlos Ho and me ran it the morning after a Pro Tour in the apartment that some of the Italian judges had rented. We did our best to keep it short. (It kind of was an easy panel anyway, since we believe he was super ready). However, I think Teun may still be waiting for his review, but I’d need to double check on that… :P”

Though Dustin de Leeuw became L3 after Teun, I believe he worded the headlines of that ‘missing review’ very nicely;

“Teun is very modest; I remember a conference where Jaap Brouwer asked us to stand on a line from 1 to 5 rating how good a judge we are for our level (1 being worst and 5 being the best). Teun stood on the 1, because he felt there were so many great L3s out there to whom he paled. Teun is an amazing mentor, and made me the judge I am today. Great observer, honestly interested, and capable of providing constructive feedback, both to aspiring L1 candidates and people on their road to L3.

Teun is also extremely cooperative and non-protective. He built up the entire 2 Klaveren community (, then reached L3 and got a baby, so he handed the community over to Jan Jaap Vermeire. He felt that as a L3 he had bigger stuff to dedicate his attention to. Which meant he couldn’t give the local community the same attention and devotion he used to, so rather than doing a half-ass job, he chose a successor whom he trusts.”

That community Dustin speaks of is also the birthplace for an anecdote from Anniek van der Peijl;

“When I think of Teun, I think of the awesome prereleases he used to run in Amsterdam (Twee Klaveren), where he’d always do something special to create a festive atmosphere. E.g. cooperate with the venue to put an Eldrazi burger on the menu for the Rise of the Eldrazi Prerelease (a burger with lots of bacon and fried onion ‘tentacles’ on mutant-looking dark brown bread). First person to hardcast a colorless Eldrazi spell wins a free eldrazi burger! Mirran pancakes, Phyrexian hot dogs, etc.”
It is these things that make Teun so revered in our community.

Congratulations Teun!”



The week after PT Barcelona, Gianluca Bonacchi certified for Level 3 at Grand Prix Malmo. Jack Doyle offered this thoughts on Gianluca:

“Gianluca is a Level 3 very capable of transmitting his experience his calm attitude towards events, conferences, and Magic in general. At one of my first GPs, Gianlcua was my shadow on a large-ish (for me, at least) Legacy event, where I learned so many of the skills I’d later apply to GPs and events that I could call my own. He has a way of making you think about things critically, a way to make you feel like you’re in control, and most importantly, a way that isn’t overbearing. To this day, I don’t even know if he realises the impact of that random event years ago, but it’s had a profound effect on my leadership style and how I consider solving problems.

Gianluca moved to the region a couple years back, and while his work doesn’t allow him the level of activity we’d all love to see from him, many situations benefit from his time and energy. From being an extraordinary leader (as Matteo Callegari shared some words on here: to providing critical input and suggestions to our regional mailing list (and being relentless in poking us to get things done), not to mention coordinating our Level 2 maintenance wave last year, Gianluca has easily become a strong, reliable contributor to our region’s leadership.

Five years as a Level 3 seems like too short a time when I consider the many positive interactions I’ve had with Gianluca over the years. I’m proud (not to mention grateful and lucky) to have him as a part of the UKISA region, and I wish him well on being as awesome an influence for five more years.

Grazie, Gianluca!”

Just don’t call him Louis

Just don’t call him Louis

Finally, at the end of May in 2012, there were two more L3 certifications. Louis Fernandes and David Zimet certified at Grand Prix Anaheim. David Zimet shared these thoughts on Louis:

“Louis Fernandes is well-known to the program as a great mentor and project leader. One of the projects he has worked on that you may be familiar with are the Judge Quizzes. Louis is an excellent lead at events – is a bit famous for the prep work he does before some events, in fact – and writes some of the better reviews out there. Louis is very attentive and alert about how a given work process is going, and great at finding improvements.

Louis has also been on the forefront of defending and expanding inclusiveness in the community, exerting a positive influence that makes both the judge program and Magic tournaments more inclusive to all the people that want to participate. I once asked Sean Catanese to help me put together some words about Louis for a previous celebration with the judge program – his remarks (other than noting the lamentable lack of Louis clones) were directed at praising his ability to teach judges without being intimidating. Louis is definitely a remarkably low-key individual, and is a great person to work with and learn from at events. Thanks to Louis for many years and many great contributions to the judge program!”

Artificer’s Epiphany

Artificer’s Epiphany

For David, Angela Chandler gathered some thoughts from others to share along with her own:


I first met David when I was just a baby Judge at a PTQ in San Diego in May of 2013. He took the time to get to know me as a judge and this stuck with me. Just a few short months later he became Regional Coordinator of the Southwest region and has continued to be my role model and mentor. I have worked closely with David on numerous projects and he is always there to support me no matter what crazy idea I’m cooking up for our region. David is extremely compassionate and really cares about the people in this community. I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to work so closely with David through a large portion of his 5 years as L3 and I am honored to be able to call him friend and mentor.

I wanted to be able to highlight a few other people David has impacted during his time as a judge. Here are a few words from Sean Catanese and quite a few more words from Joe Wiesenberg:


I count David among my favorite people, and it’s convenient that he happens to share one of my favorite pastimes. He is a compassionate leader as only the best of us can exemplify. He is not driven by a desire for power or prestige, but by the authentic connections he makes with others.

My most meaningful moments with David (I can share here) come not from events themselves, but their aftermath. Here’s one:

When I was the RC for the US Southwest, David brought me down to head judge a PTQ in his home store – ensuring the organizer covered a two hour flight to run an event David could have run himself – just so I could meet and connect with the judges in his area. While the top 8 played, I had a chance to get to know David’s community. The judges he mentors aren’t just anyone who is around and interested. Even before becoming RC, David had fostered an intentional community with deliberately chosen leaders waiting in the wings.

I only wish our paths crossed more often.


I first met David almost exactly 10 years ago, when he was one of the people interviewing for my first job out of college. I gave what he still refers to as the worst interview ever. Still got hired, obviously. We eventually realized we were both gamers, he asked if I played Magic (I didn’t at the time), and here I am 10 years later. Thanks Obama Zimet.

David got into judging because he received a bad ruling in a two-headed giant match where That Other Judge ruled that witch’s mist could destroy a creature that had been dealt 0 damage in combat thanks to a Saltfield Recluse. He figured he could do the job better than that judge (he can, mostly).

It’s kind of insane how large of an impact someone else’s bad ruling has had on my life. David eventually badgered me into taking my L1 test, and then my L2 test, and was my single biggest resource in eventually reaching L3. He’s had a similar impact on many other judges in our region. He has a talent for identifying quality people, supporting them, and enabling them to accomplish their goals and grow.

What I have always admired most about David, though, is one of his qualities that I think others recognize the least: his unwavering commitment to advocate for what he thinks is right. In the past I’ve characterized him as our region’s Star Wars defense system for bullshit (this Star Wars, not that Star Wars). I’ve never seen him fail to get involved when someone or something needs an advocate. When he thinks some proposed change is wrong, or feels someone is being represented unfairly, he always speaks up. Like I said, I’ve known him for 10 years, and I’ve watched him do this 100% of the time something doesn’t sit right with him. He doesn’t decide that conflict is exhausting and uncomfortable, or that the social cost of being on the unpopular side of an issue is too high, he just speaks up.

Having the privilege to watch how David handles these situations over the years has made me want to emulate that in my own life, although I doubt I’ll ever reach his level of commitment. That’s why when another judge once remarked to David that I was “basically the same person as him except without all the neuroses”, it’s one of the best compliments I’ve received.”

Best wishes to all 5 of these Level 3 judges celebrating their 5-year anniversary!

Happy anniversary to all of you!  We look forward to many more years of judging from you all.

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April 2017 Anniversaries

Here are the April 2017 judge anniversaries!

20 years
John Carter from Renton, United States

15 years

Lois Jacquet from Annecy, France
Zdenek Sury from Brno, Czech Republic
Chris Alexander from Corbin, United States
Maciej Grabowski from Piotrkow Trybunalski, Poland
Michele Polo from Quartu Sant’Elena, Italy
Vyacheslav Grebenyuk from Kharkov, Ukraine
Eugene Bazhenov from Moscow, Russian Federation
Isabelle Bollinger from Basel, Switzerland
Ondrej Douda from Praha, Czech Republic
George Theologitis from Thessaloniki, Greece

10 years

Hugo Ordonez from El Paso, United States
Richard Waldbiesser from Brownstown, United States
Oliver Tremel from Vienna, Austria
Brian Kidney from Cork, Ireland
Geoffrey Louis from Marseille, France
Kevin Tinsley from Aurora, United States
Sang Hyeok Cho from Seoul, Korea
Matthew Sharp from Mount Joy, United States

5 years

Andrew Brewer from Christchurch, New Zealand
Will Bumgardner from Carson City, United States
Lucas Cattoni from La Plata, Argentina
Andrej Dolenc from Ljubljana, Slovenia
Lee Fisher from Ammon, United States
Matt Jacques from Raytown, United States
Paul Johnson from Christchurch, New Zealand
Erik Mulvaney from Blackwood, United States
Fumitake Nakamura from Kita-ku, Japan
Riccardo Nastasi from Unknown, Italy
Brian Page from Las Vegas, United States
Christopher Paxton from Daytona Beach, United States
Tomaz Pollak from Ljubljana, Slovenia
Jarred Ruggles from Lewisville, United States
James Trentini from Las Vegas, United States
Roberto Bunting from Carolina, Puerto Rico
Mike Cannon from Logan, United States
Adena Chernosky from Jackson, United States
Lin Chu from Jilin, China
Ryan Darris from Cornelius, United States
Joseph Dziuba from Memphis, United States
Nathan Early from Portland, United States
Ryan Farnsworth from Taylorsville, United States
Omar Gonzalez from Mexico City, Mexico
Wiley Jephson from Albuquerque, United States
Dmitriy Kvasnikov from Moscow, Russian Federation
Aloysius Landrigan from Melbourne, Australia
Chase Lingelbach from Beaverton, United States
Sergey Petrushchenko from Moscow, Russian Federation
Alexander Rauber from Wels, Austria
Douglas Sanchez from Miami, United States
Julio Sosa from Jose C. Paz, Argentina
Rachael Williams from Layton, United States
Joel Bouzaglou from Studio city, United States
Juli Caballero Queralt from Granollers, Spain
Pedro Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Miguel Fliman from Nesher, Israel
Florian Horn from Paris, France
Richard Karlsson from Lund, Sweden
Lorenzo Santomo from Padova, Italy
Michael Sherman from Indian Harbor Beach, United States
Jeremyah Stoermer from Bonsall, United States
Hongtao Zhang from China, China
Ricardo Conde from Orlando, United States
Julio M Abarrio from Caracas, Venezuela
Manuel Amaya Gonzalez from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Dmitry Bakhteev from Shadrinsk, Russian Federation
Ben Barrett from Glasgow, Scotland
Blake Bush from Purvis, United States
Nole Clauson from Gillette, United States
John Gapinski from United States
Nathan Lisko from Shorewood, United States
Otto Lundberg from Umea, Sweden
Bernie Makino from Glenelg, United States
Alen Maricak from Bilje, Croatia
Sam Mickle from Northfield, United States
Simon Pearce from Newcastle-under-Lyme, England
Fan Shu Che from Taipei, Taiwan, Province of China
David Xu from Bellevue, United States

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

We have our first ‘unofficial’ 20 year anniversary! A long time ago, WotC’s databases were lost and all of the longest standing judges had their certification date set to January 1st, 1998. In actuality, many judges should have already celebrated their 20 year anniversary. However, since we don’t have the data we don’t know when to celebrate. Luckily for Carter, his certification is forever preserved on the internet. Thanks Carter and happy 20 years!



This month, we are featuring Florian Horn, Eugene Bazhenov and Stefan Ladstätter! First, we have Florian’s RC, Guillaume:

“When I saw that Florian was about to celebrate his 5th judge anniversary I have been kind of surprised, because I have the impression to know him for quite a while, I mean more than 5 years. Then I started to think about his impact on the community and the tournaments and I realized he just has a strong presence on different aspect of the judge life which give me this impression of knowing him for ages.

Florian is a judge interested by many things that are part of the judge life.

He is the kind of person that we call rules guru. I lived at Florian place couple of weeks this last 2 years and it happened at least 2 times he came to me on the morning asking my thoughts about the last changes in the Comprehensive rules. Each time my answer was ZZZZzzzz hein, what? When? Florian was kind of sad, he probably expected me to wake up at 2:00 AM as he did to read the very last changes. Knowing the rules is clearly not enough for him. He likes the concept of a document with a strong internal logic that could cover all the cases with consistent. Behind the funny aspect of him exchanging tweets with Matt Tabak or waking up in the middle of the night for the last update Florian is a really good pick if you want to engage a rules conversation or to double check quickly a ruling at tournaments.

The rules are clearly not the only part of the judge thing that likes. Florian likes to solve problems. Everything that is not ideal on a GP floor is a challenge to beat.

The EoR is not smooth enough? Let’s think about a concept of balloons to help judges to be more efficient.

An idea, about changing the structure of some tournaments? Let’s work on the concept of league.

Florian’s brain never stop and sometime, we have to postpone the conversation because we are too tired, but trust me he never forgets an interesting conversation and we always talk again couple of weeks later.

Florian is also a person bringing a lot in the reflection about the inclusivity. His thoughts are not limited to the judge program and Magic in general and it’s very interesting to discuss with him about it. Florian read a lot and discuss also a lot about this topic, which make him aware of different challenges that exist when you promote inclusivity. We don’t always agree on everything but I can said that at my personal level he is probably the most impactful person I met on this topic.

I wish Florian will continue to judge for years and will bring his critical point of view, on all the aspect of the judge program for several extra years.”

15 years!

15 years!

Next, we are featuring the RC of Russia and Russian-speaking countries: Eugene Bazhenov! A few judges in his region talk about him:

Honesty, confidence, supportiveness, calm politeness, professionalism, foresight. These traits come to mind first when we think of our RC and friend. Eugene is an endless fountain of wisdom and support open to any judge in our community. He is truly the person who’d gladly share your happiness of success as well as sorrow of a failure. He cares deeply about each and everyone of his judges and empowers them today to make the Magic community in our region prosper tomorrow.

“I remember soon after I reached L2, Eugene was asking me about my future plans. This was late 2012. At that moment I couldn’t imagine how big part of my life the judging would become. Once I was determined with my next goal, I realized the supporting shoulder of Eugene. There were ups and downs, long periods of reevaluation and relief. The road was long and tough and I’d like to thank Eugene for being there for me, comforting, giving advice and making reality checks whenever it was needed.” – Lev

“Eugene was there for me when I just became a judge, helping with my first steps, and he always was and is a great resource for becoming a better judge and for believing in myself. He helps me turn all of my mistakes into learning opportunities, and always makes me feel better. His support keeps me confident as I grow as a judge and step further through the Judge program.” – Maria

Congratulations on your judge anniversary! Long live and prosper!



This month we have another Level 3 anniversary to celebrate. At Grand Prix Turin in 2012, Stefan Ladstätter certified as a L3 judge. We asked Michael Wiese, former RC of the German-speaking countries, to say a few words about Stefan.

“I first met Stefan at GP Prague 2009 and I believe he must be L1 at that time or a very, very new L2. My guess is that the former is true. Some months ago I wrote about Farid Taoubi, where I mentioned that Farid leads the translations of various Magic-related documents into German. Actually Farid took over from Stefan who organized and lead the translation from scratch. Before Stefan it was more or less a mess with no real organization, for example it wasn’t connected to a project. He made that possible through his organization. However, I have to say, there was a time where Stefan was a bit confused (or worse) where he forgot to book a flight to the first big German judge meeting, which he only recognized 2 days beforehand and it was too late to book a new one (sorry Stefan, I have to mention this 🙂 ).

In the recent years, you will probably get to know Stefan as the judge who leads the Friday judge staff of a European GP, a role where he just fits into. He knows how to deal with the difficulties of a GP Friday and I haven’t heard any complaints.

Last but not least, you probably know that Stefan is now a RC for about half a year and I can tell you, he is doing a great job so far. I am happy that he took over from myself and never really looked back and just did this as new “RC Thing” as he did so already for years. Amusingly, his first words as RC were that when I told the in-region L3s that I step down as RC, he had no clue who should be the next RC, yet he was the one who became the new RC.

I am lucky that I get to know Stefan as a very nice person. I am always looking forward to seeing him again, even when those occasion became rarer. It’s always fun when he is around. Thanks Stefan for everything you have already done and will do as a Judge, a L3, and RC.”

Congratulations to Stefan on 5 years as a Level 3 judge!

Happy anniversary to all of you!  We look forward to many more years of judging from you all.

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March 2017 Anniversaries

Here are the March2017 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Enrico Masi from Forli, Italy
Hajime Fujii from Takatsuki-shi, Japan
Toshiaki Ogasawara from Sapporo-shi, Japan
Omar Diez from Barcelona, Spain
Martha Lufkin from Rockville, United States
Yusuke Miwa from Muroran-shi, Japan

10 years

Nicholas Krall from Coraopolis, United States
Daniel Ojcius from San Martin de Los Andes, Argentina
Farid Taoubi from Leipzig, Germany
Gianluca Bonacchi from Dublin 8, Ireland

5 years

Matthew Braddock from Laurel, United States
Keramatollah Fallah from Annerley, Australia
Shane Fowler from Ballarat, Australia
Arturo Garcia from Avila, Spain
Aaron Hendrickson from Hutchinson, United States
Johann Hullmann from Oldenburg, Germany
Anton Myrholm from Gothenburg, Sweden
Elizabeth Richardson from Baltimore, United States
Antoni Sieminski from Warsaw, Poland
Zie Aun Tan from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Matteo Urbani from Bergamo, Italy
Noe Alvarez Rangel from Soledad de Graciano Sanchez, Mexico
Jay Chadbourne from Waterville, United States
Zac Elsik from Frisco, United States
Matthew Johnson from Cambridge, England
Kristofer Stenskog from Sundsvall, Sweden
David Truitt from Wagener, United States
Dominic Casali from Columbia, United States
Julien Laronde from Toulouse, France
Trung Nguyen from Alexandria, United States
Alan Peng from Auckland, New Zealand
Andrew Quinn from Bromsgrove, England
Bruno Spycher from Bern, Switzerland
David Alston from Auckland, New Zealand
Derek Barbee from Seattle, United States
Juan Pablo Cea Castro from Con-Con, Chile
Hernan Gonzalo Diaz Ailan from Santiago del Estero, Argentina
Joaquin Ossandon from Vina del Mar, Chile
Ulf Simonsen from Aalborg, Denmark
Justin Howard from Oklahoma City, United States
Josh Conway from Chesapeake, United States
Reinout Stevens from Sterrebeek, Belgium
Kyle Tong from Sacramento, United States
Joseph Halford from Walnut Hill, United States
Nathan Jochum from Lincoln, United States
Joseph Kyle from Sarasota, United States
David Malafarina from Allentown, United States
Matic Penko from Ljubljana, Slovenia
Giovanni Severa from San Cesareo, Italy
Nate Thrasher from Kirkland, United States

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!



This month we have 5 featured judges: Martha Lufkin, Farid Taoubi, Matthew Johnson, Wearn Chong, and Kim Warren. Also, we accidentally missed an L3 anniversary last month: Kaja Pękala! To start us off, Nicholas Sabin says a few things about Martha’s 15 year anniversary:

This month, Martha “Skipper” Lufkin celebrates her fifteenth anniversary as a judge. In that time, she has established herself as one of the finest judges in the Mid-Atlantic. Martha always comes to events eager, prepared, and ready to work, and she does a fantastic job of overcoming any challenge put in front of her. Whenever I staff a Magic tournament, seeing Martha’s name in the applicant pool makes my decisions just a little bit easier.

I first met Martha at Grand Prix Boston in 2005. We were both Level 1s, then. She left an impression on me at that event as being solid, reliable, and friendly. Since then, I’ve come to know Martha and consider her a friend, I’ve gotten to judge with her many times over the years, and I value her thoughtful nature and the joy she brings to events. We even bonded over our common love of the Boston Red Sox.

When I think about judges who really set the standard for quiet excellence, Martha is one of the first judges to come to mind. The Mid-Atlantic is lucky to have her as an Area Captain, and even luckier to have her as a member of our community. Her thorough organization (including her voluminous notes) and unfailingly positive attitude bring incredible value to any event she attends.

Congratulations on fifteen years of service, Martha, and thank you for all that you do. It’s an honor to call you a colleague, and a privilege to call you a friend.



Next up, Farid is celebrating 10 years as a judge. Michael Wiese wanted to say this about him:

I first met Farid at German Nationals 2006, according to Judge Apps. That would be already 11 years ago, so celebrating his anniversary is really needed or is there a bug in Apps? (Editor’s note: Its a bug in WotC’s database!) I don’t know, but what I know is that from that time on, I am and was always happy to meet him, unfortunately those meetings get rarer in the past for him being not as active on an international level and not living really close to me. It’s always a pleasure to have a talk with him, regardless if he tells a story from past or if you talk about the last rules change.

In his local area in and around Leipzig he is taking care about the tournaments, players and TO and manages to make the PTQ (back in the days) and nowadays the PPTQ happen.
He is one of those good judges, who are always there and who can’t be recognized enough. It’s not that he judges at least 10 years and didn’t get hear any complaint about him or from him, its additional that he leads the German translation team for at least 3 years nowadays and he is even longer part of it. So if you have read the translated MTR, IPG or CR in German at some point in the past, you can be sure he had his hands on that translation.

If you like to know how he afford all the time to do this, beside having to work and having a private life? Maybe it helped, that his girlfriend become a judge herself, so she understands what it means to him to be a judge for the last 10 years. Thanks for everything and happy 10th anniversary Farid.

Champion Investigator

Champion Investigator

The last normal anniversary we have this month is Matthew’s. His RC, David, wrote this for him:

Matt is a judge with a huge passion for many things. He’s a keen competitive player, especially in Eternal formats, and understands the competitive mindset well. This gives him a great perspective on how to get inside players’ heads, and figure out where policy is open to abuse. His experience as a bridge tournament director – their equivalent of judges – has helped him to see Magic from a different angle, and bring over some of the best of the knowledge of that group to Magic. He’s also had a key influence on policy through his methodical, reasoned approach to problems, and has shown time and again his ability to get to the heart of a problem and turn it inside out to look for an improvement – we have his thinking to thank for a large part of how Hidden Card Error came to be.

Matt is also passionate about bringing experiences to people, and for years has lead the charge in producing an incredible depth and variety of role-play scenarios for UKISA judge conferences. Avoiding corner cases and weaving interesting details in throughout, Matt’s constant hard work in preparing these simulations sessions are a regular fixture, and something I couldn’t imagine a regional conference without. He’s also a regular fixture in the online judging community, especially IRC and Discord, and works hard to share his knowledge and insight there.

Ultimately, Matt is a great asset to the program whenever careful thought, planning, analysis, and originality are needed – and I’m very glad we have had him for five years and am looking forward to seeing what he can do with five more.

One of the longest standing RCs!

One of the longest standing RCs!

This month we celebrate a pair of Level 3 anniversaries. In March of 2002 at Pro Tour Osaka, Wearn Chong certified for Level 3. We asked a couple of judges to share the impact of Wearn’s 15 years at L3. First, Shing Nien Fong had this to say:

“I have known Wearn for 13-14 years and in those years, he has always been the Regional Coordinator of South East Asia. Other than that, he was also the sole level 3 judge in the region and one of the handful of level 3 in this side of the world for a good part of those years until some of us decided to step-up. And because of the low-count of L3s, Wearn has been looked upon by judges in other regions like China and Japan.

Through the years of knowing Wearn, he has always been the leader who led by example, and by concise instructions when needed. He has corrected most if not all of SEA judges to identify any infraction before identifying any penalty. He always guides us back to the philosophy of the IPG. His experience in event (tournaments and conferences) operation is vast; he is familiar with the ways of many different TOs as well as the many differences of countries and regions, and he always pick-and-match the best of them. It is always a pleasure working with him because I always pick-up new tricks from him.

The first impression I had of him, because of his email address, was “oh, he’s calling himself ‘new-type cat’…” This is before I know about his love of cats and dogs, and way before knowing how many of them he kept. Going to his shop for the first time almost had me thinking I went into a pet shop.

In and out of tournaments, he has always demonstrated how one should act and behave. After knowing him for so long, I have come to realize he is also a normal person when not judging; he enjoys the good company of friend, likes a good meal, has his own following of games, and hates people who spoil TV shows on Facebook.

To Wearn who just had his 15 years of judging: Congratulations on making so far. Thank you for your guidance and being a friend.”

Next we hear from Joel Bantiles:

“From a geographical region that is divided not only by water but also with language, culture and practices, Wearn Chong has always been the glue that binds the whole South East Asian judge community together. Most judges in our region might not have seen another one from a different country or worked in a competitive event with someone who speaks something totally different from their language but I’m sure in one way or another they know Wearn Chong.

Our judge community is small compared to that of the US or Europe but that does not mean Wearn’s job as Regional Coordinator is easy. I have seen our community grow to what it is today thanks to his efforts. He not only guided me in learning and experiencing what the judge program has to offer but was also a constant presence to each and every step that I took to get from where I am today. He teaches by example and would always be there if you need someone to talk to about the program. He is generous and kind both in and out of events and I’m pretty sure if ever you get a chance to work with him that you would learn a lot. I still do.

One thing I am always reminded of is he would always want to know if there is a new judge in our community even though he might never meet that new judge in person. Almost all judges in our region are indebted to Wearn in one way or another and you will never see him complain or take credit for any success or accomplishments that those judges have gotten.

Now in your 15th year, I would like to first say thank you to all that you have done for me. I would also like to tell you that our region is undoubtedly much better because of what you have done.

Congratulations in achieving this milestone and continue to be as awesome as always.”

Featured in Rugby adverts

Featured in Rugby adverts

Finally, we celebrate the 5-year anniversary of Kim Warren certifying for Level 3. Jack Doyle shared his thought about Kim:

“Since passing her Level 3 panel at GP Lille 2012, Kim has moved from strength to strength in the judge program. She was promoted to Regional Coordinator within months of her panel, and despite being located in Paris for study, Kim was able to lead the United Kingdom, Ireland, and South Africa region to new heights. She played an instrumental role in seeing the promotion of five Level 3s in the region in 2014 very shortly after David Lyford Smith (DL-S) was promoted to RC.

Kim’s infectious personality makes events with her a true joy, and her unique style of leadership makes her an easy person to rally behind. After being promoted to Level 4 in early 2014, and armed with a stuffed fox, she was in burgundy for a number of Grand Prix events in Europe and beyond. She was the primary HJ for the Modern Masters GP in Utrecht in 2015, planning and executing the largest European Grand Prix to date.

Leaving events to the side for a moment, Kim has also been at the forefront of sculpting Regular REL policy, guiding the Judging at Regular REL (JAR) document into its current form. Kim was also the driving force of the Exemplar Program in the early days, and the project in its current state is in no small part thanks to the foundations laid by Kim.

Kim truly is one of the most rounded, complete, and genuine judges that I’ve had the pleasure of working with. As a friend, a mentor, a colleague, and a role model, she has been a positive force for those who interact with her. And I haven’t even mentioned the number of memes that Kim has contributed, willingly or not, to the internet

Thank you, Kim, for everything <3”

Best wishes to both of you for your many years of hard work!

Note: Last month, we should have included congratulations for Kaja Pękala. She certified for Level 3 back in February of 2012 at Grand Prix Madrid. For more about Kaja and her contributions to the community, check out this wonderful write up from last September. Best wishes to Kaja on her 5 years of service at Level 3!

Happy anniversary to all of you!  We look forward to many more years of judging from you all.

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February 2017 Anniversaries

Here are the February 2017 judge anniversaries!

15 years

John Alderfer from Hermitage, United States

10 years

Ben Coleman from Northumberland, England
JD Nir from Baltimore, United States
Antonin Marchal from Nantes, France
Antoine Bouaziz from Paris, France
Fabien Durpoix from Belfort, France

5 years

Aslan Koube from Austin, United States
Daniel Magalhaes from Itajuba, Brazil
Neil Meyer from Calgary, Canada
David Morgan from Blackmans Bay, Australia
Martin Seleme from San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca, Argentina
Johnpaul Adams from Blacklick, United States
Cory Giles from manteca, United States
Jonathan Holland from Cookeville, United States
Eric Lee from Hayward, United States
Gerhard Moellemann from Aachen, Germany
Sam Nathanson from Jersey City, United States
Martin Robic from Bled, Slovenia
David Rubenstein from Newton, United States
Christopher Ruddat from Koeln, Germany
Brendan Weiskotten from Minneapolis, United States
Benjamin Wheeler from Victoria, Canada

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

On the stage of greatness

On the stage of greatness

This month we have 4 featured judges: Johnpaul Adams, John Alderfer, Alejandro Raggio and Gavin Duggan. To kick us off, Jarrod Williams has this to say about Johnpaul’s 5 year anniversary:

Johnpaul (JP) Adams is one of the judges that I have had the privilege of working with the most. We started working together when we both were L1s. He is someone that I am always glad to see on my staff or on my team. His energy and enthusiasm are infectious and relentless and only matched by his professionalism and ability on the floor of an event. He is also one of the best on event judge mentors I know. I know that if I pair an unexperienced judge with JP that judge will leave the day with know-how and understanding of what it takes to run a smooth event. His patience and background as an educator have led to him working with judges who were having issues with how to run tournaments and training them into solid event judges. He is also a welcoming community presence putting in tireless work in his local area to help make the Magic community in Columbus more welcoming and inclusive. Congratulations on your 5 year anniversary!

Best mustache in Magic

Best mustache in Magic

Next, Rob McKenzie reflects on Alderfer’s 15 years as a Magic Judge:

John Alderfer is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable judges in the program, and he has done nearly everything. His JudgeApps profile claims a “triple digit number of Grand Prix”, and this is underselling it. A spelunk through JudgeApps and Judge Center shows 152 Grand Prix, 15 Pro Tours, and 9 Worlds. That’s an unbelievable number of high-level events, but you better believe it. You are more likely than not to see John at any give Grand Prix in the US.

You are likely to see John, but you may not notice his impact unless you are really paying attention. I’ve worked with John at…a lot of events. Enough that I can’t easily figure it out. I know it is not every GP I’ve ever been at, but it is most of them. John is always providing support for other judges, assistance when needed, a poke of feedback here or there, and help with the setup and teardown of the WotC kit.

John was part of the pilot class of L3s allowed to be appeals judge at Grand Prix in November 2014 (back when the program had L4s and L5s as the only people normally allowed to wear burgundy at Grand Prix). In the present, John was just approved as a Grand Prix Head Judge, and is immediately head judge at Grand Prix Pittsburgh.

He has been team lead, stage lead, event manager, judge manager, and everything else related to events.

That’s John as an event monster. That’s how most people think of him. It took me a while to wrap my head around how involved in his local community John is. John as Regional Coordinator of the Northeast really calls this out – John has written 39 Exemplar nominations (largely of people from his region), given 20 L2 exams, 11 L1 exams, and has written 101 reviews.

John cares a lot about his local community, improving judges, and helping people be the best they can be, and you can see it in the care he takes with his reviews, his region, and his friends.

For another perspective on Alderfer, Steven Briggs has the following to say about John as a mentor and friend:

I first met John nearly seven years ago as the Head Judge of my first Competitive event experience – a Pro Tour Qualifier. I did not have any idea what to expect judging at a PTQ, apart from there being more people than at my local FNM, and that I needed to make sure I had booked up on infractions and penalties.

The first thing that struck me when I started working with John is that he was confident, yet very humble. He would be involved in rulings and situations when he needed to be, but I really liked that he took a somewhat light touch to mentoring, basically acting as a resource everyone knew they could count on, making sure all of the judges were engaged in activity, but then gave the judges on the floor the opportunity to have their own experiences, to make mistakes, and to learn from them. I really enjoyed that first experience working with John, and knew that not only did I want to do more events, but that I wanted to lead in event judging the way John did. For the next year, I was very fortunate to be invited to a number of events with John as the Head Judge. Our friendship started to grow, and each event I felt like I had a takeaway lesson or idea to come home with and improve for the next time. What surprised me was that even as I made mistakes and had my stumbles, John was always level-headed about it, and that made me feel safe as a judge to grow. I can happily confirm that that remains true to this date.

The biggest reason I keep judging and keep working as a Regional Coordinator are the relationships I have developed over the years. Our friendship has stayed strong through all of it, and to this date I can count on John whenever I need help. Sometimes, he even volunteers that help when I do not recognize or appreciate my need for his help. But it’s not just me – I have seen him help stage staff, registration staff, other judges, other event members, players – they have all been touched in a very positive way through interacting with John over the years. You do not earn universal respect from all of these groups just by existing. John has actively built those relationships over many years, and that investment in others, regardless who that might be, is one of John’s strongest attributes.

What he lacks in hair, he makes up for in charm

What he lacks in hair, he makes up for in charm

This month we have a pair of 10-year anniversaries for Level 3 certification: Alejandro Raggio and Gavin Duggan. Both Alejandro and Gavin certified for Level 3 at Pro Tour Geneva in 2007. Latin American Regional Coordinator, Adrián Estoup shared a few thoughts about Alejandro:

“I first met Alejandro when I started playing Magic a long, long time ago. He has been one of the most dedicated persons I have ever met regarding to Magic, probably the most dedicated one: He was Tournament Organizer many years ago, and then he started pursuing goals as a judge. At this time, Alejandro is probably our major reference regarding tournament operations, logistics, rules, and policy in Latin America, being a well-known star not only inside, but also outside of our region. He is also an avid miles-hunter, which makes him participate in thousands of events around the world, backed up by his experience and knowledge of the game.
I find it hard to believe that we are celebrating just 10 years of him as a L3. To me, he has always been a L3, even at store-level events where I met him for the first time. I feel proud of being able to share the path of his growth during these years, in which we have shared so many experiences both inside and outside tournaments. He is one of the most complete judges I know, not only because of his knowledge and experience, but also because of his ability to adapt to different environments, such as GPs around the world, even to the point of learning languages to improve his qualities as a judge. If the Judge Program needs trustworthy people for running any project, especially related to technical knowledge, Alejandro is definitely your guy.”

This guy doesn’t live in Canada at all!

This guy doesn’t live in Canada at all!

Current Canadian Regional Coordinator, Jon Goud, shared his thoughts about his predecessor, Gavin Duggan:
“’Yeah … but did you have fun?’

It’s no great secret that Gavin is an incredibly smart guy – and much has been written about Gavin’s vast intellect. You can check out his 5-year anniversary here and Eric Levine calls him a ‘human sorting algorithm’ here.

At Worlds 2016 this past November in Rotterdam Gavin was the deck checks lead for day one, and all of the constructed lists were submitted via email. Unfortunately they could be submitted mostly in any format and hadn’t been verified or counted. Gavin’s solution? Write a script in Perl that would parse all of the decklists for him. 10 minutes. Done.

Gavin’s technical prowess has benefited not only tournaments but the program as a whole. He was one of the leading developers that built the online framework for exemplar, and based on the recognition from fellow judges alone it appears that exemplar would not work the way it does today without his efforts. Seriously – go check out Gavin’s exemplar nods, there are some heavy hitters tossing him some serious gratitude there.

“Yeah … but did you have fun?”

Gavin was the Canadian regional coordinator for almost 5 years and led the region through a time of massive growth and development. Under his watch we saw the transition away from judge foils at GPs and the modern era of judging, PPTQs, and the “mega GP”.

Every current L3 in Canada right now got there on his watch.

Through all of these changes Gavin has provided wisdom and direction using his charisma, intellect, and impish grin … much of it at a distance and balancing the demands of a young family and a career “with a research company in the San Francisco Bay area” (as he would put it).

At 8pm on Friday he’ll invite you out for dinner and drinks, 3pm on Saturday help you out with a ruling and give you some incredible perspective on an area of policy, and by 10pm Sunday you can’t wait to stay up with him playing commander until you have to head to the airport. Next month he emails you to ask for your help tracking down some judges in the middle of nowhere for a new store looking to run events, and you don’t hesitate at all to help. He inspired loyalty and admiration.

Gavin is a great program judge, a great tournament judge, a great community judge, and finally a great mentor. He has the supernatural ability to say precisely the right thing in precisely the right way to connect and motivate judges. I think he loves being lost in an idea, and as a result has a sixth sense for potential in people that they might not even see in themselves. He is unconsciously looking into the future, and teaches and motivates with an unbelievable economy of motion. The crazy thing is it seems completely instinctual – most of the time if you ask Gavin about some crazy thing he’s done he’ll respond “Yeah, that sounds like something I would do” as if it all flows instinctively and without effort.

I’ll tell a couple personal stories:

At GP Toronto 2013, Gavin looked at me after the tournament and simply said “I want you to have your checklist done by this time next year”. It was such a simple moment, but I felt like he saw something in me that I wasn’t seeing at the time. I felt encouraged, and it was the definition of a SMART goal. It worked. I learned that great mentors not only challenge, but inspire and empower.

At GP Vancouver 2015 I was working very hard on my progress toward L3. The previous fall I had organized a judge conference (with the help of the inimitable Chris McGuire and Robert Hinrichsen) and gotten my day 2 team lead check. I was ODE lead Friday and Sunday and had worked very hard to prepare. I was on Steven Zwanger’s floor team Saturday and worked very hard to prepare. I wrote reviews, took notes, answered calls, and pushed in chairs. Steven had an investigations scenario for us to discuss to help with my L3 progress. Gavin had a small study group that would be discussing some difficult rules scenarios to help us prepare for the L3 Preliminary exam. I had studied very hard. I was in super-serious mode 😉

Later Sunday evening at the judge dinner, Gavin and I are having some beverages and he asks me if I had a fun weekend. I immediately proceeded to provide my after-action report, detailing judges of note, and my preparation, and interesting calls, and my …

He put his hand up and interrupted me.

“Yeah … but did you have fun?”

I was stunned. I didn’t have an answer.

Now, every Sunday after a tournament I unconsciously return to that judge dinner. Judging can be hard work, but what I learned is that more than anything it’s the people and the fun that keeps the burnout away – that keeps each of us packing our judge shirts for the next tournament.

Here’s to 10 years of Gavin Duggan as a leader both on and off the tournament floor. The program, the events, and the people are all better for it. I hope it was, and will continue to be, fun :)”

Congrats to both of you for a decade of service to the Judge Program as Level 3s!

Happy anniversary to all of you!  We look forward to many more years of judging from you all.