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 StarCityGames.com 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!

Hej!

Hej!

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 (www.2-klaveren.nl), 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!”

Grazie!

Grazie!

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: https://apps.magicjudges.org/recognitions/detail/25578) 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:

Angela:

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:

Sean:

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.

Joe:

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!

Florian

Florian

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!

Stefan

Stefan

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!

Skipper!

Skipper!

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.

Übersetzer

Übersetzer

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.

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January 2017 Anniversaries

Here are the January 2017 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Raymond Fong from Warwick, England
Juri Leo from Lecce, Italy
Thomas Ralph from London, England

10 years

Brian Paskoff from Holtsville, United States
Jurgen Baert from Oostende, Belgium
Christopher Conant from Decherd, United States

5 years

Ma Shendi from Tianjin, China
Itaru Tanikawa from Okayama-ken, Japan
Alan Cleaver from Texas, United States
Lukas Gonschior from Bayern, Germany
Moritz Mathes from Bayern, Germany
Walter Adachi from California, United States
Kyle Driskill from Texas, United States
Yuto Ikenuma from Shizuoka-ken, Japan
Martin Seleme from Catamarca, Argentina
Michael Ellingson from Michigan, United States
Manuel Hernandez from California, United States
Amol Singh from , New Zealand
Sébastien Govignon from Puy-de-Dôme, France
Matthew Raivio from California, United States
Bob Givens from California, United States
Tony Munhollon from Colorado, United States
Khang Jong Kuan from Malaysia
Matt Sauers from Indiana, United States
Douglas Spak from Pennsylvania, United States
Ellis Gyongyos from Hong Kong
Jan Grottel from Poland
Mitja Bosnič from Slovenia
Eder Araujo de Carvalho from Brazil
Michael Puccio from Washington, United States
Joshua Feingold from Virginia, United States

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

The man with two first names

The man with two first names

Happy new year!! This month, we have 5 featured judges: Thomas Ralph, Matt Sauers, Mitja Bosnič, Jurgen Baert, and Toby Elliot! To start us off, David would like to say a few things about Thomas, who is celebrating 15 years in the program:

Thomas Ralph is a lesson in how an old dog (if he’ll excuse my analogy) can learn new tricks. An L2 for a decade or more, Thomas had settled in to his role as a rules expert and logistics-headed judge, roles which you will still see him do as he leads the UK & Ireland rules group to this day. But relatively late into his L2 career, Thomas really started to make a push for L3. He made it in grand style, as part of an annus mirabilis for UK judging in which we had five new L3s – and Thomas soon started to distinguish himself.

Since becoming L3, Thomas’s transformation has been amazing to see. He has invested in his community management and personal skills big time, and has turned from a full-on hard skills expert into a master of all trades that is as comfortable operating the UKISA conference back-end as he is as a community figure that is always there to help orient new L2s, or reach out to remote communities. He’s really grown into an L3 I am proud to call a huge asset to the UK community, and someone that I am proud to call a friend.

Congratulations on fifteen years Thomas – and here’s to many more.

Everyday good guy

Everyday good guy

Next, Jarrod would like to reflect on the past 5 years with Matt Sauers:

Matt Sauers is an L2 from Indianapolis Indiana and for Pastimes Grand Prix events he serves as The Voice providing the announcements at those events each day but behind those dulcet tones is an excellent community builder and a good person to know. He’s an area and regional leader that has worked hard to build a solid group of judges in Indianapolis as well as serveing as a L2 Tester in the Great Lakes region. Matt has worked with the judges and tournament organizers in Indianapolis to make it a great place for people to enjoy playing Magic. His passion for the hobby of gaming is only dwarfed by his passion for his fellow judge. If you don’t know Matt you should get to know him. You’ll be glad you did and be a better person for having done so.

Community Guru

Community Guru

Giorgos, Mitja’s RC, has these things to say about celebrating a 5 year anniversary:

Time really flies and what it seems like a recent addition in our community Mitja Bosnič is celebrating his 5th anniversary this month! Being the first one to answer any rules questions that arose on our local forum Mitja soon transformed his smarts and enthusiasm to help run awesome events locally and abroad. After being invited to his first GP in Prague 2014, he didn’t wait to impress. He did such an awesome job, that he was among the five that were recognized during the judge dinner by the Head Judge. He is one of the very few worldwide judges that achieved such a recognition during their very first big event.

But events are not the only area that Mitja shines. He was one of the first members of the Players’ survey project and he did a thorough analysis that was very well received in the regional coordinators list. He was an active contributor during the creation of our regional blog, where he gathered all the county coordinators profiles. On a country level, Mitja is trying to reignite unofficial judge gathering, called judge dinners. Recently Mitja became country coordinator for Slovenia taking much needed care of event staffing and certification and I’m sure he will continue to impress in this role as well.

On a more personal note Mitja surprised me with his maturity, when he decided to put on hold his aspirations about L3, putting emphasis on his real-life job. If I need to summarize Mitja in one word, I would say dedication. Whatever he chooses to handle he does it in proficient, speedy way.

Lego enthusiast

Lego enthusiast

Celebrating 10 years in the program, Jurgen has had some nice things said about him by fellow GP HJ Carlos:

Time flies! When I was told Jurgen was turning 10 years old as a Magic Judge, I couldn’t believe it. I still remember when he was a relatively new judge who skyrocketed through the levels, bumping his head against a few walls (he still is a bit stubborn, that hasn’t changed a lot), until he himself was surprised when he was asked to be L4. In that position, Jurgen ran a large amount of GPs wearing the burgundy, and I believe few others have had the impact that he and Kevin Desprez had for judges at GPs. For example, the shift system we use nowadays, with 7 rounds of work and 2 off? That was Jurgen and Kevin who boldly tried it for the first time and made it work. I for one I’m very happy to see him donning the burgundy shirt again.

King of Policy

King of Policy

This month, we have a special anniversary. January marks the 15-year anniversary of Toby Elliott certifying for Level 3. To reflect on Toby’s impact on the judge community, we asked fellow Level 3, Eric Levine to share his thoughts. Here’s what he had to say:

“There’s no question that Toby has had an enormous impact on the program. Between his incredible work on rules and policy, his succinct explanations (such as “Deviate Like Hell”) and his work as an L4, L5, and now Program Coordinator, I could say a lot about what Toby has brought to the Magic Judge community. Others have said most of that better than I could, though, so I’d rather spend some time talking about Toby from a different perspective.

Toby doesn’t just care about policy, or rules, or judging – Toby genuinely cares about the people that are involved in Magic, in all aspects, and I think that’s one of the many ingredients of his success in the Judge program. I learned this when I moved to California and emailed Toby, who I selected since he was the highest-level judge in the area, about re-testing for L1. He gave me some helpful info and then invited me to a draft. This simple gesture had a huge impact on me and my attitude toward community-building, and I know I wasn’t the only one.

From a more event-oriented perspective, Toby’s ability to appear relaxed and ready for questions, no matter what’s going on, has a huge impact If Toby is on your event, your event just goes better. Players see Toby and know they’re getting a high level of service. Judges see Toby and find things to emulate, even if he’s just watching some Magic – and when Toby judges, he watches a LOT of Magic.

Next time you see Toby, if you don’t know him, make sure to say hi and strike up a conversation. Just make sure you have some time set aside if he happens to say “Actually, I have a great story about that!” Don’t worry – it really will be a great story.”

Congratulations to Toby for his decade and a half of service as a high-level judge.

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

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December 2016 Anniversaries

Here are the December 2016 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Svante Rikberg from Borga, Finland

10 years

Fabiann Peck from Melbourne, Australia
Anniek van der Peijl from Nijmegen, Netherlands
Ryan Patterson from St. Louis, United States

5 years

Terh Kuen Yii from Ayer Keroh, Malaysia
Luca Borra from Vobarno, Italy
Thomas Carrillo from Fresno, United States
Frank Chafe from Modesto, United States
Mike Combs from Eagan, United States
Brian Dombroski from Fresno, United States
Richard Gordon from Madera, United States
J.T. Henricks from Acworth, United States
James Higginbottom from Bound Brook, United States
Ryan Koenig from San Marcos, United States
Justin Lim from Subang Jaya, Malaysia
Tyler Morrison from Clovis, United States
Federico Piermaria from Bastia Umbra, Italy
Akira Seno from Niigata City, ChuOh-Ward, Japan
Jason Aron from Plainfield, United States
Oscar Carrera Notario from Villahermosa, Mexico
Dave Crowley from Cary, United States
Jelle Emmerechts from Willebroek, Belgium
Stephen Hagan from Lebanon, United States
Wesley Holland from Raleigh, United States
Daniel Mähr from Graz, Austria
Cassidy Melczak from Denver, United States
Shawn Montgomery from Poplar Bluff, United States
Donnie Noland from Madison, United States
Alex Rivard from Moorhead, United States
Ed Womble from Woodbridge, United States

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

This month, we are featuring Akira Seno, Frank Chafe, and Fabiann Peck. This is also the last post of 2016. Thank you to everyone and see you next year!! 😀

Our portal to Japan

Our portal to Japan

First, Mitsunori has a few words about Akira, who is a Japanese GP staple judge:

“Akira has a great presence. I feel that this is a focal point of him. There are always a lot of smiles (and ice creams) around him and we are endowed with the benefit of his presence. He is definitely a pillar of support to the Japanese region.

He attends every GP. We see his name on almost every translated document. Many local stores have reached to advanced level with players who are rallied by him. I couldn’t believe these achievements happened in just five years and I have been browsing his record for at least half an hour. Maybe it’s that is a mistake and he was certified 7 or 8 years ago? No. He was definitely certified Dec 2011.

Five years ago, Niigata had the finest rice but there was no judge. One of our community’s mentors found a good guy, Akira, at in his home town. Nowadays, Niigata has many advanced stores and it is also a venue for area conferences. I see his face in every Grand Prix or WPN event. He also likes to play Magic. Everyone got really excited for the tweet that said Akira’s earned an invite to an RPTQ. And more than anything, Akira’s translations are fast. He answered “hours?” when I asked for some translations and expected him to finish in a week. Imagine Toby updates the blog; later that day everyone knows that there has been some important rule change. Akira is there, because he knows it is a very uncomfortable thing to have PPTQ on the weekend without knowing changes. Everyone is grateful to him.

Local community, playing magic, high level event and Judge community. Akira does them all. Happy anniversary!”

Stage guru

Stage guru

Next, Zimet shares his thoughts on the ever-present Frank:

“Congratulations to Frank Chafe on five years with the judge program! Frank has a history with Magic that goes way back – he even worked at Wizards at one point – and also has a history with magic (the kind with the rabbits and hats) that goes way back too. His skill with manual dexterity magic and shuffling has led to an interest and specialization in deck checks and shuffle exploits. Frank has given a number of seminars on both subjects, including one at San Diego Comic-Con sometimes referred to as the “Magic Magic Show.” You can find Frank at GPs and at his new home in the Pacific Northwest. If you are lucky enough to catch him at events after hours, you might ask if you can see his over-sized Magic card deck, or if he could juggle a few axes for you. Thanks to Frank for five years with the Magic Judge program, and here’s to many more yet to come!”

Fabian…n?

Fabian…n?

Lastly, Nathan has some loving words for his fellow southern L3, Fabiann:

“In Fabiann’s decade with the judge program, there are very few things he hasn’t achieved. From head judging GPs, to making new judges, to functioning as WER tech support for judges across the country, Fabiann is a fixture in the Australian and New Zealand community. He has shaped the fabric of judging in this part of the world, and he continues to be a beacon of excellence that we all aspire to emulate (especially for those few hours that he out-leveled me).

His smiling face and flailing arms never fail to lift the spirits of those of us fortunate enough to work with him, and I hope that we continue to experience his otter enthusiasm for many years to come. Thank you for your dedication, your hard work and your excellence.”

The Hibbsest of Hibbses

The Hibbsest of Hibbses

We also have one L3 anniversary this month! This month we are celebrating the 5-year anniversary of Level 3 certification for David Hibbs. David certified at Worlds in San Francisco at the end of November 2011 (so technically we are a little late in the celebration). We asked out-going Regional Coordinator of the US-South region, Kevin Binswanger, to say a few words about David, the incoming RC:

“David Hibbs is the measuring stick for judges in Texas. When I advanced to Level 3 first, it felt unfair and was a little troubling to me for a while afterwards. I consoled myself with two things: first, that he was making that journey while raising an incredible family, while I was on my own. And second, even though I was L3 and Regional Coordinator and he wasn’t either of those things (spoiler alert: yet!), he was still the standard for comparison. Part of this was his history; he’s been a fixture in the area for a long time, and he makes good use of his experience. But most of that is just him being Hibbs. When he finally set his mind to it, Hibbs made L3 quickly thereafter. As RC, I was happy to take credit for it, but really it was all him.

David’s presence is incredible. He’s not the loudest voice, and he doesn’t do a lot of work to make sure he gets to chime in. Rather others seek out his perspective, his opinion, and his guidance. I will admit to being jealous of his quiet, seemingly effortless presence. Wherever his cowboy hat and ponytail leads, others follow. He’s been directly or indirectly responsible for the growth and advancement of many of the most senior judges in the region. The list of judges who credit him for their success is probably half the judges in the region.

Fellow L3 Evan Cherry had this to say about David: ‘David is a father-figure in the program, both as an experienced senior judge and as a caring teacher. He is known throughout the region in and out of events in various educational projects. In particular, his dedication to the development of other judges and personal mentorship guided me from L1 to L3. He exemplifies everything as a Texas L3: personable, knowledgeable, and a black cowboy hat.’

In light of all of this, it’s fitting that he’s the one I pass the torch to as USA – South Regional Coordinator.”

Congratulations to David on his 5 years at Level 3 and wish him well in his new role as a Regional Coordinator.

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

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November 2016 Anniversaries

Here are the November 2016 judge anniversaries!

15 years

François Grobler from Durban, South Africa
Riccardo Tessitori from Latina, Italy
Ingrid Lind-Jahn from Belleville, United States
Lindsay Heming from Parramatta, Australia
Ryan Dare from Brookvale, Australia
Leroy Smith from Gladstone, Australia
Oren Guez from Vitrolles, France

10 years

Nicolas Bellon from Paris, France

5 years

Joe Cisneros from Long Beach, United States
Akira Dan from Taito-ku, Japan
John Gledhill from St. Petersburg, United States
Tarima Nikita from Nakhodka, Russian Federation
Michael Suchan from Saint Petersburg, United States
Takahiro Tanahashi from Toyama-shi, Japan
Nathaniel Thompson from Jacksonville, United States
Wei Tianzhu from Shenyang, China
Matthew Turnbull from Winnipeg, Canada
Nicolas Vargas from Mendoza, Argentina
Aaron Fortino from Tampa, United States
Ryan Green from Vestal, United States
Chris Higashi from Las Vegas, United States
Matthew Newnam from Wesley Chapel, United States
Christopher Ocampo from Watertown, United States
Michael Starr from Lizella, United States
Patrik Adler from Brno, Czech Republic
Josh Barnes from Jefferson City, United States
Nemesio Bolanos from Arica, Chile
Justin Bova from Mahanoy City, United States
Marina Fagundes from San Jose, United States
Jan Gybas from Domazelice, Czech Republic
Casey Hanford from Saint Peters, United States
Marek Jarnot from Opava, Czech Republic
Vratislav Kucera from Jihlava, Czech Republic
Stephen Morris from Wellington, New Zealand
Jun Nonaka from Nagoya-shi, Japan
Andreas Pisch from Wiesbaden, Germany
Shigeru Saito from Nagaoka-shi, Japan
Osamu Sasaki from Morioka-shi, Japan
Desmond Scholtens from Appingedam, Netherlands
Yohei Sumikawa from Kudamatsu-shi, Japan
Tsuyoshi Ueno from Sapporo-shi, Japan
Amin Younes from Providence, United States

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

This month, we have 4 featured anniversaries and 2 L3 anniversaries. Our regular anniversary features are Ingrid Lind-Jahn, François Grobler, Nikita Tarima, and Riccardo Tessitori!

Loved by all

Loved by all

We’ll start off by first talking about Ingrid, who is celebrating 15 years in the judge program. Her RC, Rob, has this to say:

In early 2005, I was playing in a PPTQ. I was playing a homebrew combo Elves deck. Partway through round 3, a judge sat down at my table, watched me go into the tank for far too long, and gave me a slow play warning. I tried to argue that I was about to combo off, and needed to do a lot of math, but she insisted it did not matter – it was unfair to my opponent for me to take so much time in the match. I was on tilt for the rest of the day. I went home, slept on it, and realized the next day she was totally right, and really understood what she was saying – I was just too thickheaded to listen at the time.

That judge was Ingrid Lind-Jahn, and she kept up the trend of being right, explaining herself clearly, and me taking a while to get her wisdom through my skull. We’ve worked a very large number of events together, and Ingrid and her husband Pete are some of the people I am most happy to be on an event with. We’ve driven to GenCon, stayed up late playing board games, worked together to mastermind ODEs at GPs, and she repeatedly took the time to explain, explain, explain. It’s made me a better judge and a better person, and I’m far from the only person Ingrid has done this for.

When I first met her, Ingrid had already been a judge for three years and change. She has been a judge for nearly five times that now, and has done a lot – Ingrid was an L4 for a period of time, has served on the Player Investigations Committee for longer than most people in the program have been judges, and has worked more Worlds, PTs, GPs, and other high-level events than I can really fathom.

Igrid, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being such a key part of the judge program, and such a good friend.

Greetings from Africa!

Greetings from Africa!

This month, we are lucky to be able to feature a judge from South Africa! François Grobler is our 3rd judge celebrating 15 years and local TO Grant Charlton has some nice things to say about François:

As an ex-distributor and ex-national organised play manager and current retailer, I have had the pleasure of working with, and getting to know, most of the past and present Magic Judges in South Africa. Many have become personal friends. I think it is very fitting that we honour one of these friends on his 15th anniversary of becoming a Magic Judge!

Francois Grobler epitomizes everything I could ever look for in a Magic Judge and Organised Play Ambassador. He is kind, thoughtful, sincere, helpful, encouraging and fair. His day job as a child psychologist (Currently running an Orphanage in KZN) spills over into his treatment of players, stores and the general public. His empathy and compassion help him connect with everyone he talks to. He makes you feel like you and your opinions matter to him – and they do!

He was involved in running groups and tournaments in Bloemfontein long before we managed to test him as a Judge and has given a lot to the game for a long time. Inspiring other long term Judges (Hi, Roelf Pringle) and taking on the responsibilities of area manager in both Bloemfontein and Durban. Not easy as he is also the father of two energetic sons – two of the nicest, best behaved teenagers I have encountered. He also faithfully traveled to many of our National Tournaments (and WMCQ’s PTQ’s and any other event he could get to, to help out!) and is a constant at ICON – our local gaming convention which is 600km away from home.

He has also nourished the local stores and new players, building strong communities in a number of areas. Unfortunately work and home commitments have eaten up a lot of his time lately, so much so that he hasn’t been able to maintain his L2. But, had he the time, he would have made an exceptional L3. Savvas Themistocleous and I tried setting him on that path!

A real ‘scholar and a gentleman’ whom I am happy to call my friend.

One of the most remote judges

One of the most remote judges

Our next regular anniversary is Nikita Tarima. Eugene wrote this about Nikita’s 5 years in the community:

Nikita is a great example of those brave colonists that discover New Frontiers and inhabit those. In our case – with magic judgesJ!

Nikita is the easternmost L2 in Russia. In fact, his nearest other L2 is in Japan, about 5 times closer than any L2 in Russia. Despite being that isolated from the rest of the Russian-speaking community, Nikita is an active contributor to our regional projects, an eager mentor and a person ultimately concentrated on customer service and building Magic community.

If I’m to wish something good to a store I like, one of the first things that will come to my mind is to wish them to have a judge like Nikita around.

Happy anniversary!

Our prolific leader

Our prolific leader

Finally, Cristiana has a few words about Riccardo’s 15 year anniversary:

When I met Riccardo, I was L1 and he was L2. His passion and involvement in the judge program were immediately evident to me. He was the center of his local community and he made it bigger and bigger day by day. Since then he has helped hundreds of worldwide judges to grow up and to improve, myself included.

He was the creator of the idea and content of the Italian judge website (italianmagicjudges.net) that still today all of the Italian judges and TOs refer to study, read articles, and get information. He travels around the world and shares his knowledge with the all of the judges he works with. His passion and involvement have never changed since he started and his contribution to the judge program, his expertise, and his wisdom are hugely appreciated by me, the Italians and everybody else.

Congratulations Riccardo!

This month we celebrate a pair of 10-year L3 anniversaries. At the World Championships in Paris, France back in 2006, both Carlos Ho and Kevin Desprez certified for Level 3.

A man of many countries

A man of many countries

First, Latin American Regional Coordinator, Adrián Estoup, had this to say about Carlos:

“My first contact with Carlos was shortly before GP Buenos Aires 2008. I didn’t have many references from him apart from being from Panama and that he was residing in Spain at that time. My first interaction with him was helping him get to some ruins in the north of the Argentina. After that first contact, I was surprised about how a person in the judge program, facing situations where most people would have given up, could have such a positive vision and achieved so many goals. After that, lots and lots of stories joined us not only in a more personal way, but also Carlos was one of the judges that worked the most for the development of what today is the Latin American judge community; and even at a global level, the program owes Carlos a lot for all his work.

His presence is key to each step towards development and growth within the region: his experience and insight are always one of the most valuables every single time. As an RC, I have the luck and privilege to have him in the region, not only as an amazing judge, but also as a good friend.
Congratulations!”

Also David de la Iglesia (another L3 judge who’s no longer residing Spain) shared his thoughts on Carlos:

“Many could speak about how Carlos is a great judge, about how he’s been instrumental in the development of many judges both in Europe and Latin America, about how he’s inspired others to travel all around the world to judging events and make new friends everywhere. His positive, calm attitude is an example to follow for many. You will often see him at events talking to people, socializing and sharing ideas and knowledge with others. It has always impressed me how he brings lots of value in many different ways to the events he attend.

But if there’s something you need to know about Carlos is how entertaining is storytelling about the really old lost lore. He’s been around for a long time, and he can share a story or two reminiscing all these good times Judge Program stories. That’s how they got me in the first place, with these stories that will make you laugh and will inspire you to get more involved. Carlos is such a cool guy to hang out with, who is so much fun to be around. Next time you see him ask him about his favorite judging story!”

Finally, Federico Donner and a few other Latin American judges have put together this video showcasing Carlos’s influence on the judge program.

Scarf trendsetter

Scarf trendsetter

Next, French RC, Guillaume Beuzelin offers thought from himself, Antoine Bouaziz and Daniel Kitachewsky about Kevin.

Guillaume:

“When I was asked to write something for Kevin’s anniversary, I quickly decided to contact Antoine and Daniel to have them write a couple of words for Kevin. I choose them because they know Kevin for a while and are friends. Now that I started to gather their text I realized: Antoine, Daniel and I had 3 very different profiles with the opposite strengths and weaknesses, but at the end Kevin worked with us 3 and helped us to grow up in the Magic judge community. I thought a minute about it and it became clear: Kevin has an impressive capacity to analyze people and systems. These analyses help him to draw _correct_ conclusions and to provide the proper custom feedback to each of us. For all the feedback provided by Kevin, I would like to thank him for all the time dedicated to the community and to the individuals in it.

At a personal scale, Kevin has always been here in my judge career. Beside the fact we are best buddies, he has always been able to separate what we call the professional and the personal aspect of judging. Kevin has this capacity to say “no” on a professional topic such as letting you pass a level, then go with you for a drink. This is possible for him because he has strong value regarding the quality of the work judges should deliver and he won’t let friendship interfere with his exigency.
I think these analysis skills combined with this exigence during all these years has made Kevin one of the best judges and today I’m happy to wish him a happy judge birthday!”

Antoine:

“Kevin is the judge who certified me both for the level 1 and for the level 2 and a person I respect a lot for everything he taught to the other judges and me in particular of course (even if I think a bunch of us could say the same thing :P).

I remember when he certified me for the level 2 and when, during the interview, after having asked me what I did in my real life, I answered him I worked in summer camps for children. He smiled and he concluded: “well, you will see there is not a lot of difference with Magic events I think… Good luck!”. And as far as I noticed it, it is quite the truth since the reasons to love judging are pretty the same as those which allow to love the animation.

Kevin is also the first person I had the chance to travel with to go in USA; I remember it was for a GP in Washington and a Pro Tour in San Juan, we were lodged by the amazing Eric Shukan and I do not count the great amount of giggling we shared, the conversations, the visits and, of course, the events we had the opportunity to work on together. It was always awesome to listen him speaking about the organization and policies aspects of the events, and also to have his feedback.

Kevin, you are a real friend and, for a bunch of different reasons, one of the person I respect the most. Thank you for everything and happy judging anniversary! :)”

Daniel:

“I first met Kevin when he was L2 and still more player than judge. We were paired against each other in a Vintage tournament and little did I know how influential that encounter would turn out to be. When I later became a judge myself and was looking to get experience, Kevin volunteered to help me as I was head judging a couple prerelease events. Remarkable? It wouldn’t be if those events were in stores nearby. But those were hundreds of kilometers away from either of our homes. Kevin caught chickenpox the week of the events but still chose to travel with me. That was but the first sign that he would do close to anything for people he believes in.

Since then, Kevin has grown to be a face recognized by just about anyone involved in Premiere Event Magic, due to his numerous appearances as head judge of Grand Prix and, more recently, Pro Tours. But his largest contribution isn’t in the public-facing part: he’s been relentlessly at work to improve behind-the-scenes processes, optimizing just about any aspect of event organization you could think of. Today, he leads the selection and training of Grand Prix Head Judges, the culmination of his vision.”
Congratulations to each of these two fine judge on their decade of work as L3(+) judge. Best wishes to you both!

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

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