January 2012 Anniversaries

Hello everyone, and Happy New Year!

Here are the judge anniversaries for January. It’s a fairly long post with two fairly long features. The following judges have been with the program for 5 or 10 years:

10 years:

Raymond Fong, Slough, England, Great Britain
Veronique Lemaire, Amilly, Paris, France
Juri Leo, Lecce, Italy
Thomas Ralph, Dublin, Ireland
Dave Regouby, Amilly, Paris, France
Angelo Rossi, Arezzo, Italy

January 5 years:

Gregory Defosse, COLMAR, Est, France
Brian Paskoff, Holtsville, New York, United States
Jurgen Baert, Oostende, Belgium
Thomas Boris, Paris 17, Paris, France
Christopher Conant, Tullahoma, Tennessee, United States
Lee Niece, Abingdon, Virginia, United States

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

This month’s featured judge is Raymond Fong of Great Britain. Regional
Coordinator Glen White says:

“I’m not 100% sure when I first met Raymond Fong but, like all good judges, I knew his reputation before I met him.  I think our first meeting was English Nationals 2005 in Donnington.  I was still an L2 but it was meeting Ray and the UK’s other top judges (Colin Smith, Richard Clyne and Carl Crook) that inspired me to reach beyond myself.

Ray was an L3 judge at the time which was a rarity in the UK.  This speaks volumes about him as being a trailblazer is always harder than following in someone’s footsteps.  Ray continued to be a force in UK judging for some years before carrying his passion into the industry. He worked for several games companies including Wizards of the Coast where his experience as a judge stood him in great stead.

It was during this period that he decided to step down from L3 to L2 as work commitments were proving too much.  I remember how much Ray impressed everyone when he did this.  Despite loving the judge programme and being a very proud level 3, Ray knew that he needed to set an example to others.  I know that stepping down was an incredibly hard thing for him to do but he did so publicly with grace and dignity.  I can’t help feeling that, once again, Ray showed us the way.

Since that time, Ray has continued to judge at a high level but his achievements go beyond the black shirt.  He is also a great scorekeeper and a pretty wicked EDH player!

I’ve always found Ray to be a genuine, caring, friendly guy who is passionate about judging and passionate about wanting to do better. His tenacity and determination are as prevalent as his thoughtfulness and sensitivity.  Even after all these years his contribution to judging within the UK community, and also within our larger, global community, continues to be strong.

Congratulations Ray and a massive thanks for all that you have done over the years for ‘our family’ and for the game that we love.  You are truly a trailblazer and one of a kind!”

Finally, this month there is only one anniversary for Level 3 certification, but it is an important one.  It is the 10th anniversary of Toby Elliott‘s Level 3 certification.  Toby has had a tremendous impact on the program, so we asked a few L3+ judges that worked closely with Toby to comment on him.

Level 4 judge, Jeff Morrow had this to say:

“Like so many judges in the program, it’s hard to overstate the impact Toby Elliott has had on my career.  There are the obvious reasons: he taught me how to run a PTQ.  He promoted me to levels 2 and 4.  He was the person who first floated the idea of me trying for level 3.  He got me interested in the nuances of tournament policy.  He introduced
me to the Pro Tour.  The list goes on.

However, I am also one of the primary recipients of one of Toby’s most useful skills.  He can observe any judge and know exactly what he or she needs to excel.  Here’s a true story: I was the L2 head judge of a PTQ with a moderately large staff of L1s and L2s.  I was doing OK, but as usual, I was leaning on Big Important Toby a bit more than I should
have been.

Somewhere around round 2 or 3, Toby declared everything to be running just fine, and went home.

And that was one of the most important moments in my judging career.

At that tournament, I finally started to understand that I could function as a leader…and I suspect that that’s exactly what Toby had in mind.

But, who knows, maybe he just wanted to go home and play DDR that day. I doubt it, though.

Toby: many thanks for helping me grow, not just as a judge, but as a human being.  And if you were just going home that day to be lazy, then please pretend that giving me the kick in the pants I needed was your intention all along.  

Level 3 judge, Riki Hayashi said this about Toby:

“The biggest thing that I’ve learned from Toby has nothing to do with the IPG. It is an appreciation for the game of Magic. Back when we had Regional Prereleases, Toby would relish the opportunity to sit down and play with the new set. Having faced off against him in a Prerelease 2HG Sealed event, I can tell you that a) he isn’t very good at Magic and b) it doesn’t matter. For Toby it is all about the fun of new cards, new interactions, and new people. I’ve taken this lesson to heart and I try to play in at least one GP a year just to have fun and “see how the other half lives.” Toby’s love for Magic isn’t just as a player though. When he judges, whether as a Floor or Head Judge, Toby spends a lot of time watching matches, railbirding the top tables. On one level, this means he is always available to take a call or catch an error in a match, but I think it also has a subtle calming effect on the players, knowing that the top man is on the job. In an era of increased judge socialization and subsequent breakdowns in floor coverage, actually watching players play Magic is an underrated part of the job that I will always dedicate some time to thanks to Toby.”

Finally, Level 3 judge, Sean Catanese said:

“On the extensive list of judges who have defined the modern Magic Judge program, Toby is – for me – at the top. He’s one of the Judges who actually makes Magic work. His job might be described as a task akin to fixing a clock with 12,000 pieces on a stage before an
audience of millions. His knack for concision (“Deviate like hell” anyone?) is enviable, yet he’s tasked with applying it to the unenviable endeavor of creating rules and policy documents that govern practically every interaction in the game while applying only as much force as is necessary.

Amidst all this, he somehow found the time to certify me, and has become one of the most influential judges in my own judging career. If ever I’ve had a Judging question that started with “Why…”, Toby either has the answer or IS the answer.”

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