Here are the judge anniversaries for January 2013. As you can see, it’s a big update – and for the first time ever, we are celebrating judges who were certified (roughly) 15 years ago! Some of these veterans have actually been with the program longer than that, but their actual certification dates are lost in the “couch-cushion-cracks of time” (to borrow a phrase from this month’s featured judge) and so they appear on this list instead.
Jeff Abramson, Oregon, United States
Mark Amoros, Tennessee, United States
Sonny Barker, Mississippi, United States
Robert Blackman, Virginia,United States
Keith Bogart, Florida, United States
Mauro Bongiovanni, Quebec, Canada
Mike Bregoli, Massachusetts, United States
Samuel Bromet, Missouri, United States
Steven Bryant, Connecticut, United States
John Carter, Washington, United States
Craig Foulke, Texas, United States
Darren Gamble, Alberta, Canada
Glenn Godard, New Mexico, United States
Theophile Guimbelleaux, Texas, United States
Michael Isaacs, Ontario, Canada
Andrew Iwamasa, Michigan, United States
Christopher Knowles, Nebraska, United States
Ron Kotwica, Pennsylvania, United States
David Lavender, Washington, United States
James Lee, Washington, United States
Richard Lipman, New York, United States
Michael MacPhee, British Columbia, Canada
Jason McCoy, Kentucky, United States
Lee McLain, Ohio, United States
Jeffrey McNally, California, United States
Robert Moses, Wisconsin, United States
Bary Osser, California, United States
Ron Palmatary, Oklahoma, United States
Scott Phelps, Montana, United States
Steve Port, Wisconsin, United States
Dorian Redburn, Pennsylvania, United States
Adam Richards, North Carolina, United States
Phillip Robinson, Texas, United States
Ken Roth, Illinois, United States
James Ruppert, Alaska, United States
Ronald Salahub, Manitoba, Canada
Joshua Schroeder, Iowa, United States
Jim Shuman, Texas, United States
Alex Shvartsman, New York, United States
Edward Sloman, Maryland, United States
Ken Somervill, Idaho, United States
Chad Spano, New Jersey, United States
Phillip Thompson, Missouri, United States
Phil Thorson, California, United States
Steven Tice, Pennsylvania, United States
Aaron Tom, California, United States
Thom Walla, Nebraska, United States
Jason Webster, Minnesota, United States
Christopher Wong, California, United States
Paul Yale, California, United States
Michael Zimmerman, Illinois, United States
Luca Simone, Genova, Italy
Nicola Negri, Modena, Italy
Christian Pichere, France
Federico Calo , Bologna, Italy
Rachel Gilbey, England, Great Britain
Wim Schepel, Netherlands
Ian Turner, Great Britain
Carlos Ho, from Panama, currently residing in Spain
Florenzo Dimagli, Taranto, Italy
Cristiana Dionisio, Frosinone, Italy
Martin Golm, Sachsen, Germany
Sugeng Hartawan, Indonesia
Takumi Yamamoto, Shimane-ken, Japan
Frederic Brunet, France
Mario Alexander De La Carrera Letelier, Region Metropolitana de Santiago, Chile
Daniel Yarrington, New Hampshire, United States
Kevin Binswanger, Texas, United States
Jorge A. Lopez Morales, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Congratulations and thank you for all your hard work!
Our featured judge this month is Theophile Guimbelleaux of Texas, also known as “Mad Hatter”. Regional Coordinator Kevin Binswanger interviewed him.
– Why did you start judging?
I started judging back in January of 1994 because there was nobody else to do it and because I love Magic. That was when I ran my first tournament, January of 1994. I opened the shop (Mad Hatter’s House of Games) the next month, February of 1994, and it is still alive and kicking.
– Who tested you and how did testing work back then?
Back then there were not formal written tests as we know them now. I had already been judging the sanctioned tournaments from the beginning (August, 1994) and I showed up and judged at a Pro-Tour or two back in 1996 (L.A., I couldn’t go to New York, even though I had a seat to play, ugh!) and then at Nationals. They observed my judging and asked me some questions. Later, just a month or so after the Nationals (at Gen-Con or Origins, I think), they held a phone interview with me. Right after that, I was made a Level III Judge. I was actually certified as a Judge back in August of 1996 (if my memory serves me correctly), so I have been a Judge longer than 16 years (but I think that this official anniversary is occurring now because their early Judge records, like the records of many of the early tournaments, have been lost in the couch-cushion-cracks of time). Hence, I believe, the oldest judges like myself are listed as having a start date of January of 1998 in the records.
Like I said, there were no formal tests. Also, Judging was integrally linked, back then, with Tournament Organizing. Thus, many of the Premiere Tournament Organizers like myself were also Level III Judges back in the 90’s. We ran our PTQs, Regionals, State Championships, Pre-Releases, etc. as both Head Judge and Tournament Organizer (Note: Level III back then is more or less basically equivalent of what is Level II today, I believe.) When I lived, breathed, ate and slept Magic, I was a pretty good judge, but my greatest strength has always been Tournament Organization, which is why I am a Level I today (that and I just can’t travel any more to judge).
– How has judging changed since you started?
In nearly every conceivable way. Everything is much more organized, standardized, documented and regimented. Back in the 1990’s, WotC was experiencing extreme growing pains and a lot of things were much more like the The Old West back then than anything else; if it worked, you ran with it and it later became a precedent. We used to have BethMo (former Rules Manager) and the D’Angelo Rulings Summary and “Pants!”. They are all gone.
What’s your favorite positive change since then?
Judge foils which greatly help to pay for travel expenses while judging. Those didn’t exist back in the day. (I do have a Fallen Empires tumbler and an Antiquities tumbler, though.)
– What’s your favorite judging-related memory/story/ruling?
At one Gen Con (or Origins), I was playing a sealed Unglued tournament. My opponent attacked with the creature with Denim Walk. I asked the judge if I could take off my pants. He asked if I was wearing boxers. When I replied “Yes”, he said “sure”. So, I took off my pants in a room of over 1,000 people, blocked the creature and eventually won the game.
– What accomplishments are you proudest in your judging career?
1. Being there to help when it was needed. I have Head Judged three Regionals, but I wasn’t originally supposed to judge two of them. The one here in Lubbock back in 1996, I was supposed to Head Judge. The one in Albuquerque in 1999 (or 2000), I was not. However, the day before the event, when their Head Judge called and said that he couldn’t make it, I literally walked through the door twenty minutes later and was asked to judge. I agreed and did. This also happened at a Regionals in Dallas a couple of years later (2001?, 2002?) when I stepped up to Head Judge when the Head Judge could not make it.
2. Being the Judge Coordinator at the Pro-Tour for a couple of Pro-Tours back in 1998. It was not only a nice position from which to Judge (as I used to judge nearly all of the Pro-Tours back then), but it also played well into my organizational strength.
3. Writing the Tournament Report from September of 1994 which got Chaos Orb restricted.
4. Spending a weekend back in 1997 running 20 tournaments and certifying some 12 judges .
– When you got started, where did you think you’d be 15 years later?
Right here in Lubbock, Texas (and I was right).
– What are you doing right now (what kind of events, store etc)? I know PTQs finally came to Lubbock 😀
Ah, they came back to Lubbock. I used to run them here as a Premiere T.O. in the 90’s and early 2000’s and for the last several years I have been running them here through the Wizards Play Network Advanced Tournament Store System. The Wizards Play Network/Advanced Tournament Store System is probably the best change that WotC has made in the last 10 years; it was greatly needed and has wonderfully helped bring more events to more areas in a more systematic fashion than anything else they have ever done (with the possible exception of FNM).
We hold Friday Night Magic (both Type II and Modern) every Friday (the current record is 90 players). We have Booster Drafts every Saturday. We do the Pre-Releases (the current record is 139 players), Grand Prix Trials, Game Days, etc. We also do the Pro-Tournament Qualifires (current record is 87 players). We do all of this right here at Mad Hatter’s House of Games in Lubbock, Texas (shameless plug).
However, despite decades of waiting, we still haven’t had a Grand Prix Lubbock (old, old, T.O. joke). I can wait another twenty years if necessary, though.
– Any future plans?
Keep on Judging and running tournaments until The Lord takes me Home.
Special thanks to Joose Hakosalo and Andreas Jepsen for their help with this edition of Judge Anniversaries.