March 2015 anniversaries

Here are the March 2015 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Andrea Bartalucci from Certaldo, Italy
Edward Greenberg from Winnetka, United States
Vladimir Melzer from Praha 8 Bohnice, Czech Republic
Francesco Scialpi from Martina Franca, Italy
Arnost Zidek from Ostrava, Czech Republic

10 years

Nick Fellahides from Argiroupoli , Athens, Greece
Stephan Classen from Hilo, United States
Aaron White from Memphis, United States
Andrew Helgeson from Crystal Lake, United States
Matt Kipper from Cheyenne, United States
David Tan from Singapore, Singapore

5 years

Leviticus Mcneese from Victorville, United States
Chris Henry from Charlotte, United States
Stuart Lauder from Glasgow, Scotland
Francisco Rocha from Linda a Velha, Portugal
Christopher Hickman from Chester, United States
Nicolas Turk from Midlothian, United States
Joe Bono from Kirkland, United States
Aucler Jean-Baptiste from Herblay, France
Mikhail Chernov from Samara, Russian Federation
Tomas Kriz from Ceska Trebova, Czech Republic
Steffen Baumgart from Berlin, Germany
Felipe Elgueta from Santiago, Chile
Karim Majeri from Paris, France
Sean Hoekstra from DELFT, Netherlands
David Larrea from Granollers, Spain
Asuka Nagashima from Yokohama-shi, Japan
Bryan Prillaman from Orlando, United States
Jernej Lipovec from Ljubljana, Slovenia

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

This month’s featured judge is Stephan Classen from Hawaii. Here is what Level 3 judge Riki Hayashi had to say about Stephan:

Has his stuff together.

Has his stuff together.

“Imagine being a part of an isolated community that is hundreds of kilometers away from anything else. Now imagine that community is also somehow isolated… from itself. This is the unique challenge on the Hawaiian Islands, a challenge that Stephan Classen has embraced and conquered with vigor and grace. That’s a fancy way of saying that he’s got his stuff together and the Hawaii Judge Community is better off for it.

When I first got to know Stephan and the work he was doing, I was invited to a Skype judge meeting with Hawaii judges. I was immediately struck by what a simple and elegant solution this was to their situation being on different islands. I for one had been taking for granted what seemed like the very normal ability to drive to meet up with other judges for a meal and a chat.

Stephan rises to the occasion when presented with challenges like this as well as opportunities. L5 visiting Hawaii on vacation? Invite him to speak with the local judges. Pro Tour coming to town? Let’s have a conference. He has made the most of every opportunity, and he has made the most out of his community. There are some leaders whose work we see on display constantly. The fruits of his labor are often limited in scope to his home state, but the effect he has are just as important.”

This month we have two Level 3 anniversaries. Ten years ago, Nicholas Fang and Frank Wareman certified for Level 3 at Pro Tour – Atlanta. For each one, their Regional Coordinators put together comments that reflect each of their impact on the Judge Program for the last 10+ years.

First, Jeremy Behunin, Regional Coordinator for the Northwest US, offered these words on Nick:

He had fun once. It was awful

He had fun once. It was awful

“Nick Fang has come to occupy a special place in our community. Most often we see him on stage scorekeeping and dealing with various software issues. This can mean bending DCIR to his will, or writing software to find a match without asking the scorekeeper. Occasionally we get a glimpse into his thoughts from the stage through his blog, We also get small mentoring moments that come from Nick handing over a result slip for inspection. “Oh no, is this something I need to fix…or something I did?” is likely the first thing that will come to mind as this happens.

When I was asked to write this little moments just like these crossed my mind. But how could I possibly cover 10 years of L3 Nick Fang? So I asked around a bit for some thoughts from a few people that have been around long enough to see Nick come up through the ranks. John Carter was kind enough to share this tidbit of program history:

My first memory of Nick Fang was a discussion at PT Seattle 2004 about him pursuing L3.  I asked who the best judge in Seattle was, and he talked about the entire community but didn’t mention himself.  My advice at the time was to figure out what he was truly the best at and recognize that in himself.  I’m not sure if that led to Nick becoming digitally conjoined with tournament software, but the number of events that he’s been a rock star scorekeeper for is a testament to him being the best.

Of course community and mentoring aren’t something you see often from a scorekeeper. But even new scorekeepers need training and who better than someone widely regarded as the best? James Do Hung Lee had this to share regarding his experience:

I have few clear memories of our early interactions. However, those of recent years are both memorable and meaningful.

Rarely, a man will come along who, by means of his own excellence and ability, makes those with whom he works better just by setting a standard that is higher than expected and reminds us all that we can do better. Nick does this for me nearly every time I have the pleasure to work with him. He reminds us all that L3 is not always just about being great on the floor or super visible doing mentoring and encouragement. If anything, his role as the-best-of-us in Scorekeeping has raised the bar for how the entire role is understood in the entire world of Magic play.

At GP Portland before the first GP Vegas, I was scorekeeper under Nick. It was my test run to see if I could manage at that level and not crash and burn under the weight of a 1000-person tournament. After all my years of experience and having worked with the best in our community all over the world, I felt like a new judge trying to impress his mentor all over again. The entire day, I used all of my powers to try to sense if Nick was okay with my performance or judging me for not living up to his standards. Many judges around the world today acknowledge me as one of the better SKing L3 judges out there, but it is because of Nick that I’ve been able to manage living up to this standard.

I also cannot leave out the high value of Why So Grumpy. His blog has been an amazing tool of teaching for all of us who manage not just events but judge development for stores and local communities. Again and again he brings up valuable information in a way that is both humourous and insightful to make us all better. His blog is about scorekeeping woes but it is a tool for how to be better judges and better team members in all areas of our lives. Ever since he started writing his blog, I have pointed people to it both in and outside of the judging community.

Finally, the most surprising thing for many people is that Nick is a fine fellow who is both fun and funny and a joy to work beside. Beneath his gruff scorekeeping manner is a man who loves to teach others to do good work and to be better than they think they can be. He does not just offer criticism, but he offers solutions. As long as I continue to serve in my role in the Program, I always think about how much I could be better if I could learn more from Nick.

As James so eloquently states, Nick is someone even very experienced judges can look up to and learn from. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to events. But as Jeff Morrow says he can do so much more:

Nick is a great judge and a great scorekeeper, but at the core, he is a great thinker and a great problem solver. He has a knack for finding and knocking down problems as both a judge and as a scorekeeper. Because of this, he also has a knack for cutting through the BS and getting to what’s important, and that makes him valuable not just for his technical skill, but as a mentor, a sounding board, a confidant, and a friend.

When I HJed a 700-player prerelease, he was my rock. When my first solo GP was crashing and burning, he stepped in to rescue it. I’ve always known that by having him in any role (SK or judging), I can stand back and simply not worry about the portion of my tournament that’s under his control.
And of course Nick is always a person you can turn to for help or advice. Just because he’s the scorekeeper doesn’t mean he can’t help with every facet of an event. And of course he’s influenced many judge over the years and made many friends. Some, like Toby Elliott, have so many nice things to say it’s more fun to take a different route:

I had lots of nice things to say about Nick – he’s been a friend for years and when he’s at an event the scorekeeping is one thing you know you don’t have to worry about – but he never wore the amazing hat I provided for him. He’s dead to me. (Well, until I get a chance to see or talk to him again, because Nick rocks)

Indeed he does rock and I look forward to another 10 years of excellence from Nick.”

Secondly, we have comments from Richard Drijvers, Regional Coordinator of BeNeLux:

Little known fact: The Trollface meme was actually modeled on Frank

Little known fact: The Trollface meme was actually modeled on Frank

“I have the esteemed honour to write about Frank today, because this month he celebrates his 10-year anniversary of L3 certification and I’m lucky enough to be his Regional Coordinator. Next to being his RC, I am proud and happy to call him a friend as well. Because he doesn’t just help me in my RC duties, but he has also stood me by in private matters more than once.

My life is not the only life he has influenced. There are MANY others. Let’s start around the beginning, where Frank met Jaap Brouwer.

Jaap Brouwer: “Frank and I met around the change of the millennium. As judges we worked quite a few events together. In the beginning much in our little country (the Netherlands), and later also on a grand scale in Europe and the rest of the world.
Very quickly it became clear that he had a good eye for what was going on, both event wise as well as people wise. He was able to observe and, perhaps even more important, describe what was going on in a to the point manner. He had the capability to translate observations into directed and effective action. And he wasn’t afraid to wet his own feet and dirty his own hands. Again, not just for the event, but also for people. Because this is what we do essentially, give people a great time, both on the player as well as the judge side. And Frank understood that very well.

But it doesn’t end there, beside a great judge and an inspiration and help to others, he’s also a great friend. The moments we had together, both in and outside events, were good times! And I’m happy that these times are not over yet.”

Just like me, Jaap calls Frank a friend. I believe this is where his true strength lies. Gijsbert Hoogendijk also put in a few words that underline this quality in Frank.

Gis Hoogendijk: “It was the Invasion Prerelease and Frank was just another judge candidate I certified. He was a strong candidate for sure, but you never know how things turn out. It was one of those “time will tell” moments” and it surely did. Frank quickly became a member of the roster of L2 that we had back then in the Netherlands. But it was clear to see Frank was the furthest along in his progression as a judge. I was there when he made L3 in Atlanta (2005) and L4 in Memphis (2008) and it was well deserved! Judging with Frank is a treat, always critical of things, looking for an extra edge to improve things, always willing to share, always with a smile. I can’t wait for GP Utrecht 2015!!!”

Critisism, always with a smile. Wouldn’t we all like to be mentored by someone like that? I know a certain L5 judge who certainly appreciates the way Frank has influenced his life.

Kevin Deprez: “Frank, I can’t remember when we first met. The first interaction I can remember comes from that L3 panel during which you chose to give a chance to a judge with some potential but who wasn’t quite there yet. This was in 2006, back in a time where promotions would not recognize potential but achievements. To many extents, this was a visionary decision since this is a core part of the current L3 process: Promoting people who can still improve rather than people who demonstrated everything.
You’re currently one of the Program’s top logisticians. However, it’d be a pity to not mention your people analysis skills. You don’t just make things work, you also make people work.”

Making people work and function in such a way that they become more happy with themselves is a gift that keeps on giving. Another gift the Judge Program has received from Frank is explained below.

Carlos Ho: Frank, as many other European L4 judges, had a profound impact on the way GPs are run. For example, back when Frank was a freshly minted L4, there wasn’t a lot of GP pre-planning.  Most of the time, you wouldn’t know in advance your assignments, as the HJ would give a schedule on Friday evening.  Frank was one of the L4s that started the trend of sending the assignments in advance, along with other new GP pre-planning tech, like sending a list of tasks by team (I must admit that I first thought this was micromanaging, but now I know better).
Even after stepping down to L3, Frank continues to be an event-logistics powerhouse.  If you’ve got him on your staff, you know you can count on him to take care of very complicated tasks.  I’m sure the TO and HJs of GP Utrecht are very happy to have him there.”

But still, in the end…Magic Judging is all about the people and Frank has great insights in people.

Jurgen Baert: “Frank has been a source of awe and inspiration for years now. I believe the first time we met was at a GP That Never Happened, but our first really meaningful interactions happened a bit later on my path to L3, where Frank was one of the people giving me a lot of useful feedback. I still see him doing that to this day, for many people. Over the years, Frank has also become a friend that I’m both proud and happy to have.”

As far as I’m concerned, that’s quite an impressive list of people who all value and cherish the fact that you’ve influenced their lives, Frank Wareman.
Congratulations on 10 years @ Level 3!! Let’s continue the journey for 10 more, shall we?”

Congratulations to both Nick and Frank on your decades of experience and wide impact on the judge community!

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