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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October 2016 Anniversaries

Here are the October 2016 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Christine Colosimo from Tobyhanna, United States
Gionata Dal Farra from Lessolo, Italy
Christopher Richter from Madison, United States

10 years

Takanori Nakamura from Okazaki-shi, Japan
Kazuyuki Ishikawa from Nagoya-shi, Japan
Stephen Ayers from Concord, United States
Georgi Benev from Sofia, Bulgaria
Jeong Hyun Woo from Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Inhwan Kim from Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Thales Bittencourt from Petropolis, Brazil

5 years

Zhenming Zhong from Shenzhen, China
Fernando Carnicer from Mar del Plata, Argentina
Hugo Oliveira De Carvalho from Guarulhos, Brazil
Jia Feng from nan ning, China
Thomas Forget from Perigny, France
Dan Francke from Essexville, United States
Philip Griffiths from Bath, Wales
Ben Leveiller from Poitiers, France
Xiaoyi Luo from Nanning, China
Takuya Masuyama from Nishinomiya-shi, Japan
Gareth Meredith from Brazil, United States
Mikkel Tollak Olesen from Odense, Denmark
Lars Paulson from Corvallis, United States
Akifumi Takashiro from Matsumoto-shi, Japan
Fumiyasu Wakamatsu from Nagoya-shi, Japan
John Temple from Detroit, United States
Thomas Burchers from Shoreview, United States
Maxime Grazzini from France
Mark Hensley from Anchorage, United States
Massimiliano Ingrosso from Treviso, Italy
Phil Ives from Albertville, United States
Dan Lavoie from Allison Park, United States
Josh Parker from Alexandria, United States
Julien Ranguetat from Coolbellup, Australia
Shawn Rayson from Hocking, Australia
Kazuho Saso from Kawasaki-shi, Japan
Chapman Sim from Singapore, Singapore
Jeff Sneddon from Corvallis, United States
Keith Taylor from Prescott Valley, United States
John Fleig from Hilliard, United States
Richard Jones from Birmingham, United States
Seth Keahey from Roswell, United States
Timo Koski from Tampere, Finland
Ciro Lamberti from Nocera Inferiore, Italy
HwangRyoung Lee from Jeollanam-do, Korea, Republic of
Michael Matteson from Gainesville, United States
Daniel Ortiz from Santiago, Chile
Andrew Polk from Alpharetta, United States
Pavel Volodin from Saratov, Russian Federation
Ward Warren from Roanoke, United States
Kwang Seob Yoon from Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Juan Ignacio Bermudez from Buenos Aires, Argentina
Corey Carlson from Baraboo, United States
Jennifer Dery from Culpeper, United States
Robert Jelf from Toledo, United States
Katsuhisa Kanazawa from Matsudo-shi, Japan
Felipe Martinez from Arica, Chile
Lucas Nicolau from Feira de Santana, Brazil
Kazuyoshi Ohzawa from Kobe-shi, Japan
Pablo Paolo from Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ben Rislove from Madison, United States
Edmund Shum from Melbourne, Australia
Yuki Takekawa from Kobe-shi, Japan
Antonio Raimundo H Uzeda from Valenca, Brazil
Esteban Vasquez from Valdivia, Chile
Dennis Xiao from Singapore, Singapore

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

Before we get to the featured judges, I’d just like to quickly welcome Richard Neal to the Anniversaries project! Welcome, Richard! We’re glad to have you on board.

We have another month where we have so many L3 anniversaries that you have to visit a separate page to see the 4 of them! You can see that post here.

This month, we are featuring 3 judges: Inhwan Kim, Chris Richter, and Thales Bittencourt. First off, Woosuk Lee has this to say about Inhwan:

아이고!

아이고!

Inwhan has been a keystone of the Korean judge community ever since he became one; There were less than 5 judges in Korea back in 2007, now we have more than 40! He has been a dedicated contributor, mentor, and friend while the community kept growing and now I can’t think of a Korean judge community without him being a part of it. It’s kind of sad that now he’s a bit far from local Magic scene due to his occupation, but I know that he’ll do anything he can to make the Korean judge community grow. Congratulations in your 10th anniversary, Inhwan!

This guy is pretty ok, I guess

This guy is pretty ok, I guess

Next up, Chris Richter is celebrating his 15 year anniversary! Rob McKenzie tells us a bit about Chris:

Jason Lems, Seamus Campbell, and Steve Port wrote up an amazing L3 anniversary piece for Chris Richter here.

I’m going to make a list. It looks like a who’s-who of notable judges, but these are people that have had exams made for them or interview/advancement reviews done by Chris (including failed advancements). It’s far from complete, but, in no particular order:

Jason Lemahieu
Tasha Jamison
Charlotte Sable
Jordan Baker
Jason Wong
Bryan Prillaman
Rob McKenzie
Tomas Ralph
Steven Briggs
Thales Bittencourt
Nicholas Sabin
Nicola DiPasquale
Sean Catanese
Jeff Vondruska
Alejandro Raggio

And I know this is very incomplete, and not just because it is less than 10% of the total number of people in his list – my L1 and L2 tests aren’t there, because they predate Judge Center’s beginning in 2006. I know for sure Chris certified a ton of people in his first five years as a judge. Chris has been directly responsible for the promotion of tons of people, or has generated practice tests, or has mentored, or given feedback to, or has helped to just become better judges.

Chris Richter is one of the people I most admire in the program, and one of the real first mentors and arguably the best mentor I’ve ever had. He got me my first two event gigs (a GPT and GenCon), certified me for L1 and L2, proctored my L3 written test, and has been seriously a giant in the midwest judge community, outside of his large amounts of program work.

Chris also tells it like it is – he has told me when I do poorly, and when I do well, at the very large number of events we have worked together. He gives this feedback to everyone – he is one of the people I most like to work with because of this, and he is both honest and compassionate to everyone.

Basically, Chris is one of the titans of the judge program, and I appreciate everything he has done, and I want to just stand back and point to him, and say “look at this guy that has touched so many lives, I want to be like him.”

Bom dia, amigos

Bom dia, amigos

Last but not least, we have Thales Bittencourt celebrating from Brazil! Carlos Ho has a few words of his own, along with some of the people Thales has worked alongside with over these past 10 years:

It seems like it was yesterday when I first met a young Brazilian boy who seemed to be amazed at everything he was seeing in Los Angeles, but it’s been eight years already since Pro Tour Hollywood, and that boy is no longer young, being now a university teacher in Cabo Frio. This month, he’s even turning 10 years old as a judge! Having spent a lot of those years as the Regional Coordinator for Brazil, it’s obvious that Thales has had an impact in the most populous South American country. Here’s what a few of his fellow countrymen had to say for Thales’ 10th judgeversary.

Rafael Dei Svaldi
Many judges say that the friendships we make along the road are some of the greatest rewards the program has to offer. This is true for me, and it is even truer thanks to Thales. For years, he has been a great friend for me, and the mentor and guide of our community. As our RC, he managed to gather the best of our community and reach goals Brazil has never imagined before. Under his guidance, we increased not only the numbers, but the quality and experience of our judges. As a friend, he is always willing to lend me a hand, or give me valuable advice. In addition, he helped me on a difficult time, encouraging me to step up when my mind was telling me to give up.

A long time ago, when I had the honor to certify Thales, I told him that certifying him was probably my biggest contribution to our community. Time, and Thales’ skills and care for the program, have proven me right.

Carlos Rangon
I met Thales in 2006, when he simply showed up that year to judge Nationals. He had played just half a dozen sanctioned tournaments back then, but he was born to be a judge. In a short period of time, he rose in the Brazilian community. At a time we rarely saw judges traveling to judge abroad, he traveled the world and very quickly became the leader that our community needed, always aware of all details, and always taking on historical battles for the community we built. The sasme community that he always defended with Tooth and Nail. It’s not a coincidence he is still one of the RCs that’s been coordinating a region for the longest time. Thales, congratulations for these 10 years of companionship and collaboration. I hope we can celebrate many other anniversaries.

Lucas Horta
I first met Thales around 2010, during Brazilian Nationals. At that time I just thought he was a newbie judge as I was, that couldn’t speak portuguese very well (damn carioquês!). The next year he was Head Judge at Nationals and I realized he was not that new. 🙂

Over the years Thales grew a lot in our community, from L2 to RC to the only L3 in the Brazilian community for a while, bending over backwards in order to coordinate a continental region. Because of his work we were between the fastest growing Judge regions for years.

Thales always has something to say that will make you think for yourself on how to attack a given problem and will give you tools to exercise your own leadership. At a time I was a new Level 2 with not much looking forward in the program, he showed me I could exercise a leadership in the northeastern Brazil and gave me a few pointers. We grew from 5 judges across 3 states (out of 9) to over 30 judges covering every state in the subregion!

Besides coming up with 15-day car trips (and actually convincing people that it’s a good idea), Thales is a brilliant guy and its an honor to have him as our RC. Happy anniversary!

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

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October 2016 L3 Anniversaries

Here we have another month with a special page dedicated to the L3 anniversaries because there were so many of them! This month we share a quartet of Level 3 anniversaries:

A man of many roles

A man of many roles

First, back in 2006, Aaron Hamer certified for Level 3 at Pro Tour Kobe. We asked his Regional Coordinator, Scott Marshall, to share some thoughts:

“Aaron Hamer, ten years as L3! What can I tell the world about Aaron that they don’t already know? It’s common knowledge that he was the brave soul that stepped into the gargantuan shoes of Andy Heckt, and helped guide the Judge Program through some rather tumultuous times. It’s also fairly well known that Aaron was, for a time, the Regional Coordinator for the US-Northwest region. And I’m sure that lot of people have had the pleasure of working with Aaron, in various capacities, at various Magic (and non-Magic) events. And if you ask Facebook, you’ll learn that he’s studied at both the University of Hawaii and now the University of Edinburgh. A worldly man, a man of the world.

But a little more than 10 years ago, Aaron Hamer was just an arrogant, brilliant, passionate, motivated L2, sitting in a bar with a couple of L3s (myself and Michael King), hammering us with ideas and seeking guidance on his own path to L3. I remember thinking “if this guy can channel his passion and implement his genius, the world may be a different – and better! – place.” That’s certainly true for the judging world; Aaron’s fingerprints are all over a number of positive changes. And, once he completes his studies, and he’s unleashed himself upon the greater world, I expect that positive impact to continue, on a much broader scale. (Look out, world!)

Aaron, thank you for pouring so much of yourself into making the Judge Program a better place; thank you for being a champion of so many who needed one; and thank you for being a friend to me throughout.”

Literally the kindest person

Literally the kindest person

Jump ahead five years to 2011 and we find the rest of our L3 anniversaries. At Grand Prix Milan, Giorgos (George) Trichopoulos passed his Level 3 certification. Level 3 judge David de la Iglesia had this to say about Giorgos:

“Some people remember Pro Tour Berlin 2008 because of LSV taking down the event with his Elves deck. Some remember how Missed Triggers and OOOS started being applied at Professional REL. Some remember Jurgen Baert being promoted to L3. What I remember from Pro Tour Berlin is that it was the event where I first met Giorgos Trichopoulos, or as we call him in Spain, “El griego loco”.

Since then we traveled together judging all around the world, and years later it was a privilege to be there next to him both when he made it to L3 at GP Milan 2011 and when he was promoted to RC of the Europe-East region at GP Rimini 2013. It has been 8 amazing years where I have been lucky to have him as a friend, and more recently as my RC.

Giorgos is one of those people who brings a special light when he enters a room. Most people admire from him his kindness, compassion and endless joyfulness. I admire his ability to be contagiously happy.

It is very inspiring to see someone like him, so generous, so little self-centered and so happy with what he does with his life. He is the type of person that let others have the pride and the spotlight, while he keeps the satisfaction on the results. Giorgos helps others grow, he is a facilitator that gets others to be better selves. It is no surprise to me that everyone loves having him around.

Here’s to many more years of Greek craziness, congratulations Giorgos!”

All smiles

All smiles

Later in October of 2011, we had two more new Level 3s certified at Grand Prix Amsterdam. Fellow Swiss judge, Isabelle Grieb, shared her thoughts on Jeremie Granat:

“Jeremie was the first judge I ever got to know, and to this day he continues to define my standards for excellence as a judge.

When he turned up all of a sudden in our local playgroup and announced he was a new judge and would now be working with a local shop so we’d have tournaments on a regular basis, we didn’t know what to expect from him, but the formerly fragmented community in our area quickly gathered around him; so quickly and consistently that the local store couldn’t even handle the success any more. At the same time he seemed to go up a level every few weeks effortlessly, and every few weeks he would share new stories to our playgroup, of Nationals first, then GPs, then Pro Tours, and he’d gleam with passion every time he talked about judging, the friends he made, and the opportunities the program offered him. Needless to say that soon enough new judges popped up all around him and everybody seemed to gravitate towards Jeremie as an example.

At some point he started dedicating more time to international events and projects, but to this day he remains the center of the local and national Magic community, and he still walks into the shop on Friday evening and watches the new candidates or takes a few calls in order to simply enjoy the amazing community he created.

Over time, Jeremie’s standards became my standards as well, and it was only when I first peeked into the judge program on an international level that I realized my admiration of him is shared by outstanding judges around the world, and each one of them came up with their own story why Jeremie is a hero to them. This made it apparent how much he has contributed to the global judge community with the same innovative spirit as he continues to do on a local level, but being the modest person he is, he never really took credit for all the ways in which he made all our judge-lives better.

One thing that defines Jeremie is his holding himself to extremely high standards, continuously challenging himself to improve on every level. At the same time he is very measured when it comes to his expectations of other judges; while he challenges judges around him to excel, he never expects the impossible and values the smallest victories.

Jeremie is a person who always makes things look easy and fun, no matter if he’s in charge of the dullest or the most difficult tasks, and it took me a long time to realize how tough it must be to always keep up that pace. So – and I’ll let him speak for himself – why does he keep doing all of this? – “Because it gives me an opportunity to touch lives beyond Magic.”

Jeremie, we’re all looking forward to the next five years with you!”

Its a family anniversary!

Its a family anniversary!

Finally, we get to hear some thoughts about Sebastian Pękala from Kaja Pękala:

“Sebastian’s journey to judging had begun probably long before he even realized it. While still a relatively new player, he was always very eager to help the TO in his hometown and his community with anything he could. That was true even though his main focus at that time was playing the game – and playing it in the best way possible. While this competitive spirit was still there when he decided to pick up the shirt – fueling him to get better and climb up the level ladder – he never lost his deep connection with people around him nor the desire to help everyone. On the contrary – the better he got, the better he could serve other people, the more he could offer to the community.

When Sebastian became L3, it was no surprise to anyone – at that point he was already both a solid leader and a manager, and had a strong presence in the community he cared so much about. What did come as a surprise, was that merely a few days after his promotion, he was offered the position of Regional Coordinator of a newly established region… but was it really that surprising, though? There was a clear need for our secession, and there was the right man for the job – it’s easy to judge events from the past, but the solution must have seemed rather obvious.

During the five years under Sebastian’s guidance, our region has grown both in quantity and quality of judges, and I’m sure it will continue to thrive – because even after all those years, his drive to make his community a better one is still present.

Dear Sebastian, let me thank you, on behalf of our community, for all those years of your selfless and tireless work. And Happy L3 Anniversary!”

Congratulations and best wishes to all four of these fine Level 3 judges!

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September 2016 Anniversaries

Here are the September 2016 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Vincent Hesnard from Lyon, France
Michael Parsons from Washington Terrace, United States
Thomas Pannell from Camarillo, United States
Miki Urban from San Diego, United States
Sean Wagner from Grand Junction, United States
Eric Heyne from Fairbanks, United States

10 years

Sebastien Grass from Clermont Ferrand, France
Ashlund Salway from Rapid City, United States
Alejandro Quijada Bahamondes from Santiago, Chile
Jose Quinteros from Santiago, Chile
Kaja Pekala from Krakow, Poland
Jose Ramon Soler Salazar from elche, Spain
James Hustad from madison, United States
Thomas Schneider from , France

5 years

Juan Rafael Acosta Portilla from Xalapa, Mexico
Alex Alarcao from Johannesburg, South Africa
Simon Annecchini from Rosario, Argentina
Matteo Berton from Dosson, Italy
Blaine Campbell from Amherst, United States
Damiano Cavallo from San Marzano di San Giuseppe, Italy
Randy Christoffersen from Crescent City, United States
Caleb Hardekopf from Little Falls, United States
Alfonso Hernandez from Zapopan, Mexico
Duncan Hewes from Pittsburgh, United States
Hector Julian from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Phil Kalter from Hengelo, Netherlands
Keiichi Kawazoe from Katsushika-ku, Japan
Diego Kiedanski from Montevideo, Uruguay
William Kirkwood from Stockbridge, United States
Aaron LaCluyze from East Lansing, United States
Chris Lansdell from Mount Pearl, Canada
Lixin Li from Tianjin, China
Ademar Martin from Mingorria (avila), Spain
Fabio Mazzi from Maranello, Italy
Philip Pena from Calamba City, Philippines
James Roberts from South charleston, United States
Hai Wei Shen from H?nefoss, Norway
Shunsuke Shibafuji from Kochi-shi, Japan
Ross Silcock from Manchester, England
Mauro Rodrigo Thibes from Cascavel, Brazil
Felipe Uribe from Santiago, Chile
Mark Wanich from Cleveland, United States
Mark Winckle from Liverpool, England
Dominic Yu Ping Kun from Quezon City, Philippines
Kelly Ackerman from Toronto, Canada
Ryoichi Aritaka from Shikokutyuou-shi, Japan
Juan Fernando Azua Rivera from Estado de Mexico, Mexico
Patrick Gatt from B’Kara, Malta
Zack Levine from Palo Alto, United States
Ming Luo from Changsha, China
Keigo Osumi from Setagaya-ku, Japan
Andrew Zimmermann from brea, United States
Maria Zuyeva from Melbourne, United States
Daniel Camburn from Birmingham, United States
way chan from kaohsiung, Taiwan, Province of China
Cheo chiun-chine from Tainan, Taiwan, Province of China
Michael Grothe from Santa Monica, United States
Noriyuki Hagiwara from Chiba-shi, Japan
Jinpei Hassaku from Kyoto-shi, Japan
Robert Hinrichsen from Beaconsfield, Canada
Roger Holness from Bellville, South Africa
Takashi Noguchi from Okazaki-shi, Japan
Leon Quigley from Isle of Wight, England
Martin Sergio from Puerto de Burriana, Spain
Yi Shen from Wuxi, China
Nick Stein from San Diego, United States
Kevin Trombley from San Diego, United States
Travis Underwood from Jackson, United States
John Wasson from Oshawa, Canada
Jarrod Williams from South Bloomfield, United States
JiaLin Wu from Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Province of China
Maxime Chausson from Mont Saint Aignan, France
Jon Acton from Durham, United States
Nick Bresser from Klaaswaal, Netherlands
Nicolas Campiglia from Nantes, France
Justis Disney from CONWAY, United States
amand dosimont from gosselies (Belgium), Belgium
Jerome Fischer from Renens, Switzerland
Daniel Fox from Little Falls, United States
Samuel Hanna from Rock Hill, United States
Frankie Hughes from Salem, United States
Ivan Jaque from Santiago, Chile
Timothy Lim from Surrey, England

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

This month, we have so many L3 anniversaries that you have to visit this page to see all 6 of them! You can see that post here. For the regularly scheduled anniversaries, we are featuring 3 judges this month: Kaja Pękala, Aaron LaCluyze and Maria Zuyeva.

Small but strong

Small but strong

First, we have Kaja Pękala. Fellow Polish judge Adam Cetnerowski had this to say about her:

“Upon meeting Kaja, my first instinct was to ask “Are you lost, child?”. I was quickly briefed by Marcel (Poland’s OP Manager) that she single-handedly started to bring order to the tournament scene in Southern Poland, which at that time was a cesspool putting Mos Eisely to shame. This really impressed me and I have never stopped being impressed by Kaja.

That she challenges herself should be apparent to anyone looking at her judging career – starting out in an empty region and quickly climbing through the levels. That she challenges (constructively) others is something you learn when working with her – at a tournament or on a project. Kaja is well-known for her extensive reviews and the ever-growing list of languages she speaks. But personally, I know her as a dear friend.

Happy anniversary – judge long and prosper!”

And now from her husband and RC, Sebastian Pękala:

“Kaja has always been a great mentor and role model for other judges. From the very start, when she was a Level 1 judge, she paid a lot of attention to candidates and other L1 judges, helping them grow. Then, after testing for L2 she inspired a group of new L2s in Poland (myself included), and never stopped working on herself and others. Later on she developed unique skills for providing very detailed feedback, with lots of observations she’s able to gather at events and put into writing, to form some of the best reviews I’ve seen in the judge program. In recent years, as Level 3, she got involved in testing new L3s – by participating in PEI process, and working with aspiring judges, helping them prepare for their exam and develop necessary skills and knowledge.

I’ve been extremely lucky to get to work and develop my skills with her, and I’m proud and honoured to be calling her my beloved wife. I hope she will never change in striving to become better judge, friend, and person in general – and that’s something we could all learn from her.

Happy anniversary!”

The doctor will see you now

The doctor will see you now

Next, RC Jarrod Williams talks about Aaron LaCluyze:

Aaron LaCluyze, known to many as Cluze or Dr Science, is one of the most passionate members of the Judge community. In his time in the program, he has established himself as a solid tournament judge that works with great enthusiasm, dedication, and professionalism. While making his home in Michigan and working in North Carolina, Aaron continued to judge events in both areas ensuring that both areas benefited from his work. He is one of the most visible judges in the player community through his podcast Random Discard and his Guest Co-Host Role on Monday Night Magic. His skills in the podcast arena have also benefited judge community through his creation of an audiobook version of the IPG.

Russia’s ambassador to the world

Russia’s ambassador to the world

Last (but certainly not least), we’re featuring Maria Zuyeva. One of her many ex-RCs, David Lyford-Smith, wanted to say this:

“Maria briefly joined my region on her seemingly never-ending tour of the world. While she was here she brought energy, positivity, and fun to the area, and was impressively keen to get involved and learn the UKISA community better. We always knew she’d be moving on again eventually, but we all miss her and her contributions to the region. Maria is a great asset to whatever area she is in, and a credit to the judge program.”

Her current RC, Eugene Bazhenov, also had these words:

“I’ve recently herd the following about Maria from a judge that I respect a lot: “Was she really a new L2 that recently? Wow!”

Indeed, Maria has progressed in the judge program very quickly, always leaving a bunch of excited “wows” after herself. The first time I’ve heard of her was a promise from Jared Sylva: “Hey, Eugene, we’ve just certified you a new L1 at the Pro Tour. You know, you’re definitely going to hear a lot more about her”. And so I did.

In these five years she’s been travelling a whole lot and managed to reside in different regions though she never lost her connection to the Russian –speaking judge community.

Maria is a Voice of Reason, a valued partner and opponent in policy discussions and a great friend to many of us here including myself. 🙂

Happy judge anniversary!”

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

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September 2016 L3 Anniversaries

This month, we have a special page dedicated to the L3 anniversaries because there were so many of them! This month, 6 judges celebrate their L3 anniversary: Ryan Stapleton, Dan Stephens, Steven Briggs, Sean Catanese, Justin Turner, and Ben McDole.

At Pro Tour Philadelphia in September of 2011, six current judges certified for Level 3. We have gathered some thoughts about each of these judges to show their impact on the judge program and celebrate their 5-year anniversary at L3.

The best L3 named Ryan in the US!

The best L3 named Ryan in the US!

First, Mid-Atlantic US RC, Nicholas Sabin, shared his thoughts about Ryan Stapleton:

“Ryan Stapleton is a pillar of the Mid-Atlantic judge community. For as long as I’ve known him, Ryan has been a positive, knowledgeable, community-minded judge with an unflappably calm demeanor. There isn’t a situation I’ve seen in which Ryan has gotten stressed-out, and that includes Ryan’s L3 interview at Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011, of which I was a part.

From the numerous gatherings that Ryan and his wife, Amy, have hosted at their home to all the judges who have looked to Ryan for guidance and leadership, Ryan’s impact on the growth and development of his community cannot be understated. What’s great about Ryan is that he was doing all of these things before he advanced to Level Three — that’s just the kind of person he is. He believes in bringing people together and having a good time, whether at events or otherwise.

The Mid-Atlantic Region is specially blessed to have somebody who provides such calm, confident, capable work at events, and still finds time to bring us all together to share our common joys. Thank you for all your years of leadership and excellence, Ryan — both those past, and those to come.”

Meg’s husband

Meg’s husband

Second, Central US RC, Steven Briggs, had this to say about Dan Stephens:

“Some call this man the Silver Fox, with his legendary beard and clever wit. Others gravitate toward his passionate Garbage Fire side, or perhaps it’s his willingness to go shirtless in bed on the Internet. Or maybe it’s the fact that his house sits wherever it pleases. Well, whatever story you want to tell your grand-kids about him, Dan Stephens has had a tremendous journey as an L3 in the Judge Program. He was one of the original Regional Coordinators in the full US roll-out of the RC program within the first month of becoming an L3. He led the USA-Central region to over 100% growth in just two years at the helm. Jump ahead a bit more in time, and you’ll find that he was a red-shirt at GP Vegas 2015, served another (albeit brief) stint as RC of the USA-Northwest region, and head judged a number of SCG Opens in his tenure as an L3.

But perhaps the most incredible story of the Silver Fox is not what he has done as a judge, but what he has done while being a judge. He earned a college degree, pursuing his career and his dream. He celebrates his marriage to his wife and perennial professional scorekeeper Meg Stephens continuously; their bond together is both unique and enviable. He works hard, plays hard, keeps humble, and through the years I am so proud to not only call him judge family, but to call him a dear friend that I have leaned on over the years.

Dan, thank you for five incredible years as an L3, and for the many lives you have touched through your leadership and sharing with us your life.”

That judge with the white glasses

That judge with the white glasses

After hearing from him, we now hear about Steven Briggs from North US RC, Rob McKenzie:

“I’ve been following in the wake of Steven Briggs for five years, and I’d love to talk a little about how impressed I’ve always been with him as a leader, mentor, and friend.

Since Steven became L3, he has done a lot of things. Event Manager for Pastimes. Regional Coordinator for the most populated judge region in the world. And he is one of the most prolific L2 certifiers in the history of the judge program. (There are 35 passing L2 exams generated by him in Judge Center.)

Steven Briggs is a relentless cheerleader, full of energy, and constantly pushing people to be better. He also does not have a mode other than “full tilt”. When he stepped into the Midwest RC role, his first email exchange with me contained the following paragraph:

“I will tell you that I would really like to see a new L3 in Minnesota in 2012. Chris and Lems are terrific, but they are also on other projects and activities as well, and with the number of judges and events going on in that area an L3 would be very appropriate to help it continue to grow. The program needs a judge in your region that can focus on being that facilitator, that bedrock of experience and knowledge that can help build others up and develop quality judges that are engaged in the program.”

He had decided he wanted me to be L3, and he wanted to push me to do it. We had interacted in person all of twice, and he just did not want to take “no” for an answer from me about being an L3. I didn’t hit his goal, and made L3 in 2013 instead, based in large part on his support and help. He never stopped trying to get me to be the better person he saw me being. (And still has not stopped!)

Personally, I’ve been the Riker to his Picard, helped him guide a huge region through years of growth, and a huge amount of my leadership experience and desire to keep active and engaged in the judge program comes from energy directly taken from Steven Briggs. He showed me what a Regional Coordinator could and should be, and a huge amount of the success I’ve had in that role so far comes from his encouragement and mentorship.
I know there are hundreds of judges in the Midwest and across the US that can say the same, and I’m excited to see the next five years of excitement and growth having Steven as a leader will bring.”

HJ of our hearts

HJ of our hearts

Next, Program Coordinator Toby Elliott shares his thoughts about fellow PC, Sean Catanese:

“ ’Hello, and welcome to Judgecast. This is Sean Catanese, Level 1 from Sacramento, California’

These words kicked off the first Judgecast. It’s so very Sean; even as a level 1 he was always looking for ways to embrace the community and to share his knowledge. Sure, Riki brought a ton of valuable insight (along with some terrible puns), but Sean was the heart of the program, patiently explaining judging concepts to listeners, asking interview questions and pulling the audience in. He connected the community in ways that hadn’t been tried before, and he was just getting started.

Sean’s an unconventional judge in many ways. He’s not focused on the hard minutiae of the rules or the tiniest detail that might shave a minute of a tournament process. He cares far more for the feelings of the judges and players around him. He’s approachable and always ready to lend a sympathetic ear, and people flock to him as they sense he has their best interests at heart.

A focus on the softer-skill side of judging hasn’t kept Sean from making concrete contribution to the Magic tournament scene, too. He’s been a key player in framing how we think about Unsporting Conduct. He was instrumental in the creation of the Judge Code of Conduct, and put into place the policies and processes for investigating player and judge misbehavior.

Sean was the judge manager for GP Las Vegas in 2014. He rose to the occasion, pulling judges out of thin air as player numbers started to skyrocket. A one-man emailing machine, eventually he’d recruited nearly every judge west of the Mississippi, all willing to come help Sean out. He has that effect on people, and it’s been an honor to work alongside him since the very beginning.”

something something its lit

something something its lit

Finally, we head to the Southeast for the last pair of judges. Bryan Prillaman shares his thoughts about Southeast US RC, Justin Turner:

“Five years already?! When asked to write about Turner’s 5 year anniversary as an L3, my immediate reaction was ‘This has to be a mistake, I just wrote about his 5 year anniversary as a judge!’. Turns out, 19 months can pass pretty quickly, and that’s exactly how long it took for Turner to go from L1 to L3. Turner quickly made a name for himself as a very vocal and very involved judge. He wrote rules articles for gatheringmagic.com; he had an ask-a-judge forum for his local store; he was one of the originators of the Judge Class that caused such an explosion in the judge population in the Tampa area. He brought a measure to fun at events, teaching players and judges how to Dougie between rounds or fusing announcements with jokes and puns and not taking himself too seriously. He challenged other judges to rap battles after hours at GPs. But he also understood the value of ‘Big Boy Time’, where you put aside the jokes and trolls and got work done. In the larger program, he attended multiple GPs and pushed to take on some of the more difficult roles at GPs, and he excelled. His methods were unconventional; he was often considered blunt and often confrontational. He was very ‘passionate’ about policy discussions on IRC. We often used to joke about the frequency that he got banned. He had a reputation for being a bit of a “bad boy” troublemaker, and depending on who you asked it was either completely blown out of proportion, or fully justified. Very few judges have been as polarizing as Justin Turner.

However, you couldn’t deny his passion. Passion for judges, passion for events, passion for the program. It was this passion that attracted so many people to him. He was also very driven. He had his eyes set on L3 from the very beginning. He wanted to be the best, and he was willing to do what it took to get there. That passion, coupled with his drive both in and out of events lead to recommendations from Sheldon Menery and Jason Lemahieu to be tested for L3 just 14 months after he tested for L1.

He tested and passed at the first Modern Pro Tour in September of 2011. Roughly a month after making L3, he was offered the role of Regional Coordinator for the newly formed Southeast Region. Since that time, Turner has been far and above one of the most active and communicative RCs in the program. He spends a massive amount of time talking to judges and working through their situations. He has gained a reputation as a judge of action. If you bring him a problem, he will try to solve it, regardless of if you are in his region or not.

This is how he shows he cares. He listens, and then he acts. Judges feel that they can come to him with any problem, at any time. It is not uncommon for him to be dragging his feet the next day because he had a two hour conversation with a judge two time zones over. He also looks for problems to solve. He has been in, or provided input to, multiple ‘Behind the Scenes’ groups looking at process improvements for the program in general. Conferences, New New World Order, The RC selection process, the JCC. In writing this, I realize that I owe a lot of my drive and involvement in the program to watching Turner, looking at the good he does and saying ‘I want to do that.’

His drive isn’t just limited to outside event work, as if ‘limited’ was the correct phrase. He tries to bring innovations to the major event he attends. More recently he innovated a new method for doing End of Round at GPs that has been adopted by several other judges at US GPs. He talks to TOs about how they can get more value from their judge staff, and how they can provide value back.

Immediately after Turner passed his L3 test, he came up to me all proud and smug. I looked at him and told him, ‘You’re still the same donkey you were yesterday’. It was a friendly poke. I was calling him a donkey and reminding him that becoming L3 didn’t actually change who he was. Now, after 5 years as L3 and RC, I look at what he has accomplished, the good he has done, the personal growth he has gone through as both a judge and a regular person, I can confidently say that he is, now, a completely different donkey.”

Keeps Turner in check

Keeps Turner in check

Now, we hear from Justin Turner about his fellow Florida L3, Ben McDole:

“Seeing Ben McDole hit his 5 year anniversary of L3 fills me with tons of memories. Ben was the L2 who certified me for L1 and was instrumental in the development of many prominent Florida judges like Bryan Prillaman, Matt Williams and CJ Crooks. He has always had an eye and a tact for education as he is a college professor in his non-magic life. While he and I have famously disagreed on many things over the years, I’m proud to call him a friend and a mentor in the program still. He has a way of cutting to the heart of matters and really getting down to what’s important, which is an approach all of us have kind of latched onto and used for our own success in the program. While we’ve all achieved great things, I can definitively say I would not be in the program if not for Ben. He has been there for me and so many others over the years encouraging and educating; he’s the true patriarch of the Florida/Southeast community and our ways of approaching events and communications.

My favorite memory is easily the very first event I worked with Ben where I took my test for L1. I, Matt Williams, Todd Palmer, Michael Fortino and Ben all shared a hotel room about 4 hours south of Tampa to help Jeff Williams run a PTQ. We almost ran out of gas in Matt’s Prius and planned to help get the car along with best wishes and sticks off the road as it is a hybrid and runs on dreams. The hotel itself has a rousing story we’ve all told a thousand times involving me breaking the A/C thermostat (stupid thing kept turning off so I hit it a few times in the dark) and sticking the air on max cold causing the rest of the roommates to wake up sick in a 50 degree hotel room the next morning. The event itself had a wonderful experience of a super angry player receiving a game loss for insufficient randomization and rage quitting the event, then returning with enough pizza to feed the entire tournament. Ben got to deal with how we keep players playing when someone walks in with 30 pizzas and loudly announces they are up for grabs. If you thought a fire drill was bad, I guess this is the next step below that! All in all, I learned a ton at that event and I respected the way Ben not only carried himself as the head judge, but the amount of faith and support he had in his staff. Ben is consistently looking for ways the staff can better engage and improve themselves and the event and that’s something I still envy to this day.

When Ben hit L3, it was the same weekend I did, at PT Philly in 2011. This was the last event with a WOTC sponsored judge dinner at the end complete with included drinks. The restaurant was a martini bar and I remember just sitting there next to Ben commenting how insane it is that we passed while drinking martinis designed after candy. There was certainly magic in the air as we chatted with all these venerable L3s as PEERS whilst sipping vodka through Twizzlers. We left that dinner after making our speeches and wandered in the streets singing 90s R&B songs to passerby. That is my second favorite memory in judging and Ben was instrumental in that one too.

I’m super happy Ben is still engaged with the program and I hope to be writing this blurb again at his 10 year anniversary. Congratulations Ben!”

Congratulations to all six of these excellent Level 3 judges. It was an exciting weekend 5 years ago when they all passed their L3 panels. It is even more exciting to see how much they have all grown and contributed to the judge program during these last five years. Best wishes to you all!

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August 2016 Anniversaries

Here are the August 2016 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Chikara Nakajima from Itabashi-ku, Japan
Eric Tewes from Mills, United States

10 years

Goncalo Rodrigues from Porto, Portugal
Cristobal Garcia from Mexico City, Mexico

5 years

Maykel from Jakarta, Indonesia
Adam Amy from Pakenham, Australia
Carl Ansell from Epsom, Surrey, England
Davis Gibson from San Diego, United States
Andrew Hurth from Bolingbrook, United States
Geoffrey Larvor from Brest, France
Zach Rivers from Minneapolis, United States
Kenny Russell from Sacramento, United States
Vidianto Wijaya from Rowland Heights, United States
Kyle Evans from Katy, United States
Douglas Barros Franklin Oliveira from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sergio Garcia Gonzalez from Madrid, Spain
Hirotsugu Kondo from Katsusika-Ku, Japan
Maximilian Schroeder from Overland Park, United States
Benjamin Smithee from High Ridge, United States
Paulo Araujo Vianna Costa from Porto Alegre, Brazil
Martin Chaves Murillo from San Pedro de Poas, Alajuela, Costa Rica
Carl Etter III from River Edge, United States
Edmund Greco III from Holmdel, United States
Casey Hermanson from Noblesville, United States
Nicolas Jathe from Syke, Germany
Adam Lugibill from State College, United States
Carlos Maripangui from Santiago, Chile
Scott Neiwert from Beaverton, United States
Donald Eric Powell from Lake Villa, United States
Archibal R. Sanchez Peralta from Mexico City, Mexico
Marco Storelli from Trieste, Italy
Jonny Teloeken from Dortmund, Germany
Sam Alpert from Elkridge, United States
Jonathan Andres Barria Arjel from Punta Arenas, Chile
Jona Bemindt from Gent, Belgium
Tyler Bienlein from Burton, United States
Lewis Bronson from Mayfield Heights, United States
Chaz Estell from Muncie, United States
Jeremy Hallock from Belding, United States
Raoul Mowatt from Chicago, United States
Anthony Wood from Conway, United States
Craig Wostratzky from Waukegan, United States
Cristóbal Vigar from Madrid, Spain

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

This month, we are featuring Max Schroeder! Regional Coordinator Steven Briggs, has this to say about Max:

Strength across borders

Strength across borders

Max Schroeder in his first five years as a judge has developed into a pillar for officiating in the USA – Central region. Serving as an L2 for most of that time, Max has served as a regional captain and regional leader for several years for Missouri, working alongside other seasoned veterans in helping shape regional operations and regional policy while the USA-Midwest mega-region was in juggernaut form. Fun Fact: For a portion of his time as a regional captain, Max was actually living in the South region in Overland Park, Kansas (across the river from our region) – thanks Kevin Binswanger for lending him to us!

Max has been on staff at all levels of Organized Play, including several Grand Prix events, SCG Opens, and many PPTQ’s in his area. He is known for his cunning, sly grin, an incredibly positive and upbeat attitude, and for a wicked Judge Deck he uses very effectively in mentoring judges of all skill levels. The positive attitude he brings, combined with top-of-class professionalism and tournament expertise, makes Max invaluable as a member of our community.

This month we celebrate a pair of Level 3 anniversaries. At US Nationals in 2006, both Brian Schenck and Damian Hiller certified for Level 3. We asked each of their Regional Coordinators to share some thoughts on their impact on the judge program. First, Mid-Atlantic US RC, Nicholas Sabin, had this to say about Brian:

He’s behind the behind the scenes

He’s behind the behind the scenes

“Brian Schenck had a hand in your advancement, even if you’ve never met him. For the past several years, Brian has been one of the driving forces behind Judge Center. He’s the one ensuring that test content is up-to-date. He’s the one who fixes your reviews. He’s the one who helps maintain an infrastructure for judges to leave feedback and improve. The judge program would not be where it is right now without the involvement of Brian Schenck.

Beyond his contributions to Judge Center, Brian has also operated as an L3 for a decade. His combination of comprehensive rules and policy knowledge, extensive event experience, and a deep understanding of the Magic community have made him an invaluable asset to his region and to the community at large. I don’t see Brian at events nearly as often as I’d like, but he’s always ready with a keen insight and a great attitude.”

Next, Adrian Estoup, RC for Latin America – Spanish, said this about Damian:

Don’t cry for me Argentina

Don’t cry for me Argentina

“I’ve known Damian for a long time. I couldn’t be very specific on how long I’ve known him, but bear in mind that he taught me how to play Pokémon when the game started being distributed in Argentina. We have always shared game places in Buenos Aires; however, we had different groups of friends.

Sometimes, these kind of messages focus on commenting about someone’s achievements. With Damian this is not something too complicated; he certified as a L1 when he was very young, and became L2 shortly after that. He then advanced to L3, as the youngest in the world to my knowledge. After that, he became the RC of Latin America – Spanish, and in no time, he reached L4.

‘Congratulations, Damian, for all you’ve achieved, we hope to see you around for many years!’ That’s it. The End. However, in this opportunity I would like to go deeper than that.

Damian is, without any doubts, the person that started to guide the region into professionalism. Some years ago, Latin American events were chaotic, communication between communities were awful, and judges came and went without much guidance. He was the one that didn’t want to settle with that, that we could be up to the challenge for events, and he started working hard so that Latin America stopped being the place where the worst events were run; our first steps towards improvement.

Personally, I can only be thankful for what he has done. He was the one that helped me the most during my L3 process, and working with him taught me everything I needed to know to be the RC of the region. A big part of what I am today as a judge and Regional Coordinator is thanks to his teachings. I am proud to have the friendship of that boy that played cards on a store so many years ago, and being able to see how much he has grown during these years.”

Congratulations to these two judges on a decade each as a high-level 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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July 2016 Anniversaries

Here are the July 2016 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Mitsunori Makino from Sapporo-shi, Japan
Trent Rogers from Sarnia, Canada
Matt Farney from Beavercreek, United States

10 years

Benjamin McDole from Tampa, United States
Kyle Knudson from Puyallup, United States
Patricia Kurz from Tacoma, United States
Paul Smith from Ventnor, England
Jerome Pagola from Biarritz, France
Chris Worrell from Mooloolaba, Australia
Andrius Jautakis from Vilnius, Lithuania
Matteo Callegari from Parma, Italy

5 years

Christian Oliveros from Renton, United States
Francois-Regis Andre from Paris, France
Danny Batterman from La Jolla, United States
Jason Bouchard from Fort Kent Mills, United States
Russell Braswell from Raleigh, United States
Robert Caldarale from Arden Hills, United States
Alexander Drapailo from Kyiv, Ukraine
Antonio Carlos Faillace from Brasilia, Brazil
Nejc Juric from Ptujska Gora, Slovenia
Matias Karaseur from capital federal, Argentina
Piotr Karpowicz from Elk, Poland
William Logan from Glasgow, Scotland
Luiz A Lopes from Taguatinga, Brazil
Leonardo Maros from Los Angeles, United States
Michael Peterson from Virginia Beach, United States
Boris Robic from Maribor, Slovenia
Stewart Ulm from Somerville, United States
Lee West from Swanley, England
Sean Alexander from San Jose, United States
Vladimir Arneuve from Auch, France
Jonathon East from Paraparaumu, New Zealand
Ken Sawada from Tokoname-shi, Japan
joshua shaferly from Findlay, United States
Richard Warren from Wichita, United States
Philip Weidig from Broad Run, United States
Jingwei Zheng from Wellington, New Zealand
Nicholas Zitomer from Roswell, United States
Allen Vincent Balean from Quezon City, Philippines
Daniel Dutra from Teresina-PI, Brazil
Wang Fang from Beijing, China
Kenneth Fortson from Oakland, United States
Ryan Hoffman from Roanoke, United States
Cai Jia Hui from China
Emilien Picherau from Alencon, France
Vidar Thorsby from Bergen, Norway
Jeffrey Venturino from Davis, United States
Vladimir Votintsev from Izhevsk, Russian Federation
Rodrigo Borba from Amadora, Portugal
Jesse Bradbury from Fayetteville, United States
Cristian Broens from Madrid, Spain
Marien Couvertier from Poitiers, France
Nate Hurley from College Station, United States
Fergus Looney from Dublin, Ireland
Matthew Moore from West Lafayette, United States
Sean Quinn from Sterling, United States
Theo Riviere from Nancy, France
Miguel Ruiz from Alicante, Spain
Ilya Savchenko from Kyiv, Ukraine
Joshua Silvestri from Fremont, United States
Andreas Trejtnar from Schwechat, Austria
Joseph Wiesenberg from Poway, United States

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

This month, we are featuring two judges: Kyle Knudson and Joe Wiesenberg! First, we have Kyle. Kyle’s regional coordinator, Scott, sat down with Kyle to talk about his 10 year anniversary:

Our ginger overlord

Our ginger overlord

Kyle Knudson, celebrating his 10th anniversary as a judge, is a remarkable individual. Of course, you can say that about most people who stand 6′ 8″ (~178cm for you metric-minded folk) but Kyle is much more than just a gentle giant. Even if you’ve never seen Kyle in a judge shirt, you may have seen him at a Grand Prix. He’s also an employee of Cascade Games, working with Tim Shields (and many other great people) to produce terrific shows, shows that we call Grand Prix; Kyle is the Judge Manager for these Grand Prix, ensuring the well-being of dozens of judges, and doing it well. To celebrate Kyle’s anniversary, we caught up with him, and collected some fun facts.

Scott: When did you start playing Magic?
Kyle: I first started playing around 4th Edition. I played mostly kitchen table magic when I was starting. I wasn’t able to have access to a lot of cards so I would build and rebuild decks with what I had. I found a group to play with in high school and learned the rules a little more formally, but still didn’t have access to a huge amount of cards. I started to get much more into the way the game is played than the actual game because it was the part of Magic I could really explore from the internet. I never really was a serious competitive player. I will occasionally play in an event, but I enjoy being on the other side of the table much more.

Scott: When did you become a Judge, and why?
Kyle: I was hanging out at my local game store (which still exists Game On in Puyallup, WA) in the Mall when Dawna Havnar and Scott Havnar walk in. If you have worked a Channel Fireball or Cascade Games GP in the last couple years (and many have *cough* Vegas *cough*) you probably have met one or both of them. Dawna started judging for the game store and Scott would play and we quickly became friends. She introduced me to the fact that there were larger events. I met Tim Shields and started working pre-releases and PTQs and the rest is history.

Scott: Do you have a favorite card? Format? Set?
Kyle: I always played weird cards and tried to make them work. One of my favorite cards has always been Cowardice. Having that, Serra’s Blessing, and attacking with an army of vigilant Samite Healers entertained me to no end. My favorite set was the original Ravnica: City of Guilds. I was finally able to get cards and support my hobby so I played a ton. I liked it a lot, but ultimately my real passion for magic was Behind the Scenes. [Scott note: I once built a Cowardice deck! I love this guy!!]

Scott: Any interesting Kyle Knudson trivia you’d like to share?
Kyle: I was big into theater both on and off the stage. It’s really where my passion for making chaos look effortless started from. I play a lot of video games. If I’m not at an event there is a good chance my weekend is spent playing a game for far too many hours. Or watching too much twitch.tv. Despite my height, I’m awful at basketball; because of my height, I don’t fit on airplanes very well (and I do travel a fair bit); I will grab that off the top shelf for you; and I don’t wear shoes with laces because they are a lot farther away from me that for most people.

A leader by example

A leader by example

Next we have Joe Wiesenberg, who is celebrating his 5th anniversary. Joe’s RC, David Zimet, has this to say about Joe:

I’m very excited to celebrate the judging anniversary of Joe Wiesenberg, who became a level one judge five years ago this month. Joe is one of the program’s greatest mentors, reviewers, and pun artists, as well as a superb technical judge and leader.

I’ve participated with him at events ranging from old school PTQs, prereleases, Star City Opens and various Grand Prix tournaments. Joe is also one of my best friends, and I count myself lucky to have been able to spend my free time working alongside him for these past five years. I know that many in the community also feel glad to have had a chance to get to know Joe as well.

One thing that folks from outside the southern California area might not know is how vital Joe is to the vitality of judging in the area. He is a keystone of the community, and the bedrock of the program in San Diego. On that note, here’s a quick litho some of his achievements for you to marble at (…I did mention his affinity for puns, right?):

In addition to working with judges regularly in a professional capacity, Joe also runs the judge staffing for a major game store in the San Diego area. Joe has also helped organize and run specialized sessions on investigations that have made a huge difference for many judges that were struggling to find opportunities to hone this hard-to-train skill.

The contribution that has made the most difference for the most people in changed the feel of participating in the judge program, though, are the meetups that Joe frequently hosts for the area’s judges. During these, Joe will hold discussions about the latest rule updates, listen to the judges discuss the events that they have attended and the rulings they had questions or thoughts about, and will put together planned lessons targeted towards new candidates.

This kind of thing isn’t just limited to the work he does within the region. One of the things that I admire most about Joe is the personal attention that he gives to *all* the judges he works with. Joe exemplifies the kind of judge I want to be – someone that respects everyone as a human being, and takes the time to make them feel listened to – someone whose work helps create the sense of family and friendship that makes being part of the Magic Judge community such a special thing.

Many thanks and congratulations, Joe – from all of us in the Southwest, and all of your friends throughout our world-wide program!

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

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June 2016 Anniversaries

Here are the June 2016 judge anniversaries!

15 years

Shing Nien Fong from Shah Alam, Malaysia
Ian Grainger from Plymouth, England
Ioan Llwyd from Swansea, Wales
Tony Mayer from Renton, United States

10 years

John Sittner from Salt Lake City, United States
Ryuji Yano from Fukuyama-shi, Japan

5 years

Julio Carias from San Salvador, El Salvador
Jeremy Stephens from Indianapolis, United States
Arifirawan Dwiputra from Surabaya, Indonesia
Kevin Moore from Stockholm, Sweden
Chin Kai Ong from Singapore, Singapore
Josue Rodriguez from San Juan, Puerto Rico
Ming Chee Wang from New Taipei City, Taiwan, Province of China
Araka Schroeder from Davenport, United States
CJ Steele from Fort Wayne, United States
Jay Morgan from North Little Rock, United States
Clint Olson from Seattle, United States
Matthew Rossi from West Palm Beach, United States
Konrad Wieczorek from Warsaw, Poland
Samuel Tharmaratnam from Oakville, Canada
Brian Carper from Nanaimo, Canada
James Christensen from West Valley City, United States
Michel Degenhardt from Dronten, Netherlands
Edvinas Gurinas from Vilnius, Lithuania
Fotis Maroulis from Athens, Greece
Mikael Ristovski from Hassleholm, Sweden
Trey Ballew from Tulsa, United States
Antonio Jose Rodriguez Jimenez from Torrelodones, Spain
Jonathan Denney from Cedar City, United States
Casey Horner from Walbridge, United States
Alex Kelemen from Van Nuys, United States
Sze Lok Leung from Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Eric McCormick from Maryland Heights, United States
Lennart Nevanoya from Umea, Sweden
Joerg Nottebrock from Duesseldorf, Germany
Clayton Price from Salisbury, United States
Jonathan Pust from ogden, United States
Enrique Revuelta from Leganes, Spain
Andy Rutledge from Lincoln, United States
Roberto Saavedra from Ferrol, Spain
Joshua Staples from Durham, United States
William Stephenson from Germantown, United States
Matteo Taverna from Roma, Italy

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

The king of travel guides

The king of travel guides

This month, we are featuring Antonio Jose Rodriguez Jimenez! AJ’s regional coordinator, Sergio, has this to say about his 5 year anniversary:

I still remember 5 years ago when I met AJ. I was HJing two PTQs in a row >300 kms away from Madrid, and he was attending the first one as Floor Judge with his test scheduled. We spent the day teaching him tournament procedures and doing general mentoring, which was extremely rewarding because of his attitude: AJ has been always someone thankful and easy to talk with. After passing his L1 test, I offered him joining me on my next weekend trip for a second PTQ (we were short in the staff and I had another L1 test scheduled there as well, so he would be helpful). He immediately accepted, which was great because it would be a second near opportunity to keep learning and improving. What I would have never expected was the proactive mentoring he showed with the L1 candidate, spending time and effort on teaching him the same things that he just learned a week before. At that moment, just a week after his L1 certification, I realized that we had to keep him with us and invest on him when possible because he would definitely give back to the community everything he could in the future.

He passed his L2 at GP Torino ’12 and his L3 at GP Madrid ’14, but during that time, AJ has been always one of the most active community & project judges in our region. He initially helped covering many events in our area (Madrid), then he accepted taking care of the whole area events-staffing; he has been always active on L1 mentoring and certification, but also on our L2 Certification project; he has helped in many regional conferences (actively attending, presenting or organizing…) and, since last year, he accepted taking care of our regional mini conferences project; his contact with the Southern community (where he also takes care of PPTQ Staffing) has help the area development and activity… Very few people in the region has been so active in so many different aspects, and all this time and dedication was always in addition to his friendly approach and personal mentoring to others, to his commitment to the international GP Travel guides Project (project he leads since 2014), his presence at international events and his evolution as a judge.

I’m personally glad to celebrate with him his 5 years anniversary as a friend; I’m even happier to do it as his RC, because I’m sure I can say on behalf of the whole Iberia Region: THANK YOU AJ! 🙂

A fountain of charisma

A fountain of charisma

For June, we have another set of three Level 3 anniversaries. First up, we have Hector Fuentes from Mexico, who certified for Level 3 ten years ago. Adrián Estoup, RC of Latin America – Spanish, shared his thoughts about Hector:

“To talk about my friend Hector Fuentes basically means to talk about Magic the Gathering in Mexico. I met him in my first experience outside Argentina, during GP Montreal 2007, and I discovered in him one of the most significant aspects of the Judge Program: friendship. At that point, the only thing we shared was the same language but that was not an obstacle to discover this amazing city and work together all the weekend.
A year later, during GP Buenos Aires, I had the pleasure to welcome him at my home for a couple of days before and after the event. His advices and talks were fundamental to me to improve in my judge career. In short, having one of the most representative judges of Latin America with easy access to talk about any random topic, is something invaluable.

Today, Hector is still with us after so many years as one of the most representative judges of Mexico and many countries of Central America; involved in several local projects and always trying to improve his local community and discover new judges to increase the family.

Hector, Thanks a lot for your hard work during all this years, your figure was always a guide to all the Latin American community, and congratulations for this anniversary.”

BoM!

BoM!

Next, we celebrate a pair of judges who certified for Level 3 at Pro Tour Nagoya, five years ago: Guillaume Beuzelin and Shing Nien Fong. Daniel Kitachewsky offered these thoughts about Guillaume:

“I first met Guillaume in 2007. He was an excitable, brash young man who couldn’t hold still. You’d know where he was just by following the trail of broken pens and other small objects that would be crushed by his hands. But his strong personality and neverending energy could easily be directed towards solving myriads of problems, a quality that would prove precious for judging.

Guillaume made his mark on the large tournament circuits. First on PTQs, which at the time easily reached 300 players, then on Bazaar of Moxen events, topping 700 players, and now on Grand Prix where he’s known as one of the logistical greats. The more unique issues you throw at this, the more creative and efficient Guillaume gets.
When I was approached in 2013 for becoming RC of France, despite my long-time interest in the role, my immediate reaction was “no, not me, Guillaume is the right choice – he cares very deeply about our judge community and is great at creating contact in remote regions.” Indeed, he was always willing to spend nights in trains and on the road to go judge in the unlikeliest of places, such as in Corsica which never really had any judging activity. Guillaume has done admirably as RC in a very difficult time. The transition from the heavily-subsidized French Federation to store-centered WPN was a big earthquake for French judges and Guillaume has done well in helping bring the French community into a new age.”

Our shoulder to stand on

Our shoulder to stand on

Lastly, Wearn Cheong, RC for Southeast Asia, shares the following about Shing Nien Fong:

“When Fong landed back in Malaysia from the UK, he was already a fully trained and experienced L2. We didn’t have many judges back then, so one could say “Little” Fong (not to be confused with “Big” Ray Fong) was our timely reinforcement. It wasn’t long before his influence in Kuala Lumpur and the surrounding Klang Valley was felt. Thus it was no surprise for the community here when Fong took the step up to L3. Since then, he’s continued to take care of the judge community here in Malaysia and also in neighboring Singapore. He has a constant presence, both physically and online.

Fong is always willing to help and is often first in line, sometimes even before the rallying cry is made. He is truly selfless, and I know I can always count on him when I need him. Always cheerful, Fong also has a reputation for being quite fierce and strict. Be aware however that he has quite the poker face and if you get fooled or trolled, you wouldn’t be the first to fall for it!

Here are some words from others in Malaysia:

Congratulations on five whole years as a level 3! It’s always a joy having you around with your corner case questions be it on the WhatsApp groups or in person. Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to travel and administer the Level 2 test for me. Thank you also for being a great presence within the local judge community and I look forward to many years more of judging together. – Wee Thean Goh

Dear Fong, It’s been 5 years that you have been a role-model judge in our community. You have always been a strict and fun judge at the same time, your appearance alone gives players the chills. I still remember asking players, “Would you like to appeal? The head judge is Fong”. Then immediately they reply: “Fong? ah… nevermind”. Would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you and to thank you for this 5 years of service to mtgkind :). You are also my mentor for my level 2, couldn’t have done it anywhere better without you. I hope to have you around for many more years to come so you can still actively guide us and help us through hard questions! – Alex Kuan

I met Fong when he came back from the UK and I straight away knew that he was excellent at judging. What was better about him though was his personality. Funny with a straight face, he was always ready for any adventures. I remember going to my first GP Singapore as a judge withhim and we had only 50 Singaporean dollars between us. How did we survive the weekend? Ingenuity. He is an amazing mentor, constantly there with questions to test me and a joke to boot. I remember being super happy when he made L3 and 5 years later, he is a one of the main pillars of the Malaysian judge community. Congratulations Fong! – Sashi Kumar Balakrishnan

Congratulations to all three of you on your L3 anniversaries!

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

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