New Year’s Advice for GP Judges

Written by Jurgen Baert

Written by Jurgen Baert

This article is a throwback to Collin Jackson’s 2004 article, Push in Chairs.


Ladies and Gentlemen of the judge staff

Wear comfy shoes.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, comfy shoes would be it. The soothing effects of comfy shoes have been acknowledged by countless judges, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my meager 6 years of experience.

I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the carelessness of being a floor judge. Oh, never mind, you will not understand how easy it is until you’ve been a day 1 team leader. But trust me, in just one level, you’ll look back at judge staff pictures and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much fun deck checks were and how many rulings you used to botch.

You do not know the rules as well as you imagine.

Don’t worry about your L3 checklist, or worry but know that worrying is as effective as trying to post the pairings without tape. The real troubles for your checklist are apt to be the recommendations from L3s and L4s; the kind they promised you they’d write, but then never did.

Make one ruling every tournament that doesn’t get appealed.


Don’t snore when you’re sleeping in the staff hotel. Don’t put up with judges who snore while you’re trying to sleep.


Don’t waste your time near the guy in red. Sometimes you’ll be part of an investigation, sometimes you’ll just answer easy rules questions all day. The weekend is long, and in the end, I’ll DQ the cheaters whether you were close by or not.

Remember the new missed trigger rules. Forget about lapsing abilities. If you succeed in doing this, wait lapsing WHAT?

Keep your old judge badges. Throw away your old stripes.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t remember all state based effects. The best judges I know can’t name more than a handful. Some of the very best judges I know didn’t even notice I should’ve said state based actions right there.

Get plenty of breaks.

Be kind to Andy Heckt. You’ll miss him when he’s gone back home.

Maybe you’ll level up, maybe you won’t.
Maybe you’ll get room sponsorship, maybe you won’t.
Maybe you’ll fly around the world from GP to GP for ten more years, or maybe you’ll quit judging and become a wedding planner.
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. You’re a valued member of our team anyway. And so is everybody else.

Talk to your RC, let him help you every way he can. Don’t be afraid of him or what other people think of him. He’s the greatest mentor you’ll ever have.

Study the rules. Even if you don’t really have time for it and should be doing something more important.

Read the MIPG even if you deviate all the time. Do not try to memorize the PEIP, that will only make you fall asleep.

Get to know your buddy. You never know when he might get sent off to Public Events.

Be nice to your judgelings. They’ll remind you of your past as L0 and you’ll need them to do your dirty work in the future.

Understand that GPs come and go, but that Pro Tours are precious and few. Work hard to bridge the gap to the US or Asia/Pacific, because the longer you judge, the more you’ll get tired of working for the same old European HJs every time.

Attend a PT in Valencia once, but leave before it starts raining. Attend a GP in Amsterdam once, but leave before they cut the last couple of rounds.

Visit the cities you’re flying to.

Accept certain inalienable truths. Catering will suck, players will cheat, you too will get to be a team leader. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were still floor judging, catering was better, players were honest and judges respected their team leader.

Respect your team leader.

Don’t expect anyone else to cut those result entry slips for you. Maybe you have scissors. Maybe you have a paper cutter. But you never know when either one might cut you instead of the paper.

Don’t forget to have breakfast, or by the time you finally get a lunch break, you’ll be starving.

Be careful when selecting which judge foils to sell now, and be patient to keep the rest for when the time’s right. Judge foils are a form of cardboard money; selling them is a way of getting something back for paying your way here to work your ass off. Still, you’re selling them for more than they’re worth.

And trust me on the comfy shoes.

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