Tales of Adventure and Investigation at SCG Regionals

Last weekend, I head judged SCG Regionals in (the suburbs of) Philadelphia, which was run by Tales of Adventure. For those who aren’t familiar with SCG’s organized play programs, Regionals are basically a series of $5K tournaments (i.e. awarding a total prize pool of $5,000) that SCG licenses to various tournament organizers around the country. The Philadelphia Regionals was actually part of a two-day event, with Sunday featuring two smaller tournaments that were helmed by two great Northeast judges, Joe Hughto and Dan Collins.

For Regionals proper, we were expecting up to 300 players, but possibly less. So, we hedged our bets during staff selection: we selected eight judges who were guaranteed to be staffed for Saturday, plus two additional judges as “standby.” This meant they would be only be staffed if we reached certain attendance thresholds (280 and 320 players, respectively), but could play for free in the main event if they weren’t needed.

Lo and behold, we ended up with around 350 players — yikes! Obviously, I activated the two standby judges, and then focused on the more pressing problem: finding enough room for everyone! The tournament hall was originally set up for only 336 players, and finding additional tables and chairs was a scramble. Fortunately, Ilan Seid-Green and his team rose valiantly to the challenge (including stealing tables and chairs from the judge area as a stop-gap). Thanks to Ilan and scorekeeper extraordinaire Mike Noss‘ efforts, the tournament was soon underway without too much trouble.

Rather than focus on a simple play-by-play of the event, I’d like to use this article as an opportunity to put you in my shoes. Below, I’ll share some of the most interesting scenarios I encountered. Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to share what you would have done in my place. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

  1. During your announcements for the player meeting, one of the players interrupts you to complain about how close some of the chairs are to each other. What do you do?
  2. Midway through the event, a player, “Randy,” comes to report that he can’t find his deck. Your scorekeeper tells Randy the name and current table of his opponent from last round (call him “Blake”). A few minutes later, Randy returns to tell you that Blake had his deck in his backpack. Now what? What questions do you have for Blake?
  3. How does your answer to the above change if you know that Blake is about 15 years old, and also that his father is playing in the event?
  4. Sometime during round two, a player finds you to (politely) tell you that she’s having a hard time safely getting to the pairings boards with everyone’s backpacks swinging everywhere, plus it’s hard to find her name when there’s four or five pages of pairings, without any name ranges. Moreover, she wants to know why pairings can’t be posted on Twitter like they normally are “for SCG events.” How do you respond? What actions, if any, do you take?
  5. Throughout the event, the TO has been distributing foil tokens (a pre-registration reward) at his booth. At the end of the event, the TO tells you that one of his staff members noticed a certain player probably went up to the booth three or four times to receive a token. What do you do?
  6. On the Monday after the event, you’re playing Standard at your local shop. A friend of yours tells you he also went up to the booth to take several tokens. What do you do now?
  7. On Saturday, a few people tell you that men have been using the women’s bathroom. What do you do?
  8. On Sunday (when you’re serving as a team lead), a female spectator finds you and tells you that a guy is currently using the women’s bathroom. How do you proceed?

Check back next week for my thoughts on these situations. Feel free to ask any clarifying questions, and don’t forget to share your answers in the comments!

13 thoughts on “Tales of Adventure and Investigation at SCG Regionals

  1. 1. During the announcement, apologize to the players for the lack of space, as the venue simply can’t hold as many players. Ask the player to remain quiet and address any further concerns after the player meeting.

    2. “Randy says his deck was in your backpack. Is this true? Why was it there?” The solution is disqualification, if it was found to be intentional that he knew about it.

    3. None, though I would follow up with the father.

    4. Apologize to the player. If the technology is available, attempt to post them online. If not, apologize for the lack of tech to the player and that you will attempt to create a second pairings board, given the number of players. Even if Twitter is an option, I’d consider a second board for pairings.

    5. The event is over, and the TO is ultimately responsible for such rewards, as they aren’t considered tournament materials.

    6. While concerning, the event is over. I’d let the player know that stealing isn’t acceptable.

    7. Make an announcement that players must use the correct bathroom for their gender.

    8. I’d tell the head judge, and then proceed from there. I would urge the head judge to repeat the announcement from the previous day, I’d find the player, and ask him if he was there the previous day and if he heard the previous announcement. If he did, I’d issue the player in the bathroom currently a warning for unsporting conduct- minor for failing to follow the announcement of a tournament official.

  2. I’m actually the guy you spoke with who used the women’s restroom on Sunday. I’d like again to point out the scenario and situation. After rushing and arriving at the event 20 minutes late, my two buddies joined their events with game losses. I, on the other hand, was squirming in my seat the whole ride down waiting for my shot to use the bathroom; playing was a moot point by now.

    Once we get there, I dash in to the one stall one urinal restroom that was provided for 350 players. What do I see? An overflowing toilet filled to the brink with murky brown water, that’s as nice as I can put it without getting gross about it. So now I walk out and I’m unsure what to do. I turn my head to the right and see the women’s restroom and look to my left and see everyone who is there looks to be playing. “No one will notice.”, I think. I make me move and use the facilities.

    Ten minutes later I leave and am approached by Paul who reprimands me for my actions, and rightfully so. It ISN’T right to use the women’s restroom as a male, and this is the second instance I’ve ever had to do this, the first being in 5th grade on my first day of school, but that’s a story for another day. There was a woman I prevented from using the facilities during the time I was in there, and I can imagine how uncomfortable that must of been for her. After Paul talked to me, told me if I’d be playing I’d of been issued a game loss, we shook hands and went about our ways. Not too long after, I found out the woman in questions was one of my friends girlfriends, and I apologized to her and explained the situation.

    To expand on this a little more, I want to know what I should of done in this situation, as the person who is facing an emergency needing to use a restroom. The day before I was told by a judge we were confined to the room they had rented and no other restrooms were available. We were in the middle of no where and I was about to blow. Should I pull my pants down and do it right there in front of everyone?! Was this borderline illegal to have only one stall and one urinal for 350 players? Why were no port-a-potties rented for the following day knowing the previous days attendance, there was certainly enough profit. To be frank, I feel I was cornered into doing what I did by the horrendous bathroom conditions that were provided for the players. Had more stalls been available to use, none of this would of ever been an issue. As a judge and a man, I know you were just doing your part Paul, and I respect that and have no ill feelings. I’m hoping going forward, if that convention center is ever used again, this won’t be an issue based strictly on the problems presented at this very event.

  3. “why was it in your backpack?”
    “can you explain to me how this came to be in your backpack”
    “why did you not inform anyone that is was in there?”
    “what exactly did you do after the previous round”

    “a player steals materials from the event, such as cards or tournament equipment” I do not believe that theses “gifts” are considered equipment, furthermore I do not believe they were stealing in most senses of the word. while yes they were doing something immoral and certainly against the venue’s rules, if the person handing out the tokens willingly gave them in multiples then I believe the weight falls upon the TO.

  4. 1) I’ve dealt with this issue at a few PPTQs, actually. Usually TOs prepped for about two or three times as many players as actually turned out. My reaction historically has been along the lines of: “Yeah, it is pretty crappy. We’ll look into redistributing those tables between matches.” In this specific case, I’d try and address the tables between (or during, if possible) matches one and two, as players finish up their games and we can have them move out of our way without interrupting their tournament games.

    2) Sounds super sketchy, but there are possible outs for Blake to not be doing anything illicit here. Maybe he noticed Randy forgot it at the end of the round, and grabbed it, intending to get it back to him ASAP. But we don’t want to plant the idea in his head, so let’s let him give us his own words: “Blake, where did you pick up this deck?” “Why did you take it?” “Why didn’t you bring it up to the front desk?” Depending on the answers to these, I’d try to eke out a few other pieces of information to see if his responses were truthful. Maybe chat with Randy about “Did you leave your deck at the table by mistake?”

    3) This possibly adds a vector of questions by talking with Blake’s father about his past behavior, but I’m hesitant to actually dig in that direction to avoid looking accusational without proof. It seems like a blunt question like “Does your son have a history of theft” wouldn’t go over so well.

    However, if I independently determine that I feel Blake was attempting to steal Randy’s deck, discussions with the father would certainly come up then. “I feel Blake attempted to steal this deck, and this is why…” Just seems appropriate to keep him informed in this instance.

    4) “Sorry we can’t do the online pairings — this event isn’t actually being run by SCG, but rather by _insert TO’s name here_, so we don’t have access to the equipment for twitter pairings. But, I’ll tell you what, I’ll look into splitting up the pairings for the future rounds so we can try and disperse the crowd a little.” And if actually splitting up the pairings looks like it would be difficult for some reason (seems unlikely, but I’m obviously not at the venue), I’d try and explain why we’re having difficulties to the player to let her at least know it was a consideration we made.

    5) As a few have mentioned, this doesn’t fall under Theft of Tournament Materials, since these are just a nice bonus handed out to the side, not actually used for the tournament itself. That said, it’s still rather unsporting conduct, and if I caught anyone doing it, I’d have a chat with them about stopping or getting penalties (USC-Minor) down the road.

    I’d also recommend to the TO to keep some sort of list that can be crossed off, so players can’t claim a second prize.

    6) “Dude, uncool. You should take those extras back, man.”

    7) Eeeh…

    So, first and foremost: there’s clearly a demand for extra bathroom facilities that can’t be met by the venue. Otherwise the guys wouldn’t bother using the women’s restroom, I’d think. Trying to accommodate for this isn’t something I’ve had to personally deal with, but I have seen venues at GPs commandeer women’s restrooms as extra men’s restrooms sometimes. If that’s doable, we may want to put up some signage for that, and let everyone know where the other restroom availability is, since obviously our female players still need somewhere to go.

    Regardless, an announcement at the start of the next round regarding this issue seems prudent. If we can’t commandeer that restroom, reminding everyone it’s inappropriate and is making female patrons uncomfortable should be sufficient.

    8) Let’s see if we can catch that guy, and specifically talk with him about how that’s not cool.

  5. I’m looking forward to seeing your report! I really dig the idea of a Q&A “tournament report.” Hopefully I’m ‘wrong’ on some of these, and can pick up some new tricks.

    1) Respond! I’d want to say something short and sweet, like “It is tight! We have a full house of over 300 awesome players, please be considerate of your neighbors and push in your chairs and keep your bags at your feet to make it easier for everyone to move about the venue.”

    2) Ask questions & investigate. If he picked up the deck with the intention of returning it & was trying to return it, awesome. Remind him that he can turn things in to judges or TO & we’ll make sure they get to the proper owner. If you suspect theft, it needs to be handled swiftly & subtly. If there’s security at the venue, I like to introduce myself before the event and try to be friendly whenever possible. This is when that pays of in spades. Get them involved immediately & inform the TO ASAP. They will have training & experience that I don’t come close to having. Apply any penalties & drop them from the event after sorting things out with local law enforcement. I don’t have the tools to deal with crime–no shame in calling for help when in above your head

    3) Same. Inform the father of what’s going on, and point him towards the proper authorities.

    4) Keep an eye on the flow of the room, and adjust board placement as needed. Make an announcement that there’s no need to rush, you won’t start the round while people are looking at pairings at a reasonable pace.

    5) Verify the TOs policy for foils (one per entrant, or just a giveaway) and get them a copy of the player list ASAP to cross out names as they give away foils. Make an announcement if necessary, or post a judge on the line to keep things in order & make the announcement more subtly. If players are walking away with promos that aren’t supposed to be for them explicitly, that’s theft of tournament materials, get them out of there (DQ & consider having TO remove from venue), and consider following up as in #2.

    6) I am dissapoint. Let them know that’s not acceptable, and file a DQ after the fact for theft of tournament materials. Make a note that they ‘turned themselves in’ on the report. Just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t mean it’s ok.

    7) Talk to the TO & venue staff ASAP, see if there are long lines. Figure out if there are additional restrooms that aren’t being used, and direct players towards them. Ask the venue staff if they’d be OK relabeling the restrooms to be unisex.

    8) See #7. Ask if anything happened, and find out if they felt threatened or harassed.

    Gender is a more fluid thing than people realize. This gets more complicated if members of our community are transitioning/transgender. Don’t out a person instantly just because their appearance does not match what you expect to see under that label. My focus is on if 1) there’s a problem with having adequate facilities for the venue, and 2) if any harassment is taking place. I have no interest in chasing someone down just because their appearance doesn’t match the box I want to put them in.

    Off my soapbox.

    Sounds like one hell of an event, and I hope some of these examples are hypothetical! I for one would’ve been in way over my head if I had to deal with all this at once. I’m looking forward to hearing how you handled things.

    1. Hi Chase,

      Thanks for replying 🙂 First of all, none of these are hypothetical! It was a very busy weekend.

      Just to follow up on a few of these things:

      1) After saying what you suggest, the player keeps heckling you and points out that the particular row of table he’s sitting in (the second row) is very close to the third row, but there’s a lot of space between his row and the front row. Now what?

      2) Good strategy in general, but what specific questions do you ask to determine if the theft was intentional or not?

      3) Do you talk to the father before, after, and/or while talking to the son?

      7) Independent of the venue staff’s feelings, what message does relabeling the bathrooms to unisex send? Is it a positive one?

      1. 1) Is he right? Is it laid out that way on purpose (egress, etc?). Encourage them to talk to you about it individually, away from or after their match. Either explain briefly why the layout has to be how it is, and if something can be tweaked to make it better for everyone, do it. Grab judges at EOR and get a team of 2 to slide tables around once all the matches on those tables are complete. If there is any open seating, fixed seating is an option for that player, or moving to where there’s more room each round. That’d not be my first choice.

        2) This sort of situation is a weakness of mine, I’d likely ask “How’d the deckbox end up in your bag?” to which they’d answer “I was grabbing it to return to my opponent,” and I’d be stuck with my gut to determine if there’s something else going on.

        3) After. He wasn’t involved in the situation. Though I can see the value of asking “Hey, your son ended up with another player’s deck in their backpack,” and gauging the response–“Oh dammit, he’s stealing again” could be useful info.

        7) For me, it sends no message. Possibly that there weren’t enough restrooms for a skewed demographic. But I realize that I’m not typical in that view, so in the real world it’s not a great option. It could be interpreted as devaluing the women in the room, which is the opposite of what I’d want.

        Finding additional restrooms and directing players there, letting players go during the round/being lenient at the start of the round, etc are better options in general.

        The point I was trying to make is “That person’s appearance doesn’t match gender norms!” is not a reason to hunt down and solve the ‘problem.’ I also realize this very isn’t the situation you were trying to explain in your questions =P

  6. At first I was hesitant to post my responses for fear of being wrong, but then I thought of that old quote “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” so here I go

    1) explain to the player that we were not expecting so many players but I will see what I can do.

    2) I would investigate. maybe they had similar deck boxes, or Blake was in a rush and didn’t notice. I would ask detailed questions and once I feel I can not gleam any further details I’d rule on if it is theft of tournament materials or an honest mistake. I would also consult randy on what he felt Blake’s reaction was when he asked about the deck. If it is theft then i’d disqualify him and (with approval from the To) ask him to leave the venue

    3) I wouldn’t do anything different, however I probably would not request him to leave the venue.

    4) I’d apologize and explain that we just don’t have the resources that an open has to post online pairings. Additionally I’d look to see if there were any other places to post pairings, if not I’d explain to her that she should wait for the crowd to die down and possibly consider extending the tardy time as I doubt she is the only person that feels this way.

    5) this does not fall under theft of tournament materials so there is no infraction. I consider thisthe TO’s responsibility however as the face of the event if I have the time I would likely carry out what the TO asks me to do within reason.

    6) At this point the only thing I can do is explain to him that it wasn’t right for him to do that and ask him to return the extras but I can’t force him to do so.

    7) I would make an announcement at the beginning of the next round to please respect the fact that it is a women’s restrooms and for males to only use it in an emergency.

    8) I ask her to please wait and not create a conflict with the man once he exits. At the beginning of the next round I make the same statement as above.

    1. Thanks for replying, Walter 🙂

      2) What specific questions would you ask?

      5) Can you justify why this isn’t theft of tournament materials?

  7. 1) Tell the player that between rounds the staff will work on spacing out the seats.
    2) Blake should be disqualified for theft, whether intentional or not.
    3) Doesn’t change anything.
    4) Explain to the player that SCG have more resources/staff to post pairings online, and if they have trouble finding their seat to politely ask the scorekeeper or wait for the crowd to disperse.
    5) Have the staff handing out tokens be more vigilant of players taking multiple tokens.
    6) Talk to that player how it’s unfair to the other players to not get their bonus.
    7) The bathroom situation at that venue is terrible, and one of the numerous complaints I’ve heard about this event and the SCG Open that was there last month.
    8) Again, bathroom situation there is terrible, but make an announcement that men should only go to the womens room in an extreme emergency.

    1. Thanks for replying, Mike 🙂

      1) Good idea. Do you work on the spacing between the player meeting and round one, or between round one and round two…?

      2) Why does it not matter whether Blake did it intentionally or accidentally?

      8) A few people have suggested that it’s OK for guys to use the women’s room if it’s “an emergency.” Can you elaborate on this idea?

      1. 1) if the players are really uncomfortable with how close the seats are fix it between player meeting and round 1, otherwise wating until after round 1 is finished is fine.

        2) a player goes to an event expecting their cards to protected, they shouldn’t have to worry if their cards are going to be stolen. Blake could claim it to be an accident, but it could happen again, then he leaves the venue with someone’s deck. DQ after the first time prevents a chance at a second.

        8) for me an emergency would be having gotten food poisoning and having tummy troubles and absolutely needing a toilet to alleviate the problem.

      2. I assume a bathroom emergency would be a scenario where all the facilities in the allocated mens room are in use and you are about to soil yourself if you don’t make it to a bathroom ASAP. I don’t necessarily agree with this sentiment and I think Tournament sites should have the necessary amount of facilities to accommodate the players or those sites should not be used to host tournaments.

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