Taking Selfies – Part Three

RikiOver the last couple of months we’ve explored the general value of introspection and self reviews. This value is one of the reasons that the Level 3 Advancement Process requires a comprehensive Self Review (in caps to distinguish it from normal self reviews). It’s important for L3s to be able to examine themselves honestly and critically.

This month I’ll go over four of the Qualities of a Premier Judge (L3), as well as offer quick tips for using these qualities to evaluate yourself with an eye towards writing the big Self Review. And fittingly, the first quality I’ll address is self-evaluation.


In writing about or discussing this quality, judges commonly write something to this effect: “This is my first self review. I need to write more.” If you’ve never written a self review, your path to improving this quality is simple: write more self reviews!

Of course, self reviews do not need to be as in-depth as the one required as part of the L3 Advancement Process. By design, the L3 advancement Self Review is the most difficult kind of self evaluation to write. As a result, you shouldn’t wait till you’re ready to advance to review yourself.

You can and should practice pieces of the Self Review now. For example, if you botch something logistically at an event, write a self review framing the discussion in terms of an L3 advancement Quality. Habitually writing these reviews will provide you with a backlog of material that you can use in the Self Review to indicate your professional growth.

Snap Tip: Start writing self reviews early and often. Frame your reflection in terms of the 9 Qualities to give yourself a metric for evaluating and articulating your development.


This Quality has a more obvious identifying metric: your quantity of submitted reviews. If you haven’t written even the required number for the advancement guidelines, you’ve got a deficiency, a clear area for improvement.

But that’s just quantity. What about the quality of this Quality? (Now you see why I choose to capitalize the 9 Qualities of a Regional Judge.) How good do your reviews have to be, and how can you tell when they are good enough? One useful strategy is to compare your reviews to the ones you receive, especially reviews from L3s. What are they doing that you could incorporate into your reviews?

Also keep in mind that this Quality isn’t just about reviews; it’s about developing judges. So whom have you developed? Name names. Writing that you’ve certified four new L1s isn’t as useful as recording whom you’ve certified, especially if those judges have gone on to become L2s. Even more important than identifying the who is explaining how. You need to describe specifically ways you’ve helped to develop other judges in the program.

Snap Tip: Write about the judges that you’ve developed and how you did so.


Every judge call is an investigation, not just the ones that end up with a DQ. This is one of my constant mantras about this Quality. Far too often judges write “I haven’t DQed anyone, so I don’t have any information on this quality.” That’s a cop out.

In many nuanced investigations, you need to figure out the details of what happened even when you’re pretty sure there wasn’t any cheating. The classic example is the life total dispute, where two player have written down different things, usually because one of them forgot to record a change. This kind of investigation involves asking players to recount their actions over the past few turns, reconciling that information with the visual evidence available to you, and determining which version of events you find to be more plausible.

Can you handle investigations like this? Do you know what questions to ask? And most importantly, can you get to the bottom of things in a timely manner?

Snap Tip: Think about this Quality as more than just DQs.


The baseline for this Quality is penalty and policy knowledge. It’s hard to have a solid base in philosophy if you can’t even get the rules questions right. But I’ve also found that in a roundabout way, a better understanding of the philosophy can help your rules knowledge. If you understand why we do things, you can often fill in the gaps even when your knowledge of the specifics fails you.

It’s easy enough to find a gauge for policy knowledge: take some exams. Testing your philosophy is a little more difficult. It requires an exploration of why. Asking “Why does this upgrade to a Game Loss exist?” is an excellent way to explore philosophy. Of course, it’s best to explore such questions with an experienced mentor to make sure that you are calibrating yourself properly. If you participate in discussions with other judges, pay attention to the nuances of “why” and reflect on which judges your opinions line up with.

Snap Tip: Engage in policy discussions and explore why judges rule the way they do.

Hopefully, this post gives you a good framework with which to start evaluating yourself in writing. Next month, I’ll overview the remaining five L3 advancement Qualities with more tips for incorporating those Qualities into your path to self-improvement.

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