Welcome back, Judges! This week’s rockstar has a vast toolbox of skills, including the ability to establish great rapport with players along with supporting TOs and stores. Let’s meet Billy Gilmore!
Name: Billy Gilmore
Level: Level 2
Location: Bolivar, Missouri
Judge Start Date: July 7, 2013
Why did you become a Judge? There are two reasons I wanted to become a judge, one was to learn as much about the game that I had been playing since 1994 and second was to help my fellow players to play the game correctly and fix issues that came up in games.
Occupation: Former High School Science and Social Studies teacher. Right now I work at an residential home for boys that have been removed from their homes by the court.
Favorite card: Regeneration by Quinton Hoover. It was the first Magic Art I saw and I became close friends with the Quinton.
Least favorite card: Knowledge Pool, I hate how it messes up a great Commander game.
Commander General: Oros, the Avenger
Favorite non-Magic Game: Video game: World of Warcraft, I have meet a lot of my friends playing it. Board Game: Scythe, so many different ways to win in the game.
Best tournament result: I have won many Store Championships/Game Days.
Random fact about yourself: I own over 100 board and card games.
You were nominated for your ability to support stores by taking the stress of running events off of them and helping to ensure everything runs smoothly. Why do you think it is important for Judges to establish positive relationships with TOs?
As a judge running an event in a store you are acting as part of that store. Your actions can have a positive or negative effect or opinion on the store, and likewise it can cause a positive or negative effect on you as the judge. These positive effects or opinions can only come by a close communication of what the store wants and what you expect as a judge and through this agreement between the judge and the store can allow for an awesome event for the store, the judge, and the players at the event.
You were also nominated for your ability to establish positive rapport with players during events. What tips do you have for Judges who might feel that they struggle with player interactions?
I learned an important concept as a teacher that that I use as a judge and that is there needs to be a professional separation between me and my players.When I am judging, I show a desire to talk and interact with the players and care about how their days is going but I can not do it as a friend during the event. I always enjoy talking with the players and their loved ones at the event but each of them know that I will not show any favoritism and none of them expect it. This past weekend at GP Milwaukee, I saw five of my local players and they showed great desire to tell me about their day and I enjoyed hearing about it, but when I took a judge call from them it was total business and respect on both sides. When I worked my first competitive event as a judge I was concerned that I would receive a negative response from a player by ruling against them but it never came about because the players know that I am maintaining a pure game state as possible and they do not take it personally and are thankful for my rapport with them.
What are some tips you have for other Judges?
When I work with new judges I always tell them that they as judges will make mistakes, but it is important as a judge to learn from them and make sure to if possible seek out the players when you realize that you made the mistake and make sure they understand the correct ruling. I know that it is humbling to admit to a mistake and there is a concern that the player will be angry with you but I have never had a player get upset with me over a mistake. This is because you need to remember that they did not know the answer to the call when they called you to help them out and as long as you find the players in a short amount of time the damage from the bad call is mostly small.
Tell us your favorite Judge story.
This a bit of a long story but I never thought I would receive a judge call that both players thought they won the last game.
The call came from a Modern PPTQ a couple years ago when I was called over to a game where both players were in the middle of trying to see who was going to play or draw for the next game. One player asked if his opponent was going to play and that player said that he won the last game and the other player said that he won that game. After a long investigation it came to a two point discrepancy from a shock land coming into play untapped, both players agreed that Player one was at three life but Player one thought that his opponent was at seven life and Player two thought he was at nine life.
At the end of Player two’s turn he suspended a Rift Bolt and passed the turn and Player one attacked Player two for 5 points of damage and the after combat he cast Kolaghan’s Command to deal the last two points of damage. Player two then though that he was passed the turn so he assumed that Player one was scooping to lethal damage from the Rift Bolt and Player one thought that Player Two was dead so they shuffled for the next game.
After a long investigation I could not come up with enough evidence that the shock land did or did not come into play tapped so I ruled the last game was a draw and that they should move on to a new game.
What is your favorite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges (or after event story)?
Some of my most memorable moments come from when I see a judge while we are traveling to or from an event. This morning I had a great time eating breakfast at the airport as myself and another judge that was traveling with me ran into three other judges that were heading to their flights and four of us had breakfast and they talked about Pokemon online while I just enjoyed their company before we all went our separate ways. The time that I get to spend with other judges when we are not judging allows me to get to know them and then they get to know me better.
What challenges have you faced or are you facing to become a better judge, and how have you worked to overcome them?
I have and continue to work on my self esteem as a judge and it is a daily struggle to remember that I have worth in the program and that I would not be allowed the many opportunities that I have received if others did not see value in me. One reason that I involved myself in Judge Buddy was to help judges that are newer to the Grand Prix events that it is okay to make mistakes as long as we grow and get better at our calls, this fear of making mistakes was paralyzing to me in my early days of becoming a judge and I am working on removing the fear from my mind so that I can be the best judge I can be for my players and TOs.
How has being a Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
Seeing that I work nights at my current job it is hard to make a lot of friends outside of work seeing I am awake at the opposite times most of people, but the days that I get to go to events I get to spend time and create a whole new set of friends. The weekends that I get to spend judging allows me to have a double life and gives me the desire to see those friends as much as I can.
Who have been some of your biggest mentors in the Judge Program, and what did they teach you?
I have had many mentors in the program and most of them have taught me to believe in myself. The one mentor that has help me gain the opportunities that I have now is Maximilian Schroeder. Even though Max was over two hours away from me he took the opportunity to help me pass my Level 2 test and has molded me into the judge that I am and will always grow towards but has had a hand in all the judges that I work with and have mentored, because what I am is part of what Max instilled into me. Max was one of two judges that surprised me into testing for Level 1, I was tested at GP Kansas City without knowing anything about what a judge did or that I would be testing for said Level 1. It was over a year later that I asked Max to help me start working towards L2 and he took time out of his over busy life to talk, mentor and quiz me over Skype and it was my most proud day that I passed my L2 test and that made good on what Max instilled in me. I always hoped that me and Max would become L3 some day and I hope that it can come true.
What positive aspects has the Judge Program contributed to your everyday life?
The largest aspect that has a positive effect on my everyday life is the friends that I have from all over the world from judging. I know at any time I can send a message and I will get to be uplifted, get encouragement or gain strength from hearing from them.
What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
The best part of my community is that I am allowed to be who I am and I get to spend a great time playing with my friends in any way that is available.
What is your favorite non-Magic hobby?
I love playing board games and playing World of Warcraft, these things allow me to spend time with others which is one of the most valuable things to me.
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
It was an offshoot of a D&D group I was in, me and one of the players in the group found out about Magic and decided to play it because it did not need a whole group when we were not playing D&D and I fell in love with the artwork and the game play and it up taking over our D&D night for months because we would just play Magic instead of playing D&D.
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I would talk to my friend and Magic artist friend Quinton Hoover again because the loss of my friend has been the most devastating loss in my life to date.
If you were a Planeswalker what would be your ultimate?
Make all of my friends have a fun and fulfilling life.
What is the proudest moment of your Judge life?
The thing that brings the most pride to my judge life is watching one of my first judge-lings work towards Level Two and become a valued member of the Operation an Administration Team at over 15 Grand Prix this year and that judge is Peter Strauch. His desire to become a judge brought back to me a desire to pursue Level Three after having a stressful development and when he decided to start applying to Grand Prix it was awesome to watch him grow and develop and create a lot of what is done in Ops and Administration at GPs this year. Having a judge nearby me that is active in judge GPs gives me someone to travel with and talk to on a daily basis and has given me a different viewpoint on what it is to be a L1 and L2 in the judge program and I am so proud of all that he has done and taught me in the time that I have been mentoring him.
What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
This would have to go back to my very first Magic game where my friend Darren and myself were trying to learn out to play the game from an Unlimited rulebook, if anyone has ever tried this you know this is almost impossible; the rulebook said that you had to tap to attack and so my friend had this awesome creature, Serra Angel, that said did not tap to attack so he dealt to me over 40 points of damage by just attacking me over and over till he killed all of my fliers and then me.
What character in Magic (real or fictional) represents you the best, and why?
Ajani Goldmane, as a planeswalker his goal was to bring justice to those that killed his brother and to those that needed protection and he changes himself four times to better accomplish what was needed (white, then red/white, back to white, then green/white)
What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
I would still be playing D&D and video games but I would have missed meeting all of the awesome and varied friends that I have meet playing Magic and most of all judging.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for this opportunity for me to think about how I got here and the courage to make even more people’s life more positive.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- I played the flute in Middle School and High School band.
- I have a pet cat, named Sydney, that can count.
- I have to sleep on the right side of the bed when I stay in hotels at GPs.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!