Hello Judges, and welcome once again to JotW! This week we take a trip to Florida for a short but sweet meet-up with the last of the Fitzgeralds, an L2 from Sarasota, FL, Mr. George Fitzgerald IV! George certified on October 19th, 2010, and hit L2 on Semptember 12th, 2011!
Occupation: Information Systems Manager
Favourite card: Enchantress’s Presence
Least favourite card: Back to Basics
Favourite format: Commander Commander General: Mayael the Anima and Patron of the Moon
Favourite non-Magic Game: Master of Orion 2
Best tournament result: 10th place at a ~80 person PTQ.
Random fact about yourself: Other than my dad, I am the last male FitzGerald in my extended family.
Why did you become a judge? My area was devoid of a certified judge and I started to become the person that people looked to when they had rules questions. As our Prereleases also grew bigger, I decided that we really needed a certified judge. I jumped into a judge training question session that CJ Crooks was holding at a TCGPlayer $1k in Orlando and he got me connected with new Level 2, Justin Turner. I started training with him and a month later certified for Level 1. The rest is history.
Tell us your favourite judge story. After a month or so of driving an hour to St. Pete once a week to meet with Justin Turner and learn about rules and judging, I walked into the store we had been meeting at and he asks me “You ready to test?” “Ehh, I guess so.” “You guess so? You better be sure, because you’re testing tonight.” Turner has never lacked for confidence. After convincing the store owner to stay open late enough for me to test, he fiddled with the computer to try to get the test printed out. After 45 minutes of struggles, he finally manages to get it printed. I sit down with my basic lands and start taking the test. This was before the redefinition of Level 1 and it was a 50 question test. I got about 2/3 of the way through the test and the store owner decides he’s ready to close up and go home and he won’t change his mind. So, I end up sitting on a park bench outside with just orange bug lights to finish taking my test. When I took my test, I went through and answered every question and then went back through and double checked each answer before recording it. After another 45 minutes on the bench, I finally was finished. We make our way to Turner’s apartment where he graded my test, slow rolls me, and then gives me the news that I’ve passed the test. When I tested for Level 2 shortly after Turner’s promotion to Level 3, it was under slightly better conditions. It was at a different game store where I sat and took my test on top of a stack of 5,000 count boxes in the back room.
How did you get involved in magic in the first place?
The summer after 5th grade, my family moved to a new church. At the beginning of the school year, our youth group had a lock in (for those that don’t know, it’s basically an organized sleep over). A couple of the older guys were playing the Star Wars CCG that Decipher made in the mid-90s. I was a big Star Wars fan and got very interested. One of the guys took me under his wing and was the person that taught me to play that, as well as the Star Trek CCG and eventually Magic. At the time, I didn’t really get into Magic, but after bouncing through a few other card games, I finally started getting serious about it shortly after Mirrodin was released.
What is one tip you have for other judges?
Make friends and build relationships. There are often very nice rewards to judging, but having friends in the program helps to keep that fire going even when your interest in the game (or in playing the game) wanes. What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
Judge Dinners. When Ben McDole rose to prominence in the Florida Judge Community, there was Sheldon Menery, an inactive L3 and a smattering of L1s. There was a large divide between the players in the state and the judges that were active. One of the reforms Ben instituted was the Judge Dinner and it has continued to be a mainstay at Florida events and a tradition that we make it a point to extend out of region whenever we can. We are all inclusive, inviting judges, players, TOs, vendors, whoever wishes to join us. We only ask that you be interested in fellowship and good times. Through the Judge Dinner tradition, we have built a strong, cohesive group of judges. Not only are we colleagues, but I count many of these judges as the best friends I’ve ever had.
What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
It was at the Mirrodin Besieged Release event. I hadn’t played in the Prerelease and had no clue of the format. When I built my deck, I tried to go big. I lost hard in my first round and my opponent helped me rebuild my deck into an Infect deck (which apparently was really good because I didn’t drop another game). In one game, I had a Tel-Jilad Fallen. My opponent had a lot of blockers, as did I, so I equipped a Heavy Arbalest to my Tel-Jilad Fallen… who has Protection from Artifacts… and won the game. Oops. I didn’t realize it until a couple rounds later.
What has been your favourite magic event that you’ve judged?
Grand Prix Las Vegas. It was a very well run event after the initial set-up, it was my first time working Day 2 of a Limited Grand Prix, and the adventures we had after the Grand Prix were awesome.
Could you share a story from Vegas with us? There are so many great stories from so many judges!
We asked around with some judges of a good restaurant to hit up. And Louis Fernandez suggested a place called “Hash House A-Go-Go” where the food was described as being “Las Vegas sized.” After a drive by the Pawn Stars location and a trip to the Spy Museum so we could say we did something other than just gamble in Vegas, we hit up the restaurant. It was myself, Matt Williams, Casey Hogan, Bryan Prillaman, and Jeph Foster. We sit around a table and eye the menu before making our selections. Corned beef hash for Matt, Chicken and Waffles for Casey, roasted pork for Bryan, and Chicken Pot Pies for me and Jeph. We snacked a little bit on the bread that they gave us which was outstanding. Then the food came out and our jaws hit the floor at the size of the servings. Jeph Foster started to cry and immediately admitted defeat at the hands of Chicken Pot Pie! We did share some food around and it proved to all be delicious. I did my best to dig into the chicken pot pie, but it was just too much food to eat in one sitting. Casey, the smallest among our group, was the lone person to finish his meal, quite the impressive feat.
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
My paternal Grandfather. He served in the U.S. Air Force shortly after it was formed in the late 40s and worked on radar systems. Later, he got a job with Convair and worked on the radar tracking systems for the Atlas rocket program. The Atlas rockets were the United States’ first ICBM and later adapted for use with the Mercury program. My grandfather died in a car accident when my dad was 6.
What is your favorite “after event” story?
After a StarCityGames event in Orlando, we made a trip to a local Cracker Barrel for a judge dinner. There were somewhere around 10-12 people in attendance. Justin Turner ordered the Country Fried Steak and asked if he could get all 3 sides as Mashed Potatoes. The waitress gave him some sass and told him only if he could finish it all. “Challenge Accepted” I believe was what Turner uttered in response. And so dinner came out and he had 3 large sides of mashed potatoes. Turner is a competitive person and he vowed to not be defeated by Mashed Potatoes. However, he was. He did not eat any of that country fried steak and came very close to finishing his mashed potatoes. It was a glorious battle that he did not win. Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following answers are true, figure out which!
1. There have been over 25 Grand Prix events smaller than the largest PTQ I head judged.
2. I was a Varsity Starting Offensive Guard in High School for two years
3. I am a season ticket holder for the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey club.The answer to the last Two Truths and a Lie...
Written by John Temple and Pedro Gonçalves