Irina Samonova

Hello Judges! We have a special feature for this week’s installment of Judge of the Week. For Exemplar wave #16, Irina Samonova had been chosen as your Exemplar Vanguard. So we have reached out to ask her a few questions. Enjoy the answers and you may also compare and find out what is new since the last time Irina was interviewed.

Irina SamonovaName: Irina Samonova
Level: 2
Location: Russia
Judge start date: L1 September 2005; L2 May 2006
Occupation: E-commerce
Favorite card: Waiting in the Weeds and other cards with cute cats
Least favorite card: Any card can be used. At least as handmade material. 🙂
Favorite format: 2HG Limited, EDH, legacy
Commander General: Kaho, Minamo Historian for this week
Favorite non-Magic Game: Mafia
Best tournament result: I don’t know how to play this game 🙂 I only know how to judge it. 😉 Won some tournaments, made 6-3 on Day 1 at a GP. Twice. 😉
Random fact about yourself: My project has existed for more than 10 years and majority of today’s Russian judges were grown on it!

Why do you Judge?
People, travelling, brain training.

You have been nominated to be the Exemplar Vanguard for Wave #16. What’s it like?
Excited. Astonished. Pleased.

Irina, the supreme Judge
Irina, the supreme Judge

Please tell us a bit about the decision process for your Exemplar token Art. Why a cute kitten token?
I’m a strong and independent woman, so… (there is a Russian meme about a strong and independent woman who owns 40 cats).

I’m collecting cats. The first time I looked at Waiting in the Weeds, I was lost. 😉 Many players know about my collection and present me cute kittens.

Your nomination for Vanguard is based on an Exemplar recognition written by Nikita Tarima mentioning your superb mentoring skills and willingness to share your knowledge from your years of Judging experience. What is your approach to this topic? Do you have an advice for Judges who would like to get better in this regard?
Long-long time ago in a galaxy far away… I was a Math teacher at university. Math is a science that you need to really understand, not just learn by heart. Magic is the same. If you can understand the mechanics, you can resolve any interaction. Therefore, if a player asks you a question at a tournament, you provide the answer and a short explanation. If player asks you a rule question outside of the tournament you have time and opportunity to help them to understand the base of interaction. As result, they can solve the problem themselves and become educated better. And can be proud for their own achievement.

Irina, years in our fruitful collaboration and I still am fascinated by the depth and precision of your talent with teaching within the Judge Program: be it in the form of articles, conference presentations, dialog with the readers or players at the tournaments, or work with other judges. It is true that vast experience defines a lot of it, however you still keep making sure that the person listening to you could come to the conclusions by themselves, by taking a moment to hear what you’ve said, process it, analyze and consolidate the resulting knowledge. I admire the work you’ve done at the Judge conference and at the Russian Nationals last summer: working and mentoring others at the same time, with a smile, is not a trivial task. Not only you have proved this task can be done, but it can be done with great success and with high quality results. You are a kind of judge every large tournament needs so that the quality of our community could keep rising. Thank you for your fantastic work.

You can read more about Irina’s selection as the Vanguard on the Exemplar Project’s blog.Irina's Exemplar Token

Tell us your favorite Judge story.
It was Worlds 2006 in Paris. 256 mostly French-speaking people were playing a Legacy side event. There were only two judges for the whole tournament, two Russian-speaking judges. It was near 2 a.m.
“Judge! May do this?”
“Eh…” (an unfamiliar card was in French) “Can you translate the card for me?”
… the player describes the card text…
“Let’s clarify. Does it contain word ‘target’?”
“You can.”
“It does!”
“Then you cannot!”

4 Judges in Zebra shirts
Blast from the Past – can you identify who are these magnificent judges?

What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
Grand Prix Moscow 2012. We definitely need more GPs in Russia.

What challenges have you faced or are you facing to become a better judge, and how have you worked to overcome them?
The main challenge is the lack of time. You can’t be a good judge, if you don’t judge. Theory is only theory. Only practice shows that you really know and that you need to improve. So, I try to judge regularly. Judge, make mistakes, work on them, ask colleagues for help if need be.

Who have been some of your biggest mentors in the Judge Program, and what did they teach you?
During all these years, I met many cool judges and all of them are my mentors. But I would like to say special thanks to 3 people: Vyacheslav Grebenyuk, Ivan Petkovic and Riccardo Tessitori.

What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
There are people in Russian community who have been playing Magic for decades. For most of them MTG is not just a game, it’s a mode of life. “Mages are friends” — that is the motto.

What positive aspects has the Judge Program contributed to your everyday life?
Communication skills, stress management, ability to make decisions and public speech skills.

What motivates you to continue being a Judge?
People, travelling, brain training. 🙂

What is one tip you have for other Judges?
Be honest, be reasonable and have fun.

Proudest moment of your Judge life?
The moments when people come to me at tournaments and thank me for articles I write. When they ask for an autograph and make selfies with me, I feel a little confused.

What is your favorite non-Magic hobby?
Travelling, photography and cooking. I like to make pictures and write about them at my website

You have visited many countries and cities during your Judge career. Which trip was the best one? Which places are still waiting on your list?
Yes, I have visited nearly 20 countries. The most interesting was the trip to PT Kyoto. Japan is weird from the European point of view. Beautiful, alien, tricky.

Many places are waiting. Ireland, for example. There is something unsettling about the fact that a Guinness fan like me has never been to Ireland. Two tickets to Dublin, please.

Greenseeker card made 3D
Greenseeker card made 3D by Irina.

What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
Making 3D cards from my card pool.

How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
My good friend told me about the Shandalar game. I think it happened in 1998.

What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
I played Bone Splinters as an Executioner’s Capsule and put it on the battlefield. The opponent wasn’t against it. I noticed the next turn and called a judge. He was surprised.

If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Doctor Who

If you were a Planeswalker what would be your ultimate?
Happiness. To everybody. Free of charge.

If you were a creature what would be your creature type?

What character in Magic (real or fictional) represents you the best, and why?
None. I’m the One. 🙂

Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!

  1. Once, I disqualified a player and he was thankful for that.
  2. I judged many tournaments before becoming level 1.
  3. While serving as a judge at a Grand Prix, I caught a bride’s bouquet.
The answer to the last Two Truths and a Lie...
Zie Aun Tan was in the hospital for a week for dengue fever yes, but didn’t have his cards with him.

If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!

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