Irina Samonova

Hello again! Let’s get to it. Today’s Judge of the Week is Irina Samonova, Level 2 from Moscow, Russia! Irina was nominated by two judges Maria Zuyeva and Egorshev Dmitry!

Maria Zuyeva, L2 Russia has this to say:
“Irina was the person who motivated me in becoming a judge. I know a lot of people who became interested in judging the same way. She has been writing judge and rules articles for a long-long time. I had read her articles and became a rules geek! She is an active judge in our local comunity, she HJs large events, certifies newcomers, helps them to become active members and to grow as judges. She also runs different ask-a-judge columns, where she gives answers to players’ questions. She does not provide players with “yes/no” answers – she gives them an explanation on how particular things work in general, to help players not only receive an answer, but to understand rules.”

Vyacheslav Grebenyuk and Irina at Russian Nationals 2005.
Vyacheslav Grebenyuk and Irina at Russian Nationals 2005.

Favourite card:  Dear Maro, please print more kittens! Funny little fluffy kittens! Foil, of course!

Least favourite card:  Humility. I think each and every judge in the world should buy a playset of this card and burn it! No more questions about Humility!

Favourite format:  Commander, Vintage Tribal War and Legacy Team Trios

Commander general:  Oh… I ‘ve got 5 Commander decks and it’s really difficult to choose the favorite one. Let it be Sharum from my EDH-infect!

Favourite non-Magic game (card/board game): Potions (Zel’evarenie) – nice Russian card game. It’s very easy from first sight and very funny. Later you will understand it’s not so easy. Does it sound familiar?

Best Tournament Result:  The winner of two GP Paris Trials for two different GP Paris.

There is famous Russian joke about Paris:
– I would like to visit Paris again…
– Have you already been there?
– No. But I have already wanted.
I did everything in the opposite way. I won GPT and went to GP. Twice.

Tell us your favorite judge story.
It was my very first event as a certified judge. FNM (Friday NightMare), three tables daft in two adjoining rooms. 5th or 6th pick. “Judge! I have been passed 4 cards!”.  Oop-s.

Tell us an embarrassing story that you’re not afraid of everyone knowing.
Long-long time ago in a galaxy far away… when I have just started playing Magic I thought that Soulshift was an activated ability (Why not? Some number is printed on it!). I’m very grateful to Denis Mikheev (L2 Nizhny Novgorod, Russia) who spent a lot of time answering my stupid newbie questions.

How has being a judge influenced your non-Magic life?
What life? :)Being a Magic player and a judge is sort of way of life. Your friends are bright, clever and funny people. You travel around the country and around the world. You meet lots of new people. And every day you study something new. It’s amazing!

You were nominated by Dmitry because of your article-writing skills. What do you write about, and how do you make your articles interesting?
Actually I’m running two columns. One of them is for judges, called Judge School.

The second is for players. It’s card of the week. Like any other real woman I can make three things out of nothing: a salad, a dress and a scandal. I’m a female judge, so I can write an article about any card, even Grizzly Bears. 😉

HJ for 2009 Ukranian Nationals
HJ for 2009 Ukranian Nationals

What motivates you to continue being a judge?
Crazy people who play a funny game and take it all seriously.

What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
I really adore Russian Legacy community. They always provide me questions for my future articles.


What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other judges?
After GP Amsterdam 2011 one of the players came to me and asked:
– Did Ricardo tell you something about last night?
– No, why?
–Imagine this: 2 a.m. Some judges are walking in the Red-light zone. We notice them, come close and cry loudly: “Replenish, Opalescence, Humility!!!”

What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
Ha-ha! I’m the best at breaking the rules! And do you know why?  Because my opponents see me as a judge and they can’t even imagine that a JUDGE can make mistakes. So… here goes a funny story about Mental Magic (or Jedi tricks):
It was an extended tournament at Competitive REL. I piloted an elves deck. You know: Glimpse of Nature, a lot of elves, a lot of mana, finisher and… my opponent is dead. My opponent was playing an Affinity deck.
At some point during the game two my opponent controlled only one creature – the Arcbound Ravager. On my turn I produced 4 mana and casted an elf, targeting opponent’s Ravager with corner of the elf card (there aren’t the droids you’re looking for!). The opponent took his Ravager and put it into his graveyard (these aren’t the droids we’re looking for!). I put my elf on the battlefield and passed the turn. During my opponent’s turn I decided to read my card (it was the perfect time!) and realized that my elf was Nullmage Shepherd not Viridian Shaman. Surprise! I told my opponent: “It seems we did something strange”. He looked at my Nullmage Shepherd and said “Yes, we did”. I called a judge.

What is your ruling in this situation?

Christian and Irina.
Christian and Irina.

If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Doctor, of course! Do you want to ask me why? 🙂 You should have asked: “Who?”

What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
I’ll travel with this guy. 🙂



What character in Magic (real or fictional) represents you the best, and why?
Summoning. Heartless Summoning.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Judge the game, see the world! Have a lot of fun!

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

1. I was born in Siberia.
2. I never drink vodka.
3. I can’t do the Lotus pose.

A big thanks to Irina for providing such an excellent interview! Please leave your guesses and comments down below, and make sure to nominate a judge today!

The answer to last week's Two Truths and a Lie...
Fabian did not study architecture as part of his degree.
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