Welcome, Judges, to another edition of Judge of the Week! This week’s Judge, after multiple nominations from the Czech community, is Jara Karban! Let’s meet him…
Name: My name is Jaroslav Karban. I prefer if people call me Jara.
Location: Prague, Czech Republic
Judge start date:
Occupation: IT Network Administrator
Favourite card: Leviathan
Least favourite card: Sensei’s Divining Top
Favourite format: Currently, Modern.
Commander General: None. (I don’t play Commander.)
Favourite non-Magic Game: D&D, preferably 3.5th edition
Best tournament result: 5-4 at a Legacy GP. I also used to be moderately good at Vintage.
Random fact about yourself: I have two sisters, one younger, one older than I am.
Why did you become a Judge?
There were two of us (shopkeepers) in a small Magic shop; one of us had to learn the rules, and become a Judge. We both ran events there, and we were both lazy. I think it was decided by a coin flip. If I knew back then how it would influence my life…
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
As a player? I saw Magic for the first time at a summer camp, in 1995, along with my cousin, Martin. We started playing it almost immediately after we returned home. I bought a starter of Fourth Edition. Compared to how much people earned here, Magic was extremely expensive. Luckily I do not remember if I opened any valuable cards, as back then trading was crazy here; either you had a magazine that printed prices, or you got robbed. Martin was the better player then, and he still is. He kept killing my bears and mammoths with Hypnotic Specters, Terrors, and Sinkholes. And Sengir Vampires! We kept playing at home, in school, or in the sidewalk in front of the card shops, right until I left the game by the time Tempest was released. I clearly remember thinking that Alliances was strong, but Tempest is overpowered. 🙂
How has being a Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
It certainly keeps consuming lot of weekends! On the brighter side, it has changed me a lot, in a good way. I have become less conflictive, more responsible, and practice has given me organisation and communication skills. I have also seen places I otherwise wouldn’t, like the Nevada desert or Tokyo. I even met my girlfriend at an event organized by another Judge, she was cooking at the Magic Summer camp for kids. Thanks for inviting me, Zdenek!
You were originally nominated by Milan Majerčík for your leadership skills in the Czech community, and he says “I think it will not take long before the Czech Judge Community has an L3 Judge again!”. Do you see yourself as a leader in your community? Are you trying to get to L3, and if you do, how do you think having an L3 in the Czech Republic will help your community?
I consider myself a leader in the Czech community, yes. Players and Judges mostly accept me. I am far, far from a perfect judge, but I do think I am at the level of other new L3 judges. I try to hold various factions among judges and TOs together, sometimes I try fix problems others would rather overlook. I am trying to get to L3. The thing is, I tried before, and I wasn’t ready, I did not do much to get it. It takes much more than potential and interest to get to L3. We will see. I think that a community as big as ours does work better with a leader. Having a certified L3 judge as a leader is much better than a talented L2 – even if it is the same person. Among other reasons, it shows that the program thinks the person has the skills and knowledge necessary. Also, a local L3 can potentially certify L2s and give recommendations to L3. Besides, I don’t expect L3 to be the end of the learning curve.
What motivates you to continue being a Judge?
Well, I like to think I make a difference, that the fact that I continue meddling into many Magic related affairs in the Czech Republic yields better results than if I didn’t do it. I have knowledge, contacts, and determination to continue doing so. I have also made many friends in the community, and judging a tournament along with friends is well worth the occasional bad days. Besides, as I said, being a judge positively influenced me, who is to say there isn’t more to get in that aspect? I am about as likely to willingly stop Judging as to stop being a network administrator. It is part of who I am now.
What is one tip you have for other Judges?
Stay in touch with other Judges around you. Plan a worthy shared activity if no one else does. Chess, beer drinking, surfing. Not just for the program. You might otherwise miss the opportunity to make great friends that will stay with you in good or bad times.
What is your favourite non-Judging moment that happened with other Judges?
Do you know what lepayas are? It is a sort of fruit that potentially grows in California, if you argue with other Judges long enough. When I was at the US at PT Hollywood in 2008, we went on a road trip with Carlos Ho, Raül Rabionet, Giorgos Trichopoulos, and Nicolas Glik. We were arguing what was growing on the fields we were passing, I think it was on the way to Hoover Dam. I was claiming it was lemons, someone else insisted it was papayas. It was neither. I don’t even remember what it was any more, possibly oranges. Later it was simply agreed it was a lepaya field. It was the first time I left Europe, everything was very new and different for me. Getting to US was something I did not really consider easily done – Communism was slowly waning here when I was a small kid, I was 8 when it ended. I remember being in shock after my arrival, where I got to, and how easily. I saw great many things on that holiday – Sequoia trees, the Grand Canyon and Nico wanted to kill me for talking too much. I would not trade that road trip for any other holiday I ever had.
What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
I am infamous for TE – Slow Play. Whenever I have more than one obvious option to play, I start thinking and re-thinking. (Then I choose wrong of course.) It is not intentional at all, yet it makes opponents bored, or even annoyed. I start apologizing, but that takes time and concentration. When I play, time runs much faster!
What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
I could think of many. A lot of those were ran by TOs that are my friends. Others were special for some reason, like Worlds at Louvre, or Slovakian Nationals at the beaches of Sunny Lakes. The first gave Magic a lot of dignity. At the second, we used our lunch breaks to swim in the lake, and in the evening some went to swimming pools and some to parties.
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Depends on if I could warn them of what is coming to them, or just learn from them. I was contemplating JFK. Was he killed because of FED or Churchill and Roosevelt (because of the outcome of the Yalta conference); did the weakening Roosevelt actually believe Stalin? I would also like to have a word with Chamberlain, he probably did what he had to at Munich, but anyways. I guess most useful would be Nikola Tesla, anyway. I would like to know how to build his rumoured death rays and force fields.
What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
I would finally have enough time to play Dungeons and Dragons and holiday days left for proper holidays. 🙂 But I shouldn’t be whining, as I left my last job a few months ago.
What is the strangest card interaction you have seen in a tournament?
I would rather tell you about one card that disrupted my tournament on its own. I recall I was the Head Judge at some tournament with a player playing a Shahrazad deck. Every round I had to go to the table, and help his opponent understand that indeed, they are to leave the current game aside, and start a subgame. I of course had to figure out how it works in the first place – we did not have smart phones with Oracle text then. It worked differently with cards removed from the subgame, than it would now, and it made more sense to play it. (And Shahrazad has been banned since 2007).
If you were a creature what would be your creature type?
Minotaur. Minotaur Inquisitor.
What hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
Snowboarding! But I am really bad at it. It seems to be one of the sports you need to start early in life, as adults are more afraid of getting hurt. Snowboarding is a sport for people that are not afraid, it is actually easier and safer! Playing D&D, preferably when staying outside the city for more than one day. I am planning to go play D&D 5th edition just this weekend! I also practice archery, but I am a beginner. Muscles are required, it would appear. Playing all sorts of board games, and other games, including computer games. I also have a bicycle, but I don’t use it nearly as much as I used to.
Proudest moment of your Judge life?
There were successes that I am proud of. Years ago, I have helped set and enforce a standard of how much money judges should get for work. First in Prague, and later it influenced the rest of the country. I was proud when other judges thanked me for organizing a very good Czecho-Slovakian conference last time.
If you were a Planeswalker what would be your ultimate?
You would get an emblem “At the beginning of your upkeep, you can find a creature card in your library. You can put it on the battlefield. It gains haste. If you do, exile all other creatures.”
Two Truths and A Lie
Two of the following answers about Jara are true, figure out which!
- I really like guinea pigs, roof rats, and other rodents.
- I used to own a Vintage deck with Power 9, Phyrexian Dreadnoughts and Illusionary Masks, but it got stolen.
- I broke the engine of my first car on a way to a GP, there was a faulty sealing and we lost all oil.
Thank you so much, Jara, for your time and patience, and we hope you and your community (as well as everyone else) enjoy this interview! Join us next week to meet another Judge – see you then!