Kevin Desprez, L5

Welcome, Judges, to another edition of Judge of the Week! It is with great honor we feature this week’s interview… meet Kevin Desprez, L5 Judge!

Name: Kevin DESPREZ
Level: 5
Location: Lille, France
Judge start dates:
L1: 08/2002
L2: 11/2003
L3: 12/2006, Worlds in Paris
L4: 12/2008, Worlds in Memphis
L5: 01/2014, High Level Conference in Seattle

Occupation: GP Organizer and L5 judge
Favorite card: Aluren
Least favorite card: Winter Orb
Favorite format: Limited
DUEL Commander general: Azusa, Lost but Seeking
Favorite non-Magic Game: Kingsburg
Best tournament result: GP Lyon 2003, Quarter Finals
Random fact about yourself: I never roll for higher, because there can be draws. I always go with Even or Odd.

A young(er) Kevin Desprez wins Round 14 to make Top 8 at GP Lyon, 2003.

Why did you become a judge?
I’d say this happened a bit by accident. This is a conversation that happened between my local TO and myself back in the days:

“You’re generally curious about the rules, would you like to become a judge?”
“Why not, what do I need to do?”
“You read English?”
“Well, here’s this document to read” (the Comprehensive Rules).

A few weeks later, after I had dropped from an Invasion Block PTQ, I passed the test in the kitchen of a shop, between the ham and the butter 😀

How did you become a L4+?
Through my career, I’ve mostly been an Events-oriented judge; the challenge of finishing a tournament on time has always been in my mind. Hence, I’ve started developing tools so that tournaments would go smoother and smoother. In 2008, at PT Berlin’s Side Events, I ran a 340-player Limited PTQ with a constantly changing staff (even the Team Leads were fluctuating, congrats Claire Dupré and Jan de Vries for making it work most of the day!) whose 9 rounds finished in a bit more than 10 hours. That would not be nearly as impressive today, but back at the time, that was pretty amazing. I guess that qualified me as capable to Head Judge GPs.

On the next PT (Worlds in Memphis), I learnt in the morning that the decision had been taken not to allow L3s to Head Judge GPs anymore. I felt extremely sad as this is one of my personal goals in the Program then I got promoted in the evening. 😀

Taking a well-deserved rest after PT Berlin, 2008.
Taking a well-deserved rest after PT Berlin, 2008.

What’s it like being a L4+?  What would you like the community to know about being L4+ is like?
That’s a tough question. Just like with any position, there are pros and cons.

On the upside, I get to work on extremely challenging projects. Here’s part of what I’ve worked on since 2008:

  • I’ve created the concept of shifts at GPs to make judges’ days shorter.
  • I’ve revisited the philosophy behind Cheating so that if a player didn’t know he was breaking the Comprehensive Rules can’t be DQed anymore.
  • Previously, I had reframed the Suspensions’ philosophy so that intent would matter when it comes to suspending a player who had cheated and followed up by writing a Suspensions Guidelines, a non-public document that is rationalizing the consequences of a DQ based on the kind of infraction and the intent of the player.
  • I’ve been one of the major designers of the Exemplar Program so we could better spread recognitions to many more judges, until now we were recognizing almost only those able to attend GPs.
  • I’ve worked on adjusting the L3 process so as to better suit the needs of the Japanese community.

On the downside, it’s an extremely demanding position, most of which happens behind the curtains. Sometimes, the pressure is pretty high when we have deadlines to meet or crisis to deal with. Because this is not a job (as in, I get no direct income out of it), I need to balance this and the activities that allow me to pay the rent. Sometimes, that’s tricky.

What is the largest change that you’ve brought to the Magic rules/Policies or the Judge program?
The redefinition of Cheating is likely the one that has been the most visible and had the largest impact.

How does it feel to be a role model for your community? How do you use this to improve the judging community?
I’m not the archetype of the community guy, far from it. There are many other judges in the Program who are way better at community than I am.

I came to realize a few years ago, especially after I ran my first GPs, that they weren’t super enjoyable as a Floor Judge. So I sat down, pondered for a while and thought: Considering I can’t just fix it, how can I use my natural Strengths to make it work somehow? So I’ve wondered how I could make Logistics fit in there. I started asking judges what they wanted to do at GPs. I started rationalizing GP schedules, taking the Logistics on me, so that Team leads could focus on developing team building.

Head Judging GP Utrecht, 2013
Head Judging GP Utrecht, 2013

What is your primary role as an L4+ in the judge community?
Other than running Events, I think I’m a project creator. I analyze issues that arise, think a lot about them and come back with conclusions on how to improve the system. However, that can take some time as I’m often going back and forth to evaluate all the implications of the proposition I’m crafting.

What are you currently working on within the judge program?
My next project is Ongoing Investigations. This project aims at analyzing penalties issued to players to make sure some players don’t receive the same kind of penalty too many times. If they do, an Investigation will be entered to determine whether further action is desired. It has a lot of ramifications:

  • Teaching judges how to write a to-the-point comment on the back of a result slip.
  • Teaching judges what is important in an infraction.
  • As a corollary, teaching judges on what to pay attention to when they arrive at a table.

The last point is why I believe this project is awesome: it will only help judges to identify concerning behaviors and therefore to investigate better. Considering most judges feel they’re bad at Investigations, that can’t be wrong. 😉

What do you do on a day-to-day basis for the Judge program, outside of events?
Reading the L4-list, the L5-list and managing/overviewing the projects I’m in charge of. Right now, it’s about crafting in my head how I’ll run Ongoing Investigations.

What are some of your goals for the Judge Program as an L4+?
That’s a good question.

My Project Goal is Ongoing Investigations.
My personal goal is to successfully HJ the World Magic Cup in Nice at the end of year.

How has being a judge influenced your non-Magic life?
It’s always hard to guess what would have happened in another life. Would I studied any further? Would have I reached a higher diploma? Would have I found another job? I can’t answer these questions but, what I can say is that being a judge taught me about being social, about the importance of others to succeed, that the most delightful successes are those that benefit others, that the most pleasant moments are those when someone comes to say “thanks”.

No matter how highly functional a brain is, its potential is strongly reduced if it’s not used either for or with others.

What motivates you to do what you do within the community?
Helping others grow as individuals in the same way many, mostly David Vogin and Claire Dupré, patiently did with me. I don’t always manage to help others individually, hence why I create global systems that make everybody’s life easier.

What is the best part about the Judge Program in your opinion?
A 6-friend table at a restaurant after a GP Day 1! Because this means it finished so early that kitchens are still open. 😀

(I do not mind if it the table is not French-speaking, as long as it is friend-speaking.)  😉

gp_kobe kevin d
At GP Kobe, 2014

How do you communicate the goals or values of the judge program to the greater community?  Which of these would you like to see pushed more?
I’m very open to hear criticism about the Judge Program and strive to always explain the reasoning behind the decisions we make.

What in your opinion is the greatest challenge for the judge program at this time to overcome?
The Judge Program is growing quickly. While we’re very good at recruiting L1s, we need more L2s and L3s to make sure these L1s can learn what they need to also become L2s and, maybe, L3s. However, if the process to reach these levels is well-defined, it takes a fair amount of time so that judges can develop at a reasonable pace to reach the next level.

If at some point we do not manage to have enough mentors for all those who want to join the Community, then that might prove tricky to manage.

What is your favorite non-judging moment that happened with other judges?
Being the TO of GP Paris.

gp imageWhat character in Magic (real or fictional) represents you the best, and why?
Jace, the Mind Sculptor, because I love sculpting minds.

Who are  your role models in the Judge Program? What are their certain qualities that drew you to them?
David Vogin is by far the one who’s been my main model for:

  • His ability to think out-of-the-box.
  • His ability to mitigate his opinions and see grey rather than black or white.
  • His ability to aim at serving others when coming up with new ideas.

Please recognize a few outstanding members in the Program.
Lems, you’re a key element of the Program. Not even talking about the quality of your contributions to the L4-list, I believe very few actually realize how much you’ve allowed the Program to develop thanks to Judge Apps and how much harder it would be for everybody without it.

Kim Warren is an awesome mind that always manages to show you the dissenting aspects of any situation and spread mitigating opinions through social media.

John Alderfer, I’ve heard an urban legend that states you’re the guy without whom GPs would not work. You’re not a legend, you’re just legendary. 🙂

Guillaume Beuzelin, there are so many times I’ve thrown a pile of crap at you to see you not only cleaning everything but also gift-wrapping it.

Kali Anderson, you’re super swift at the computer and your smile is way too contagious.

What advice would you give to a Judge growing up through the program?
Try to understand why things are working the way they are. There is no learning without understanding, no matter what the school system thinks.

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

What do you do to make GPs/PTs special?
I make sure judges’ days are so short they can still enjoy hanging out together afterwards AND not being exhausted on Sunday morning.

"...and in this corner, making his way to the ring..." - with Yoshiwa Shindo, at GP Shizuoka, 2013
“…and in this corner, making his way to the ring…” – with Yoshiwa Shindo, at GP Shizuoka, 2013

What’s the coolest event you ever been to, and why was it so amazing?
GP Shizuoka 2013: I did the opening and closing speeches from a Wrestling Ring in the center of the room!

What’s the farthest you have ever traveled for a Magic event?
Honolulu, 11800km

What hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
Board Games and Cocktails (not necessarily in that order). :p

How do you not lose your mind?
We’re making sure others regularly step in so one goes to long without a break…

Anything you would like to add?
An extra day to each day.

Two Truths and A Lie
Two of the following answers about Kevin are true, figure out which!

  • I was 15 when I graduated from High School.
  • I’ve played 7 PTs.
  • I chose to judge Worlds in Paris over playing it.

The answer to the last Two Truths and a Lie...

As far as we know, no one conceded to Mr. Traxler after finding out they were playing a Judge.

Thank you so much, Kevin, for your time and patience – I’m sure the rest of the community will enjoy your insight on these topics. Join us next week to meet another RC – see you then!

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