This week we had a chance to sit with a leader in the Midwest community. He shares his thoughts on leadership, active engagement, and quite possibly the easiest DQ ever. Well, don’t let me hold you any longer go on and meet Matt Jacques!
Name: Matt Jacques
Location: Blue Springs, MO
Judge start date: 04/02/2012
Occupation: Claim’s Adjuster
Favorite card: Urza’s Rage
Least favorite card: Terminus
Favorite format: EDH or casual sealed/draft.
Commander general: Uril, Athreos, and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Favorite non-Magic game: Red Dragon Inn
Best tournament result: Noncompetitives – 3 – 0 – 1 in some prereleases, Competitive – 5th at TCG Kansas States
Why do you Judge?
I enjoy the social interaction that I get from judging. I get to meet a lot of new people and I have made a lot of friends from it. To me it is also less taxing mentally to judge an event than it is to try and play in one. The stories and experiences from judging have been far more memorable than they were when I was trying to play.
Tell us your favorite Judge story.
The one that we all remember fondly here in KC was the time a player told me he was going to fail his deck check. I had walked up to the table in the last round of Swiss in a Sealed PTQ to inform the players that they had been randomly chosen for the deck check that round. The player who was seated with his back to me turned to look at me and calmly stated he was going to fail the deck check. After a second, I asked him why he felt that way and proceeded to tell me that he had switched his deck around before the start of the round and was not playing what he registered in his decklist. I took the decks over to the table we were using for the checks and handed his to Lloyd Dodson and told him what I was told about it and got this wide eyed look from him and then we checked both decks. After a moment, I hear Lloyd start to chuckle and when I asked if it is that bad, he stated that the first card listed as being played is a Forest but he cannot find one in the deck at all. We get Alex Jacques’ attention, who was the HJ, and when he gets to the table, I tell him what the player told me and then what Lloyd found in the deck. Alex starts to turn and go get the player and I inform him he needs to bring the opponent too. He had forgotten to de-sideboard so he would be getting a game loss so the match ended 2-1 without any Magic being played.
What are some tips you have for other Judges?
To quote Van Wilder, “Don’t take life to seriously, you’ll never get out alive.” You should be doing this because you enjoy doing it and if it gets to a point that you don’t anymore, then you should probably take a step back and reevaluate why you are doing it. If you have not done a large event before, don’t freak out about it, the policies and procedures are the same just on a much larger scale. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask someone to verify something with you, we are all here to help each other.
What is your favorite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges?
For years, Lloyd used a table cloth that was given out for the Magic 10th anniversary on his scorekeeping table at all the local events we did and Alex always tried to take it from him. Lloyd was able to find another one and so when he found out Alex was getting married, he wrapped it in some towels for his wedding present. Everyone, including Alex’s wife, knew what was in the gift but he had no idea. He was excited when he opened it up and saw it.
What challenges have you faced or are you facing to become a better judge, and how have you worked to overcome them?
I think the biggest challenge is just finding the time to do everything when so many other things are going on. I have learned to take a step back and focus on the things I need to do and not do everything I feel like I have to do.
Who have been some of your biggest mentors in the Judge Program, and what did they teach you?
As I have mentioned his name a few times already, Lloyd Dodson has been one of the biggest. He knows so much about running events and so forth and has tried to instill in all of us just how to get stuff done. The more efficiently and effectively that you can get things done in a tournament make for a better experience for everyone involved. Another one was James Bennett as he was such a wealth of knowledge on the rules and policies and procedures. He had his own odd way of testing you, but that was just James and eventually you could get him to show some emotion and some semblance on whether or not you were correct. He always challenged you and made you think. I suppose I have to give some credit to Alex as he helped me get my foot in the door to judging events outside of the KC area. We always give each other a hard time when we are judging, we are brothers after all, but I think we make each other better each and every event we are together.
What positive aspects has the Judge Program contributed to your everyday life?
It has definitely helped me learn how to talk in front of other people better. I usually don’t like doing it that much but with all the events I have been the HJ and being at larger events and having to talk over other people, I have gotten better at not being so nervous with it.
You have recognized by your peers for your leadership style and mentoring at events. Can you share your thoughts on the HJ role, and mentorship?
Having mostly HJed SCG Regionals and larger PTQs, one of the biggest things for me is delegation. I have gotten so used to doing a lot of things when they need to be done at these events when I’m not the HJ, I have to stop and remember that I should delegate this to someone else to do. I also try to stay actively engaged in the event and be out around the other judges as well as the players so that they can all see that you are approachable and can talk to you if they need to or want to. Mostly, you have to have fun at the event and make sure everyone else is too. The last SCG Regionals, I got excited when a round was 7 minutes under time and some of the judges understood it, others looked at me funny but we all had a good laugh about it. I think the biggest things with mentorship are to be available and approachable. Everyone learns differently and at a different pace but being there to answer questions and help someone out can go a long way.
People have also recognized your efforts and managing/coordinating numerous events and making them run seamlessly. Can you offer our readers some advice in this?
The local TO for years, Steve Ferrell, always told us that if you are 5 minutes late, then you are not just wasting 5 minutes, you are wasting 5 minutes times the number of people you have there. I think the biggest thing is just being aware of how things are going and if you see something that looks like it could be changed to improve the flow of the event, change it. Also, if there is something that you know needs to be done and can be done before it needs to be, see what you can do to get it done. This is usually what I’m doing at local larger event when I’m not HJing and some people say I just look like I’m running around aimlessly, but there is usually a reason for it. There are some things you have no control over how long they take in an event but there are small things you can change that can make a difference.
Do you have any words for those new to the program and looking to get onto large events?
Figure out what it is you want to do and get out of the program and strive towards it. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get accepted for an event, keep trying. It can help to have someone put in a reference for you or asking the judge manager from the event what you could do to help you the next time you apply.
What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
It is a very close group; most people know each other and interact with each other at all events. They are all willing to help one another out if someone needs a card or deck to play for a tournament.
What is your favorite non-Magic hobby?
Trapshooting, have been shooting since I was a sophomore in high school. I shoot most Thursday nights from March to November each year.
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
There were quite a few members of my scout troop that played and it looked interesting. Eventually I sat down at scout camp one year and a few of them taught myself and others how to play the game and I decided I should be collecting these cards instead of sports cards. I could actually play a game with Magic cards instead of them just sitting around like sports cards do. Wish all the sports cards I have were earlier Magic cards instead.
If you could chat with one person, real or fictional, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I would like to talk with my grandfather who passed away when I was 2 as I didn’t really get to know him and have heard many stories from family and friends about how great of a man he was.
Proudest moment of your Judge life?
I got to judge with my brother for his first time HJing a SCG open and passed my L2 the same day.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- I have DQed someone from a pre-release before round 1 started.
- I have given my brother a game loss at a PTQ.
- I own over 100 pocket knives.
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!