Hello and welcome back to Judge of the Week! This week, we’re featuring sushi and sorbet connoisseur Steven Zwanger aka The Red Monocle.
Name: Steven Zwanger
Location: Roanoke, VA
Judge start date: March 1997 (Grand Prix Washington DC), leveled to 2 in August 1998, leveled to 3 in April 2000.
Why did you become a Judge? To give something back to the Magic community.
Occupation: Organized Play Coordinator for StarCityGames.com
Favorite card: Booster Tutor
Least favorite card: Balance
Favorite format: Draft
Commander General: No
Favourite non-Magic Game: Bridge
Best tournament result: 2nd at a PTQ
Random fact about yourself: I was a certified rape counselor for about five years.
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
I learned it at a science fiction convention. I had a Vesuvan Doppelganger in my hand, and the big question that stumped the table was whether it could copy a Legendary creature without itself dying. We eventually decided it could because it wasn’t really that other creature – it was a doppelganger! (Duh!)
How has being a Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
I’ve had so many wonderful opportunities to travel and sightsee in places I never would have gotten to if I hadn’t been a judge.
You were nominated by your exemplar recognitions. In your recognitions, your “quiet leadership” and your superb at-event mentorship were mentioned. Please tell us a little bit about what mentorship means to you and about your “quiet” leadership style.
Mentorship enables other people to learn. It’s very satisfying to see someone understand something they didn’t before and to know I helped get them to that point. Mentorship isn’t about me or proving how good I am; it’s about the other person and helping them become better. I carry a notebook to record interesting questions and discussion points that I can use for mentorship later; I also tailor my discussions to the ability and experience level of the other judge. For example, missed trigger questions are too confusing for most L1’s, and questions about power and toughness layers are unproductive for experienced L2’s. I also avoid corner cases, because they generally don’t teach anyone anything.
Similarly, when I am in a leadership position, I try to give everyone attention and include them in whatever discussions or activities our group is participating in. I behave the way I want my team members to behave, whether that means picking up trash, watching matches of Magic, being ready for the next set of paper, swiftly responding to floor calls, etc. I think a well-run tournament, with all that entails, is one of the most positive experiences we can provide to players, so I place a lot of emphasis on my team’s efficiency and effectiveness.
What motivates you to continue being a Judge?
The amazing people I get to work with at every event.
What is one tip you have for other Judges?
Bring a notebook to events so you can record interesting questions and situations, observations about other Judges, etc. Memories fade, so having a written reference is incredibly useful.
What’s the best part about your local Magic community?
The players are really friendly.
What is your favourite non-Magic hobby?
What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve Judged?
Magic Weekend Paris. It was my first chance to meet and work with a lot of European Judges, and also my first time in Europe. Our lunch break was going to a French supermarket and picking up baguettes and French cheese. Paris was also my first time experiencing the European Judge custom of everyone bringing food to the event and sharing it on Friday night. (I think it’s become less common in the past couple of years). On Saturday, David Hibbs and I were both late shift, so in the morning we went up the Eiffel Tower. That was also the event where I met Kim Warren and David de la Iglesia for the first time.
What positive aspects has the Judge Program contributed to your everyday life?
I used to be extremely shy, and interacting with Judges has helped me overcome that.
What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
Looking for a job!
What is the strangest card interaction you have seen in a tournament?
NAP controls a Nightveil Specter which has previously exiled a card. AP casts Domestication on Nightveil Specter, and can now play the exiled card.
What is your favorite “after event” story?
The Dinner of Infinite Milkshakes.
If you were a creature what would be your creature type?
Proudest moment of your Judge life?
Being XO for Riccardo Tessitori at Grand Prix Indianapolis.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following answers are true, the other is a lie! Figure out which!
1. I am a huge aficionado of Charles Dickens and have not only read all of his books, but have seen almost a dozen movie and TV adaptions of his work.
2. I love sushi so much that I trained myself to make it.
3. The first time I went overseas wasn’t for Magic; it was when I spent ten months in Hong Kong teaching ESL (English as a Second Language).
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!