Welcome judges, to another edition of Judge of the Week! This week’s judge is back in the saddle again after taking a few years off for school. He is also a prominent figure in the Israeli Magic community as a former moderator in the official Israeli Magic message boards. It is our pleasure to introduce you to Yuval Tzur!
Name: Yuval Tzur
Location: Ra’anana, Israel
Judge Start Date: I became a L1 right after Champions of Kamigawa was released and then became L2 in 2006.
Occupation: Software Developer
Favourite card: Super Secret Tech (if you know why, you’re awesome!)
Least favourite card: All those really old cards that read “I hope you have the Oracle text with you. Muhahahaha!”
Favourite format: 2HG on any format
Commander General: Sliver <SOMETHING>
Favourite non-Magic Game: Might sound silly, but Bejeweled. I’ve been playing its different incarnations for years.
Best tournament result: 1st place on an 8-players draft.
Random fact about yourself: I’m the first judge ever to catch a cheater with a mid-round deck check
Why did you become a Judge?
I really enjoy the rules and all the interesting interactions. After judging a few events, I also started enjoying the logistical part as well.
Tell us your favourite Judge story.
One time I was judging an Extended event (remember those?). One of the rounds was almost finished and a lot of players gathered around one of the tables. After a few minutes, a spectator comes to me and tells me that the players on that table are playing a mirror match, both with control decks. One of the players has an Isochron Scepter on the battlefield imprinting an Orim’s Chant, as well as a Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir. The spectator asks me if I shouldn’t penalize his opponent for slow play, or even stalling, for not conceding when there’s nothing he can do. I replied that as long as a player plays in a timely manner, he shouldn’t be penalized, and no one knows what might happen. A few turns later, the player with the lock casts another Teferi by accident. At the time, the legend rule was that all copies are destroyed, so both Teferis got destroyed, the opponent destroyed the Scepter with Naturalize and on his turn played his own copy of Scepter-Chant-Teferi for the win. The spectator came to me and told me what had happened and that I was right not to stop the game. I like this story because it shows you how things can change, and that no matter how obvious a game state might seem, you should never take matters to your own hands as a judge.
How did you get involved in Magic in the first place?
When I was in the army (obligatory service in Israel), one of my friends brought some Magic decks to the base (Onslaught block). I learned how to play and a few months afterwards I was released from the army and got myself involved with the Israeli Magic community.
How has being a Judge influenced your non-Magic life?
Being a judge teaches you a lot about interaction with people, diplomacy and once you start leading teams or head judging, you learn how to manage people and handle logistics. I believe those skills are important in all areas of life, be it work, maintaining a household or just day-to-day interactions with other people.
What motivates you to continue being a Judge?
I think that as judges we have the power to improve the events for our communities. By educating our players and setting a high standard for ourselves, we can affect the enjoyment of our events. In addition, in Israel, as opposed to most of the world, most Magic players are kids (10-16), so as judges we affect these kids’ and give them lessons and tools they might use for the rest of their lives.
What is one tip you have for other Judges?
Teaching is the best way of learning.
What is your favourite non-judging moment that happened with other Judges?
On the Europe – East 2016 winter conference we had a team quiz. Each team had five members. We were four judges from Israel and we wanted to sign up as a team, but we were lacking a fifth member. Coincidentally, a flight from Turkey was cancelled, so all judges from Turkey couldn’t get to the conference except for one. When signing up, we saw a team with one name and we were four, so we just added our names to the lone team member. “Team Israel with a guy not from Israel” was created. During the quiz we got to know him, and he turned out to be a really great guy. We even ended up finishing first place in the quiz. We had a great time, all because of a random moment’s decision.
What’s the biggest rule-breaking play you’ve ever made as a player?
I don’t play much, so I didn’t have a lot of chances to break the rules, but I did call a judge once and told him he should give me a GL for forgetting a sideboard card in my main deck.
Proudest moment of your Judge life?
Finding a question I wrote myself on my own L2 test (while DCIX still allowed it back in 2006).
What positive aspects has the Judge Program contributed to your everyday life?
I think mentoring really helped me understand people and myself better. I find myself training new people at work sometimes, and it uses the same skill set.
What is your favourite non-Magic hobby?
I’m a computer guy. I have a small personal server at home and I really like messing with different systems and working on personal software projects. I’m also the technical administrator for the Israeli MTG message boards.
What hobbies do you have outside of Magic?
Besides my tinkering with computers and software, I enjoy building stuff (Models and jigsaw puzzles, especially the 3D ones) and I really enjoy teaching.
What would you be doing now if Magic no longer existed?
Most of my Magic activities revolve around the community and the judge program, and not as much with the game itself. If Magic were to disappear from existence, I would probably find myself another community that requires work on logistics, community building and some behind the scenes effort.
What has been your favourite Magic event that you’ve judged?
I head judged a PPTQ not long ago where it felt like everything fell into place perfectly. The event started on time, all decklists were checked before round 1 started, all rounds finished before time was called (including the ones with time extensions) and even the break was shortened because players asked for it. The event ended earlier than expected without any major problems. It feels good when you run an event and everything just clicks.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
On my first round as a judge we had 5 RELs, and none of them was regular. I came back to a completely different world. As a judge who had to explain to a 10-years-old why he’s getting a GL for failure to de-sideboard in a Prerelease, I feel like organized play and the judge program are going in the right direction. Keep doing a great job.
And for all the judges out there: don’t stop being awesome!
Two Truths and a Lie
Two of the following statements are true and one is false. Figure out which!
- I can drive a tank
- I name all my pets after Disney characters
- I used to work in construction
If there is a judge who is also doing something exemplary, please nominate a judge TODAY!