Judge Booth at a PTQ in Prague

Hello everyone! I am an L1 judge from the Czech Republic. In this blog
post, I would like to share with you my recent experience with running a
Judge Booth. I hope that it may inspire you to run one on your own.

I have always been intrigued by the rules part of judging and teaching
players the delicacy of rules. Another major interest is in the diplomacy
between the judge and player communities. So, when I discovered it was
possible to run my own judge booth, I immediately decided I had to give
that a try!

I started planning my first judge booth. I picked the closest big
tournament at that time, which was a Pro Tour Qualifier that was to be held
on June 8th in Prague, Czech Republic. I chose a PTQ because it was obvious
there would be many players, and also for the audience of a competitive
event. From my experience, most players at a PTQ see judges only as a
threat that may stop their successful journey through the tournament.
However, a judge booth is a great instrument to build “public relations” of
our judge community, and to show players that judges are not just scary

After I finalized where I would try my Judge Booth pilot attempt, the next
step was to communicate my intent to the Tournament Organizer and the Head
Judge of the event. Luckily, both guys were OK with the idea. Of course, I
had to ensure that the Booth would not interfere with the event itself, and
accept that no support (e.g. judge booth prizes) would be provided. I also
had to manage everything by myself (I doubted that I would find another
fellow judge enthusiast to help me run the booth without expecting a
compensation for it…).

The next step was to prepare the materials for the Booth. That meant
printing the questions, going through them to be sure about detailed
answers, and sorting the questions into three difficulty categories. I also
prepared some signs to use on site for advertising the Judge Booth area.
Another thing was to prepare some “prizes” for the booth participants. I am
a tournament organizer myself, so I had some promo cards I could spare
(albeit not of big monetary value – there went the days of mythic rare
promos like Emrakul…).

The D day arrived. I showed up early, so there was enough time to observe
the situation on site, and find a good place for the Booth together with
the Head Judge. Thanks to the tournament hall shape, it was quite simple –
we just picked a corner opposite to the one with the judge station. There
was plenty of time, so I made myself useful and helped the judges that were
dedicated to the tournament with their preparations (e.g. acquiring ice
cream from a nearby grocery, because we expected a heaty day).

While everyone was playing in the first round of the event, I set up the
Booth. Just a few tables and chairs were sufficient to serve the needs. The
aforementioned Judge Booth signs were posted, question piles sorted out and
prizes readied. The Head Judge did an announcement before the second
tournament round about my Booth.

Apart from the start of tournament rounds, the Booth occupied all my time;
usually surrounded by a small crowd of curious players. The interaction
between the players and me was usually quite simple – a mix of chat, and
then the prepared rules questions. When asking a question, I always let the
players discuss the scenario and form their own answers before I presented
my solution together with an explanation (in case that a player’s answer
was not already perfect). As mentioned, the prizes were not of a great
value so I gave them away quite generously.

During the moments when there was no one at the Booth (all players were
playing their games), I was either taking a break or helping to cover the
tournament floor.

In the end, 32 of 168 players that registered in the tournament received a
Judge Booth prize. The rough number of people interested in my Judge Booth
was around 50. The whole event was amazing for me and hopefully for others
as well. The Booth experience was full of interesting social interactions
between the players (who came not only from the Czech Republic but also
from Germany and Poland) and me.

I really enjoyed running the Booth. The day left me with a feeling that my
mission – strengthening the relations between the judge and player
communities – was a great success! I hope to repeat this experience soon,
maybe at a prerelease, and hopefully with the brand new, great asset in our
hands – the webapp created by Steffen Baumgart.

Milan Majercik