Tournament Organizer: LA Mood Comics, London, Ontario
Date: Oct 19, 2014
Role: Head Judge
This was the first event I have ever judged in London. At the time, there were no L2s in London proper. Since SCG required this level of IQ to be run by an L2, they had to bring in an outside judge. I was provided two judges for this event. Unfortunately, on the day of the event, one judge was unable to make it. The other judge, who we will name Fred, is an L1 with years of judging experience, including some older competitive experience. Fred informed me that players in London were used to a more casual play environment. This meant that one of my biggest challenges of the day was going to be ensuring that tournament standards were maintained without appearing like a tyrannical judge from a different city who has come to worsen the play environment. One of the store employees, named Ron, was an aspiring judge candidate though, and after a brief conversation with them I understood he was surprisingly prepared to help us out today. He is a very active judge in the store, and had an amateur familiarity with the IPG. During our debriefing, I learned that neither judge prepared by reading the rules documents recently. As such, we spent some time going over the common IPG infractions and penalties. We also talked how to write a penalty, each person’s role in the event, and common Standard interactions (primarily Courser + LEC and various Morph situations). To best use our resources, I decided that Ron and I would focus on postings and deck checks, while Fred would prioritize floor coverage. I was going to listen for any close-together judge calls, but unless that happened I would stay off the floor as much as possible, and focus on other tasks throughout the day such as counting lists. By the time we were finished debriefing, just over 50 played had finished registering and the event was ready to begin.
Round 1 revealed one my first major mistakes of the day. Since I had so much to go over with the rest of the judge staff, I had neglected to connect with my scorekeeper before the event. Normally, I will ask the scorekeeper how they intend to implement their duties: how and when will they enter results and penalties, how they will handle slips, will they be regularly backing up the event, etc. At the end of the round, I realized that I forgot to have this conversation when I noticed that the scorekeeper was disposing of result slips by ripping them down the centre and tossing them in a box at their feet. At the time, over 90% of the slips from that round lay in that box. I then asked the scorekeeper to stop and export the event. When they tried to, however, WER glitched and deleted the entire round, including pairings. After going through the box and realising there was no way to reconstruct the slips, I scrounged up the list of pairings and asked each of the winners to come up and provide the result of their match while the scorekeeper manually repaired the round. Once all the results were entered again, I paired the round and asked each player to check their points carefully. Thankfully there were no inconsistencies with the results entered and this process only took about 15 minutes.
Rounds 2-5 were very uneventful. No appeals were made, and only a couple of silly D/DL GLs were handed out. However, I was noticing after the fact (by looking over penalties on entry slips) that a couple of Warning infractions were being mistakenly identified (for example, an LEC infraction being mistaken as GRV), so these proved to be awesome teachable moments.
Round 6 proved to be much more interesting. About 15 minutes into the round, Fred came up to me and said that a player in their early tables overheard their neighbor propose to their friend and opponent that they should play until they know it’s safe to draw. Not knowing if this counted as collusion or OA, I contacted a local L3 to pick his brain on the matter. Our conversation convinced me that I should investigate if only to ensure there was no other funny business going on. I went to go watch the match indicated, which was still ongoing. After a few minutes of that, Fred informed me that he was mistaken and the match in question was at the previous table, and were already finished up. I noticed that the result was written on the match slip was 1/1/1 but entered as 0/0/3; this was because when the players walked up to submit their slip, the scorekeeper asked if they made a mistake and meant to ID.
I then talked to the players in the match as well as the witnesses who were playing the match beside them (including the one who first approached Fred). Each of the witnesses had similar understandings of what happened. Both agreed that the players had a conversation before the match. One wasn’t paying attention to detailed, the other told Fred what he had heard. They then both agreed that the players started playing their match, and the witnesses began theirs as well. Once the witnesses were done, the one who first approached Fred stepped away from the table and believed that the players finished their match. The other stayed and overheard the two players discuss an intentional draw in the middle of a game.
The player’s stories, however, were not consistent, with each other and with the witnesses. One player’s story was way left of third base. He said that they drew at the beginning of round. When I asked if they played any games, he said no. When I asked “not even for fun?”, he shook his head no, then paused for a second and said yes. In that game, one player got manascrewed and they called it quits there. No second game was played. The other player’s story was a little closer, but some small details were missing or inconsistent with what the others had said. Most importantly, this player said that the two of them agreed to draw because Game 2 was going to be long and drawn out, that he proposed the draw despite winning Game 1, and denied having any other reason to draw. He also admitted to noticing that the tables in front of him had finished when the draw was offered.
By this time, the end of the round was only a couple of minutes away and I felt I had enough to act. I felt that the most likely explanation for what happened was that the players agreed to play until they were sure the matches in front of them finished with a winner. When that happened, they could be confident that drawing would get them both in. However, neither played admitted that this was a motivation for them drawing, and they both outright denied having motivations other than the one they provided. For this reason, I concluded that both of these played lied to me, and were given USC – Cheating for lying to a tournament official. In my conversation with the two players where I informed them of this, they refused to provide me a statement or any contact information. I asked them to write a statement and send it directly to the Investigation Committee Lead, whose email I looked up and provided to them. I then started the Top 8 and began collecting statements from all involved parties, including the witnesses, my floor judge, and the scorekeeper.
With that said, nothing of note happened during the top 8, so I’ll end by talking about the two major lessons I learned from this event. First, always try to get in contact with the judges before the event. This event was not organized through Judge Apps, but the scorekeeper ensured me the judges would be prepared for the event. I should have insisted on getting contact information though, just so I could be able to touch base before the event. Secondly, I learned that I need to have a more nuanced position on where the Head Judge should be during the event. Before this, my main idea was that the HJ should not be near the floor so that they are both available to take an appeal, and are not forced to take a call and deny a player the opportunity to appeal. At the same time, with a judge staff with as diverse a spectrum of Competitive experience as this one had, I think there could have been a huge benefit with being on the floor and shadowing some of the floor judge’s calls. This leaves me with the opportunity to end with a question: how much time do you think a Head Judge should spend on the floor of a competitive event, and why?
Thanks for reading.