I have been experiencing many first times during the weekend of GP Lyon. For context, I have been a L2 for several months now, since I certified in February 2015, but I am not that old as a judge since I got my L1 in August 2014.
Lyon was my fifth GP on the floor but as strange that may seems this team sealed was the first time for me as a Head Judge in a several-judge event. I have had been judging solo and as part of a team, that is why I specifically asked this event that holds some logistics challenges, and as its size on European GPs is around 20 teams, it was manageable to have 1 judge with me during the day to have a first feeling of it. As a reminder, this is a competitive event. So my goals for the event were:
– Tackling the logistics of team sealed event (that I had never experienced either as a player or a judge)
– Having a first take on having a judge/team to lead
1/ Pre-event thoughts
As I said before I’ve never experienced the team sealed format. I took time to look at Quentin Boussardon’s event report (not available in English) that he wrote least year about a fairly large team sealed event. I also took time to speak about it on Friday and Saturday in the judge room to whoever had any clue how to make the event run more smoothly. The first question I had to solve is how to seat the players. The traditional way seems to be the use of the WER – that seats the players of 2 teams in symmetric “L” configuration on 3 consecutive tables. While this is I believe the default option, its major drawback is that you need to change the table numbers after the deckbuilding to fit 2 3-player teams on a single table number and not 2 players. The other solution that Emilien Wild suggested is that you just use a pairing as a seat all, and then destroy it to create a new one for the actual first round. By doing so, you can prepare the table numbering in advance and you do not need to change it at any point. This is a bit less convenient for players and deck construction but considering that it is way faster for two players to switch seats for construction if they really want to than renumbering tables and giving new data to the SK, I’ve chosen the later option. The new list verification procedure is also quite convenient for this format, no swap-sies anymore.
I had some other decisions to make as well, like do we let the teams chose English or French product? It has been done on the main event; I could not get the information about the logistics of how the French/English players were given the language X but I thought of for 20-ish teams, making French players raise their hands and giving them products before handing product for English speakers so I went for it.
2/ The D-day before the event
I was on the On-demands until 11.00 and my event starts at 12.00. I have 1 hour to prepare the product, ask my table range and brief my floor judge who is Michiel Klapwijk, it should be enough. So first things first I go to the registration area/scorekeeper and ask how many players I have so far: 25 teams. Cool, the event might even be a bit bigger than I had thought, we might reach 35-ish players. We have rows of 10 tables, so we reserve 6 rows so we can fit 102 players/34 teams. Well long story short more and more teams registered every minute and at the end of registration time (11.45) we have a 69-team event announced by the scorekeeper. With the Public Events manager Jérémie Granat we find some additional judges and additional tables. We finally end up with a total of 15 rows of 20 seats, which make a total of 270 total sit-able players (last table empty at the end of each row of 10 tables) and my final dream team has:
3/A rocky start
It is now past 12.00 and Michiel has modified the table numbers and we now have tables from 601 to 635 set and ready. The scorekeeper is a bit swamped and the names have not been yet put into the WER, so we are waiting. In the meanwhile we print more deck checklists; we need now a total of 300 lists for 75 teams since each team will have to list a pool on a list then list 3 decks on 3 different sheets, making it 4 lists per team. We have now around 180 lists in each language, which should be enough.
Lesson: I probably should have used all this time to brief the team and to speak about the important information about the sitting, the pools, and the construction. Since the team was assembled quickly, no meeting was done before, and I intended to have one during the construction but it was too late to pass some info. I think I used this delay time very inefficiently and that showed in various later moment of the day where we were not prepared enough.
After 35 minutes, we finally have seating, it is posted with 67 teams on it and now we have several teams that are supposed to be registered but are not on the seating listing. With enough time wasted already I have them sat at the end tables and start listing, we will check on that a bit later, we have 1h20 to do so. We distributed the product as planned and that went fairly well.
For some kind of strange reasons we were missing English deck lists at some point, and had to refill with 60 sheets, twice, with merely 5 remaining at the end. We tried to understand what happened with Jack at the end of the day, but we could not find why they were missing with so many printed beforehand. The ratio of EN/FR products was probably near the 65/35, so it does not make sense at all.
The distribution of the lists was also not done properly. Ideally you want to give 1 sheet per team first, so they can list a pool, but do not want to give the 3 for the deck listing right away because players, or at least those unfamiliar with format, will be lost with so many papers and questions would arise everywhere. And they did. With all the rush I missed telling everyone in the team this detail and it probably lost us extra couple of minutes.
Funnily enough, had I decided to make the players sit by language preferences, I would not have had to wait for the scorekeeper and the sit all (and we still should not have after all) to start the listing and I could have also easily kept the listing time at 20 minutes. This choice alone could have made us spare a minimum of 20 minutes.
Lesson: If we use several product languages, the seating should be thought accordingly, I thought that the checking by the opposite team would be OK since it was just a check and they did not need to understand the words, but it is utterly wrong. We had to be lenient on the listing time because it was hard for Germans and Italians to read and check cards in French.
Once the listing is over and the construction has started, we do a quick meeting before half of us take a break, since the construction is the quiet part of the tournament. I assign Jack to Deck Checks since he has previous experience in it, Mathieu to End Of Round and Simon to paper.
Lesson: I thought that I did not need to assign everyone to a specific task, but I think now that it is better to either pair up people or to assign a task to keep people engaged in other additional activities than flooring. I also assigned tasks to 3 people but I did not say how the others should assist these people and that was a big miss, we lacked efficiency during the first two rounds because of that.
3 people among the 7 started on the early shift so they are automatically on break and I also ask my backup Michiel to go on break with us since I’d like him to follow me all the day.
Lesson: After speaking with Jack a bit later, it appears that I should have asked him to go on break with the first group since unfortunately this split left the group with all the French speakers on break at the same time. I think this is not a question when you are in American GP, but having on the floor someone that can talk to the locals easily is definitely an asset on European GPs, especially in France, Spain and Italy where some people do not even try to speak in English sometimes.
At the end of the construction, we gathered the lists, telling people to put the tags “A, B and C” on the deck lists since I forgot to announce it earlier and once it is done, we can launch the first round. Two teams (not in the sittings previously) were forgotten in the pairings and I went to the scorekeeper to fix this instead of firing the event for 69 teams, and dealing with 2 teams afterwards, with the risk of impacting 2 other tables only. Had I delegated the task to someone else, it probably would have appeared obvious to start the first round 5 minutes earlier.
Lesson: If you can delegate, do it. If you don’t you probably lose focus of the parameters of the tournament as a whole to focus more on a specific task, which should not be the case when you are a head judge and this will sting somewhere, even more if you have 6 other judges with you.
4/ Happy ending
The rest of the tournament went rather smoothly, with the exception of a case of DQ at the end of the round 2 that I will not detail here; it is not the goal of the report. It is noteworthy however that this happened nearly 10 minutes after the time of the round, and it took me 5 extra minutes to gather of the information to see that it is a potential DQ for bribery. I have not made my mind at this point but I ask Mathieu to go and drop that team and start the next round, with the possibility of putting them back into the tournament if I do not DQ the team. I will eventually DQ the team, but I am happy to have made this decision that I think was good one since it took 15 to 20 extra minutes to do so.
I think we ended the day with 70 minutes delay compared to what I had planned the day before, so I guess that aside the difficult start, things went OK.
Ultimate Lessons of the day: Delegating is huge. In a sense, it is probably the most important task you have to do as a head judge for a tournament. I thought that I did OK, but in retrospect and after the feedback, it was obvious that it was not. I probably did not need to go and make the beginning of round announcement in the mic or dealing with registration issues with the SK and players myself.
It is important to have all the team at the same level of information, not taking 5 minutes to explain things can create a 20 minutes delay later.
Conclusion of the day
This tournament was much more than what I expected. I wanted to judge with a floor judge, instead I got 6. I also handled my first DQ during the day, which is not a huge accomplishment here since it was just an “innocent” bribery. This was my first time head-judging not in solo, with an additional layer of complexity that is team sealed; I hope that some items here will be useful to some people, whether on head judging or team sealed point of view. I was lost two months ago, searching for areas to improve, I got plenty here.