Italian Judge Conference 2012
Articolo del 29-7-2012
Gavrilita George
George Gavrilita



Welcome to the live coverage of the 7th Italian Judge Conference, 28th June 2012, Rimini! Some 30 judges are waiting in a beautiful room inside the judge hotel, Acasamia, and after a short introduction by the organizer, Matteo Callegari L3, and our beloved RC, Cristiana Dionisio L4, we're ready to start with the first seminar about Organized Play, a double effort by Walter Zarà (who will become L3 two days later) and Andrea Bacco L2. Let's start!

Walter says a community is like a network, made of connections and nodes. Connections are relations and links, nodes are roles and events, opportunities, venues. The more connections and nodes there are the better the network. A good network is one where gaps can be filled, but to do so, with hundreds of individuals, there must be communication. How to create a community? To create means to alter reality, or to go from the idea to something through actions and ressources. So if I've got a shop and the boosters, can I organize a tournament? Not quite. To alter reality positively you need a project and a winning mentality. WPN can help TOs, making OP less complicated, the WPNTT can transfer passion, smiles, and the right attitude, and Judges can help enlarge the community. The seminar ends with the summary of an interesting article about WPN that takes the new TO through four different phases, from nothing, to FNMs, GPTs and even PTQs. Walter stresses the importance of a pleasant environment with good light and fresh air, parking, and everything else that makes it easy to want to be part of the community.

Andrea chooses to speak about something completely different. He's been a football referee, and he had to sign he would give up playing or training for as long as he was a referee. There were two distinct communities, players and referees. And it works the same in all sports. He makes another example, and points out how we behave differently if we see a car parked in front of a garage. If it's our garage, we call the cops to take it away, otherwise we stay silent out of solidarity with the car owner, hoping that if we parked in front of a garage, no one would call the cops on us. We as judges are not there to give penalties, but to help players have fun. In other sports, no one calls the judge: he's already there to see. But in Magic, if players don't call us, we can't do our job. However, players don't call us because they're friendly with their opponent, against the judge. "When I play and I call a judge to fix my own mistake, the opponent always tells me there's no need to involve him. He doesn't want me to think that he would've been so mean to call a judge on me." This system is an advantage for cheaters because players are less likely to call us. I don't know what can be the solution for this problem; we're perceived as a different community from players, but we're actually part of the same community. This is the only way we can be of help.

Following this seminar there's been a lot of discussion. Massimiliano Tassone L1 says that this change can come only from within the player community. Andrea argued that maybe it's not just the perception that's problematic: now as judges we are respected, but also feared, which is not what we want. Cristiana says that policies are changing in this direction, with lower penalties and more possibilities to downgrade, because we want to encourage players to call us more. Matteo sadly needs to stop the debate because we're even tighter on schedule now, so we're back to Walter who teaches us something about Deck Manipulation.

The first thing we need to know is that it's hard to catch a cheater. To discover one we need a suspect, which comes either from a tip-off or direct observation, and even in these cases most DQs carry at least some doubt. The important thing to know about cheating is that there's always some form of misdirection. For example, a cheater always knows how many cards you have in hand, but he may act as though he thinks you should have less while you're resolving a draw spell to distract you. While you're trying to figure it out, checking your hand and graveyard, he has already drawn an extra card, or played an additional land drop, whatever. Remember cheaters can't see behind their head, so if you see someone nervously looking over his shoulder while shuffling, pay attention. Good cheating is never huge, but is made of small advantages that over the course of a long tournament can pay off, like drawing eight cards in the opening hand and just pretend you're drawing at the beginning of your first turn. You've seen an additional card, you have more information. These are just a few examples, Walter has given and showed us many more, but sadly his dexterity can't be related in written form.

Next up is a seminar about the recent changes on Lapsing Triggers, by Salvatore La Terra L2 and Donato Del Giudice L2. After a brief reminder of the flow chart, we're given various examples that test our attention to the definition of Missed Trigger, APNAP, default options and other nightmare scenarios, but we manage to survive.

Luca Romano L2 and Matteo Tonazzo L2 talk about Slow Play. They remind us that it's Slow Play even when someone goes to the bathroom without telling a judge, and when he or she loops without any clear idea of how it's going to end. Then they focus on some real situations: if somebody who always played fast takes a minute for a Gifts Ungiven, is it SP? No, it can be a difficult play and the time is reasonable. Instead, if I take a minute during my turn for attackers, decide to pass, and then think again one minute for blockers next turn, it's too much. The SP Golden Rule says that if you think it's SP, probably it already is. Tonazzo and Luca suggest not interrupting the players when SP occurs, because we distract them and they need to rethink everything all over again. Players may react saying that their deck is complicated, but in that case they should've chosen one they're comfortable with. It's not MTGO, and venues are not open forever. Luca concludes saying that we should never take board complexity into account when giving slow play. There's no clear limit of what's objectively complex, when we arrive at the table we don't know if the players are taking into account cards we don't know (perhaps, thanks to Jace, the Mind Sculptor's fatesealing ability), and we can't always be familiar with the format.

Many hands are raised again. Salvatore noticed that when players start repeating a cycle of actions ("How many cards in hand?", checks graveyard, reads opponent's mythic, pauses, "How many cards again?", checks the graveyard once more...), that player has no idea what he or she's doing, and SP is probably incoming. Mirko Console L3 and WMCQ HJ says that the topic is still under discussion, and at least during the following days, he personally prefers us to take board complexity into consideration in extreme cases, and to interrupt the player when the Golden Rule kicks in.

Danilo Raineri L1 claims there's no need to be afraid about the DCI Reporter 3.0, AKA "The V3". It's safer in tournaments with over 64 players, all bugs are known and reported on a wiki page, and he, Sauro Panzacchi L1 and Federico Calò L2 are always glad to help judges in need. If the tournament crashes and you have backups, they can fix it, just give them a call!

Eric Coppola L1 presents the Expected Decks, and deals with all the weird interactions that can come up in the format. It's been a quality seminar, but I'll go on without saying much else because sadly the topic is already outdated.

Dinner time! And as a bonus, football time! We're Italian Magic Judges after all, and Italy's match against Germany has been heavily taken into consideration in the schedule of the Conference. These are some of the best community moments, all these judges with their plates filled with goodies every one of us has brought for the buffet, gathered around a small TV in the Hotel hall and cheering for Balotelli's goals.

The 2-1 victory is a great appetizer for the last two seminars. We warm up with a video made by Simone Zanella L2, who couldn't make it to Rimini because he's a full-time teacher. Even if geographically distant, he made us laugh out loud with a Comical Collection of Historical Moments of the Italian Judge Community, photos of the leaders when they were younger, and funny commentary.

At 2230 hours we start the final, titanic talk about Judge Levels with Riccardo Tessitori L5, Luca Simone L3, Gianluca Bonacchi L3, Cristiana, Mirko, and Matteo. Italy managed to reach the required number of new judges set by Wizards, and now that we have quantity, we can focus on quality. Starting next year, in Italy at least, some of the changes that will be put in the effect see L1s no longer judging PTQs. If they want to do it, they need to HJ GPTs, write reports about them, pass the L2 online Practice Test, and only then they can volunteer to be Floor Judges at a PTQ. However, if they do, they also implicitly state that they want to take the L2 test, which will happen at the next possible PTQ. Something similar happens for L2s that want to HJ PTQs: they need to evaluate L1s in staff regularly and complete half of the L3 checklist, among other things, because PTQs from now on will be Head-Judged only by L3s.

The reaction to these announcements reminded me of what happened the previous year, when we found out about the redefinition. Everybody wanted to say something, ask questions, protest against the changes, and everybody was heard, but after midnight Mirko said he doesn't want zombies at his tournament the following day, concluding the Conference. I'm not sure everybody actually went to bed at this point, but that's another story.


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