Analyzing a Judge's Attitude

Posted in NEWS on July 17, 2000

By Wizards of the Coast

Friedrich Rademacher


First and foremost i will introduce myself. My name is Friedrich Rademacher, Level 1 Judge from Portugal. I have been judging now for almost 2 years. I have never written a report or an article. Well i never had anything of importance to say before now.

What i wanted to analyze is the posture and attitude towards the players. How it is and how it should be. Don't think I'm going to say I'm Mr. Perfect because I'm the reason I noticed this.

My atitude towards players is always very friendly mostly because i know almost all of them and my personality is a bit more extroverted than normal. I treat all players in an equal way or at least that is what i think i do. But there was one tourney where a player got very furious and told me to "Take a walk somewhere else" . As you can imagine those where not his words but i think you can imagine his words. I immediately called his attention and told him i would not tolerate him treating me in that manner and told him that if he would repeat it he would have to face some consequences (be it a warning) . I did this because if i would have let him say that with no reply other's would follow his lead and the respect for my decisions would be crushed. But i also did this because i felt offended and i wanted to clear up the situation. He apologized and continued on playing. But that wasn't enough for me. I try to look at my mistakes and try to correct them for the future so i sat down and thought what i could have done to prevent such situation.

Well my mentor (a very good and experienced judge Rogerio Alecrim L3 ) told me the obvious being that i am very young at the time 17 and that i would not be able to easily "summon" respect of players and that my attitude towards players would be the wrong one. In his opinion and in the opinion of most people Judges are representatives of the game and are like salespeople and not friends who are enjoying themselves. This made me think because i know i am not able to treat everybody coldly.

So what i am going to do is to look at some Judges and what impression they gave me as a player. Rogerio as mentioned earlier is more on the "we-are-here- to-sell-the-game-attitude". Don't understand me wrong i am not judging as which one is good or bad just evaluating.

There is Jaap who is very friendly towards players but when needed he takes a very respectful attitude and resolves almost immediately any problem. I know this because i was once target of that attitude in Belgium. I was wrong and Jaap explained to me why in a correct way. Last month in GP Copenhagen a player asked a high-level judge a question and the judge answered in a not so polite fashion. I completely understand the stress of a GP but i mentioned this particular example to show how even judges are still human an can get annoyed or irritated when confronting multiple situations. In my opinion any judge cracks at a certain point because even he has his limits.

So the question is : What is the best attitude of a judge towards players?

Well maybe nobody has really thought about it because we all take it for obvious as how we have to behave in a tournament ... but how do we behave?

I know for instance that there have been some complaints as to my judging. Those complaints were that some players were not comfortable in talking to me. This makes you think doesn't it? You come up to a table and give your ruling and then you think : Did i say that correctly without offending someone? I know this sounds ridiculous by now but there is something to it. For instance there was a discussion on who the youngest judge was and someone replied that there should be a manual as to how younger judges could earn respect of players especially troublesome ones. But in the end a judge is left on his own because it doesn't matter what lines he can learn from that manual like: Please resume the game or there will be consequences and i will have to write a report to the DCI about you. It doesn't matter does it ? Maybe you can relate it as to how players always want to talk to the head judge because they doubt you and even if you are the head judge they want to talk to your "superior". Well that is something many young judges have to face and even knowing the rules by hart they will still be faced with it . But they can be as i said in the beginning "colder" more objectively towards any player.

In my tournaments when a person i know finishes the game they normally stay a couple of minutes discussing decks with me or telling me why they lost or something in that direction. I like that because it makes me feel among friends who are halving fun and not as a shop where i have to stand straight and salute. So once again: What should be the posture of judges be towards players?

Each man for himself? Just be yourself? The costumer is always right? Well i don't know!

So what I am doing is what i have done until now but with some slight changes. I am friendly towards the people who are friendly to me because that is my conclusion of all these questions. The question that arises from this conclusion is: Won't there be new players who will feel excluded in some way? Is that the next complaint i am going to hear about myself? Life goes on and players come and go, the judges stay and the doubts about them too. So i spent the rest of my tournaments until today doing as i said. But again is that the way i am supposed to be? These are all just questions that probably don't make any sense to many of you. But to others i know they make sense so the only thing i can tell you to try to help you out is to be yourself but take in account that variable X which represents the unknown factor which is the personality of each player and how that personality interacts with yours. Yes, because there will always be a player who's face you do not like and vice-versa.

Well all this is just a thought in times of insomnia.

Just have fun while your judging because if you don't have fun .. what are you doing it for? Please feel free to send me your opinion our any suggestion. : )

Friedrich Rademacher DCI Level 1 Judge