To Be or Not To Be Lenient on Younger Players?

Posted in NEWS on January 5, 2000

By Wizards of the Coast


Morgan Chang

After a sleep deprived weekend at PT-NY (April 14-16) and a hectic week of exams and papers, I finally get a break in between studying for yet more exams next week and paper due monday to write this article.

The situation occured during Saturday, April 15, the second day of the Pro Tour in the Big Apple. Gray Matter Conventions was running two major events (a JSS and a Team PTQ for the following PT-NY later this yr) and all was fine, except one minor problem, for the floor, we were lacking judges. We had a major turn out for both events, 56 teams of 3 for the Team PTQ and 76 to 78 for the JSS as this is an area where Magic is a major interest to kids, and many come from surrounding areas in NJ, Connecticut, and sometimes further to compete, play, and trade. We decided to do 7 rounds of Swiss with a cut to the Top 8 for the JSS. On the floor was a level 3, three level 2s and me, the level 1. Well, the ratio of players to judges didn't turn out to be as big as a problem since most of the players knew quite well of what they were doing.

The major problem that the floor judges, including myself, encountered, I' d have to say was during the seventh round of the JSS. The pairings were just posted, and the players were finding their seats when I just happened to stand next to table 1 waiting for the head judge of the JSS to start the round. Now at this time, I heard the players wanting to draw so they both would make top 8. Nothing wrong with this, they could ID and perhaps both would have made top 8 (one was 5-1, other was 6-0) except something happened.

While I was standing right next to the table, I couldn't have been more than a foot away from the table and no more than two feet from both players when they started considering the ID. Player A (5-1) asks Player B (6-0) for a draw. Player B was reluctant and it was evident he felt uncomfortable about drawing. Player B said, "I'm not sure.." and at that time, Player A tried something different, and said, "Come on, give me the win and I'll give you a foil Thran Quarry out of my binder." At this point in time, I turned around and asked the head judge of the JSS to come and made it known to him of the situation.

When he arrived, I let him in on what had just happened, which was Player A offered a bribe to his opponent for a match win. The head judge then proceeded to ask the players if this was what happened, and Player A immediately shot in that he was only offering the Quarry as a joke because his opponent was his friend. Player B was reluctant to give us an answer and finally said he thinks his friend was offering as a joke. Player A then said that they'd play it out. At no point in time did I think Player A made the offer to Player B in jest. I believed that he wanted to make Top 8 and perhaps was even desperate so he wanted to secure a place by offering the bribe.

We got the round started for the other players and took the two of them aside to explain the consquences of making such an offer, and while we were explaining things to Player A and Player B, Player A was saying that he made the offer as a joke the whole time. After we told them to return to their seats, the judges conversed and decided what punishment should be issued. During that time, a bystander came to us and told us what he overheard as he was standing behind Player A while he made the offer to Player B. The bystander told us what he heard, which is exactly what I had. We thanked him and then decided that Player A was to be disqualified on the grounds of collusion/bribery.

Then Player A upon hearing the result of our decision pleads that he had made the offer as a joke to his friend. At that time, the head judge of the JSS informs him that the judges have consulted and made up their minds, and that the decision will stand. After hearing this, Player A goes into a fit and tries to argue about it some more. (just curious, has anyone figured out why the players always wants to make a scene out of the situation right then and there?) The head judge then made it clear to him that as the head judge, the decision was final and is not open for debate, if the player felt the decision was unjust, he was free to contest it with DCI. There was to be no further arguement, but there was, and it was at this point that the Tournament Organizer stepped up and request the player to calm down and and he if continued, he'd be asked to leave the premesis or be removed.

This sort of got the player to control himself and sat down. But he picked it back up in no time. He was told time and time again to halt his behavior. Personally I think he should have been marked down for two more penalties, one for failure to obey tournament official to calm down and stop arguing, and the other for excessive arguing with the head judge after the ruling had been declared final.

Now, when we made the ruling, I somewhat felt bad as it was the 7th round and the kid had been playing for the whole day trying to make Top 8. But after his arguing spree, I no longer felt pity for him, only irritation. This has taught me that no matter the age of the player, they should learn to respect the rules, and know them well if they are to play in a tournament setting, and on top of that, they should also learn to respect the judges and the rulings that the judges hand down. They are free to contest it but shouldnt make a scene out of it during the tournament. Just because a player is younger doesnt mean they should get away with things if they are aware of the rules. While I agree that lower REL tournaments are there to help promote Magic and teach players, those who know what they are doing and just want to take advantage of the system should not be tolerated.

Now I may just be a newly certified level 1, and as I said above, that low level tournaments and the JSS is there to help promote Magic and learning to play, I also believe that a judges ruling should be respected, as a judge brings order to the tournament, and if the rulings of a judge isn't respected, then why are we here? As judges, we do what we must, and that is make a decision to the best of our abilities, while we should not be harsh, we have to stand firm and not let players take advantage of us. Just because a player is younger (not less experienced) should get off easier due to age.

Final note: While one might say that these things dont happen often, they happen often enough, and sooner or later any one of us may have to deal with it. Take this as an example, evaluate the situation, if it happened to you, what would you do differently? I'm not saying this was perhaps handled in the BEST way under the given circumstances, perhaps there were things that could have done better, but we tried our best to settle the issue with the player. Just make sure that if it ever happened in an event you are running, be prepared to deal with similiar situations.

-Morgan Chang
Level 1
Buffalo, NY