Five Steps to Giving a Professional Penaltyby Stelios KargotisIntroduction:So you’re on the floor and you hear the word that spurs you into action, “JUDGE”. You arriveat the table and it’s immediately obvious that its a rules question or you have to deal with avery complex situation. Both players seem to be talking at you all at once and from what youcan make out something has gone very wrong with the game state or things are ambigious. Sohow do you deal with such a complex situation? How do you discern what’s happened? Whatis the infraction? How do you fix it and finally what penalty should be applied if any?These questions are all important when dealing with a complex ruling, especially when aninfraction has occurred. To assist you, my fellow judges, I have broken the process down into5 simple phases/steps which if followed should lead to the majority of situations beingresolved in a professional and straightforward manner.Part 1 (Greetings & Investigation):Upon arriving at the table you should greet both players, the greeting is very important as itsets the scene for what’s going to unfold, it creates a platform for the situation, by being politeand friendly it can ease the tension that may have arisen.Once you have greeted the players ask them what has happened. The information which youreceive might come from both players or it might come from the person who called judge,which ever the case it’s going to be a lot of information in a very short space of time. Thisdoesn’t really aid your investigation however it might give you an overview as to what hashappened.At this point you need to start asking questions ask the player, to repeat their story and try andextract as much information as possible, listen and ask questions to confirm what the player istelling you. Once you have one story cross reference it with his/her opponent to see if theirstories tally up, take the time to ask the opponent to confirm or deny what has happened,probe them for any discrepancies to the original story. For example if the situation is relatedto one of the two players knocking over cards ask the opponent to demonstrate or describewhat has happened.If during your questioning the two stories don’t match up you need to investigate further, infact the purpose of your probing is to reach a point where both parties agree on the events thathave transpired. It is also imperative that during this process that you are mindful of cheating,listen to what has transpired and if you find that the stories differ completely there’s apossibility of cheating, though this isnt always the case.Whatever the outcome of your investigation be mindful of the time, your investigation shouldbe proportionate to the possible infraction. For example if an opponent has knocked over afew cards then the likelihood of cheating will be low and thus your investigation should nottake long at all. On the other hand should you suspect cheating then you need to take moretime to investigate.Part 2 (Infraction):Once you have completed your investigation you should have a clear idea of what hastranspired, its time to issue the player/players with the correct infraction(s) if any areapplicable. This phase is of paramount importance as the incorrect infraction can lead to animproper fix or an incorrect penalty is neither of which are welcome. Take a step back fromthe situation and think about what the correct infraction is with regards to your situation.When issuing the infraction be clear about it and ensure both players understood what hasoccurred. If they ask for an explanation then provide them with one, use this time to educate
both players on what has transpired, however that might not always be possible. If one playerchoose to appeal facilitate their right to.Their might be times when your situation is not covered by the IPG at all, in this case youneed to consider that their might not be a best possible fit infraction wise. If you’re unsure onhow to deal with the arising situation then get the head judge to assist you or if you are a newto the role of Head Judge consult the IPG, ensure you examine all options and use thephilosophy of each infraction to guide you.It is also important to point out that a player might do something which is either illegal gamewise or peculiar, in these cases there is no particular infraction which will cover thosesituations. However the situations can be overcome by talking to the player and remindingthem not to repeat that specific behaviour or action. If they fail to follow the direct instructionof a tournament official then they risk Usp - Major which is a Game Loss. Examples thatmight fit into this category are, not keeping your hand of cards visible at all times orattempting to smoke in a building which in the UK is against the law.Part 3 (The Fix & Penalty):Once you have issued the infraction you need to fix the situation accordingly. The IPGprovides you with a fix for most Game Play Errors or Deck Errors. This fix needs to beapplied correctly to ensure that the game has returned to a correct state. As always if theplayers require an explanation as to what is happening, educate them and talk them throughthe fix. Bear in mind that you might need a player to discard a card at random or shuffle theiropponent’s deck, ensure this is all done under your supervision.In the event that your situation isn’t covered under the IPG the best fit infraction (if any) youapplied in Part 2 will have a relevant fix. Once a situation has been “fixed” a penalty mighthave to be issued either to one player or both, in this case you should ask the player(s)involved in the infraction if they have received any other penalties during the tournament. Ifthe player answers yes then you must find out what the previous infractions and penalties are,as this will allow you to follow the relevant upgrade path if it is applicable. It is also importantto note that most HJ’s will want you to confirm any situations which might lead to a GameLoss or above, if that is the case for you then follow up your fix with the HJ. Finally if thepenalty is a Game Loss or above the fix usually means both players proceeding to the nextgame or loosing the match.Part 4 (The Slip & Clean up):Once you have fixed the situation you need to write out the penalty on the back of the slipcorrectly. This is done by writing the following pieces of information in this orderJudges Name, Players Name as it’s written on the slip, Category of Infraction, Infraction,Penalty, Small description.For example: Stelios Kargotis, White Glen, Deck Error, Illegal Deck List, GL, Player listed59 cards on the deck list.Please try and make this as neat and as legible as possible for it may be possible for more thanone penalty to be written on the slip during the course of the match, also ensure that the scorekeeper knows that a penalty has been issued on the slip, this can be done by placing anencircled P next to the name of the infracting Player. Once the slip has been filled in makesure you allocate the players any extra time especially if the resolution of the penalty has beenlengthy and arduous. This extra time should also be noted in the top right hand corner of theslip, also ensure that both players understand the procedure of extra time.*Please note that if this is a DQ Investigation and consequently you have to DQ one or bothplayers then you also have to take statements and take the time to explain the process to bothplayers so they are fully aware of what has transpired. Furthermore you have to take
statements and tie things up with the Event Reporter programme you are using i.e. droppingthe infracting players from the Event.At this point you have completed the process however there is one more step which needs tohappen.Part5 (Discussion):This is the part of the process in which you discuss the situation/infraction/fix/penalty withyour fellow Judges. This is of vital importance and can happen in a variety of mediums up toand including discussion with fellow judges at the event, or even the HJ or your mentor and insome cases the forum or DCI Judge List. This is more pertinent if the situation you wereimplementing was new policy or came across a situation which was not fully covered by theIPG. It’s important to understand that the IPG is not a complete document and in some casesyou might be struggling to find a best fit solution. The discussion post debacle will allow for aprocess to begin and a positive conclusion to be reached be it short or long term. Finally if thesituation has occurred on a regular basis, it’s important that the powers that be are notified toallow for policy to encompass this frequent occurrence. Use your chain of command and filterinformation up to the policy makers. Finally enrich each other with your information some ofthe best debates I have had with my fellow judges have lead to my judging improving innoticeable ways. Remember it’s good to talk.I hope I have helped with these 5 Steps to a better ruling before I close this article I shall leaveyou with some do’s and don’ts.Don’t:1) Guessing the penalty/fix this looks unprofessional and can cause a lot of hurt if a playerdouble checks with another judge at a later date. It might also mean that you have gone downthe wrong path and given the player a disproportionate penalty.Do:1) If unsure, check with another judge, at some point you need to take a step back and confirmfacts this is a good thing, tell players that you need to check something and check. 9 times outof 10 your head judge will have an answer for you.2) Always look at the IPG and ensure that you investigate all possibilities, some situationsmight fit your debacle others might not, in the event of ambiguity discuss with a fellowjudge/HJ.3) Deviation is possible but this is the HJs prerogative and must be undertaken with greatcaution.4) Read and familiarise yourself with the IPG, knowing the infractions and penalties isn’tenough, understand the fix’s and the philosophy behind it this will make you a well roundedjudge and will allow you to overcome the written test for your next level.
Scenarios to do Role Play with:Scenario 1 Tournament Error – Deck Problems.Requirements for Scenario 1:2 x Volunteers1 x Briefing*1 x Table2 x Chairs2 x Decks.The briefing:Players BriefingPlayer 1 will be told to give the judge a full description of what has happened starting fromthe point where he has sat down shuffled his deck and presented to his opponent. Furthermorehe will explain that he has piled shuffled his opponents deck and found that there are 59 cardsmain deck, thus calling the judge.Player 2 doesn’t instinctively know where his 60th card is and will be a little flusteredbecause he knows he has done something wrong and a GL is looming. He will begin to babbleand make irrelevant excuses. For reference, the missing card is in the sideboard portion of thebox.Situation.2 Players have just started their match and presented their decks for shuffling. Player 1 haspiled shuffled Player 2’s deck and found that the deck has 59 cards. Player 1 has called ajudge over which is you. At this point the designated Judge will take over.Structure of Scenario 1.Allow the judge to come forward and let him talk to the players, stop him at each stage andrun through a few points to facilitate the experience for those attending the elective. Things tolook out for are:Strong introduction.Cross reference the info.Allocation of the correct Infraction/PenaltyProper FixMake sure that the judge takes the time to explain what’s happening to Player 2.Slip and Wrap upDiscussion (this should be brief for this scenario)Scenario 2 – GPE – Drawing Extra Cards:Requirements for Scenario 1:4 x Volunteers1 x Briefing*
1 x Table2 x Chairs2 x Decks.The briefing:Players BriefingPlayer 1 is not doing a lot of talking in fact everything he places on the stack is just shown tohis opponent and the communication is not verbal in fact it just involves pointing andnodding. When the Naturalize was played it both Players nodded and let it resolve.Player 2 has read some of the IPG however he has not read the new changes and still thinksthis is a GPE – GRV while explaining things he will point out everything in great detail andbe expecting a Warning. In fact this is a GL he will protest and state his case at great length.Once the Judge has made his ruling he will appeal to the HJ but will relax and accept theendorsement the HJ has made and proceed to Game 3.SituationTwo players are half way through game 2. Player 1 has Howling Mine on the Battlefield. Atthe of his turn Player 1 casts Naturalize on his Howling Mine as to avoid decking himself onhis next turn. Player 2 Untaps, in his upkeep Player 1 casts Silence which resolves. Player 2then draws for his turn and then draws for the Howling Mine which is no longer on theBattlefield. Player 2 calls the Judge immediately, realising what he has done.Structure of Scenario 2.This scenario is a little more challenging and the judge will be faced with one Player whodoesn’t communicate and one Player who think he knows the IPG. The following will belooked out for.Strong introduction.Cross reference the info.Allocation of the correct Infraction/PenaltyProper FixFacilitating Player 2’s need for Appeal.Remaining calm and professional when explaining thingsDiscussing communication with Player 1.Slip and Wrap upDiscussion (this should be lengthier with the HJ)Scenario 3. USP – Incorrectly Determining a Winner.Requirements for Scenario 1:4 x Volunteers1 x Briefing*1 x Table2 x Chairs2 x Decks.
The briefing:Players BriefingBoth players are unaware that what they are doing contravenes the rules. Though they bothheed the judge’s call to stop and do so. The Judge needs to inform the HJ of what hastranspired and be as precise as possible to aid him to do his Job. Although this is very clearcut rules wise the HJ will have both players complaining at length because they feel hard doneby. Its down to the players to give the HJ the necessary information and then be as realistic asplayers can be to ensure that the HJ has his hands full. Both Players will be briefed about thisto ensure a more authentic scenario.Situation2 Players are in the final round of Swiss for a PTQ. They are the final game outstanding andthey have 5 minutes before time on the round. They are drawn 1-1 and there is a judge at theirtable. Neither of them wants to draw so they both decide and agree to go Rock Paper Scissorsto determine the outcome of the match. At this point the Judge takes over.This scenario is the most challenging of the three and the onus now is on the HJ to conductthe DQ investigation swiftly but with a degree of empathy to ensure that the impact of what ishappening is contained.Things to be looking out for:The Floor Judge stops the game and informs the HJ of what has happened.The HJ discusses things with the Players before he issues the DQ ensuring that theyunderstand what has happened and is about to happen.A degree of empathy and of course professionalism.Information about what will happen post DQ.Maintaining a calm atmosphere.Keeping the information flowing but not overwhelming.Wrap up and Slip.Post DQ write up and discussion.Conclusion:During this part there will be a synopsis of the main points coming forward from the electiveincluding the 5 Steps and what they mean for each judge. To wrap things up there will beDo’s and Donts.