Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Good Practices #1 - Tracking Infraction Counts

Good practices is my name for a new feature where I blog about a judging practice that I use, or have seen others use, which could be useful to you. I don't like the name "best practices" because that seems a little presumptuous.

Today's good practice comes from Level 3 Judge John Alderfer. I don't actually remember where I picked this up from him; he and I tend to meet once or twice a month at a GP near you. At this GP Unknown, I discovered John doing something unusual on the back of a match result slip. What I saw was something like this:

John Alderfer, Player name, GRV W(1) Cast Wrath for wrong mana.

The unusual part was the number in parenthesis after the penalty ("W" for Warning). When I approached John about this, he told me that he had been doing this for some time as a means of tracking the number of infractions the player had in that particular type.

At Competitive REL, there are upgrade paths for players who repeatedly commit the same type of infraction. For Game Play Errors (GPEs), which encompass GRVs, Looking at Extra Cards, and Missed Trigger as the most common infraction types, a third infraction in each type can be upgraded to a Game Loss at the discretion of the Head Judge. For Tournament Errors (TEs) like Slow Play, the upgrade clause happens with the second infraction. This is why judges are instructed to ask players if they've received prior Warnings.

The infraction count on the back of the slip is a good way to reinforce that practice of asking the players. At a recent tournament, I actually caught myself as I was filling out the back of the slip. As I went to write the infraction count, I realized that I hadn't asked, and proceeded to do so.

There's also a good secondary reason to record this information. When a Scorekeeper (SK) enters penalties into the Reporter program, they will often flag players who have received multiple infractions of the same type and inform the Head Judge (HJ). There's a few reasons why a HJ might want to know this:
* If the infractions are suspiciously advantageous for the player, he or she may want to investigate for Cheating.
* To inform the Floor Judges, so that they are aware of the situation and make sure to ask players if they have received prior Warnings.
* To talk to the player and make sure that they are aware of the potential ramifications of additional infractions.

As the size of Magic events approaches bonkers status, there are also plenty of events now where the SK isn't able to keep up with the flow of result slips and penalty entry doesn't happen until a later time, either that day or the next. In such circumstances, judges recording the infraction count can serve as the check for the SK to talk with the HJ. The infraction count on the slip can also lead to situations where the SK notes a discrepancy. This could be because of incorrect information from the player, or from a judge recording the wrong infraction. Either way, it's a good opportunity to consult with judges and double check all of the information.

This is a real low cost way to do a lot of things that are useful for tournament operations, and something that I'd like to see become a world-wide practice. Thanks, John for showing this to me.


  1. First time I've seen someone suggest adding something to the results slip and agreed with it. This is amazing tech.

  2. Hi Riki,
    thanks for your advice! I will use it in my future tournaments.
    I have a question:
    How the slip have to be filled if the third infraction of the same type happen?
    (i.e. Judge Player, The GRV W(3)->GL Cast Wrath for wrong mana.)