Friday, March 17, 2017

Rocks and Rocks - What to do When You're the Reach

In the past, I wrote a post about Rocks and Reaches, a theory on how to select your Team Leads when you are a Head Judge. The basic idea is that you want to balance between (solid) rocks and (people who are) reaches. But what do you do when you, as Head Judge, are the reach?

The first part of the equation is to recognize when this is the case. The easiest scenario to imagine when you are the reach is when you are the HJ of your first large event that actually requires you to divide up your judge staff into teams. Beyond that, you should think of tournaments in tiers based on complexity, expected attendance, and the quality and quantity of judges on your staff.

Recently, Paul Baranay went with a "rocks and rocks" setup for his TLs. Now, Paul has been there and done that. He's certified as a Grand Prix Head Judge. He has head judged multiple Opens, including a 677-player Standard Open.

But this event was set to be something special, a Team Constructed Open, the first of its kind. At the time Paul chose his TLs, we were already trending towards reaching our seating capacity of 300 teams (900 players), and indeed it happened a few days later. Also, being Teams introduced plenty of uncertainty in terms of how the event would run. I would not necessarily call Paul a reach, but the entire situation was so. And that's why Paul chose the TLs he did and sent them the following message:
" 'Rocks and reaches' works great for lots of events.
This event, however, is a 'rocks and rocks' situation.
I chose you for these roles because I knew you would do a great job in spite of any challenges that the event throws at us."

It was a cute turn of the phrase that emphasized exactly the right things for this event. A Head Judge's time and bandwidth is already constant assault at this kind of event, and every strong leader that you put into place to reduce some of your burden will help you.

As a counter-example, I was talking with Jacob Milicic, who recently head judged his first ever SCG Classic in Indianapolis. Jacob is someone who is big on feedback and judge development, and with those interests in mind he went with two less experienced TLs. There's nothing inherently wrong with that rationale, but according to Jacob, "Looking back on it, I should've gone with two rocks for my team leads, or even a rock and a reach. Selecting my leads the way that I did set me up for a more-challenging day than I would've liked for Head Judging my first SCG Classic."

The next time you're set to be the Head Judge of something that you expect to be a challenge, consider surrounding yourself with a bunch of rocks.