Thursday, March 24, 2016

In Five Additional Turns

Your tournament is massive, your scorekeeper is busy, your round is ending. What now?


The Plan

A successful end of round procedure starts well before the clock hits zero, it starts before the event even begins. We can instill best practices into our fellow judges at our very first team meeting.  End of round starts with being proactive as we watch Magic.  Aside from policing slow play (which is probably another article altogether) we can do things like sweeping for match slips, tracking time extensions, and sometimes just sitting down at matches as the round nears a close. In my last post I talked about how we handled Charlotte's end of round without a printout from our scorekeeper, and it was simply by applying these and other practices.

One of the things I like to do as end of round lead is encourage other judges to report time extensions to me.  This way when the round nears it's end I can prioritize sending judges to those matches...more on that later. Additionally I encourage judges to just sit down on matches as they see them when we get down about 10 minutes in the round rather than waiting for an assignment.   As we're walking the floor we should also be making sure that slips are making their way to the scorekeeper -- sometimes players will chat after their match, sometimes judges will hoard slips as the round comes to a close.  We can collect these slips from players -- usually offering to make the trip for them in exchange for filling it out is a trade they are more than happy to make! And we can grab slips from other judges as we're heading to the stage so they can keep watching Magic and those slips can make it home safe.

The Clipboard

It's time, you've taken your place at the main stage and you're ready to send judges off into the trenches to end some matches...but how? Remember those time extensions? Lets attack those first! You can do this before you ever get a printout from your scorekeeper. These are the matches that are going to potentially cause our round to run long. A great practice here is to start learning the names of judges, make a note of who you've sent out so as more judges come for assignments you don't double-up until everything is covered.

Ok, we've got our extensions covered, but we still don't have a print out, what now? Send a couple judges on sweeps of the room. Start with the back corners farthest from the stage, have them sweep for slips, record time extensions, and get a general feel for how many people are still playing cards. Use this information to send out your next wave of judges. Anyone that comes up before your sweeps are complete you can send right back out to sit on a match.

Over the course of your event you'll start to get a feel for your fellow judges skill level, this will let you utilize their skills to tackle lengthy time extensions, double up with less-experienced judges, or send them back to help your scorekeeper -- I am confident they would love help sorting slips. Around this time is when I think you can look to get a printout from your SK, this is a great tool to make sure what they have in the computer matches reality. This brings me to the next point - EOR procedure isn't over when the last slip is in, it's over when you are confident that all your matches are sufficiently covered. If all of your tables have a judge, and you have people sorting slips, it's time to put the clipboard down and either take a breather until the next round or see how else you can help your event.

The Floor

I've covered the most important thing you can do as a floor judge to end your round -- and that's to be proactive.  After that there are a few low-effort things we can do to help. My favorite of the bunch is really simple: Get sent to a table and see someone walking up with a slip? Ask them what they've got! You can save yourself a trip across the venue if they're bringing up the slip you're hunting. The important bits on the floor are a lot of what NOT to do.

Match slips don't belong in your pocket, don't do it, not ever, please no. That isn't their home, their home is with the scorekeeper. Get them home safe.  Speaking of getting them home, try not to hoard them -- as we're sweeping for slips they will start to accumulate but we still need to make sure they get to the main stage quickly so we can have a smoother turn over.

No players, no slip? Don't sit on that information, let your EOR lead know immediately so that information can move up to the SK, At that point either start hunting for that slip, because if it isn't there it's time to call those players to the stage.

Don't depend on the printout. Your scorekeeper is busy, your tournament is probably large. A printout with 100 tables isn't going to help you. Practice best practices and be proactive about end of round procedure and you'll find that your printout won't be necessary.

New Jersey - New Seminar!

Next week at the Northeast Judge Conference I will be talking about End of Round procedure with scorekeeping wizard Jennifer Dery. We're going to talk about best practices and how you can not only help your rounds flip faster, but how you can help your scorekeeper, and how to deal with tricky situations when the round draws to a close.  Her post about this weekend can be found here!


  1. "Additionally I encourage judges to just sit down on matches as they see them when we get down about 10 minutes in the round rather than waiting for an assignment."

    When the judge-to-player ratio is high, (in particular in late rounds) I like this. In other cases I actively discourage it. At GP Vegas round 1 I personally found multiple tables that hadn't heard that time had been called. I would inform them, then move on and check on other tables. Round 2 I saw many judges, with 5 minutes left on the clock, just randomly sitting on matches. I would rouse them, and request that they only sit when we are reasonably sure that outstanding matches at least know they're on time, and that we have judges on matches with extensions.

    1. Absolutely! Every tournament is going to be different and not everything is always going to work. This post is more meant to help establish a good framework from which to perform EOR.