Saturday, March 12, 2016

No Clipboard? No Problem.

In my Make a Note of It post I talked briefly about not having access to a traditional end of round printout and the way we handled the situation. In this (long overdue) post I want to talk about it in greater detail. At over 800 players, the Charlotte Open was large. Our tournament was seated into an "L" shape moving away from the main event stage, looking like this:

We're looking at roughly 300 feet from the main stage to the back of the room, and pretty close across.
In addition to its size, the room itself presented a challenge to both players in judges in terms of round clock visibility...
Isn't he friendly?
Introducing our new BFF, this giant pillar, master of obscuration.  This guy made it very difficult for anyone sitting in the 300s to see the round clock.  Our team made early note of this and looked into solutions for the players -- moving the round clock would only create the problem for a different section of the tournament. We ultimately decided that since it was at the higher table numbers the problem would eventually correct itself as players dropped and the tournament got smaller.  Our solution in the interim however was to be more vigilant sending our team to that area and ensuring people were playing at a reasonable rate and informing them of the round times when necessary.

As I mentioned at the end of round one I'm told that I shouldn't expect an End of Round print out. If you aren't familiar with this little sheet, it is a list of table numbers where people are (in theory) still playing Magic. It's incredibly helpful for sending judges to watch those matches for slow play and make sure the slips make it up to the stage in a quick fashion. Not having it meant coming up with a solution that would work for such a large room. What we came up with was a map of the room, which ended up looking similar to this:

Isn't it beautiful?
So rather than using each table, the map was broken down into larger sections of the room, usually two tables wide.  When judges came up looking for table number assignments, the first few were instead sent on sweeps of specific areas, instructed to collect slips and report back with table numbers of matches still in progress...
Look at those arrows, all sweeping and what not.
This information was used to dispatch the next set of judges to those tables and make sure we had eyes on every match. As EOR moved along my maps got a little more cluttered as they filled with information:
Printout, shmrintout.
We effectively ended up with our own EOR printout just by watching Magic, sweeping for slips, and gathering data. At that point it was easy to assign judges to tables, prioritize time extensions, and effectively start moving judges off to floor to sort slips.

After a couple rounds we started to make some refinements and we really made this system work. My team did an excellent job of spreading out around the room to watch Magic. Everyone on the floor helped out bringing me lengthy time extensions so I could prioritize sending judges to those tables first. Instead of coming up looking for table numbers judges came up looking for sections of the room to sweep, and we started doing so a little earlier. When we got into the later rounds we were able to get an EOR printout like normal but continued to use the map system.  The printout was helpful to make sure our scorekeeper's information matched reality, but wasn't necessary.

Practicing Best Practices

One of the things I liked about this experience was that it forced everyone to really perform their end of round duties to ensure a quick turnaround. With our map and zone assignments judges were more vigilant about slow play, were quicker to gather information, and we're generally watching more Magic.  As a team lead and the guy with the clipboard I was forced to be on top of my game and use everything I've ever learned about EoR. Was I making sure to send judges to the time extensions first? Then the tables where players couldn't see the clock? Then the tables farther from the main stage?  Is everything covered? Do I think any of these judges need extra help? What can I do right now to help my scorekeeper?

I don't want to dive too far into a lot of these things -- my friend, colleague, roommate, Level Two Judge, and GP Scorekeeper Jennifer Dery will be presenting with me at the upcoming Northeast Judge Conference about this very topic. We want to talk about the best practices while holding the clipboard, how best to help your scorekeeper, how to help your fellow judges, and how to help your players. I would fully expect to find a post about it here as well as on her blog, which can be found at MTG Scorekeeper

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