How to Handle Yourself

Hello Duelists! I'm sure all of you have been to a tournament at one point, and if you've been to a tournament you've noticed that there's probably somebody judging that tournament. In this week's article I'll be talking about how to talk to judges and knowing how to explain your situation to them by understanding their point of view.

The floor judge

This is your basic judge. The experience level of these judges vary; some have been judging for a while and some are just starting out. For you as a player this isn't very good because you have no way of knowing how reliable they are.

There’s usually only 2 reasons for a judge call: A ruling question, or a gameplay question. What I mean by gameplay question is a scenario that happened in the game but you and your opponent cannot agree, for example: I say that you sent Shaddoll Dragon to the graveyard with Construct’s effect but you say that you were only thinking about it and never actually put it in the graveyard. Now when the judge is called for this situation, since he probably didn't see what happened, all that he is doing is giving his opinion on what he thinks actually happened.

There are some tricks to having the judge rule in your favor (keep in mind these are just things that you should always be doing, it doesn't necessarily mean that the judge will always rule for you). Yelling and getting upset really doesn't help your case; instead, calmly explain the situation to the judge, losing your cool will only help you get a warning. You need to know how to explain your situation, you need to be very specific in your word choice, if you say your opponent placed it in the graveyard, tell the judge exactly how, be as specific as possible, did your opponent let go of the card? Did the card ever actually hit the graveyard? Did your opponent start shuffling their deck then try to put the card back?

Let's say that the floor judge doesn't rule in your favor, this always leads to 1 of 2 scenarios.  Scenario 1: You accepting the ruling and then if you lose, you go around saying things such as “the judge cheated me" or "I got cheated". The first question that you should ask the person saying that is “Did you appeal?” and about 95+% of the time the answer is no. These two things are some of my biggest pet peeves. Cheating by definition requires intent, if your opponent made an illegal play by accident, and neither of you noticed, you should not go around slandering his name calling him a cheater if it was an honest mistake. There really isn't a reason not to appeal a ruling if the ruling didn't go your way and you think you're right.

You should always appeal a ruling that didn't go in your favor, because remember that floor judges vary in experience and the head judge may not agree with his floor judge’s ruling and may overturn it and rule in your favor. If the floor judge gave the wrong ruling and you didnt appeal, you have yourself to blame.

Which leads me to Scenario 2: The appeal

If you don't agree with the ruling given to you by a floor judge you are entitled to an appeal. After the floor judge gives you his ruling, do NOT start arguing with him just politely say “I’d like to appeal.” You can appeal a ruling given to you by a floor judge, an appeal is basically getting the head judge to give you the final ruling on your situation.

The head judge is usually a very experienced judge who has been judging for awhile, and as a result will usually be correct in his rulings. The only time you can have the head judge come over and give you his ruling is by making an appeal. Whatever the head judge rules is final, you cannot appeal the head judge, so it is critical to let him know exactly what happened.

When the head judge is deciding on his final ruling the first thing he will do is ask both you and your opponent what happened (with the floor judge standing next to him), make sure to say exactly what you told the floor judge, because if you start changing things around the floor judge will let the head judge know. When explaining yourself you should also explain why you believe that the floor judge’s ruling is wrong (in a polite way) because after listening to both sides of what happened the head judge will take the floor judge to the side and talk to him about what he knows.

Unfortunately if the question isn't a ruling question but a gameplay question then it is difficult to get the floor judge's ruling overturned because since neither the head judge nor the floor judge know what actually happened they usually will come to the same conclusions and the same final ruling. Don't forget to ask for a time extension after your judge call, because the judges do forget sometimes.

The worst case scenario that can happen from a ruling not going your way is you going on tilt and getting angry. Avoid this at all costs, this will only cause you to misplay and do even worse the rest of the tournament. I won't go into much detail about this because there are plenty of other article writers who have covered how to avoid going on tilt. If you guys are interested in knowing more about how to avoid going on tilt there are plenty of articles on ARG’s webpage about it.

That's all for this week's article! Special thanks go out to Dennis Pham-Le for giving me this week's article topic. If you'd like to see me write about a certain topic feel free to message me on Facebook. The Circuit Series stops by St.Louis, Missouri next on June 6-7! I hope to see you all there! And As Always Play Hard or Go Home!