Tessitori is a level 5 judge from Italy (and former Pro Player ^__^); he judged a hundred professional events, headjudged 15 Grand Prix events in Europe, the United States and Asia and has been headjudging Pro Tours and World Championships since 2009:
Tour Kyoto 2009
- Pro Tour Austin 2009
- Worlds Chiba 2010
- Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011
- Pro Tour Barcelona 2012
- World Magic Cup Indianapolis 2012
The Judge Levels and the Meaning of the Acronym IPG
It’s not even the end of
January and I’ve already been to two GPs on two continents, what a great start!
If you haven’t seen the
coverage of these two events, you can find it here:
A quick comment on GP
Singapore: As I believe I told you in the past, going to another continent and
meeting people from different cultures is a great way to open our minds; there
isn’t a single way of living, there isn’t a single religion… having friends of
different races and different religions is very enriching.
A quick comment on GP
Bilbao: You might have read on my status on Facebook that my travel hasn’t been
exactly the best; the lesson I learned is “In January it may snow; if I have to
go from a country in Southern Europe (Italy, always) to another country in
Southern Europe (Spain, in this case), there is no need to go north and get
stuck in an airport covered in snow!”.
In this article, in
addition to our always present questions of the week and your questions, I will
be happy to introduce two very new sections:
the Senior Judges: each month, we will interview one of the “Senior Judges” and
we will discover a little more about what these “Pro Judges” do in the world of
Magic and also a little bit about what they do in their normal life. This time
this section is not about a single Senior Judge, instead I want to tell you who
they are and why they are called this way.
Policy by example: each month, we will analyze a section of the IPG (Infraction
Procedure Guide), trying to understand the meaning behind each sentence and
trying to find as many examples as possible about each definition, each
infraction, and each penalty. This time we will discuss the reason for the
existence of this official document and its goal.
Q: I cast Increasing Vengeance from the graveyard, targeting my Lightning Bolt on the stack (will
copy that spell twice when it resolves). I then copy the Increasing Vengeance
with another Increasing Vengeance (also cast from the graveyard - not necessary
for the example, but more fun!). All copies target the 'bolt. Do I end up with
five or seven copies of the 'bolt? Put another way, when I copy a spell, does
the copy think it was cast from the same place that the original was cast, or
does it know it was never cast in the first place? And what (other) properties
does/doesn't a copy copy? Thanks in advance!
A: Oh, interesting
situation…. Or should I say “interesting example of an annoying virtual
situation that will likely never happen at a tournament? I’m joking of course.
Let’s find out how it works.
We have Bolt1 on the stack
and we cast Increasing Vengeance from the graveyard; when it resolves, it
creates two copies: Bolt2 and Bolt3. Three Lightning Bolts, 9 damage; this was
the initial easy situation.
Let’s add the second Increasing Vengeance; the second Increasing Vengeance is cast from the
graveyard, so it will create two copies; in our scenario, it targets the first Increasing Vengeance, so it will create Vengeance2 and Vengeance3!
The original Vengeance will
create Bolt2 and Bolt3.
The copied Vengeance2 and
Vengeance3 will also copy Bolt1, but they will create only one copy each; Increasing Vengeance has an effect (“Copy….”) with a self-replacement effect
(“If…., copy twice instead”); this self-replacement will apply only if the
check “has this Increasing Vengeance been cast from a graveyard?” has a
positive answer; in our scenario, Vengeance2 and Vengeance3 are copies, created
directly on the stack, not cast from the graveyard.
Vengeance2 and Vengeance3
will create Bolt4 and Bolt5, for a total of 15 damage.
When you copy a spell, you
copy its modes, its targets, its value of X and any other choice you would make
the moment you announce the spell and put it on the stack; any choices that are
made on resolution and any checks (like the Increasing Vengeance) that are done
on resolution aren’t copied.
Q: If my Lotleth Troll is
enchanted with a card like Arrest, and I use Grim Backwoods to sacrifice, if I
regenerate the troll, will it lose the enchantment, or since the troll doesn't
hit the grave will the enchantment stay.
A: Sorry, it doesn’t work,
the Troll would end up in the graveyard. A regeneration shield can save a
creature from destruction, which means from “death by damage” and “death by a
destruction effect”. A regeneration shield is useless against “death by sacrifice”
and “death by -X/-X”. If you sacrifice your Troll, nothing can save him; well,
you might give him Undying, so that it will return to the battlefield while Arrest will stay in your opponent’s graveyard.
Q: Say I have two Lotleth Troll on the battlefield and I discard a creature card. Do they both get a
+1/+1, or do you have to target one troll? Thanks!
A: Only one. Each of your
Trolls has the ability “I will get a +1/+1 counter if you pay the cost of
discarding one creature card for me”; if you “pay” only one card, you will
satisfy only one Troll.
Questions of the Week
Q: My opponent activates
Ezuri’s ability, to pump his elves; can I prevent him from doing it with my Ego Erasure?
A: Yes, you just have to
cast your Ego Erasure in response to Ezuri’s ability; when Ezuri’s ability will
resolve, it won’t affect any creature because there will be no elves.
Q: I control three Forests
and one Llanowar Elf; I want to cast Chord of Calling; can I tap the elf to get
his green mana and also to reduce the cost of Chord Calling?
A: No. Chord of Calling
allows you to tap creatures to pay the spell, but if you tapped the Elf to use
its mana ability, it won’t be available to be tapped for Chord of Calling (and
Q: My opponent controls Defense Grid; how does it work with spells like Force of Will?
A: During your opponent’s
turn, Defense Grid wants you to pay 3 more to cast any spell, including all
those spells like Force of Will that allow you to cast them for an alternative
cost. Force of Will would cost you “one blue card, one life point AND three
Q: I control Ardent Plea
and I attack with Geist of Saint Traft; will the Geist get +1/+1 thanks to
exalted? And the token? Only one, no one or both?
A: Only the Geist will get
the +1/+1 effect thanks to Exalted, because only the Geist has been declared as
an attacker. Exalted triggers at the moment attacking creatures are declared,
while the Angel is put on the battlefield afterwards.
Q: I control Windbrisk Heights and I attack with a Hero of Bladehold; is this a combo?
A: No. Your Hero will put
two attacking creatures on the battlefield, and you will have three attacking
creatures BUT Windbrisk Heights doesn’t say “if you control three attacking
creatures”; it says “if you attacked with three creatures”, which is a sentence
that means “if you declared three creatures as attackers”. I know that in
English we could say “but I attacked you with three creatures”, but in Magic
lingo “to attack” means “to declare attacking creatures”; sometimes simple
English and technical Magic lingo are a little different.
Meet the Senior Judges –
Let’s Discover the Judge Levels and Roles
The Judge Program is a
volunteer non-profit organization that is associated with Hasbro/Wizards (the
company that produces Magic cards and decides how tournaments work) and has the
goal of helping Magic players to have a great time at all Magic events, by
making sure that tournament procedures are as efficient as possible, that any
doubts about rules are solved, that tournament controversies are handled with
satisfaction for all involved parties, that TOs, players, and Wizards receive
the best possible feedback for their future events; all this is completed by a
professional but friendly approach.
There are more than 3500
members of the Judge Program; these members are certified judges and each of
them took a written + oral + practice test, administered by a judge whose level
was 2 or higher; rules knowledge is the basic skill required to become a judge,
integrity and ability to correctly explain rules and to interact with people are
All these 3500 certified
judges are organized in a structure of five levels, which indicate what role
each person has in the entire organization; in addition to these levels, there
are a few special roles.
The level of each judge
corresponds to his skills (rules, policy, tournament procedures), his
commitment, the responsibilities that both Wizards and the other judges are
giving to him, the responsibilities that the judge is willing to accept, the
time dedicated to the Judge Program; in general, I would summarize all these
aspects as “the judge level corresponds to the impact a judge has on the entire
A level 1 judge (sometimes
called “Local judge”) is the judge that we can find in each store, at each
sanctioned tournament; he’s the rules expert and the first contact for new
players. At this moment there are more than 2500 level 1 judges.
A level 2 judge (sometimes
called “Area judge”) is the floor judge of PTQs and the judge who administers
tests for new L1s; in addition to being a very good rules expert, he knows how
to appropriately solve problems due to infractions at a Competitive tournament,
and he’s able to both mentor interested people to level 1 and also to evaluate
their readiness. At this moment there are about 700 level2 judges.
A level 3 judge (sometimes
called “Regional judge”) is the head judge of PTQs and the floor judge of Grand
Prix and Pro Tours, and he’s also one of the main references for a nation
(European size) or a state (American size); in addition to knowing the rules
extremely well and being able to run very efficient tournaments, he’s a pillar
of his national community, with a very intense activity outside tournaments
(training other judges, working on projects). At this moment there are 94 level
3 judges in the world, from 28 countries.
A level 4 judge (sometimes
called “International judge”) is the head judge of Grand Prix; he’s able to run
events with more than 1000 participants and 50 judges on staff, efficiently
managing all the activities that happen behind the scenes of a Grand Prix and
making sure that the weekend has all the necessary follow-ups for the
improvement of the entire Judge Program; outside tournaments, he’s the manager
of an entire area of the judge program (for example “tournaments at Regular
REL” or “Procedures at Competitive events” or “Rules education” or “Technology
support”) and makes sure that the projects in his area are focused and
productive. At this moment there are nine level 4 judges, from Argentina,
Australia, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and the United States.
A level 5 judge (sometimes
called “Professional judge”) is the head judge of Pro Tours and World
Championships; he’s able to lead any kind of staff in any kind of event in any
part of the planet, with a very strong focus on the development of the entire
judge program, on the relationship with players, TOs, staff, spectators,
readers… in general of the game of Magic. Each level 5 is a symbol, a paragon,
a role model for all the judges. At this moment there are four level 5 judges,
three are from the United States and one is from Italy.
There are three aspects that
I would really like to clarify:
level contains the levels below; a level 5 is not “just a level 5”; he’s at the
same time a level 1, a level 2, a level 3, a level 4 and a level 5. It is not
abnormal to see a high level judge judging local tournaments, it is expected
that a level 4 or 5 contributes to the management of his national community,
and it’s also normal to see a level 5 collecting trash and folding table cloths
at a Grand Prix.
level is not an achievement for brilliant results in the past; advancing to the
next level is a projection into the future, where the judge accepts a higher
level of responsibilities. A judge who gets to a certain level and then has
changes in his life will return to a lower level that will correspond to his
activity and contribution to the judge program; this isn’t a failure or a
demotion, instead is an adjustment to the appropriate level of impact on the
- “We need to get to the highest level possible” is a false myth; the “correct
level” is the level where we feel more comfortable, where we are happy to
accept all the responsibilities and fulfill all the requirements. Different levels
are different roles in the system, and judges of any level can be people worth
of esteem (because the person is much more than just a number next to his
Then, in addition to the
five judge levels, we have a few special roles.
An Emeritus judge is a
judge who retired and has been recognized with a kind of “Hall of fame” status
for his exceptional contribution to the judge program; these people can be
involved in any level of mailing list and are considered partners and
consultants; it’s also possible to see these people judging or headjudging GPs
from time to time, as special guests. At this moment there are five Emeritus
judges, three are from the United States and two are from the Netherlands.
A Regional Coordinator is
the single judge who is in charge of an entire geographic region; in Europe, it
would mean “all the countries where a specific language is spoken”; in the
United States, it would mean a group of states; in Asia, it would mean either
China or the entire tropical Pacific region. These judges have to be at least
L3 and take care of the wellbeing of their hundreds of judges and plan the
development of their region; they are also the main contact for Competitive
level Tournament Organizers. At this moment there are twenty-five Regional
The Judge Manager is a
Wizards employee who facilitates the activities of the judges, who is available
to give support and guidance; there is only one judge manager.
IPG analysis – Tournament
Policy by Example
And finally, I would like
to anticipate how our “IPG analysis” will work.
The Infraction Procedure Guide
is a difficult document; on just 24 pages, we will find information regarding
how to fix all the infractions at Competitive and Professional tournaments;
yes, it’s a short document, it’s not comprehensive, and is in continuous
Our goal will be to take a
page or a section per article and go as deep as possible, analyzing each
sentence and finding all possible examples that fit into the section we will be
studying; hence the name “Tournament Policy by example”.
For today, let’s just look
at the title: Infraction Procedure Guide.
Infraction: this document
doesn’t describe rules or tournament procedures; it describes how to fix
infractions in a fair and consistent way, so that all the players in the world
may know what to expect when they or their opponents commit an infraction.
doesn’t mean penalty; infraction means that judges need to somehow fix the game
state in a fair way and have the game continue; for different infractions there
are different procedures on how to decide on the method to fix them.
Guide: this is not a
comprehensive rulebook, instead this is a guide; the goal is to keep the
document short enough to cover 99.99% of the infractions that happen in real
tournaments; for the remaining 0.01%, we count on judges’ common sense to find
the best solution. More, there might be situations where an infraction may not
fit clearly in a single category of infraction; in these cases again, we count
on judges’ common sense to find the most appropriate solution, with the advice
included in this guide.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and I’m looking forward to reading your
Don’t forget to submit all
your rules questions for the next installment of Ask the Judge:
You have the unique opportunity to ask Level 5
judge Riccardo Tessitori all the questions you want to!
You can ask him questions concerning rules
problems, the life of a level 5 judge, DCI policies, interesting tournament
situations and anything else you want to ask him!
Bidding is now closed.
Buyin expires on Sat, 9 Feb
See you in a few weeks!
The following winning bids were featured on this page: