Tournaments: A Judge’s View
by Joe Butler

    With the coming of spring, most players’ minds turn to thoughts of the SFB National Championships and how well they will do in the tournaments. A judge’s mind, however, shifts into high gear as they begin reading the rulebook over and figuring out how they are going to survive yet another tournament.

    Now don’t get me wrong. Most judges do not dread tournaments; they just have to get into the proper mindset. The typical tournament puts a judge’s patience, organizational skills, kindness, and endurance to the test. Typical preparations include preparing enough SSDs, pencils, allocation and damage charts, and Rated Ace forms to cover the expected turnout. Pre-tournament preparations also include publicizing the event, arraigning for space at the convention, arraigning a place to sleep, and recruiting assistants. Preparations for Origins is very similar, yet different. While most of the items above are handled by ADB, the judges still have some responsibilities and obligations.

    A typical Origins begins on the Wednesday of Origins week as players, judges, and staff members begin arriving. After checking into the hotel, Steve Cole & Steve Petrick, along with a few staff members locate the tournament room assignment and figure out where to locate the tournament desk, bullpen, and notice boards. After arranging the room for the Thursday morning rush, the staff & judges return to the hotel for the Wednesday night sing-along and judges’ meeting.

    Thursday morning sees everyone up early enough to be ready to go when the first session starts at 8:30 a.m. and the initial rush of players begins. The first few hours are the busiest, but go smoothly as players are registered and pairings are matched. As the day progresses, games are matched and played, results are reported, and the convention continues. Depending if the hall closes early, the latest starting time for a game is determined and the judges decide on who is staying late, and who is getting up in the morning.

    Friday morning starts out markedly different than the previous day, but tends to become busier in the afternoon. As 5:00 p.m. approaches, the judges’ jobs become harder. In order to get the required number of rounds played by Friday night, some games may have to be adjudicated. While adjudication is a necessary evil, it is avoided whenever possible. Allowing games to proceed to the end allow players to play to the best of their abilities. Adjudication should only be used when the match has exceeded a set time for rounds to finish, or when one or both players feel that adjudication is needed. Adjudicating a game just because you’ve played three hours and have another event to go to is not a good reason to ask for one. Not only does this cause undue stress on all involved; it is detrimental to the spirit of competition in all players.

    Saturday morning begins with the Saturday Patrol rush, as well as the continuation of the Captain’s and Patrol tournament quarter and semi-finals. The sixteen players from each tournament find out their opponents for the finals, and begin the quest for the championship. As each elimination match progresses, the stakes get higher and higher for the Captains' and Patrol finalists. Those who could not attend the convention on Thursday and Friday play as many Saturday Patrol matches as they can to attain the Rated Ace card for the player with the most net kills (wins – losses). Once again, if adjudication is necessary the judges are there, but most games continue until one player is defeated or resigns.

    Sunday morning sees the finals of the Captain’s and Patrol tournaments begin in relative quiet, while the rest of the staff prepares for the Star Fleet Universe seminar. If the finals conclude in time, the champions are introduced to the seminar attendees and are asked to share their battle experience with the crowd. With the conclusion of the seminar, the judges begin their way back home, satisfied in the fact that another tournament has come to a successful conclusion.

    Is becoming a judge for you? Have you judged local tournaments and are interested in assisting at Origins? Do you aspire to become a certified tournament judge? Then volunteering as an assistant judge is for you. Becoming an assistant judge allows you to demonstrate you ability to judge tournaments in a fair, impartial, and ethical manner to the senior judges. Remember that certification is not immediate. You must demonstrate your abilities to the satisfaction of the judges and Steve Cole and/or Steve Petrick. This will take more than one Origins to achieve.

    Yes, judging tournaments can be hectic. But if you enjoy Star Fleet Battles and want to introduce others to the game, becoming a judge just might be for you.


Copyright 1998, 1999-2005 Amarillo Design Bureau, All Rights Reserved

Updated 14 June 2005