So you’re going to your first big tournament

Over at, David Ochoa’s latest article has sparked a big discussion based on this little bit of text:
I knew that some people had dropped in the early rounds at X-1. That gave me a glimmer of hope that the number of X-1 people would be able to accommodate a draw in round seven. When the standings were put up, I found that to not be the case. Pairings went up and I went to my match. I had been paired up against the only 6-0. I asked if he wanted to concede after explaining to him that he was a lock for top even with a loss. He said that he wouldn

12 thoughts on “So you’re going to your first big tournament

  1. I posted this in the comments of the CFB article, but I’ll throw it here too:
    Nice writeup on the Do’s and Don’ts. The real problem I see is that there isn’t anyone informing newer players about these rules. I could feign ignorance and say that the players should be reading these rules ahead of tournaments and that they’re “morons” if they don’t. But, c’mon, who really is telling the players to do that in the first place? I would lay some of the blame on the players themselves. Some… Newer players are a bit ignorant when it comes to floor rules/game rules, but that isn’t necessarily their fault. When you or me buys product today there isn’t the handy dandy rulebook there used to be. And if my friends play magic and are trying to get me to play I most certainly am not going to go read the vast comprehensive rules guide just to play casually at school or the local FNM. I’m going to learn from my buddies because, well, they’re my buddies and I assume they know what they’re talking about.
    This is where the problem lies.
    Who should be informing players about current rules? Frankly, I don’t expect players to know the comprehensive rules guide backwards and forwards; even some judges have been shown up on occasion because a player did and they understood the rules interaction more precisely than whatever judge they decided to argue with. But, I do want players to know floor rules. Not so much for their own benefit, moreso for their own protection when at local GPT/PTQ. At an FNM lots of stuff can just be ignored because it really is a casual environment, but that won’t be the case at any higher REL event. The local FNM judge/TO isn’t going to go over floor rules because, again, they let a lot of things slide to save time or just because they want players to keep coming back every week and spending money at the local store.
    Again, who is supposed to educate newer players? Even veteran players are sometimes not completely literate on every floor rule. And I don’t expect them to know every single floor rule and infractions that follow. But, I do expect them to know the most common floor rules and the penalties that ensue. Such as bribery, cheating, stacking, reporting, conduct…etc
    Should the judges at events be the ones to do it? Many floor rules, you’d think, would come as common sense to many players; as these rules are just some of the things a ethically responsible person should follow. But, you and me both know, that common sense is lost in the general population.
    Personally, I think WoTC needs to address the issue of floor rule education a bit more and work with local TOs/Judges to see if they can better inform the community while not holding up entire tournaments to do so. Maybe do player training on off days or cancel one FNM every couple months to do a seminar/class. That doesn’t sound fun, but what would you rather have: Informed players or “jackasses”?
    The better informed the community is the better off it is as a whole. You can’t blame just one part of the community either. This issue is brought up time and time again and I feel the entire community has played the “ignorant” card far too many times to let it go on much longer. Magic has been out for 15+ years. If the game can come to the social media circle via twitter, FB, blogs…etc. Why can’t they figure out ways to better educate the player base?

  2. My Followup from CFB. The discussion doesn’t go anywhere over there. Or at least the discussion seems to be getting stonewalled from the same “I’m better than you” mentality:
    You can say

  3. Another good “niche” article – you took an issue and looked at it from a broader perspective. In addition to that I have bookmarked it to point to newer players in my community once they get the competitive itch 🙂 It’s hard to sum up the Dos and Don’ts of higher K events better.
    On a separate note – I always thought people who write more than 10 lines reply to a blog post should start their own blog instead.

  4. I agree with The E. It’s difficult to pick up these sorts of rules outside of trial-by-fire situations wherein you (or someone you know) breaks one of these rules and learns the hard way.
    My problem is identifying the difference between bribery and prize splitting given in your example.
    Firstly, let me make sure I am understanding you correctly. In your example, you said, “Note that you are allowed to propose a prize split at any time, such as ‘Hey, how about we each get 25% of whatever prize the other person wins?’ As long as you don’t offer any match results in exchange, that’s fine.”
    In this example, are you also asking for a concession in this conversation? If so, then would another way to put it look like this?:
    “Would you concede to me (putting me into the top 8 along with you) and give me 25% of your winnings if I agree to give you 25% of my winnings?”
    If I’m understanding that correctly, how is that different than bribery?
    I think the problem is defining EXACTLY what it means to offer a “bribe.” defines “bribe” as:
    1. money or any other valuable consideration given or promised with a view to corrupting the behavior of a person, esp. in thatperson’s performance as an athlete, public official, etc.
    2. anything given or serving to persuade or induce: The children were given candy as a bribe to be good.
    I’m not sure I understand why it’s okay to concede to someone for “no reason,” but it is not okay to concede to them in exchange for something, if, in the end, the result is the same (a concession). If it is legal to concede, then what do the reasons even matter?
    I just want some clarification on the matter. It seems very fuzzy to me, and rules that can end up getting people DQ’d should never be so fuzzy. The poor guy in your example above probably had no ill intent, and it’s a shame that he’d be DQ’d for something that really doesn’t seem all that wrong. (I’d really like to understand why it’s considered wrong.)
    Great write-up!

  5. (There’s a short explanation at the bottom of this reply, if it’s a little too long…)
    Joey —
    In my prize split example, you are explicitly /not/ talking about a concession. You are simply agreeing with another player to share your eventual prize money, whatever it might be. A lot of players do this, especially at larger events. For example, Gerry Thompson was talking to someone near me at PT San Diego, and commented that he had “10% of Michael Jacob” in the MTGO Live Series event that was being held as a Public Event there.
    In that case, that means that before the event, Gerry and Mike agreed that they’d each give the other 10% of whatever they won in the event. This is a way of hedging against risk, since it means if at least one player wins big, then they both make money. Pros do this all the time. Usually it’s arranged in advance, but sometimes, people decide to do this when they sit down opposite each other in the middle of the event.
    This is fine.
    However, consider this disqualification from Pro Tour Valencia. I’ll quote from the official coverage:
    Here’s what Head Judge Jaap Brouwer had to say: “After interviewing the players, we discovered that they had agreed on a prize split at the beginning of the match. During the match, they discussed who would concede to whom, based on who had the better chance in the metagame.” Conceding in the hopes of getting more money from a split qualifies as Bribery, leading to an investigation by the Head Judge and, in this case, the subsequent disqualification of the two involved players.
    Jaap Brouwer and Riccardo Tessitori, his shadow judge (who is there both to learn from and advise the Head Judge), pointed out that “split plus concede is always bad and almost always leads to a DQ.” Riccardo offered the pie metaphor: “Think of two ingredients that just don’t go together very well.”
    Jaap went on to add: “Both splits and concessions are legal, but together, they are venom.”
    The short version is that if if match results are ever tied to a hand-over of a payment of some kind, that’s Bribery.
    So, in an ideal magical (hah) world, the DCI and the Wizards Organized Play folks would love if there were no intentional concessions or intentional draws. However, it’s literally impossible to police that. Any player knows how to effectively throw a game. “Draw. No plays. Discard. Your turn.” Since it’s impossible to change this, the official policy allows it. I personally don’t have a lot of ethical issues with concessions and intentional draws, either.
    But giving people stuff in exchange for match results is very policeable, and also more clearly ethically problematic, so it is policed.
    Short form of the difference:
    Prize split = “Let’s hedge our risk here by sharing prizes. Okay, now we play normally.”
    Bribery = “Let’s make some deal where you get some material gain. Okay, now let’s fix this match result.”
    Clearly, there are always fuzzy situations. If I have a pre-arranged prize split with my friend, might that induce me to concede to him when I otherwise might not? Maybe. But the “Don’t get DQed” rule is this — don’t propose payment for results, ever, ever. And that’s what I want new players to know.

  6. If the guy would’ve said “Before we discuss the topic of concessions, and obviously irrespective of that (because that would be illegal to discuss) I would like to discuss a possible prize split with you, how is 25% of whatever any of us wins sound?”
    Then David could’ve said, “well, I would consider 10%, but the concession topic is more important to me and I’d rather discuss that…if you concede to me you lose nothing.”
    Unknown player: “That’s good to know – I will consider it, but I’d really rather resolve this prize split topic before we discuss the topic of concessions so as to avoid breaking the clumsy rules regarding bribery, but it is good to know I have nothing to lose either way…I would accept 10%. Is that ok?”
    David: I will give you a prize split of 10%. Can we discuss the concession issue now?”
    Opponent: Sure I concede.
    It seems like if you want to bribe someone you only need to craft what you say in a way that you insist on discussing one topic at a time to avoid bribery charges and ensure the prize split is resolved prior to discussing concession. Stupid stupid rule.

  7. @BigKeeks: This may come as a surprise to you, but Judges are able to read between the lines.

  8. It’s important to note that split + fix result (concession or ID) = bribery = DQ. Even if they are separated in time.
    So if you discuss a split, then someone concedes, this will be a DQ for bribery.
    This means if two players discuss a split at the beginning of the match, then at the end they are running into time issues and they ID or one concedes, it is bribery. At PTQs I try to remind my players of this in the last few rounds – if you discuss a split, I expect you to play the match out or risk a DQ. If you think you may want to split or ID, it’s best not to discuss any split at all.
    Also, as Riki said, judges can read between the lines. Any time a player is trying to go against the intent of bribery, they risk a DQ. For example, if a player agrees to the split, then attempts to throw a game or match (so as not to ‘concede’ for the split), they risk a DQ. DQs often lead to suspensions, so my advice is just ask a judge. Most (hopefully all) judges are happy to help if you’re trying to do the right thing.

  9. Actually I think it should be illegal to ask your opponent to conceed, either before or during a match. Why should your opponent EVER have to answer that question? NEVER. Then why should anyone be allowed to ask it?
    I think you should be allowed to offer your opponent a draw or offer him your own concession. That’s it.

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