Black and White: Meet the Judges! Part 1

Joe Frankino

11/24/2016 11:02:00 AM

Black and White's usually about playing, or judging, or cards, or Organized Play, or some strange mix of those. For this week, we're going to take a step back from the mechanics of the game and spotlight a few of the individuals who give up their chance to play in tournaments so you can.

The people behind the judge shirt aren't rulings robots that spit out card interactions and tournament policy. It's easy to forget that we're all individuals since we all wear the same uniform while we're on the tournament floor, but periodically we'll take a break from the usual Black and White to introduce you to some of the long-time judges of the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG!

We're starting off this series with a trip across the pond.

Daniel Glickman

Where are you from?

I'm from Manchester, UK.

How long have you been playing the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG?

I've been playing since I was maybe ten or eleven… I started collecting random cards and then the Spellcaster's Judgment Structure Deck came out in 2006, and I just loved the Spellcaster idea. Between the first few years of high school and college I rarely played much – the scene just wasn't there – but when I went to college seven-ish years ago, I found my fellow geeks and we spent practically every lunchtime and break period dueling.

Our decks had advanced from the base Structure Decks by then.

How long have you been judging the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG?

I've been judging for a relatively short amount of time in comparison to some of my esteemed colleagues.

I started judging my locals at Fanboy 3 in Manchester at the back end of 2012, and got my first Premier chance in April of 2013 - I was super lucky to get the event and it worked out!

Give us a short summary of your judging history. How many Regionals / YCS / Nationals / WCQ's have you judged in?

As for numbers of events, I'm glad you didn't ask me to list them all individually:

10 Regionals (6 times Head Judging)

12 YCS (1 time Asst/ 1 time Head judging - I also judged at 2 American YCS)

3 EU WCQ (2 times Asst Head Judging)

1 World Championship (Main Event judge)

1 National Championship and a handful of LLDS stage 1 and LLDS stage 2.

Unfortunately a change in jobs and moving houses has ruled me out of the past few premier events, as well as the next few, but who knows what the future holds?

Any memorable moments while judging?

I was one of the Assistant Head Judges for the European Championship in 2014 and I remember sitting in the feature match area just off camera with Martina [Kolsch], who was the Head Judge, and we were discussing issues we'd found during the tournament. The finals were being played just a few feet from us and we needed to be close by just in case an appeal occurred.

I'd made it as an Assistant Head Judge and survived the event: it was incredible! We were relaxing and just chatting, and then in the August of the same year, I was judging the main event at the World Championship and that was something else entirely! It's more competitive but also more casual at the same time. Players wanted to win because it's the freaking World Championship… but they were also all highly respectful and it was incredible to watch. The Atmosphere was something that would be hard to recreate elsewhere.

Favorite card? Favorite deck?

Favourite Deck would be either Spellbooks or Wind-Ups. Favourite card.. this is a tough one. I mean… drawing from my favourite decks it's going to be either Spellbook of Fate (it does so much!) or Wind-Up Carrier Zenmaity because... well it's Zenmaity.

 Spellbook of Fate
Spellbook of Fate67259
Set Abyss Rising
Number ABYR-EN059
Type Spell Card
Attribute SPELL 
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

If you control a Spellcaster-Type monster: You can banish up to 3 "Spellbook" Spell Cards from your Graveyard; apply this effect, depending on the number of Spell Cards banished for this card's activation. You can only activate 1 "Spellbook of Fate" per turn. // * 1: Return 1 Set Spell/Trap Card on the field to the hand. // * 2: Change 1 monster on the field to face-down Defense Position or face-up Attack Position. // * 3: Banish 1 card your opponent controls.

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What's your favorite whatever? (Sports team, celebrity, board game, whatever you'd like, really)

I love reading. I average a couple of books a week because I go on binge reading sessions for days at a time and then remember I have to eat and adult.

Anything else you'd like to add?

One Quote, one piece of advice and one shoutout to two people.

"Anyone can love a thing because. That's as easy as putting a penny in your pocket. But to love something despite. To know the flaws and love them too. That is rare and pure and perfect."

In life, some things can seem unattainable. Strive for them anyway, put in time, learn and put effort in and in some way you will be. I love judging and as silly as it might seem, this is how I started out judging.

Also, shout out to Julia [Hedberg] for being Judge Mama and Leighton [Kurashima] for being Leighton!

Martina Kolsch

Where are you from?

I'm from Germany. But you might see me at Events all over Europe, sometimes even in Australia or the US.

How long have you been playing the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG?

I started the game when Pharaoh's Servant was released. My brother was already into it, and my favourite manga magazine heavily advertised Yu-Gi-Oh. So I gave it a try. That was back in 2003 or 2004.

How long have you been judging the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG?

I started helping with the organization of events in my local shop approximately 10 years ago. That was more about announcing the next round rather than giving many rulings.

A few years after that, there was a time period in which there was no real organized play in my country. My local shop made some bad strategic decisions and was forced to close. So we were really short on Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments.

My player team wanted to do something for the community, so we decided to do big unsanctioned tournaments. One of the team members had been a judge at a premier event once. Back then, we thought that one event already made him an experienced judge. Thus, he has been Head Judge of that event, and I was floor judge for the first time ever.

Back then, I was lacking self-confidence and messed up in player management very badly at the first chance to do so. My decision was right, but I explained it poorly and I wasn't prepared for players that tried to argue for their advantage. Nonetheless, the event itself was successful and we did more events after that.

Give us a short history of your judging history. How many Regionals / YCS / Nationals / WCQ's have you judged in?

I had applied to judge Premier Events in 2009. But looking at it today, my applications at that time lacked a real reason to pick me for the Pharaoh Tour judge teams.

In 2010, I studied abroad in Poland and saw the judge call for the German National Championship. Since I wanted to visit my family anyhow, and I really wanted to gain experience at the "official" level, I offered to only want half of the travel costs compensated. I got picked. Since Austria was rather easy to reach from where I lived, I applied for that National Championship, too. Austrian Nats took place two weeks before German Nats and were much smaller than the German Nationals; a really great start for me getting into judging. Austria's Head Judge Maik was a great mentor for that first event. The positive experience there made me apply for the 2010 European Championship and most events that followed.

At Euros 2011, my skill to get into the really messy player management situations showed up again. Seemingly, I learned from the past, and I did not entirely screw up, and made a good impression on others. Following that event, Konami gave me the chance to judge at the World Championship that year. I only had judged a handful of Premier Events back then and did not fully realize what it meant that they entrusted me with such an important role that early.

I stayed in contact with 2011 World Championship Head Judge Paul Fahy from that event onwards. We wrote online with each other and somehow, the conversation turned into judging on other continents. There was no one that I heard of judging on a different continent's YCS, so I thought it to be impossible. But it wasn't. I applied for YCS Columbus 2011 and got picked. That experience was rather expensive as I paid the travel costs from Germany to Ohio myself. But I think it helped me a lot in developing as a judge, and the experience was certainly worth it.

(Joe: Also of note, YCS Columbus 2011 was my first time as an Assistant Head Judge of a YCS. There was plenty of learning going on that weekend for all of us.)

I got feedback from the YCS Columbus Admin Team that they expected me to become Head Judge soon. Not having had a Team Lead position yet, I did not really believe them. But they were right. I was Head Judge for YCS Leipzig in early 2012.

Euros 2012 followed as my first Head Judged WCQ. In 2014, I was Head Judge of the World Championship in Rimini.

In total, I judged:

- Too many Regionals to count them.

- All German Nationals from 2010 onwards. I also "collect" National experience in other countries. So far, I judged Nationals in Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain. (To any National TOs for 2017: Take this as my application, I am still missing quite a few Nats on the list.)

- Almost all European YCS events that took place, plus YCS Columbus 2011 and YCS Sydney #2

- All European WCQs from 2010 onwards

- 3 World Championships

Any memorable moments while judging?

Lots and more.

There are many positive moments. From the awesome feeling of having done your first National during the entire seven hour train ride back to your dormitory. Up to realizing that you have Head Judged your first YCS without messing up too much. Lots of funny moments, and much more fun behind the stages. The European Judge Team is a crazy lot that I enjoy being part of!

But there are also very bad moments. I talk and write a lot with people and have been Judge Mentor at two events. I remember Sunday evenings of successful events when usually happy and self-confident people told me how messed up their lives are. Situations where you know why someone behaved in a certain way, but you know that the person prefers to look stupid rather than to reveal the real reason. It's tough not being able to help sometimes, but I also think that being there to listen already helps a bit.

On the judging part, there are also bad moments. Mostly when players are unhappy with your ruling as a Head Judge. But I used to be the kind of player that would get easily upset. I know that many words said towards judges are not really meant that way. Greetings to Patrice, to whom I yelled at when I was player. We have been the Main Event Head Judge team a few years later.

Favorite card? Favorite deck?

My favourite card is Black Rose Dragon. I like the artwork and its second effect – yes, that card has TWO effects – won me quite a few duels.

My favourite decks change, but they always tend to the control side. Chaos Control, Anti-Meta Plant, Gladiator Beasts, and currently builds that include Guiding Ariadne. Monster Mash used to be my favourite, but new archetypes and the Pendulum Cards made that kind of decks obsolete.

My favourite playmat is the red-blue Extravaganza playmat.

My favourite Token is "Cthulu for President", a card from a hardly known card game.

 Black Rose Dragon (LC05-EN004)
Black Rose Dragon (LC05-EN004)93832
Set Legendary Collection 5D's
Number LC05-EN004
Level 7
Type Synchro/Effect Monster
Monster Dragon
Attribute DARK 
A / D 2400 / 1800
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

1 Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner monsters When this card is Synchro Summoned, you can destroy all cards on the field. Once per turn, you can remove from play 1 Plant-Type monster from your Graveyard to change 1 Defense Position monster your opponent controls to face-up Attack Position, and reduce its ATK to 0 until the End Phase.

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What's your favorite whatever? (Sports team, celebrity, board game, whatever you'd like, really)

My favourite freetime activities - apart from Yu-Gi-Oh! - are reading books and playing on gaming consoles. My favourite books are fantasy and Sci-Fi and vary from "Lord of the Rings" and "The Name of the Wind/Kingkiller Chronicle" to lesser known classics such as "Neverness" and "Shadowland".

The first "Xenoblade" game is one of my favourites. The "Dragon Quest" and "The Legend of Zelda" series took also a few hundreds or thousands of hours playing time.

Anything else you'd like to add?

If there is anything that I learned in the past, it's that you sometimes need to do something that is different from the usual or that might seem stupid to others.

If you are thinking about judging - apply and give it a try. If you are thinking to judge a Dutch Nationals without the proper language skills - ask the Head Judge or TO anyhow. If you want to see a YCS at another continent - book your flight.

Because if you don't try it, you'll never have the chance to gain experience, have a fun time and make new friends.


Thank you to both Daniel and Martina for taking the time out to answer my questions!

If you have any questions about card interactions, game mechanics or policy documents, send your question (one question per e-mail please!) to and your question could be answered in a future edition of Court of Appeals!

-Joe Frankino

Joe is a Yu-Gi-Oh! judge and player from Long Island, New York. Joe will eventually run out of judges to interview and will have to interview himself.

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