Back when I started judging at Regional Qualifiers and Yu-Gi-Oh! Championship Series events, I was mostly assigned as a Floor Judge. This position is where a judge is most visible, and it's also where the judge interacts with players the most. Over the course of six years of judging, I've come across a lot of… shall we say… "memorable" situations. Some interesting, some funny, some disappointing and others that made me shake my head.

This week on Black and White: the judge calls that stick out in my mind as the ones that need to be shared with the masses.

Gyzarus Doesn't Target?!
If you just started playing the game during the Zexal era, then you don't know Yu-Gi-Oh! without Problem-Solving Card Text. Back in the "good" ol' days of dueling, "does this target" was a question that was all-too-common. Yes, there were rulings that said whether cards targeted or not, but those rulings were not on the cards themselves; card rulings existed as separate documents that you'd just have to know when playing a card game consisting of over five-thousand cards.

No biggie.

So this is the summer of 2009. My friends and I traveled to a nearby Regional Qualifier in an attempt to earn our invites to the United States National Championship that year. During Round 1, one of my friends piloting Lighsworns faced off against Gladiator Beasts. Since this story is second-hand, I'll only include the details I know to be true. A question was asked by one of the players: if Gladiator Beast Gyzarus's effect could be used to destroy Aurkus, Lightsworn Druid. The floor judge's decision has been lost to the sands of time, but whatever the decision was, it was appealed and the Head Judge ruled that Aurkus isn't destroyed because Gyzarus doesn't target.

#####CARDID= 5861#####

If you look up Gyzarus in the card database, the card clearly says "target up to 2 cards on the field." But back then, the word "target" appeared on very few cards. Worse still, most of those cards only said something to the effect of "when something targets." The word "target" very rarely appeared on the cards that did the actual targeting. So in this case, for whatever reason, the Head Judge ruled that Gyzarus didn't target. With a record of 0-1, my friend dropped. And considering that especially poor ruling and how the tournament was run otherwise, I don't blame him one bit.

But… But… Conditions, Man…
I was a Floor Judge at a Regional Qualifier. I'm called to the table, where one player has a Skill Drain active and declared an attack with one of his monsters. The face-down monster was Spirit Reaper. The opponent attempted to make the argument that Spirit Reaper isn't destroyed because its ability to not be destroyed by battle is a condition that isn't negated by Skill Drain.

For the opponent, the best case scenario was that the judge that took the call doesn't know what a condition is, says "ok that makes sense" and would get appealed because the opponent (and the Head Judge) knew better than that. The worst case scenario is that Joe Frankino answers the call and immediately says "no, that's an effect which is negated by Skill Drain." Guess which of the two actually took place.

Because Jokes
My second premier event was the 2010 United States WCQ, and I was assigned as a Floor Judge during Day 1. Late in the day, I'm at the mid to back tables and before the round starts, a player about ten to fifteen feet away yells the following question: "JUDGE! What happens if my opponent faints during the match?"

Obviously, the serious answer is "get medical attention," but I felt this somewhat ridiculous, hypothetical question deserved an equally ridiculous answer: "If you slip into a coma during a game, you will receive a Slow Play penalty."

The players within earshot got a laugh. At that point, the prospect of duelists in this section topping was slim or none, so I felt a light-hearted joke was appropriate to lighten the mood and the atmosphere. I probably wouldn't make this joke today, because joking about slipping into a coma is kinda unprofessional and insensitive, but this was four years ago when I didn't know any better, and it's a good story.

*Brain Explodes*
Most rules questions I get are straightforward. Very few melt my brain. That said, he following question left my mouth agape for a solid two minutes.

At a Regional Qualifier, the Head Judge called me over and described a hypothetical situation. The turn player Normal Summons Evocator Chevalier, then equips Supervise to it. With Evocator Chevalier's effect now turned on because of Supervise, he activates Chevalier's effect, sending Supervise to the graveyard and targeting whatever. The opponent wants to activate Effect Veiler targeting Evocator Chevalier.

#####CARDID= 15942#####

At this point I lost my shitake. I quickly realized the Evocator Chevalier that was activated is now a Normal Monster, which makes it an ineligible target for Effect Veiler. This is a tactic that can very easily catch people off-guard; so many players have trained themselves to only activate negation effects in a chain so the opponent wastes resources, but in this case, the only opportunity to use Effect Veiler would be before the turn player activates Chevalier's effect.

This trick probably only works once per person, but it seemed like a really good trick play to make.

In What Order?
I was a floor judge at a Regional in 2010, and got the following question regarding the interaction between Stardust Dragon and Red Dragon Archfiend in the End Phase.

The turn player attacked with Stardust Dragon into a Mirror Force, which Stardust negated. In the End Phase, the turn player brought back his Stardust Dragon. The question was, "Does Red Dragon Archfiend destroy Stardust Dragon?"

In 2010 I still had trouble assessing situations, and at times I'd think about what was going on a little too much. In this case, I didn't take the question at face-value and started thinking about "well, did he announce he activated Red Dragon Archfiend's effect with no other monsters on the field?" And, "What if he makes the claim that he was going to make this play?" Basically, I was assuming that this was going to turn into a big thing involving both game mechanics and player management and I went to the Head Judge without making an initial ruling first.

That's ironic because nowadays, for Regionals that I Head Judge, I tell my floor judges that I want them to make an initial ruling before coming to get me. I eventually learned this lesson, but I didn't have it at that particular time.

The end result we decided on was that the question would be answered as stated. Red Dragon Archfiend's effect wasn't activated since the player never explicitly said so. Red Dragon Archfiend would activate after Stardust was Summoned.

You Want D.D. Crow To Do What?
Another second-hand story, but this one is just… like… huh?

At a local, the judge took a question from a player asking about D.D. Crow and Synchro Summoning. He wanted to know if he chained D.D. Crow to the Synchro Summon, targeting one of the Synchro Materials, does that stop the Synchro Summon?

I don't know exactly what the reaction was, but I'd guess the answer was probably befuddlement followed by a confused "no…" At least, that's how I envision this going down.

Do I Lose?
This one's not a stupid judge call, but it is stupid-AWESOME!!!

This occurred at YCS Philadelphia 2010 (my third premier event and technically my first YCS). I got a judge call near the top tables. The player who made the call wanted to know if the combo his opponent just pulled off was legal.

Turn 1 (The Player Who Made The Judge Call)
-Future Fusion for Elemental HERO Absolute Zero, sending Destiny HERO Malicious and Snowman Eater.
-Set a monster, set a spell or trap.

Turn 2 (Wombo Combo)
-Giant Trunade
-Special Summon Grinder Golem to the opponent's side of field, Special Summoning two Grinder Tokens to his own side of the field.
-Activate Hidden Armory, sending Creature Swap to the graveyard, and adding Vengeful Servant to hand.
-Activate Marionette Mite from hand to take control of Grinder Golem until the End Phase.
-Activate two copies of Vengeful Servant, equipping to Grinder Golem.
-End Phase: Marionette Mite's effect ends, gives control of Grinder Golem back to the opponent. From the effect of the Vengeful Servants, opponent takes 3000 damage twice. (LP: 2000)
-Still in the End Phase, activates Enemy Controller from hand, Tributes a Grinder Token, takes control of the Grinder Golem again. Both Vengeful Servants trigger again, player burns for 6000 (LP: 2000).
-Enemy Controller's effect ends, burns the opponent for another 6000 (LP: 0)

I ruled that the combo was completely legal. I was appealed. The Head Judge confirmed the combo was legal. Joe quietly smiled to himself, because that was a super-cool way to win.

#####CARDID= 6446#####

And Finally: My Most Favorite Judge Call
The turn player controlled Blackwing – Shura the Blue Flame and a face-down Starlight Road. His opponent had a Dimensional Fissure active and a D.D. Scout Plane in defense position.

The turn player attacked with the Shura into the Scout Plane. Scout Plane was banished and Shura's effect activated, Special Summoning Blackwing – Kalut the Moon Shadow. The opponent activated Torrential Tribute and the turn player chained Starlight Road, Special Summoning Stardust Dragon. At this point both players called me over to ask a question.

"Can Stardust attack?"

"Well guys, let's back up a little bit…"

And then I gave my explanation: "Starlight Road can't be activated in the Damage Step, so that goes back face-down. Then, Torrential Tribute can't be activated in the Damage Step, so that goes down, too. Also, Shura has to destroy a monster by battle and send it to the graveyard, so Shura's effect doesn't activate either and Kalut goes back to the deck."

"… oh."

"So no, Stardust can't attack."

If you have any questions about card interactions, game mechanics or tournament policy, send me an e-mail (one question per e-mail please!) to askjudgejoe@gmail.com and your question could be answered in a future Court of Appeals!

-Joe Frankino