A Dummies Guide to Judging
by, 12-21-2011 at 08:31 AM (5577 Views)
Inspired by the threads about dubious judge behaviour, I have decided to share my vast experience and knowledge about judging for the greater good of the community. After reading this guide, you will know everything you need to know to avoid being talked about on this forum for dodgy judging. So, let's start!
As a judge, you have a very important role in the competition. The decisions you make, can have big consequences. For example, you are judging Rowe Hessler in a 3x3 solve. When he is ready, you take off the cover and start the stopwatch. He starts his inspection. He places his hands on the touchpads and releases them. He solves the cube in 5.48. A new WR. But then you look at your stopwatch: 15.01. According to your stopwatch, he has gone 0.01 second over his inspection time, which means a +2 penalty. WR gone. You start to doubt. Maybe you stopped the stopwatch a fraction too late. Or maybe you are considering not telling him. Anyways, that's not what this guide will tell you. If it happens to you, just go and ask the WCA delegate. This guide will mainly cover the behavioural aspects of judging. What to do and what not to do.
Let's start at the beginning. Before going to a competition, have a shower and put deodorant on. No, this is not a joke. Imagine solving a cube with a smelly sweating judge standing next to you. So, having a shower before going to the competition is definitely a good way to start. The actual judging of course, starts at the competition when you go and pick up a scrambled cube from the scrambling table. When you pick up a cube, just pick up the cube that's closest to you and don't go looking for a cube from a competitor you want to judge. The scramblers will usually place the scrambled cubes so that the first cube they scramble is also the first one to be taken by a judge. Of course, we all want to judge Felik's or Mats' solve, so we have a chance to judge a WR, or spend time with that pretty girl. But Feliks or Mats might not be in a WR mood today and other cubers need a judge as well. And about that pretty girl, she's probably already taken.
When you pick up a cube, check if it's scrambled. You won't be the first one, nor the last, to bring a solved cube to a competitor. When you've picked up the cube, it's time to look for the owner of the cube. There should be a score sheet with the name of the owner on it, so you have at least a name. The competitors for that round are waiting in the competitors area. Just go there and call the competitor. Don't be shy if you don't know how to pronounce their names. Cubers are generally very friendly people and won't bite you. Once you have found your competitor, it's time to go to an empty table with timer and display. It's always good to make sure you have everything you need: Stackmat timer, stopwatch, pen and of course the cube and cover. Reset the timer, if not already done by the competitor. The WCA regulations state that you should ask the competitor if he is ready. However, you will soon learn many competitors are in a world of their own once they sit down and will not appreciate it if you try to bring them back to planet earth by asking such a trivial question. What I usually do is when the competitor takes his seat, tell him to let me know when he's ready. Usually the competitor will give you a nod when he's ready. When a competitor says he is ready, you can assume that he is ready. There is no need to ask if he is absolutely sure and if he doesn't need some more time. Take off the cover so he can start his 15 seconds inspection time, and start the stopwatch. At 8 seconds into inspection time, you call '8 seconds' and at 12 seconds, you call 'Go!'. Do not call all the numbers. It's really annoying when you are inspecting your cube and the judge goes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. Of course, when the competitor has already started his solve, you don't say anything.
By this time, the competitor is ready to start the solve. He places his hands on the timer and releases it when the green light flashes. During the solve, stand at a respectable distance, close enough to see the solve but not so close that you are hindering or blocking the light. As a general rule, don't talk to the competitor unless he talks to you and don't do anything distracting. Although many cubers won't mind if you are solving your own cube whilst judging them, some do. So generally I would like to discourage you from playing around with your own cube. Imagine your 7x7 exploding and all the pieces crash all over the table. You can be sure the incident has been filmed and you will appear youtube and the Speedsolving forums the same evening.
After anything between 5 seconds and 10 minutes, the competitor should have completed his solve and have stopped the timer. Now it's time for some admin stuff. If the cube looks solved to you, say 'OK'and write down the time and take the cube to the scrambling table and pick up a new cube. If not, inform the competitor about the penalty, write it down and let the competitor sign the scoresheet.
So, there you are. Everything you need to know to be a good judge. Finally, for educational, as well as entertainment purposes, here are some youtube clips of examples of bad judging. Please don't do what these guys are doing, and you'll be fine.
Here the judge needs to be told several times by the competitor to take off the cover. Once the cover his taken off, he is leaning over the cube.
In this video, the judge is counting out all the numbers during inspection. Very annoying.
In this one, the judge is flicking around with the stopwatch. Very distracting.
Here, the judge isn't really paying attention and failing to spot the competitor placing his cube on the timer, which against the rules. Not just once, but for all 5 of his solves!
So, now I have to make sure I do any of these things, lest I will be scolded for doing it.