As a part of the Magic the Gathering World Championship in San Francisco, I am doing a series of articles on the role of females on the Magic scene. On Sunday, I got a chance to speak to Level 5 DCI Judge Riccardo Tessitori about the topic. Riccardo is one of the four Level 5 Judges in the world, the most visible leaders of the Magic Judge community. I was speaking to Riccardo because I wanted to see when I would be able to speak to his wife.
Riccardo is married to Level 9 Judge Cristiana Dionisio. His wife is actually Level 4. Level 5 is the highest level you can officially have. But, it is an accepted fact he wouldn’t be Level 5 without her. I am only partially joking about that. She is the Coordinator of Regional Judge Coordinators and the highest level female Judge in the world. I hope to be able to interview her as well.
Riccardo also had something to say about the topic, so I thought it is fitting to publish a statement he felt was important to make. Riccardo is a leader in the Judge Program, plays a large role in the recognition of judge talent around the world and has personal experience regarding the challenges that female judges face. I will hopefully be able to give you an interview with Cristiana herself, so I encourage you to post any questions you would like to ask.
There have been and there are women at the highest levels of the judge program; I’m firmly convinced that all their levels are the appropriate ones and they deserved their roles thanks to their skills and committment; their gender didn’t help their career, it may have made it harder! I believe I can speak on behalf of the judge program and say that we are proud of our women-judges.
As someone who has worked with many female judges, I can vouch for this experience. I have been surprised by some of the unabashed abuse some players will pile on Judges. We all get it, male or female, deserved or not. The fact is that for most of us, what we get back from the Judge program more than compensates for the relatively few moments when the behavior of an individual stuns me in its ignorance, immaturity or downright stupidity.
I know of three specific situations that female friends have experienced. First, a female judge told me that she was followed by one oblivious player trying to flirt with her. Despite the fact she pointedly told him that she was happily married and had no interest, the player continued to act obnoxiously.
Second, a judge told me about answering a judge call that ended pretty abruptly. As soon as she arrived to the table, the player turned to her and told her he wanted a male judge. I can only hope this was an admission of his inability to speak to a female. I was surprised to hear from other female judges that they have had similar experiences.
Third, I witnessed a surprising situation when I was helping train an upcoming Judge in our community. Being very dilligent and eager to learn, she spent several Friday nights judging at a store I worked at for the experience. She is a capable Judge and I left the judging to her at one of these tournaments. Afterward, a player comes to complain about her behavior in the most condescending tones. His complaint boiled down to the fact that she was uppity enough to give him instructions! I think he even referred to her as something like my “apprentice,” when she was performing the job any other Judge would do without the TO’s involvement. I can honestly say that I was tempted to get uppity myself with a few instructions about where he could stick his complaints. Some people simply have trouble accepting a female authority figure. Again, I believe this is an experience female judges around the world have had.
I would like to hear from you! What experiences have you had? Has being a female been a help to judging? How do you relate to female judges? What questions do you have about female judges?