Thursday, September 17, 2015

Comprehensive(ish) Guide to Match Result Slips

The life of a scorekeeper revolves around match result slips. Most of the time (unless something has gone wrong, we're hungry, or we drank too much Diet Coke last round) we're sitting on stage pressing buttons on a computer and hoping nothing breaks.

Slips are our connection to the tournament and its players. Through them, we get the information we need to keep the event moving. In the ideal and perfect scorekeeping world, they're cut perfectly, filled out neatly, and don't have any water/soda/blood/I don't really want to know what else on them. (Yes, all of those things have happened.)

The ideal and perfect scorekeeping world doesn't exist, but I am dedicated to bringing it one step closer to reality. Take note of these things for your next large event, share them with your Paper Team, and make a scorekeeper near you very happy. Or at least a bit happier.


Cutting match result slips well is super important. A slip that looks like this one will make any scorekeeper's life really difficult:

Yep. That was turned in at real event. Table number, player names, and results are essential pieces of information on slips. I managed to figure this one out with a bit of detective work, but it took some time. When I'm scorekeeping, time is the most precious commodity, and it's much easier to deal with slips that are cut neatly:

  • Top and bottom of the sheet are cut off. This might not seem important, but ask the scorekeeper at your next event if you can help sort slips and you'll see why it is.
  • Try to cut on the line. It doesn't have to be perfect. The important parts are that the slips are the same size and all the pertinent information is there.
  • Edges are neat. Slips tend to stick together when they're not. To keep the paper cutter from pulling, press the blade in while you push down. I was *miserable* at cutting paper until someone taught me this.
  • If you mess up cutting slips, let me know and ask me to print more, especially if the event is using DCI-R -- I can re-print a specific range of slips.

As a corollary, please don't fold/crumple/tear/nibble on/completely devour match result slips.

There are some questions for which there are two kinds of answers: answers that are okay and answers that are completely gross. I avoid asking those questions as much as possible because I don't want to know any answer in the second category. "Why is this match result slip wet?" is one of those questions.


Penalties should be written out like this, legibly, on the back of match result slips:

[Judge Name First, Last] [Player Name Last, First] [Infraction] [Penalty] [Concise Description]

Some scorekeepers like a different order for judge and player name, and if your scorekeeper, team lead, or head judge tells you to write penalties differently, by all means do.

Most scorekeepers are familiar with the IPG, either as judges themselves or by virtue of having typed a million or so penalties. As such, you can save yourself some time when writing penalties with some abbreviations.


IPD@SoG (or similar): Improper Draw at Start of Game
LEC/L@EC: Looking at Extra Cards
GRV/GRE: Game Rule Violation/Error
FTMGS: Failure to Maintain Game State
DEC: Drawing Extra Cards
MT: Missed Trigger
DDLP: Deck/Decklist Problem


W: Warning
GL: Game Loss
ML: Match Loss

If the penalty that was issued is the standard penalty for that infraction, it's not really necessary to write it down. If there was an upgrade or downgrade, it's essential that it's written down, and maybe circled so the scorekeeper doesn't overlook it.

Concise Description

This part is important. The fewer words you write, the fewer I have to parse and type, but it has to be long enough to sufficiently convey what happened in the match. If it's an infraction that occurs regularly, like drawing seven cards on a mulligan, using "shorthand" is a quick, easy way to convey what happened.

Here are some of the phrases I like to use:
  • Mulliganed to 7
  • Flipped top card
  • 59/15
  • See above (for Failure to Maintain Game State, when the GRV is already described)
If there are details that you think are important to the situation, like something you observed that might raise a red flag, write it down on the slip. Make sure you use specific details about what happened rather than your thoughts on it -- players can flip over the slip and read the penalty any time.

And on that note, make sure what you write down doesn't give any information away to the players.

Okay, so my handwriting there wasn't the neatest, but it's legible! (I think.)

No Shows

There's an easy way to fill out no shows, and there's a hard way. The hard way involves writing anything on the back of a match result slips. The easy way ends up looking like this:

There's not really much to say about no-show penalties, and filling out the slip like this tells the scorekeeper everything they need to know.

Notice that the game record isn't in pen -- that's because the player who did show up to the match filled it out instead of me (or they would have, if this wasn't just a mock slip).

That's important enough that I'll say it again, in bold, and centered:

Always have the player at the table fill out no show results.

Players know who they are, and they know that they're the one winning this match. Whether you hear their name and are thinking about which player to assign the penalty to or the players have similar names, the result is rather frequently the same: the wrong player getting assigned the penalty and dropped.

If you have the player fill out the 0-2 or 2-0 and sign before you make a mark, the odds of that are dramatically reduced. Accidentally dropped players are the most tedious scorekeeping issue to fix (apart from things completely exploding, that is), and many times they can be avoided with this simple measure.

Things to Confirm

Weird things happen on slips all the time. Players start to fill them out wrong. They decide they don't want to drop after all. Almost all the time, completely scribbling through the mistake and re-writing it is a perfectly clear indication of what the slip is supposed to say.

Initialling the slip in red ink lets the scorekeeper know that a judge was involved and everything's correct -- if I have a question about a slip, I'll track down the judge whose initials are on it, or the players.

Here are some cases where a little extra confirmation helps:

  • If a player accidentally marked the drop column, write "NOT DROPPING" somewhere next to the scribble. Sometimes players scribble in that column to indicate that they want to drop, and I don't want to guess wrong.
  • If the winner of a match is dropping, judge initials help me confirm that the drop mark is next to the correct player's name.
  • During end-of-round procedures, put a 0 in the draws column if a match ended 1-1.

If a player forgot to sign the slip and you still can't find them, still turn the slip in. Having a result for the match is better than having a slip floating around on the floor. If there's an error in the result, innocent or otherwise, it can be corrected at the beginning of the next round, and that's better than the potential delay caused to the entire event. Players signing on the wrong line, on the other hand, isn't a problem at all.

Do you have any other tips and tricks for match result slips? Let us know :D

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