NVS Judges Seminar
16th Nov 2000
At most shows, very often the judges have to select the best dish of vegetables in the show, at local level this can often be relatively easy with one or two dishes standing out from all the others. At National level however the decision can be much more difficult with the judges having to select the best exhibit from nearly all the First prize cards in each class as the standard is so high. At the recent Welsh Branch Judges Seminar, Ivor Mace and myself put together a few questions to the assembled NVS members just to get some feed back as well as to see if we could perhaps remove some of the grey areas that we seem to have in judging.
One question was as follows:
Q When choosing the best dish of vegetables in Show. Do the panel think the judge should:
- Simply chose the highest pointed dish? - or
- Choose the dish that gets closest to it's maximum potential, e.g. a cucumber pointed at 17 points is only 1 point short of it"s potential while a cauliflower pointed at 18 is 2 points short of it's potential. The cucumber is at 94.4% while the cauliflower is at 90% of it's potential.
I have actually dealt with this before in my column and I personally feel that the fairest way of dealing with this problem is as in (B) above. In fact this came about this year when I was judging as part of a panel at the Harrogate Autumn Show. When it was time to select the best exhibit there were two dishes in contention, one was a set of leeks, the other a dish of onions under 250 grams. When I studied both sets I was really looking for the least faults in each dish, the onions had hardly a fault on them and I considered these to be nearer to perfection than the leeks which had a few minor faults and the award was duly given, after some debate, to the small onions.
However the concern everyone had was that the maximum points value for onions under 250 grams is 15 whilst those for onions is 20. The points value have already taken into account the degree of difficulty in growing a perfect specimen to it's full potential so I felt that the dish with the least faults was nearer to perfection. To follow this point further there is excellent guidance given in the RHS Show Handbook where it states (though under the heading - Any other fruit/vegetables classes) the principal could be used when considering best in show. It states that 'a well grown fruit or vegetable normally receiving low points should be preferred to an indifferent dish of vegetable or fruit normally receiving high points, with the key word here of course being ‘indifferent' On the other hand it also says, in the same paragraph ‘The question of difficulty of cultivation should only arise when there are two outstanding exhibits, one of the ‘low pointed' kind and one ‘highly pointed. In such a case the latter should be awarded the Prize.
Not everyone on the panel agreed with the above observations, rightly so, but it is certainly one way of awarding the best exhibit.
In classes where the schedule asks for ‘Any other vegetable' there is a Percentage Calculation Table for use in such cases and I see nothing wrong in using this table for deciding the best in show. Obviously the judges would have to point up each dish in contention and then refer to the percentage chart for the winner. This chart is now produced in the new RHS Horticultural Show Handbook on page 143 together with simple instructions on how to use it.
Q Vegetable collections are usually pointed, although it is felt that whether a judge points high or low, in the end this has no bearing on the result. The factors that have a direct bearing on the result are:
- judgement as to which specimens is best?
- The degree of difference between the best and each other dish of that kind in other exhibits?
- The allocation of points between different kinds of equal merits or varying merits?
How does the panel think a judge can make a balanced judgement when judging collections.
This question again brought a lot of response and was raised primarily because I have seen a National judge who awarded points when judging collections by merely pointing each and every dish on a collection and then moving on to the next collection and so on without bothering to compare like with like. There is only one way to judge collections properly and that is to first look carefully at each dish in each collection weighing up the standard an getting a feel for the overall quality of exhibits.
I then always start on the back boards and pick for instance celery to judge first. I select what I consider to be the best dish of celery merely by looking at it and then proceed to point that dish, every other celery stand or dish will then be awarded points against or in comparison with that dish. In close competition don't be scared of using half or even quarter points if there is a need to. Next step is to select what you think is the best dish of Leeks and point that one, and here comes the harder bit, when pointing the leeks you should also bear in mind is this dish of leeks better or poorer than the dish of Celery, if there is a difference than that should be reflected in the points awarded.
This method is carried out throughout the judging always bearing in mind whether or not the points given to any dish is in comparison, not only with the same dish in the remaining collections but also in relation to the other dishes of comparable maximum points value.
I hope this will generate some interest and you will be moved to write to me via my column expressing you views. Next week I shall continue on the judging trail.