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Thread: Judging Koi: "On The Day" vs "Quality"

  1. #21
    Honmei Brutuscz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    It seems whenever I attend a judging seminar, the issue that causes me the most difficulty is the question of how to weigh the quality of a koi in the balancing of factors considered in judging. It comes down to what it means to be judging 'on the day'. I have the impression that the judges vary on the weight they give to these factors, although the words they use are virtually the same... phrases well-learned in the courses, perhaps?

    Let us take two hypothetical koi, neither 'perfect' but good looking for their size. On the day, one is the more finished, with every Hi marking having sharp edges. No blurry sashi at all. Sharply defined kiwa. Nice pattern. Bright, even color. There are a couple of stray red scales, but these are not distracting. The second koi is similar in most respects, except there is distinctive sashi, one scale deep, giving a typical blur to the edge. Kiwa is fine. Pigment is even, except it shows hoshi, although only visible when close to the fish. The pattern is acceptable, but not as nice as the first koi. The first koi stands out in the tank, the first fish to draw the eye. As you look closely, you realize the Hi of the first koi is going to fade away in the next few months (weeks?). The couple of stray red scales are the remnants of fading Hi. They will be gone in due course. The second koi looks pretty good and has a future.

    So which takes the award? Low quality that looks fine 'on the day', or better quality that will endure? Does it matter in which size the two fish are competing?

    And, if the answer is 'on the day' wins over 'quality', what is the lesson being taught?


    After I read this I immediately thought of JR's analogy to cut flowers. One is a blooming flower and should win that day. The other may bloom in the future...so, it will also have it's day. The person who brought the fish that is at it's peak is to be commended. They recognized a koi at the pinnacle of it's beauty and displayed it for all to see. The person with the unfinished koi may have been testing the waters...or hoping to get lucky that day.
    About 15+ yrs ago I was a competitive bodybuilder. I remember being on stage at my peak...and walking away with my 1st place trophy. I also remember missing my peak by a mile...and walking away empty handed with my pride barely intact. The skill in judging is to recognize when something is at it's very best...and give it the first place award it deserves. To judge on potential, misses the point of a competition entirely.


    If your desire to succeed is greater than your desire to fail, then you will succeed.

  2. #22
    Jumbo l113892's Avatar
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    Kohaku "A" would have placed third in the Louisville show because of her pecs. Actually, I would have selected koi A because of her body but I'm no judge. I don't think these are the "typical" decisions that US judges face- same variety, similar body and pattern- I think the US judges face far more difficult decisions where nearly every fish has some significant tradeoffs.

    Mike Pfeffer

  3. #23
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Some interesting insight on mindset so far. Some are seeing it like Brutuscz, one koi is at its peak, so it takes the award. There is also the idea of balancing 'quality' into the overall judgment.

    Ray raised a point as to whether white is visible between scales when the first fish is bent. Is that relevant, or simply higher degree of confidence that the first fish has poor Hi? Perhaps more should be bent at shows.

    Some background:
    I won a little award a couple of years ago for a small Showa at CFKS. Within a week, she was clearly on her way to being an ugly shiro utsuri. A very poor quality fish, but nice on the day. At Koi America 2005, there was a ZNA judging seminar with Sanke. One stood out. But, her Hi was purple-based. While many ranked her first on the day, the ZNA judge placed her last and commented that her low quality Hi made her unworthy of serious consideration. At CFKS 2008, a judging seminar led by an AKCA judge also focused on Sanke, and once again there was one with purple-based Hi that stood out. It was ranked #1 on the day, although it was unanimous that nobody would want the fish to take up space in their pond because of the poor quality Hi. (At the Jacksonville Seminar a similar situation arose, although given the competition, I would not say the tendency toward 'on the day despite fading Hi' was erroneous. Reasonable people can disagree on what balance to strike.)

    When we speak of 'quality', I think in terms of several characteristics, but particularly skin and pigment. I tend to consider 'quality' more important than 'finish', although both are aspects to consider in the overall evaluation. Nonetheless, I would have great difficulty awarding honors to a fish I concluded was crapping out before my eyes. I don't think I could keep a straight face announcing the winner, holding it up to the public as worthy and congratulating the winning owner, when what I see is a developing shiromuji that the breeder would have culled but for the profit in unloading it. A question asked above was the size category of the hypothetical fish. In one sense I do not think that matters, but in another it may. Perhaps there is a difference between a small size flash-in-the-pan that is ready to crap out before 18", and a large koi that reached its mature peak and is showing the wear of age. The mature koi that has passed her prime can be appreciated and respected for the level of accomplishment in a large fish if she is nonetheless the best 'on the day'.

    Judges have difficult decisions to make.

  4. #24
    Daihonmei
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    amen to that brother!

    Actually, judging from pictures really tends to fall into one of two challenges- judging like to like to the extreme. This becomes mostly subjective. And conversly, judging lower grades as IF they were high grades. The danger here is 'seeing' qualities and characteristics 'native' to high class fish in fish that do not possess those traits. This is the case of the emperors' having no clothes but receiving compliments for the tailoring and fabric selection anyway? And in these grades there are unfinished fish but no real tategoi.

    Behind all the juggling a koi judge needs to do, is the reality that a koi judge is part of the culling the culling process when judging young fish- those fish with deformities and major flaws that slip by the selective or semi-selective eye of the breeder.
    And in another role, a judge is also an art critic, deciding (especially in fully developed high class fish) , the line between great accomplishment in high class adult fish and minor evidence of decline and the physical anomolies that come with age in all adult koi.
    JR

  5. #25
    Daihonmei PapaBear's Avatar
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    Good thread.
    I particularly like the point made about the Judging program being developed among hobbyists rather than breeders.
    A breeders eye will always see the tategoi/tategone in the fish, as that is their livelihood. For them "on the day" judging is how they make the distinction between the best fish (not for sale yet, going back to the mud) and the finished fish that goes in the auction while it is at it's peak "eye candy" value.
    The judges job being further complicated by the different ways some bloodlines develop is another excellent point. The presence or absence of hoshi can indicate something or nothing at all, so evaluating a fish "on the day" on that basis would require the judge to know the genetic profile of each fish if future speculation played into their judgment.
    One thing is certain. It all keeps me very humble...
    Larry Iles
    Oklahoma

  6. #26
    Oyagoi HEADACHE6's Avatar
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    Here's a Shiro that did very well at a AKCA Show in May 08' (Benched Size 5) .

    A month later , June 08' this same Shiro didn't do as well at a ZNA Show (Benched Size 4)

    Yes , It "WAS" benched as I stated .

    When Questioned about the Koi , The ZNA Judge spoke about the Koi's Quality .

  7. #27
    Honmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by HEADACHE6 View Post
    Here's a Shiro that did very well at a AKCA Show in May 08' (Benched Size 5) .

    A month later , June 08' this same Shiro didn't do as well at a ZNA Show (Benched Size 4)

    Yes , It "WAS" benched as I stated .

    When Questioned about the Koi , The ZNA Judge spoke about the Koi's Quality .
    Remember Troy, it is the competition on any given day. As for the sizing? Well while your koi shank in 3 weeks, my Kohaku "grew" over 1/2 an inch in that same time frame between those shows.....go figure.

    Steve
    The views presented are my personal views and not that of any organization that I may belong to unless otherwise specified. [email protected]
    CKHPA

  8. #28
    Jumbo l113892's Avatar
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    MikeM-

    I don't really see the fish you are referring to, the ones where the hi is going. I see good quality hi and poor quality hi but not hi that I can predict will disappear with time. I don't think I've ever owned a fish where the hi went away, even on a tancho- which I own one that is 26 inches. I do see weak areas in the pallet that I fear will never improve.

    Mike Pfeffer

  9. #29
    Daihonmei dick benbow's Avatar
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    was curious about the benching comments just above.

    Troy, Steve were you "benchside" when your koi were benched? The reason I ask is that as someone who does an awful lot of benching for the northwest shows, I like to have the owner present. If one of my crew comes up short or long the fish is immediately re-measured by another under the watchful eyes of three others to make sure the nose and tail lined up exactly.

    It really helps when a question comes up especially in the past I have run across a drop and run philosophy and a GR with no instructions was entered in GR (duh) only to learn after the judging started the owner wanted it entered in the color variety that it was.....but was too busy to note on his paperwork.

    I think any member of the show committee tries to be fair and objective
    and nothing is done deliberately to create disadvantages. It does help to have the owner's watchful eye present to make sure nothing falls thru the cracks.
    Dick Benbow

  10. #30
    Honmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by dick benbow View Post
    was curious about the benching comments just above.

    Troy, Steve were you "benchside" when your koi were benched? The reason I ask is that as someone who does an awful lot of benching for the northwest shows, I like to have the owner present. If one of my crew comes up short or long the fish is immediately re-measured by another under the watchful eyes of three others to make sure the nose and tail lined up exactly.

    It really helps when a question comes up especially in the past I have run across a drop and run philosophy and a GR with no instructions was entered in GR (duh) only to learn after the judging started the owner wanted it entered in the color variety that it was.....but was too busy to note on his paperwork.

    I think any member of the show committee tries to be fair and objective
    and nothing is done deliberately to create disadvantages. It does help to have the owner's watchful eye present to make sure nothing falls thru the cracks.
    Dick,
    I am one who also does a fair amount of benching. In fact, I was the bencher (with Art and Dale) at the Louisville show. I tend to always give the Koi the benefit. I make sure that the nose is firmly against the side and that the tail is straight. If close, I will spread the tail for the koi's benefit. I also make sure that I measure consistently from one koi to the next. Also, the measuring tape on some bowls may not be the same as on other bowls (show to show) and that is one reason only one measuring bowl should be used and only one bencher should measure. That is not always the case.

    In the case of the NMZNA show, the original measurement was questioned by another in the benching team and she was remeasured and upped a size into size 6 where she was then competing with koi 6+" larger. No big deal and I did not make anything of it other than saying that she grew an amazing 1/2" in three weeks (actually in less than 3 days since I always measure my koi prior to taking them to a show). It simply was not worth taking further and as I said, every measuring bowl can be different.

    Steve
    The views presented are my personal views and not that of any organization that I may belong to unless otherwise specified. [email protected]
    CKHPA

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