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

  1. #1
    Daihonmei MikeM's Avatar
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    Judging Koi: "On The Day" vs "Quality"

    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?

  2. #2
    Honmei
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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?
    Let me throw this out there for you Mike. Perhaps verbaige used is not always "correct" for the intended message meaning.

    The real question is not "On the Day vs Quality" but "On the day vs speculation of tomorrow."

    You see, "quality" traits should also be considered "on the day". However, speculation of how a koi will be in the future "if" this or "if" that are to develope as imagined is where the issue gets "sticky."

    I was having a substantially similar conversation as this thread with a good friend while at the Seminar this last week. Juding on the day does not mean that quality of skin, quality of color is over looked. As an example a high quality sumi which is not "finished" verses a lower quality of sumi which is finished....how is that looked at? Well, remember that color and pattern are two entirely different things. The undeveloped higher quality sumi would place better than the lower quality but fully finished sumi....FOR COLOR. But the reverse would be true for pattern.....in most cases (if identical patterns). But how about a larger section of higher quality sumi over a ;arger area that helps to better balnce the pattern than a lower quality but more finished sumi? That higher quality sumi but underfinished may then place beyond the finished sumi for even pattern now. Training the eye (and brain) and looking wholeistically at the koi AS IT APPEARS TODAY is the key in hobbyist judging. Now, wieghing the differing aspects and each of their own attributes is where things tend to get convoluted.

    Judges have to judge what they see "today" not what they may want to speculate about in the future...a future that may or may not happened.Objectivity verses subjectivity is the key. Having the artisitc yet objective eye along with wieghing the attributes correctly is often times easier said than actually done.

    Temember that quality attributes differs from "finish" as does the stage of "finish" affects pattern and the appreance of balance.

    Just some food for thought.

    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

  3. #3
    Oyagoi Lam Nguyen's Avatar
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    Very good topic Mike, and one that I am surprised has not received any responses. Hopefully others who are more knowledgable in this subject matter will chime in. But in the meantime, please allow me to share my opinion. Given your two hypothetical koi, I believe that a judge would choose the koi that is more finished w/ sharp kiwa/sashi, brighter colors, and a more appealing pattern despite the fact that its hi will be fading down the road. And while I know that this may be hard for the judges to forget about the future and focus on the "on the day", they have to do it.

    As far as size, from what I have gathered, if they are in the same size, then the koi of the day will always outcompete the unfinished future koi. But if they were judged in different size classes, then more points will be awarded to the koi in the larger size class. As to whether the points awarded will be enough to move the unfinished better quality koi above the finished koi of the day koi will depend on other factors s/a conformation, quality, & pattern.

    That's my 2-pennies worth. Hopefully other judges or experts will chime in soon.

  4. #4
    Oyagoi RayJordan's Avatar
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    Hi Mike,
    Nice visiting with you in Jacksonville last weekend.

    Just speaking for myself I would need more information than the descriptions you made above to make a final decision. You indicated you could tell the the beni was going on the 1st koi because of some stray beni and finished edges without sashi with bright even color. If you had indicated that the beni was viewed as being thin or being able to detect white between the scales I would agree that it sounds like lower quality beni.

    On the 2nd koi you indicate it has nice one scale sashi and hoshi type pigmentation. So you beleive it will have more future.

    Your assumptions about the beni might be correct but they are still assumptions. Beni develops differently depending on the genetics involved. Some develops with the hoshi type darker scale centers others develop more evenly without hoshi. Size of the koi and the relative weighting of conformation and pattern would also come into play in some matter.

    Getting back to your orginal question about judging for today. I would define it as judging the overall qualities of the koi viewed tht day without making assumptions about that koi's future.. What you see is what you get/judge. One of the reasons that ZNA, AKCA, and other koi hobbyists organizations around the world starting developing their own non-breeder/dealer hobbyist judges is to insure judging was based on the accomplishments of the koi on the day. Also the need to minimize the type of "crystal ball" judging opinions mixed with commercial interests on the outcome of the rankings.

    Still we are all also collectors and when buying or deciding how to allocate our pond space we also try to use the crystal ball and look into a koi's future. Often when judging a show the koi I would like to take home with me and watch develop is not the top award winners but I have to seperate those opinions from ranking koi in a show for it's accomplishments seen today.

  5. #5
    Jumbo l113892's Avatar
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    Hi Mike-

    I touched on this topic in a similar post, specifically, I wanted to know how "hoshi" is judged when compared to a koi with uniform beni. It appeared to me that the judge recognized the hoshi as quality and was therefore able to overlook the fact that the beni was not uniform or at least not uniform within each scale.

    Mike Pfeffer

  6. #6
    Honmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by l113892 View Post
    Hi Mike-

    I touched on this topic in a similar post, specifically, I wanted to know how "hoshi" is judged when compared to a koi with uniform beni. It appeared to me that the judge recognized the hoshi as quality and was therefore able to overlook the fact that the beni was not uniform or at least not uniform within each scale.

    Mike Pfeffer

    My question for that judge would then be how is Hoshi seen as a "quality" point? What about the same genetic beni that once had hoshi style but then has developed and finished and no longer has that same appearance that it once had? Same (actually better) "quality" due to further development and thickness) beni only now further developed and thicker.

    In other words, Hoshi is simply a stage in developement and not really an indicator of a quality beni....at least in and of itself over a beni that is even and developed (finished)....that would seem to be speculative verses factual.

    Likewise, many hobbyists use "intensity" of beni verses thickness to judge color.

    Steve

    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

  7. #7
    Daihonmei aquitori's Avatar
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    What size group were these fish judged at?

  8. #8
    Honmei
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    Quote Originally Posted by aquitori View Post
    What size group were these fish judged at?
    Tonio, Irrelevant, at least at the time of judging a koi. Think about it, hoshi is an indicator of developement, not current quality or even current thickness of the beni. It is simply a indicator for the future developement of one type of genetics for one type of beni.

    Steve

    Edit: Here's a disclaimer. The case that Mike Pfeffer is talking of "may" have involved one of my koi? If so, my position is not one of "sour grapes" since I did not question the ultimate decision on placement since other factors beyond color quality could have wieghed in on the judges decision. I didn't question the decsion then and I am not now.

    I actually first wieghed in on MikeM's post and avoided beni to demonstarte a point using sumi instead.
    The views presented are my personal views and not that of any organization that I may belong to unless otherwise specified. [email protected]
    CKHPA

  9. #9
    Daihonmei aquitori's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schildkoi View Post
    Tonio, Irrelevant, at least at the time of judging a koi. Think about it, hoshi is an indicator of developement, not current quality or even current thickness of the beni. It is simply a indicator for the future developement of one type of genetics for one type of beni.

    Steve
    Hoshi to me is a indicator of what direction a fish is going not quality. I was always thought that depending on the fish and the size of it you still had to have a marginal room to see the fish improving. I guess it comes down to what degree of finish is acceptable, being the quality of the fish that is entered is on the same level playing field.

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

    To me when the judge makes his first walk through of the tanks he is sizing up the competition, which should mean he is measuring the quality of what he is to judge. Fish of high quality will always standout from the rest and help eliminate those of lesser quality. This is what I have seen from Japanese judging.
    The world sleeps as the chance to learn something new passes.

  10. #10
    Daihonmei
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    A lot of good points coming out so far in this conversation.

    We have finally gotten to a point in judging where we see the fish for what they are. I repeat-- we see the fish for what they are. This means, as living things in different stages of development. If that concept can be coupled with the perspective that koi come to us from Japan and elsewhere in grades of quality, the clouds will totally part regarding Mike's question.

    Steve is spot on about hoshi. It is one sign of good beni in it's developmental stages. But other lines of kohaku develop without any presence of hoshi at all! They are not 'lesser' koi, just different. And additionally, fish with good hoshi can also go bad with age. It is not a guarantee but it is a positive trait. Breeders will look fo it but then look to the kiwa on the shoulder and sides to see if the plate is stable.

    We judge young fish differently than sexually mature fish. The skin is completely different on youngsters when compared to mature adults- just like in people. A five year old's skin is different than a forty year old's skin.
    An example of this was seen in the kohaku class that were part of the public judging at the AKCA seminar this past Saturday. These were all fish of exactly the same grade. Which was a middle grade of koi. To emphasize this, the retail price of all the individuals was $225. So the breeder who culled them, culled them as males of a middle grade. Yet they were in different stages of development as individuals.
    The top two kohaku were then of the same grade but in different stages of finish. The more popular of the two among the judging teams was a fish with a balanced pattern and hoshi visible in it's skin. Yet the beni was going and not 'coming' based on two pieces of evidence- 1) the spaces in the kiwa and 2) the thinning of color uniformity on the left shoulder. The smaller fish on the other hand, had a simple pattern and no hoshi. This fish was already finished and had tight kiwa and a uniform glossy beni, making it the better small show fish.
    JR

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