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The All England Masters adjudication system comes under scrutiny:
John Casey, the man behind the 4BarsRest ranking system, proposes an alternative system that eliminates the 'rogue adjudicator' factor that has had a massive effect on the competition's winners on two previous occasions.


In the weeks that have passed since the 2001 Masters I have thought and read a lot about the judging system and have come to the following conclusions.

  • The most important thing about the result of any band contest is that the winners are placed correctly. It also seems unacceptable for any band to finish in first position in the majority of the adjudicator's opinions and not win the contest.

  • As this has happened twice now, perhaps the current system doesn't work?

  • The majority of bands are allegedly in favour of keeping the existing system. This probably doesn't represent the majority of bandsmen's opinion but more likely the majority of secretaries/ band managers opinion. Even if the bandsmen are in favour of it, does that necessarily make it the best system? In my experience good players often know much more about playing music than about the relative merits of different adjudicating systems.

  • It is easier for adjudicators to correctly differentiate between 1st and 2nd place than between 10th and 11th or 19th and 20th. It is also more important in the big scheme of things to get the top placings right and to ensure this it should be reflected in the points differential. Fans of Grand Prix will know that the winner receives ten points, second gets six points etc. Therefore, there should be a bigger reward for finishing in first place with an adjudicator than finishing second when positions are to be added to get the final result. Currently the system offers the same relative reward to the band that finishes 19th against the 20th band as it does to the winners against 2nd place.

  • The 'rogue adjudicator' factor has played too big a part in the recent history of this contest. At this year's competition, if Roy Newsome had awarded YBS 5th rather than 7th, they would have won the contest, so perhaps we should call into question the fairness of a system if a result can hinge on such a small factor when the other two judges have been so decisive. By rewarding the higher placed bands on a sliding scale as mentioned above would eliminate the possibility of a bad result from one adjudicator ending an otherwise highly rated band's chances.

At the heart of the 4BarsRest rankings system is the concept that the value of every position in a contest is worth 25 - 100% more than the position immediately below. These are figures that have been arrived at as a result of nothing more than opinion, but considered opinion over a period of many years based on my own experience of finishing in a suitably large variety of positions in most of the major contests and the value I have placed on these results. When applied to a real situation such as this year's Masters, it doesn't make a great deal of difference what the percentage difference is as the top places remain virtually unchanged as soon as we go over around 10%. But 50% is an easy figure to work with and it appears to work as well as any other. It also makes it impossible for a band with two 1st places to be beaten by a band with no firsts.

This system is highly suitable for application to the Masters competition. If, for instance, the first band in every adjudicator's opinion was awarded 100 points, the 2nd 66.67 points, 3rd 44.44 points etc..., then the penalty for being placed lowly by only one adjudicator will not be as severe as at present. At the same time the system allows for every judge's decision to be taken into account as none of the placings are discarded as in other proposed systems. There have been suggestions that 5 adjudicators be used with the top and bottom placings discarded, the probable outcome of which is a compromise result. This would be equally as unacceptable as the current system.

The following table illustrates the workings of the sliding scale system when applied to the 2001 Masters.

 

RN

JS

GW

Old

Rank

New

Rank

+/-

Points available

Brighouse & Rastrick

3

3

2

8

1

155.56

2

-1

1

100.00

YBS

7

1

1

9

2

208.78

1

1

2

66.67

Carlton Main

2

4

10

16

3

98.90

4

-1

3

44.44

Fodens

5

6

5

16

4

52.67

7

-3

4

29.63

Flowers

13

2

4

19

5

97.07

5

0

5

19.75

DUT Yorkshire Imps

1

10

9

20

6

106.50

3

3

6

13.17

Ever Ready

8

9

6

23

7

22.92

9

-2

7

8.78

Ransome

4

12

8

24

8

36.64

8

0

8

5.85

Faireys

15

7

3

25

9

53.57

6

3

9

3.90

Besses

9

8

15

32

10

10.10

12

-2

10

2.60

Rothwell

12

5

16

33

11

21.14

10

1

11

1.73

Bodmin

10

13

11

34

12

5.11

14

-2

12

1.16

Leyland

6

14

18

38

13

13.78

11

2

13

0.77

First City

11

15

12

38

14

3.23

15

-1

14

0.51

Sellers

14

11

14

39

15

2.76

16

-1

15

0.34

Todmorden

17

18

7

42

16

9.03

13

3

16

0.23

Mount Charles

16

19

13

48

17

1.07

17

0

17

0.15

Travelsphere

18

17

19

54

18

0.32

18

0

18

0.10

Aveley & Newham

20

16

20

56

19

0.32

19

0

19

0.07

Woodfalls

19

21

17

57

20

0.25

20

0

20

0.05

Rolls Royce

21

20

21

62

21

0.11

21

0

21

0.03

RN - Roy Newsome
JS - James Scott
GW Geoff Whitham

Old - current system aggregate score
Rank - Position awarded
New - Points awarded under proposed system
+/- - movement of rank as a result of the new proposed system
Points Available - points awarded for each placing

Examination of the above table reveals that YBS would have won under the proposed new system. The other bands to benefit significantly are DUT Yorkshire Imps (now 3rd, previously 6th despite having been placed 1st by one judge), Faireys (now 6th, previously 9th despite having been placed 3rd and 7th) and Todmorden (now 13th, previously 16th despite having been placed 7th by one judge). The significant losers would be Brighouse & Rastrick (now 2nd, previously 1st despite having been placed 3rd, 3rd & 2nd) and Fodens (now 7th, previously 4th despite being placed no higher than 5th). So from this analysis we can see that in the old system consistency is the key to success, while the proposed system rewards all bands who have been highly ranked by at least one judge without over-penalising bands who have had only one poor result. The main losers would bands placed consistently lowly which poses no real problem.

The probability of a tie would also be quite remote but in the event of one, the current method of breaking the tie by electing one unknown judge by ballot, works as good as any I can think of.

Messrs. Biggs and Franklin deserve congratulations for the innovation and openness they have brought to the movement, but perhaps it's now time to have another look at the current system of adjudication that is far from flawless. I'm sure they have the resources to apply the system described. A simple spreadsheet is all that's required and it took me only 10 minutes to build up a working model that could be used on contest day to produce a result in a only few minutes. It is of no consequence as to whether or not the majority of the audience would be able to understand the system. A simple explanation could be printed in the programme along with some of the reasons for change if necessary but the most important point is the correct band would win. Recently this has not always been the case. Even in the opinion of the adjudicators.

© J. Casey, 4BarsRest.

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