• Joe Shoemaker

Judge Assignments for the May ASFA Trials

I promised running order in this post, but it will take a few posts. It’s not possible to construct the perfect running order, as there are too many considerations and a healthy dose of uncertainty. To simplify the problem and achieve a running order that seems good enough, I focus on the judges, as they are our invited guests and the only certainty on staffing at this point in the planning process. Thus, step one for the ASFA lure coursing trials in May, is the judge assignments.


I start with a blank sheet of paper and mark down the facts. I write a brief notation about the event and list the stakes in alphabetical order across the top, using my two-letter abbreviations, which, I think, are less ambiguous than the official ones. It’s an ASFA event, so Limited and Single stakes need to be included; fortunately, the Limited stake does not need to be broken out by the participating breeds. The last of the facts are the judges and in which stakes they are running hounds. I usually note those at the top.



Now apply educated guessing to order breeds by the expected number of courses. Number one on the list for MGA has been a contest between Whippet and Single for the past few years. Because of the AKC lure coursing trial in Dayton on the same weekend this year, I think our Whippet entries will be down, but it won’t affect our Single entries. Single gets the top spot, and I still think Whippet will have more courses than any of the other regular breeds. Write them down and cross them off.



The next group of breeds will be those that I think could have more than two courses. My best guess is Basenji and Rhodesian Ridgebacks—probably in the opposite order as far as total number of courses, but only because one of the judges is running Ridgebacks.



There are quite a few breeds that should have at least one course and quite possibly two—Afghan Hound, Borzoi, Greyhound, Ibizan Hound, Italian Greyhound, and Scottish Deerhound. I’ll start with the ones that are certain to be present and work my way down.



Three groups left—those that will have a course, those that might have a course, and those that won’t be present. An Irish Wolfhound is the only certainty in what remains. Those that might are Azawakh, Cirneco dell’Etna, and Saluki. Of those that I don’t expect to see, the only Limited running in this area are Portugese Podengo, but I would bet against that group appearing. As I was writing those down and crossing breeds off, I decided Silken Windhound had dropped to far down. We did have some local ones in October, so they probably belong in that group of “maybes”. Good thing I was using pencil.



At this point, I make sure everything has been crossed off on the original list of breeds and that the number written down in the column is the same as the number that were written across the top. Leaving something out will definitely make someone feel left out.


Decision time—one judge or two and for which breeds. The judges, all fully licensed, are sufficiently distinct on which breeds they cannot judge, so there’s no necessity of two judges. Two judges are quite a bit more paperwork for the FTS and clerks. My observation is that the exhibitors have more to say about the scoring when two judges are involved. A running order involving two judges is quite a bit more complicated when those judges are running hounds, and, in a smaller trial especially, it will introduce delays. Thus, I favor using one judge and will do so here. October will be a different story—tune in later.


I mark the left-hand side of the column as “Saturday” and the right-hand side as “Sunday”. Then, I put down the assignments that have to happen to ensure a different judge each day on the breeds that the judges are running.



Katie judges the Single stake the last time she was up this way, so I’ll use Frances and John for those on this weekend. For balancing the load, that means Katie should judge Whippets one day, and I need to pick between the other two—John. I put Katie on Whippets for Saturday, but then changed my mind. Instead, I’ll put John on Whippets for Saturday and that will result in Whippets and Greyhounds together in the running order, which will probably work better for the lure operators. To achieve some initial balance, John will then get Singles on Sunday, leaving Frances with Singles on Saturday.



Now, I need to fill in the top portion of each day to ensure some balance in the number of courses for each judge. I work my way down both days to make certain that I don’t put the same name on both sides of a breed. Basenji will get Katie on Saturday, since her name isn’t at the top on that side. Frances will judge Basenji on Sunday, as Katie and John already have the majority of the courses that day. I think doing the same for Italian Greyhounds will even things out even more. I think Katie still needs a bit more, so I will give her Afghans on Saturday as well, and John needs something else on Sunday at this point.



It’s pretty easy at this point. I’ll split the next three breeds among the three judges, and I’ll do the three breeds that follow the Irish Wolfhound. I’ll make sure that I don’t put the judges in the same order when I do those, as that can cause patterns to emerge in the running order later that I prefer to avoid. For the rest of the breeds, they aren’t likely meaningful, so I will simply balance out the number of times each judge has been assigned on a given day to avoid the appearance of favoring one over another.



Save the sheet, as we’ll do the running order at the bottom of it in the next post.

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