One of the most anticipated moments of every show starts with a simple announcement:
“Good afternoon everyone, this is the master clerk. I have the unofficial count.”
Exhibitors scramble for their catalogs or the back of a flyer or just any piece of paper while the hall becomes hushed with concentration. The master clerk reads the unofficial count and people start calculating their points. Cell phones light up as people call friends at other shows to let them know whether their cat granded or what points their competition is making. The count is one of the master clerk's most important tasks to do for the exhibitors, since the count is integral to knowing what those finals are worth and whether the cat needs to go to another show. But other than master clerks and judges, many exhibitors do not know exactly how to count the cats and are often surprised by some of the tricky situations that contribute to the count.
To understand the mechanics of counting the cats, we have to first understand the applicable show rules. There are a handful of show rules related to the count, but they all depend on the definition of “benched.” In CFA, a cat counts if it is benched in at least one ring. Benched is defined in Article I Definitions:
1.04 A BENCHED CAT is one that is present and qualified for competition and judged in at least one ring. Such cat is presumed to be benched and present for competition throughout the entire show. Any cat competing in a ring, including a disqualified cat, is considered a benched cat for scoring purposes.
1.04.01 A BENCHED CHAMPION or PREMIER is one that is present and qualified for competition and judged in one ring as a Champion or Premier. Cats transferred to Champion or Premier, or Grand Champion or Grand Premier after the first day of a two day show will be counted as a Champion or Premier in all rings. Such cat is presumed to be benched and present for competition throughout the entire show. Any cat competing in a ring, including a disqualified cat, is considered a benched cat for Grand Championship and Grand Premiership scoring purposes.
In 1.04, the phrase “present and qualified for competition” is very important. Present is easy, it just means not absent. But what does “qualified for competition” mean? A cat is benched, or “qualified for competition,” if it is not an AOV, Provisional, Miscellaneous, Exhibition Only, HHP, or Veteran (these six categories are the non-benched categories). Qualified has nothing to do with the quality of the cat. Qualified only means the cat is allowed to compete in the kitten, championship or premiership class, not that it actually is competitive.
The phrase “judged in at least one ring” and the sentence “Such cat is presumed to be benched and present for competition throughout the entire show” mean that as long as a cat is “present and qualified for competition” in one ring, the cat is considered to be “present and qualified for competition” in all rings. This one-ring-benched-in-all-rings idea is key to CFA's scoring system – CFA does not have ring-by-ring scoring. “Any cat competing in a ring, including a disqualified cat, is considered a benched cat for scoring purposes.” This basically means that as long as the judge handles the cat and the cat is not in one of the six non-benched categories, the cat counts.
Here's another way of looking at the show rule:
- Every cat that is benched in at least one ring counts for scoring purposes.
Now substitute the phrase “present and qualified for competition”:
- Every cat that is present and qualified for competition in at least one ring counts.
And now substitute the phrase “not in one of the non-benched categories”:
- Every cat that is present and not in one of the non-benched categories in at least one ring counts.
If a judge disqualifies a cat or withholds awards for condition or insufficient merit, that cat is still “present and qualified for competition” because it is not in one of the non-benched categories. A DQ, WC, NA/IM, or NA/COND does not un-bench the cat. Such cats still count as long as they are “benched” in just one ring.
Show rule 1.04.01 is similar to 1.04 but it deals with champions and premiers. Champions and premiers get points based on defeating other champions and premiers, so these two types of cats have their own count for points needed to advance to Grand Champion and Grand Premier. Just as with 1.04, a champion or premier that is benched for at least one ring as a champion or premier is considered benched for all rings as a champion or premier. Benched means the same here as it did in 1.04. The unique aspect of champions and premiers is the Sunday, or 2 nd day, transfer. The owner of a champion that earns 200 points by the end of the first day of a two day show may transfer the cat to the grand champion class for the second day. Those 200 points may be accumulated from all the shows prior where the cat competed as a champion, not just the points earned in that one day. The same is true for premiers that earn 75 points by the end of the first day of a two day show. 1.04.01 states that such transferred cats count as champions or premiers in all rings, even those rings where they are shown as grands.
Unstated in 1.04.01 is that a transferred open (i.e. an open that accumulates all of its winners ribbons by the end of the first day of a two day show and transfers to champion or premier for the second day, see show rule 8.05 b and 11.18c) counts as a champion or premier in all rings as long as it competes as a champion or premier in at least one ring. Since this has caused confusion in the past it is worth emphasizing – if an open is transferred to champion or premier on the 2nd day, the cat does not count as a champion or premier until it is actually handled in at least one ring as a champion or premier. For more information and an interesting twist on this subject, read the article titled 199 Points.
The Unofficial Show Count
There are actually two show counts. The rules are the same for both counts – every cat that is present and qualified for competition in at least one ring counts for all rings in that category. The first is the unofficial show count that the master clerk tallies at the show.
The Official Show Count
The second count is the official count tallied by the show scorer at Central Office while processing the paperwork from the show. Article XXXVII of the show rules defines the procedure for tallying the official count as:
- For each show, official show counts are determined for each category in which a judge has given finals awards. These categories might include, but are not limited to, allbreed kittens, longhair kittens, shorthair kittens, allbreed championship, longhair championship, shorthair championship, allbreed premiership, longhair premiership, and shorthair premiership.
- The cats/kittens competing in each show are tallied within their category to establish the official show counts.
- A cat/kitten handled by a judge in one ring is counted as competing in all rings.
One last show rule that must be mentioned is show rule 11.08 which deals with procedures clubs may follow to collect delinquent payments from exhibitors. In the event CFA voids the wins of a cat for non-payment of the entry fee, show rule 11.08 has this clause: “The official count and the wins earned by other cats in the show will not be affected by the above actions.”
What do these rules mean about the official count? It's very simple. Once a judge handles a cat and qualifies the cat for competition, the cat counts in both the unofficial and official counts. Even if the judge disqualifies the cat or the show scorer voids the wins after the show, the cat is still qualified for competition because qualified means only that the cat is not in one of the non-benched categories (AOV, Provisional, Miscellaneous, Exhibition Only, HHP, or Veteran). All cats present and qualified for competition are counted by the master clerk in the unofficial count and by the show scorer in the official count using the same rules.
There is another way to look at this. Once a judge decides that your cat beat another, your cat gets the point no matter what. DQs and errors do not change the fact that a judge said your cat was better!
Before you can look at a marked catalog and count the cats present, you will want to first learn the abbreviations used to record the status or what happened in the judging of each cat in each individual ring:
- OP or OPN - Open; a cat competing for the title champion
- CH – champion; a cat competing for the title grand champion
- GC – grand champion; a cat competing for regional/national points
- AOV – Any Other Variety; a cat/kitten that is registered and is ancestry-wise a member of a breed but has a trait that does not conform to the standard. Examples are a short-haired Balinese, a straight-eared Scottish Fold, a tailed Manx, etc.
- NA/IM – no award/insufficient merit; the cat is deemed to have an overall lack of quality or deviation from the standard (think of an applehead Siamese or a long-nosed Persian), or congenital or acquired defects.
- NA/COND is no award/condition where the cat is lacking in condition (poorly groomed, underweight, overweight, etc.)
- DISQ – disqualified; the cat has a disqualifying fault from the standard, or the cat bit the judge, or for some other reason was disqualified by the judge. A cat in championship with an undescended testicle would receive DISQ-UT
- A – absent
- 1 – 1 st place in sex, category, and color; the blue ribbon
- 2 – 2 nd place in sex, category, and color; the red ribbon
- 3 – 3 rd place in sex, category, and color; the yellow ribbon
- 1W – first place in sex, category, and color with winners ribbon
- B – best of color; the black ribbon
- 2B – 2 nd best of color; the white ribbon
- - (a dash) the cat was present and handled but no ribbon awarded
Jumping Into the Deep End
Sometimes the best way to learn how to count cats is to just do it. So ... let's count some cats!
Below is a sample listing from a master clerk's catalog showing the results of judging in 4 rings. You may be wondering why some of this information is in red. The master clerk marks absentees and transfers are written in red in the catalog to highlight that information for the show scorer at CFA's Central Office. This may look confusing at first, but we will go through each cat after you try to count them.
In this example, these are all seal point Balinese females and they are all the cats entered in that division.
How many cats are
“present and qualified for competition”
How many champions are “present and qualified for competition”
If you counted eight cats total and three champions, you are correct!
Taking A Closer LookOkay, lets take a closer look at the catalog entries and analyze what the marked catalog reveals about what happened in each of the rings:
- Cat #166 received an NA/IM from the first judge, therefore it was present and qualified for competition in that ring. Even though every other judge transferred the cat to AOV (class 1299, which the master clerk wrote in red at the bottom of the division because it was a transfer during the show), the cat still counts because it was present and qualified in at least one ring in class 1273. The notation you see is typical of the master clerk catalog. When a cat is handled differently by multiple judges, the master clerk will make a line for each type of handling. The “AOV” in rings 2-4 on the first line for 166 mean those judges handled the cat as an AOV class 1299. The “1273” in ring 1 on the bottom line for 166 means that judge handled the cat in class 1273.
- Cat #167 has a dash in the first ring, what does this mean? Since there were five opens present and benched in the first judge's ring, two of those cats will not get color class ribbons. Color class ribbons are blue for 1st, red for 2nd and yellow for 3rd. 4th and 5th do not get ribbons, or according to show lingo, they get the dreaded “clear” ribbon. The opens in the first ring are 166, 167, 169, 170, and 171. 166 received a NA/IM; 171 received 1 st , 170 received 2 nd , and 169 received 3rd . This leaves 167 with no color class ribbon (or a clear ribbon if you prefer). The notation clerks use for “handled but no ribbon awarded” is a dash. The dash is one of the easiest things to miss when counting the cats.
- Cat #168 was absent in the first three rings and was disqualified in the 4th . As with 166, this cat was benched, or present and qualified for competition in at least one ring. Cat number 168 counts. Remember this sentence from show rule 1.04: “Any cat competing in a ring, including a disqualified cat, is considered a benched cat for scoring purposes.”
- Cat #169 and 170 are easy, both cats were absent in two rings but did receive ribbons from two judges, so both cats count. Cat #171, however, is tricky.
- Cat # 171 is a Sunday transfer cat. From the markings, we can tell that rings 1 and 4 were held on Saturday and rings 2 and 3 were held on Sunday. 171 competed as an Open in rings 1 and 4 and as a Champion in rings 2 and 3. This means 171 counts as a champion in all rings.
- Cat #172 is another easy one; this cat counts as a champion in all rings even though it was absent in three rings. Cat #173 is also a Sunday transfer, this time from champion to grand.
- Cat # 173 was benched in two rings as a champion on Saturday and transferred on Sunday to two rings as a grand. This means 173 counts as a champion in all rings.
- Cat #174 was absent in all rings and does not contribute to the count.
- Cat #166 at the bottom of the list is an AOV. In this case, the AOV was handled by one judge in a “countable” color class (the first line in the list). Had the AOV been handled as an AOV in all rings, it would not contribute to the count. While the dash is one of the easiest things to miss and undercount the cats, the AOV is one of the easiest things to miss and over count the cats. The confusion is the 1/B notation for the AOVs. AOVs do compete for color ribbons within the AOV color class. It is easy to miss the AOV under the cat's number and count it if there is a whole line of 1/Bs.
The eight cats contributing to the championship count are 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, and 173. The three champions are 171, 172, and 173.
There ... that wasn't too hard was it? Just a few more special cases and you'll be ready to count cats like a pro.
- What happens to the count if a cat is judged incorrectly because of a catalog error?
- What if a cat is transferred from open to champion when it does not have all six winners ribbons in the same color class, does the champion count go down in the official count?
- What if a cat is added to a show with an addendum but the addendum is later voided?
The answer to all of these situations is simple – once a cat is handled by a judge and qualified for competition, the cat counts in all rings in that category or class, even if the cat's entry is later voided. Nobody is perfect and innocent mistakes do happen. When they do, CFA's show rules were written to prevent chaos and disruption in scoring by making the counting as simple and transparent as possible.
Go Forth and Count Cats
So the next time you are in the show hall and want to practice what you have learned from this article, ask the master clerk if you can try your hand at counting the cats. Wait for a few rings to finish with a class, then ask politely if you can try to learn how to count the cats. If the master clerk is not too busy, she will hand you a section of the catalog for you to count. Just don't wait until the end of the show to ask!
About The Author: Mary Kolencik is a licensed master clerk in CFA and has been in the clerking program for nearly 15 years. She has also been an entry clerk, show manager, and club officer for show producing clubs in CFA. Mary breeds Siamese and Colorpoint Shorthairs in CFA and her cattery names are Sibercats and MaryK.