THE EDITOR: Up until the 1990s (at least), the placement system (also called the merit system) was used to determine results of the various Carnival competitions (Calypso Fiesta, King and Queen of Carnival, Calypso Monarch, Band of the Year, among others).
It is a far superior method to the one where high and low scores are discarded. I should know – I developed the software to implement the system and used it to compute the results of all the major Carnival competitions (except pan) for many years.
The placement system could be tedious when done by hand but a simple computer programme can render it fast, accurate and reliable. While the system can (and should) be used for any competition in which there are several judges, each making a subjective assessment (diving, for example), I believe it would be particularly useful for our pan competitions.
The placement system takes into consideration the fact that some judges are generous with their scores while others are less so. However, they tend to be consistent in their generosity or stinginess.
For example, given three contestants, A, B and C, judge 1 may award marks of 95, 92 and 88 while judge 2 may award marks of 70, 75 and 68, respectively. Assuming there are five judges, the other three may award marks somewhere between these two.
In a system where you eliminate high and low scores, you may find that the scores of judge 1 and judge 2 are consistently eliminated. The end result is that they have little or no say in the final determination. But they may be very good judges and their relative placement of the contestants is spot on. Yet their input has little or no bearing on the final result. Surely, this cannot be what we want. This is where the placement system comes in.
The system gives all judges equal say in the final results by nullifying the tendency of one judge to give high scores and another to give low scores. At the end of the competition, based on the scores awarded, each judge would have placed the contestants in a particular order.
Then, all first-placed contestants get the same number of “placement” points (100, say). All second-placed contestants get 99 points, all third-placed contestants get 98 points, and so on. These points are then tallied to determine the winners.
In the example above, the contestant (A) who judge 1 placed first with 95 marks will get the same number of “placement” points (100) as the contestant (B) who judge 2 placed first with 75 marks. This nullifies the 20-mark difference between the judges and seems fairer.
To emphasise, the original scores are used only to determine the placing of a contestant by a given judge.
The system can be tweaked in terms of the number of points to award for first, second, third, and the other places. Should it be 100 for first, 90 for second, 85 for third? This is a minor detail which does not affect the principle of the method.
The placement system is not perfect but I submit that it has many advantages over the current system and should be used for pan (and other subjective) competitions. It consistently delivers fairer results than those obtained by knocking off high and low scores.
I am heartened by Pan Trinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore’s vision for pan. Adopting the placement system for pan competitions would be one small step in achieving that vision. If further clarification/explanation is needed, I’d be glad to help.