Comp SuggestionsSome credentials first. This is our fourth year. I'm a CBJ for about 8 years now and a Table Captain.
In the first contest this year, finished twelfth overall with 47 teams; got a first in chicken.
In the 2nd contest this year, finished 4th overall out of 39 teams; 2nd in ribs and 3rd in pork (where WAS my first place chicken).
Couple of ideas for newbies:
1. Like everyone said, practice. Do it just like a contest and follow the KCBS time of 12, 12:30, 1 and 1:30. Take notes.
2. Have fun, it IS a contest
3. Try to go and hang with a team before your first contest. You can go to another contest and walk around, ask lots of questions. Don't forget to offer beer or your services to clean up, etc
4. Have fun (see a trend)
5. LEARN THE RULES. At the past two contests, several teams have been DQ'd. Only reason I heard at the last one was "marking". If you have any questions at a contest, talk to the KCBS rep, tell them what you want to do and ask if it will be okay. For the guy who put a bunch of sauce in the corner of the box, this would have helped him
7. Understand the point systems. Taste is twice as important as tenderness which is twice as important as appearance. Yes, judges eat with their eyes first, but if you spend too much time worrying about appearance and it tastes like @#$%, you wont score no matter how pretty you have it
9. Don't stress over the scores. Trust me, a case of beer wouldn't be enough to get all my judging stories and feelings about judges. I know for a fact, that I turned in 4 great entries this weekend. Two scored, the 3rd was a 12th place. I try to turn in the best that I can. For me, as much as I've done it, I've not turned in "perfect" yet; I'm still learning (although I do cash a lot of checks). Be happy if you get a call, don't be surprised if one category or two do great and the other to don't
10. When in doubt, don't forget rules 2,4,6,8.