Don’t forget about the reference judges: the theory

One aspect of judging we don’t really see when watching gymnastics competitions is the role of the execution reference judges, or R-judges. Most scores we see follow a standard rule (ending in .000, .033 or .066) but sometimes we see a score that doesn’t fit, such as Daria Spiridonova scoring a 15.016 on bars at 2019 Worlds. These results tend to happen when the R-judges are involved.

In major competitions there are a total of 7 execution judges on each event

  • 5 judges are part of the standard execution panel (or E-Jury). The highest and lowest execution scores are dropped, and the remaining three are averaged to get the average execution score (the E-Jury Score).
  • 2 judges are R-judges. They also judge the execution of the routine, and their scores are averaged to get a separate execution score (the RE-Score).

When a routine is judged, the E-Jury Score and the RE-Score are compared to each other. The FIG sets limits on what the acceptable difference between these scores can be, and this is based on the RE-Score:

RE-ScoreAcceptable difference between RE-Score and E-Jury Score
9.600 – 10.0000.050
9.400 – 9.5990.100
9.000 – 9.3990.150
8.500 – 8.9990.200
8.000 – 8.4990.300
7.500 – 7.9990.400
0.000 – 7.4990.500
Information obtained from the FIG Appendix to the Code of Points

When the difference between the scores is within the acceptable range, then the E-Jury Score is given, which is the case for most routines. However, when the difference is outside of the acceptable range, the E-Jury Score and the RE-Score are then averaged to give a final execution score (which sometimes ends up with unusual decimals).

BUT there is an exception to this rule – for the RE-Score to be “valid”, the two R-Judges must be within an acceptable range of each other. This acceptable range is determined by the original E-Jury Score:

E-Jury ScoreAcceptable difference between R-Judge 1 and R-Judge 2
9.600 – 10.0000.000
9.400 – 9.5990.100
9.000 – 9.3990.200
8.500 – 8.9990.300
8.000 – 8.4990.400
7.500 – 7.9990.500
0.000 – 7.5000.600
Information obtained from the FIG Appendix to the Code of Points

If the two R-Judge scores are not within the acceptable range, the RE-Score is ignored completely and the original E-Jury score is the final execution score.

It can get confusing fast, so here are some examples from the 2012 Olympics Women’s Floor Qualifications to show all of these, using the above two tables:


Example 1: Sandra Izbasa [ROU]

Judge 1Judge 2Judge 3Judge 4Judge 5E-Jury Score
9.1
(highest)
8.98.78.78.6
(lowest)
8.766

R-Judge scores: 8.900 | 8.900

RE-Score (average of the R-Judge scores): 8.900

The first thing to check is whether the difference between the E-Jury Score and the RE-Score is acceptable. From the first table, the RE-score of 8.900 means that the difference should be no greater than 0.200 for the E-Jury Score to stand. In this case the difference is only 0.134, so the E-Jury Score of 8.766 is given


Example 2: Alexandra Raisman [USA]

Judge 1Judge 2Judge 3Judge 4Judge 5E-Jury Score
8.78.5
(lowest)
8.8
(highest)
8.68.88.700

R-Judge scores: 9.000 | 8.900

RE-Score: 8.950

The RE-Score of 8.950 again means that the difference between the E-Jury Score and the RE-Score should be no greater than 0.200. In this case the difference is 0.250, outside of the acceptable difference.

We then need to check the RE-Score to see if it is “valid” by checking whether the difference between the two R-Judges is within the acceptable range. Using the second table, Aly’s original E-Jury Score of 8.700 means that the difference between the two R-Judges must be within 0.300. In this case the difference is only 0.100, so the RE-Score is “valid”.

Now we know that the RE-Score itself is okay, the final step is to average the E-Jury Score (8.700) and the RE-Score (8.950), to give the final execution score: 8.825

These results are often annotated with a * next to the E-Score and final score in results books (where individual execution scores are actually shown)


Example 3: Ethiene Franco [BRA]

Judge 1Judge 2Judge 3Judge 4Judge 5E-Jury Score
7.9
(lowest)
8.28.18.28.3
(highest)
8.166

R-Judge scores: 8.000 | 7.500

RE-Score: 7.750

The RE-Score of 7.750 means that the difference between the E-Jury Score and the RE-Score should be no more than 0.400, but here the difference is 0.416, so we then move on to checking the RE-Score.

Ethiene’s score of 8.166 from the E-Jury means that the acceptable difference between the two R-Judges should be no more than 0.400, but for her routine the two R-Judges had a difference of 0.500. Because of this, the RE-Score is ignored, and the original E-Jury score of 8.166 is awarded.


Although the majority of routines are not affected by the execution reference judges, it is interesting when looking at past results to see when they were used and what effect they had on the scores and standings. Looking at Aly’s example above, the final outcome wouldn’t have been affected if she were given the original E-Jury Score of 8.700, as she would have just qualified in second place to the floor final rather than in first. However, in part 2 of this I will be looking into past results to when the RE-Scores actually had a part to play in the final results, and even in the medals.

* It is important to note that the FIG states the reference judge’s system is “a control body completely independent of the traditional judges’ panel” and “intends to correct any unintentional or intentional severe mistakes”. The scores and gymnasts discussed in these posts are not statements that the “wrong” scores were given, but just a theoretical discussion about execution score from a guy who likes numbers


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Published by MT

Gymnastics fan since 2006. NCAA fan since 2016. Numbers fan since birth.

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