This article is to help future and new judges when faced with that ever-daunting task of judging a whole show of hamsters. Even experienced judges may learn something from it. This is the way I usually tackle such a task.
Compare your animals in the class to be judged, lined up on the table in their show pens first. This is a good way to gauge the differences in colour and size initially and to see what catches your eye. Always start off carefully with colour points. Mark low (but not too low) rather than high unless you are really confident that these early animals are outstanding. This gives you leeway if something even better comes along in later classes. You could find yourself in trouble if your best animal in class one gets 95 or more points in total, and then in class three or four, something you consider to be even better comes along. If you see the best animal ever in class 10 you could be stuck as there is not a lot of room for improvement on 98 points! Most existing judges rarely give more than 85 points for a best in show. This is a good score but still would leave 15 points to play with had there been even more choice. To err on the side of caution is a good policy. The total for colour points is 30.
For AOC and satin classes I always put the same colours together in groups so the differences in shade and evenness are in front of me and fresh in my mind when making comparisons. It is easier to judge the marked colours sometimes before the selfs especially if all the whites are pure snowy white, all the creams are a similar hue and all the sables and blacks are evenly coloured.
Be warned, it is not a good idea to say out loud what you think the colour of the hamster you are judging is unless you are completely sure. Check through the subtle differences between similar colours in your standards book. Look out for cheek flashes and crescents on marked animals and blow on the fur to check if the hamster has undercolour (base colour). Check the eye and ear colour with the standard too. It really can be worthwhile doing this as many hamsters are not good examples of the colour that they represent. It is better to be cautious and careful when a novice judge. For example pale honeys can look like red eyed creams and reddish rusts can look like cinnamons. Some people confuse light greys with smoke pearls and others blondes with ivories.
Remember once you have lined up your similar colours and decided which shade you favour you can start giving points to the ones you like least and build up gradually with the better animals. An average coloured animal should receive an average colour mark. The middle is average, so half of 30 would be 15. This is a good number to consider for an average hamster.
Do not feel that you have to judge class one first. If you are more comfortable with a later class of perhaps a colour you are more familiar with or possibly a mixed colour class with less of each variety in then start with that one. You are the boss on the day!
Generally deeper hues are preferred in most standards. Once again if unsure, please re-read through the standard beforehand. Apart from depth of colour do not forget to take into account evenness of colour and the presence and depth of any under colour. Patchiness should be penalised. Ticked hamsters should be uniformly ticked with the correct colour and heaviness of ticking.
Patterned hamsters such as spotted, banded, tortoiseshell and roan should have their colour mark split into 15 points for colour and 15 for pattern. Judging patterned animals is usually more difficult as you have to consider depth and evenness of colour (of which there may not be a lot) as well as distribution of the pattern.
To sum up: