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You guys are making way too much of this hypothetical scenario. IF there is a tie in judging, the head category judge (or Chief Judge) breaks the tie. The point being, there are a dozen ways to solve a hypothetical judging "tie".
When you get down to the very end and have to choose between two very nice models....one with a little silvering of a decal and another with the trace of a mold release mark.... but otherwise equal in work, you have to make a choice based on simple appeal. Sometimes that means you pick the one you personally like most. Bluntly, any judge that won't admit this is deluding themselves. Everyone has pet peeves that they pick on. Trying to explain this tiny almost trivial point to a self-absorbed person without them getting angry is impossible. In 2015, I had to choose between a model with a bad decal and one with a cracked window. One got a 1st and one got a 2nd. The only other model there got 3rd. In ANY other category, NONE would have placed.
I have been judging model contests since 1972, and have attended and/or entered a contest every year since 1969. I looked at lots of models and take my responsibility as a judge seriously. I have seen judges debate for thirty minutes whether water running by a log should have had more wake, then bump it because of such a silly point. I have seen arguments on whether a ship should be bumped because it had no anchor. You can say we don't judge accuracy, but enter your P-51 without a propeller and see how far you get.
I bet the guy with the micro dust speck thought it was irrelevant. And to me, it would be too. This is the biggest reason I would prefer a GSB system, and this is also why I don't want to have feedback. Knowing about that tiny speck will not improve my work. It would be something impossible to plan for because you won't know about it until it is done and then it is too late. And quite frankly, building at my level, I would never ask why I didn't win first. My ego is not so shallow that I have to have explanations for every non win.
Gil has stated the situation well. While I have never entered a Nationals contest...primarily due to only attending one and that one as a vendor...I have entered and both won & lost in local contests. It might do us all well to keep a story in mind that I heard some years ago. Don't remember when and don't even know if it was an IPMS/USA Nationals contest, BUT:
The story goes that two models were head to head in a particularly category. Both models were as perfect as you could get and still call them models. Judging was a dead heat, to the point that scores were absolutely identical. What finally decided first and second? It wasn't a "flip of the coin". Through the use of a magnifying glass, a single dust mote stuck in the paint was found on one model that wasn't on the other. That made the difference.