Reg, I think the issue that may concern you here is that judges in KCBS and MBN are taught a standard. KCBS has a standard it wants its cooks to achieve in taste, tenderness, appearance, etc. MBN has a standard it wants it cooks to achieve. But I think both leave the final mark to that great indeterminate: Overall impression, aka Did you like it? I like sweet; the guy next to me likes spicy; the lady across the table is looking for something else. We are all judging (I hope) to the standard the organization wants cooks to achieve to get a score, but each individual's taste buds will tell the final story, and that seems appropriate to me.
I think when judges are given samples in the judging class, it is not to instruct them that all bbq should be like that, cause the class samples are sometimes cold, not done to a truly competitive standard, etc. But they can be tools to help the instructor descibe the standards the organization wants its competitive cooks to apply on game day, standards they will be judged on. And yeah, there is a danger of overthinking Barbecue.
Hippie, I am appalled at your rejection of comparative judging!!! (choking slightly here, motioning for water)
MBN is very specifically about comparative judging: you enter a contest, show up on the appointed day, and cook meat to a standard, applying your own attributes to that meat in wood, injections, rubs, sauces, temperature, time, etc. The judge wants to see if you meet the standards an MBN contest requires, and has to determine if your best effort today was better than the guy next to you. The judge can sample 6 superb products; his or her job is then to determine who, on that particular day, did the best job. Same as the Leafs, Stampeders, Patrick Chan, Man U.......who showed up and did the best job in the competition on that particular day. I think comparative judging makes me work harder.
"Barbecue is Murder! Tasty, Tasty murder......"
"PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals"