Competing Pipers Launch Survey on Silver Medal Qualification

The Competing Pipers’ Association have asked all of their 232 members to help them find a way forward on the controversial matter of qualification for the Silver Medal competitions at the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting.

A questionnaire has been circulated with a closing date for return of yesterday (December 3). The introduction reads: ‘The CPA are looking to gather feedback on the [Silver Medal qualification] process from this year in order to refine it for future years. Please complete the following short survey with any thoughts you might have before Tuesday 3rd December. The questions are based on suggestions from the CPA AGM [held last August].’

The survey goes on to ask the following question: ‘How would you see the Silver Medal qualification process moving forward?’

Members are then invited to opt for one of the following:

  • Tweak current Silver Medal Qualifier (please fill in the ‘other’ tab on how you would improve the current system)
  • Return to the Eligibility Committee deciding the list for the Silver Medal
  • Heats at Oban and Inverness
  • Heats in Glasgow prior to both Oban and Inverness
  • Other:

Places in the SM at Oban and Inverness are eagerly sought after and with the promoters restricting numbers to a manageable 25 – 30 many pipers felt they were losing out on a place.

2019 Silver Medallist at Oban was Ben McClamrock, USA. Ben competes for the Gold Medal in 2020

To counteract this the CPA announced, in November 2018, a new system for qualification for 2020. This was accepted by Oban and Inverness. It identified certain 2019 contests as qualifiers, gave SM places to previous year’s prizewinners and ‘A minus’ players, but also aimed to take pipers from a league table of success from graded contests and other Highland games. The new system was lauded as capable of bringing ‘clarity and transparency’ to the qualification system.

The current qualification criteria are:
1) Silver Medal placed competitors from the previous year
2) All A- [A minus] players
3) Winners of B Graded Piobaireachd contests in the current year
4) B Grade League table placings

Difficulties arose when two of the qualifiying contests Perth and Cowal, were, for different reasons, cancelled, when one Canadian event attracted very few competitors and when pipers realised that the qualifying contests paid no heed to set tunes – a requirement of the Silver Medal most years – and at one, Inveraray, pipers were given their family favourite a week before the competition. Add to that the fact that a few pipers qualified several times, and readers can see why disgruntled pipers started asking questions.

A additional problem was the lack of pipers at ‘non-qualifier’ Highland games, with pipers using limited time and money to support the SM-linked events instead.

The accepted 2018 proposal read: ‘For the past year, The Competing Pipers’ Association, in conjunction with the Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meetings have developed a new qualifying procedure for competitors to gain places in the Silver Medal events. This new method will give clarity to the competitors so that they understand how they gain entry, as well as providing more transparency on the eligibility process.

James MacKenzie, Lewis, winner of the 2019 Northern Meeting Silver Medal

‘This qualifying procedure will begin in the 2019 season, with competitors qualifying for the following year’s Silver Medals in 2020. The formula that has been devised has a number of different channels including through a series of competitions throughout the season in a calendar year that will act as qualifiers. At the end of the season (London Championship) every player would know whether they have successfully qualified for the following year or not.

‘With 65 B grade players, it’s very difficult for the CPA and Joint Committee coming up with the list of who gets into the medals each year. This lays out the exact method in which the player will get into the Silver Medals. Essentially, every competitors fate is in their own hands. We understand that this first year will have a learning curve and are prepared to take action where needed in the future.’

We await with interest the outcome of the survey and give credit to Glenn Brown, CPA President, for acknowledging the difficulties with the current system.

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