Well, the results are in, and it looks like the story I submitted failed to catch the judge's eye. 'Tis a pity, as the SOF is quite an expensive competition to enter, and for some reason I felt the story I was putting forward was a good fit for the competition. I should learn to be more wary of these gut feelings.
The Seán Ó Faoláín Prize was judged this year entirely by one person, Tania Hershman, with no readers or sifters helping to filter the entries. This was a pretty mammoth undertaking, with almost 850 entries. She posted an interesting piece on the judging process a while back.
Having recently done well in one competition judged solely by one person, and disappeared without trace in another, I can't help wondering whether single-judge competitions really do find the 'best' writing out there, as opposed to ones that either go through some sort of filtering system or have more than one judge. Is a story that one person loves actually 'better' than one that two people both like? Which of these is closer to the definition of good writing?
As a writer, would you rather have a handful of people rave about your work, or a large group who enjoy it, but don't get terribly enthusiastic about it? I'm not sure which I'd prefer. Fortunately, at the moment, I'm not in any danger of having to choose...