No first prize was awarded at the Sendai International Violin Competition this year.

Unfortunately the article gives no explanation for this, stating only that:

No first prize was awarded at this year’s competition.

I have never heard of this happening before - is there any explanation for why a competition would no award a first prize, but would award one second prize instead?


1 Answer 1


This actually happens more than you might think. If you Google it you might be surprised by how many results you can find.

The reason is usually to do with the overall standard of the competitors. In these prestigious competitions they don't just give the first prize to the one judged to be the best: they also have to show sufficient talent to be considered "worthy" to get the first prize. If no-one is considered sufficiently remarkable for that honour then they do not award a first prize and they give the best performer (in their judgment) the second prize.

  • 1
    I wonder if they've ever had not-quite-so-good entries, and not even awarded second prize.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 4, 2019 at 10:04
  • 4
    So, no "least bad competitor" award? Commented Jul 4, 2019 at 11:01
  • I see, that is interesting. I tried googling but obviously didn't get the right wording. Commented Jul 4, 2019 at 16:13
  • 2
    @piiperi well, that's basically what this is, no? “You weren't good enough to win, but all the others were even worse, so have... oh well, 2nd place.” Commented Jul 4, 2019 at 22:52
  • @Tim There have been cases where a first prize was awarded, but no second prize awarded. This happened with the 2005 International Chopin Piano Competition. Apparently the first prize winner stood out a lot more than the other competitors. As for whether a second prize would have been awarded had the first prize winner not been in the competition, that is an interesting question.
    – twosigma
    Commented May 6, 2020 at 18:29

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