Withholding the main prize
Occasionally, the adjudicators of the main competitions decide that there is no-one worthy of the national prize. In an article in the National Geographic in 1965 the Australian, Alan Villiers described the impact such a decision had upon the audience during the Chairing ceremony at Llandudno in 1963:
'No event symbolizes more vividly the poetic soul of the Welsh and the unyielding pride and integrity that accompany it than the ceremony of Chairing the Bard. This is the high point of the annual National Eisteddfod. The large stage of an enormous prefabricated pavilion was banked with robed bardic dignitaries and the television lights stabbed at them like searchlights.'
But after Thomas Parry, T.H.Parry-Willams and William Morris's adjudication, 'No poem submitted was deemed worthy, the ritual Chairing of the Bard would not take place. Merit before ritual - no ritual for its own sake! The 8,000 still sat there in the huge pavilion, as if they had been stunned. Where else, I thought, would people feel so intensely about poetry?'
To demonstrate that the prize is withheld the Herald Bard and the Grand Sword Bearer place the Grand Sword across the arms of the empty chair where the winning poet or author would have sat.