Winter Guard International

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Winter Guard International
WGI logo
MottoWGI Sport of the Arts
Formation15 May 1977; 41 years ago (1977-05-15)
Founded atSan Francisco
PurposeColor guard, percussion ensemble, and winds competitive circuit
HeadquartersDayton, Ohio
 United States
 United Kingdom
Executive Director
Ron Nankervis
Ed Devlin

Winter Guard International (WGI) is a governing body for visual performing arts competitions, including color guard (known as winter guard), percussion ensembles, and small marching bands (known as winds). WGI hosts an annual series of regional championships from January to March, and a World Championships in April.[1][2] A majority of WGI events are in the United States, however regional championships have been hosted in Japan, Malaysia, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Philippines and Costa Rica in 2018.[3]

WGI was founded in 1977 as a response to the inconsistent adjudication and rules of competition which made it difficult for groups to compete nationally.[4] Today, WGI regularly publishes and updates an adjudication handbook, with an accompanying "Rules & Regulations", that is adopted by competitive circuits who host local or regional color guard, percussion and winds events.[5][6]

The first WGI World Championship was held in 1978, with championships for percussion ensembles beginning in 1992, and winds in 2015. A series of fall marching band regional competitions, known as the "WGI Friendship Cup", were hosted until 2003.[4] The next World Championships will be hosted at the UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio the weekend of 6 April 2019 for color guard, and 13 April 2019 for percussion and winds.

Virtually all events hosted by WGI occur between January and April, hence "winter" in the organization's name.[4]


Prior to the formation of WGI, national color guard championships, or high-prestige competitions, were often held in conjunction with summer drum corps or marching band national championships, such as: VFW, American Legion, or CYO national championships, or the U.S. Open or World Open Championships.[7][4] The host for each championship varied, as did as the quality of the venue, rules of competition, adjudication and scoring. As an example, the 1977 championship was held in conjunction with DCI World Championships in Denver Colorado.[8] The venue was too small, there was no functional air conditioning, and the performance area required color guards to maneuver around structural columns.[4]

Stanley Knaub, then director of the Seattle Imperials color guard, had secured a sponsor and a potential venue for a new national championships, and he sought input from others in the activity on how to proceed.[9] Knaub invited well known color guard educators from across the country to meet the weekend of 14 May 1977 at the Sheraton Palace Hotel in San Francisco.[7] Those in attendance were: Don Angelica, Shirlee Whitcomb, Bryan Johnston, Marie Czapinski, and Linda Chambers.[4] In addition to needing standardized rules and adjudication, all agreed the color guard championship should be held independent of drum corps or marching band events. Knaub suggested any planned national championship be held sometime during the winter months when most color guards competed locally. The name "winter guard" was chosen to reflect this change, becoming Winter Guard International.[4]

A follow-up meeting at the DCI Rules Congress in October was attended by representatives from thirteen competitive color guard circuits and adjudicator associations. A new adjudication system was adopted, and the organizational structure was agreed too. Four color guard circuits donated $250 each to fund the first competitive season. Lynn Lindstrom, director of the Midwest Color Guard Circuit, was elected the first Executive Director.

WGI's first competitive season, in 1978, included fourteen regional championships and a national championship, then called the "WGI Olympics".[4]


WGI is a nonprofit organization governed by a board of directors, with an Executive Director responsible for day-to-day operations. The board of directors are chosen from among the directors of competing groups, and at-large members chosen from those who contribute to the activity. The board is legally and financially responsible for the conduct of the organization.[10]

Mission and purpose[edit]

The mission of organization is to provide a venue for young people to achieve the extraordinary through performance and competition. WGI organizes "high-energy and enjoyable" events for color guard, called winter guard, percussion and winds, divisions. The organization also aims to improve quality of the competing groups through leadership development and education. This includes standardized adjudication.[11]

WGI frequently partners with companies that provide services and products to competing groups, as well as leading educators in other fields to highlight the activity. The organization is promoted using the tagline: Sport of the Arts.[12]

Advisory Boards[edit]

Each of the three competitive divisions (color guard, percussion and winds) are led by Advisory Boards who are responsible for the "adjudication and competitive attributes" of WGI events, and who are responsible for electing members of the board of directors.[10] The Advisory Board meets annually, usually a few months after World Championships, to discuss changes to rules of competition, adjudication, and policies and procedures, and to make recommendations to the board of directors.[13] The Advisory Boards are also responsible for altering the classification of competing groups, often promoting groups from one class to another.[14]


Groups that compete at WGI events are required to pay a membership fee, in addition to the attendance fee for each event. Only groups who compete in a regional, beginner, class with limited availability are excused from paying the membership fee.[15] Membership fees support WGI general operations, and provide capital for future events, educational services, and research and development.


WGI awards academic scholarships to members of competing groups, which are announced during awards ceremonies at World Championships. According to the WGI website, over US$20,000 is awarded annually, and over US$750,000 has been awarded since the organization's founding.[11] Funds for the scholarships are collected via raffles during regional events and World Championships known as “Fifty-fifty”.

Hosted competitions[edit]

Using a competition-based approach for organizing events, WGI "aims to showcase youth activities" by pursuing "high standards of achievement."[11]

More than sixty regional championships are hosted every year, from mid-January to the late-March.[1][2] Many are hosted in conjunction with WGI's regional circuit partners.[16] The competitions attract hundreds of color guards, and percussion and winds ensembles, and thousands of participants. To qualify for World Championships, groups must compete in at least one regional championships.

World Championships regularly attracts over 350 color guards, 250 percussion ensembles, and over 40 winds groups. Championships occur over two weekends in early or mid-April.[11] The 2019 World Championship will be held at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio the weekends of 6 April 2019 for color guard, and 13 April 2019 for percussion and winds. Future championships as far away as 2024 have been scheduled at the UD Arena.

Past championship sites[edit]

Year Site City
1978[8] Conant High School Hoffman Estates, IL
1979 Veterans Memorial Coliseum Madison, WI
1980 Cape Cod Coliseum Cape Cod, MA
1981 ? Syracuse, NY
1982 ? Nashville, TN
1983–89 UD Arena, University of Dayton Dayton, OH
1990 ? Buffalo, NY
1991–96 UD Arena, University of Dayton Dayton, OH
1997 ? Phoenix, AZ
1998–2000 UD Arena, University of Dayton Dayton, OH
2001 ? Milwaukee, WI
2002–03 UD Arena, University of Dayton Dayton, OH
2004 Cox Arena, San Diego State University San Diego, CA
2005–19 UD Arena, University of Dayton Dayton, OH

Classification and adjudication[edit]

WGI fosters and develops events for three activities.[11]

Winter Guard[edit]

Winter guard is the indoor variant of color guard and is a combination of the use of flags, sabers, mock rifles, and various other equipment and props. Performances include dance and other interpretive movement. Color guards are common among high schools, middle schools, some universities, and also some independent organizations such as drum corps, or they are community organizations. The term "winter guard" is taken from the season most color guards compete as single units, and not part of marching bands or drum corps.


An indoor percussion ensemble or indoor drumline consists of the marching percussion (also called battery) and front ensemble (also called pit or front line) sections. Many ensembles, like color guards, are attached to a competing marching band or drum corps. Indoor percussion integrates musicality, marching and movement, and theater arts. The activity is referred to as percussion theater by WGI. Most percussion ensembles are affiliated with high schools, but many are independent.


Are small marching music ensembles composed of a variety of instrumentations. Many take advantage of marching horns, as well as woodwinds, rhythm sections, and a pit ensemble, similar to those found in marching bands or drum corps. Unlike their outdoor counterparts, WGI Winds compete indoors on a performance area roughly the size of a standard basketball court.

Divisions and classes[edit]

Groups attending WGI events are organized according to a multi-tier system, placed in one of two divisions, and dozens of classes.[11]

  • Independent Color Guard, Percussion, and Winds divisions are reserved for groups composed of performers who are associated with a particular school. Independent groups often draw performers from a large geographic area.
  • Scholastic Color Guard, Percussion, and Winds divisions are reserved for groups composed of performers from the same high school, or high school equivalent, or a school that feeds to that particular high School. The Scholastic division was created in 1984. Prior to the division's creation high school groups competed against Independent groups.

Divisions are further grouped into classes based on experience and achievement:

  • A Class, sometimes called National A, is for groups new to regional or national competition. An additional class for beginning groups is available at some events, Regional A, but not at World Championships.[15]
  • Open Class is for groups who consistently perform at an intermediate developmental level.
  • World Class is the highest available class and is reserved for groups who are the most advanced. The World classes in both Scholastic and Independent are the most competitive, and the highest prestige.

The Percussion division also offers Scholastic Concert classes for units who do not include marching in their programs.

Historic classes and divisions[edit]

The following are the divisions and classes represented at World Championships. This does not reflect when competitive classes and divisions were defined in the WGI Adjudication Handbook.

Source: [17][18]

Color Guard division[edit]

1978–79 1980–83 1984 1985–90 1991–92 1993–present
Open Class Open Class Open Class Open Class (IO) World Class (IW) World Class (IW)
Open Class (IO)
A Class (A) A Class (A) A Class (IA) A Class (IA) A Class (IA)
Scholastic Class Open Class (SO) World Class (SW) World Class (SW)
Open Class (SO)
A Class (SA) A Class (SA) A Class (SA)

Percussion division[edit]

1993 1994–96 1997–99 2000 2001–2017 2018–present
Percussion Scholastic
A Class (PSA) A Class (PSA) World Class (PSW) World Class (PSW) World Class (PSW) World Class (PSW)
Open Class (PSO) Open Class (PSO) Open Class (PSO) Open Class (PSO)
A Class (PSA) A Class (PSA) A Class (PSA) A Class (PSA)
Percussion Concert Scholastic
World Class (PCSW) World Class (PCSW) World Class (PCSW) World Class (PCSW) World Class (PCSW)
Open Class (PCSO) Open Class (PCSO)
A Class (PCSA)
Percussion Independent
World Class (PIW) World Class (PIW) World Class (PIW) World Class (PIW) World Class (PIW)
Open Class (PIO) Open Class (PIO) Open Class (PIO) Open Class (PIO)
A Class (PIA) A Class (PIA) A Class (PIA)
College / University Class
Percussion Concert Independent
World Class (PCIW)

Winds division[edit]

Winds Independent
World Class (WIW)
Open Class (WIO)
A Class (WIA)
Winds Scholastic
World Class (WSW)
Open Class (WSO)
A Class (WSA)


WGI Adjudication Manuals for color guards, percussion and winds divides scoring in set reference criteria known as captions forming a scoring rubric. Each caption is subdivided into elements such as performance analysis, design analysis, and effect evaluation.

The adjudication manual is multi-tiered, meaning each competitive class—Regional A, A Class, Open Class, and World Class—has a set of scoring sheets listing differing criteria and descriptions for each caption.

Color Guard captions and scoring[edit]

Source: [19]

Category Element + Element = Points
Individual Equipment Vocabulary (10) + Excellence (10) = 20.00
Individual Movement Vocabulary (10) + Excellence (10) = 20.00
Design Vocabulary (10) + Excellence (10) = 20.00
General Effect Composition (10) + Excellence (10) = 20.00 x 2
Sub-Total : 100.00
Timing & Penalties : - 0.00
TOTAL : 100.00

Percussion captions and scoring[edit]

Source: [20]

Category Element + Element = Points
Effect—Music Overall (15) + Music (15) = 30.00
Effect—Visual Overall (10) + Visual (10) = 20.00
Music Composition (10) + Performance Quality (20) = 30.00
Visual Composition (10) + Performance Quality (10) = 20.00
Sub-Total : 100.00
Timing & Penalties : - 0.00
TOTAL : 100.00

Concert Percussion captions and scoring[edit]

Source: [20]

Category Element + Element = Points
Music Composition (20) + Performance Quality (30) = 50.00
Artistry Program (20) + Fulfillment (30) = 50.00
Sub-Total : 100.00
Timing & Penalties : - 0.00
TOTAL : 100.00

Winds captions and scoring[edit]

Source: [21]

Category Element + Element = Points
Music Analysis Composition (15) + Achievement (15) = 30.00
Visual Analysis Composition (15) + Achievement (15) = 30.00
Overall Effect Repertoire (20) + Communication (20) = 40.00
Sub-Total : 100.00
Timing & Penalties : - 0.00
TOTAL : 100.00

Past champions[edit]

Source: [17][18]

Independent Color Guard (1978–present)[edit]

Year World Class
Open Class
A Class
1978 Quasar
1979 Phantom Regiment
1980 Phantom Regiment (2) West Bridgewater
1981 Cavaliers Conquest
1982 Cavaliers (2) Elizabeth HS
1983 Cavaliers (3) Woonsocket HS
1984 Skylarks Blue Horizon
1985 Erté St. Anthony's
1986 State Street Review Final Analysis
1987 State Street Review (2) Studio One
1988 State Street Review (3) Alliance
1989 State Street Review (4) Accents
1990 Blessed Sacrament Genesis II
1991 San José Raiders Sacred Heart
1992 San José Raiders (2) South Shore Drill Team
1993 San José Raiders (3) St. Patrick's Nouveau
1994 San José Raiders (4) Chimeras Florida Visual
1995 Blue Devils Fantasia The Company
1996 Blue Devils (2) The Company St. Ann's
1997 Blue Devils (3) Shadow Danse St. John's Productions
1998 Blue Devils (4) Patriots Nolan
1999 Emerald Marquis Nolan The Lakota
2000 Fantasia St. Ann's Infinity
2001 Pride of Cincinnati St. Ann's (2) Esperanza de Luz
2002 Fantasia (2) Oracle Lealta
2003 San José Raiders (5) Lealta Terpsichore
2004 Fantasia (3) Sacred Heart St. Ann's (2)
2005 Pride of Cincinnati (2) Interplay St. John's of Beverly
2006 Fantasia (4) Croatan Étude
2007 Pride of Cincinnati (3) Code Black Rhapsody
2008 Fantasia (5) Alter Ego Cascades
2009 Santa Clara Vanguard Rhapsody State of Art
2010 Onyx O2 [A] Pacificaires
2011 Santa Clara Vanguard (2) Pacificaires
South Shore Drill Team (3)
2012 Onyx (2) O2 (2) Impact
2013 Pride of Cincinnati (4) Identity Luminosa
2014 Onyx (3) UCF "Pegasus" Georgia State University
2015 Santa Clara Vanguard (3) Interplay (2) St. Ann's (4)
2016 Pride of Cincinnati (4) Juxtaposition Paramount "A" [B]
2017 Pride of Cincinnati (5) AMP FIU
2018 Paramount UCF "Pegasus" (2) Pacificaires (2)

Scholastic Color Guard (1984–present)[edit]

Year World Class
Open Class
A Class
1984 Center Grove HS
1985 Union HS "Esprit de Corps" [C]
1986 Center Grove HS (2) Hillwood HS "Pizazz"
1987 Union HS (2) Andrew HS "Tempest"
1988 Union HS (3) Lincoln HS
1989 Tate HS "Chaparrals" [D] "North Penn" [E]
1990 Center Grove HS (3) "Lincoln-Way" [F]
1991 Miamisburg HS "Falcons" [C]
1992 Miamisburg HS (2) Southport HS
1993 Bishop Kearney HS Centerville HS "Epiphany" [C]
1994 Bishop Kearney HS (2) Pomona HS John Overton HS
1995 Bishop Kearney HS (3) John Overton HS Mt. Carmel HS
1996 Bishop Kearney HS (4) Springboro HS Lassiter HS
1997 Bishop Kearney HS (5) Lassiter HS Kings HS
1998 James Logan HS Kings HS Carroll HS
1999 James Logan HS (2) Pomona HS (2) Nease HS
2000 James Logan HS (3) Franklin Central HS Lake Mary HS
2001 James Logan HS (4) Avon HS Walton HS
2002 James Logan HS (5) Irondale HS Fletcher HS
2003 James Logan HS (6) Centerville HS (2) Santaluces HS
2004 James Logan HS (7) The Woodlands HS Kennesaw Mt. HS
2005 James Logan HS (8) Kennesaw Mt. HS Freedom HS
2006 James Logan HS (9) Cheshire HS Gates Chili HS
2007 James Logan HS (10) Carmel HS Taravella HS
2008 Flanagan HS Northmont HS Colonial HS
2009 Avon HS Marian Catholic HS North Syracuse Central HS
2010 James Logan HS (11) West Johnston HS Little Elm HS
2011 Carmel HS Oak Ridge HS O'Fallon Township HS
2012 Flanagan HS Freedom HS Somerville HS
2013 Carmel HS (2) Mechanicsburg HS Bellbrook HS
2014 Tarpon Springs HS Spring HS Lyman HS
2015 Carmel HS (3) Somerville HS Marvin Ridge HS
2016 Tarpon Springs HS (2) Shenendehowa HS Bellevue West HS
2017 Carmel HS (4) Stockdale HS Klein Oak HS
2018 Avon HS (2) Park Vista HS Leander HS

Scholastic Percussion (1993–present)[edit]

Year World Class
Open Class
A Class
Concert World Class
Concert Open Class
Concert A Class
1993 Clovis West HS
1994 "Lincoln-Way" [F] Baldwinsville HS
1995 Hatboro Horsham HS Baldwinsville HS (2)
1996 Avon HS [G]
John Overton HS [H]
Gateway HS
1997 Northglenn HS Avon HS Clayton Valley HS Gateway HS (2)
1998 Dartmouth HS Arvada HS Johansen HS Franklin Central HS
1999 Dartmouth HS (2) Centerville HS Ayala HS Franklin Central HS (2)
2000 King Philip HS Father Ryan HS Loara HS Franklin Central HS (3)
2001 Mission Viejo HS Avon HS (2) Springboro HS Franklin Central HS (4) Union HS
2002 Avon HS Choctawhatchee HS New Palestine HS Franklin Central HS (5) New Albany HS
2003 Winston Churchill HS Thomas Worthington HS Clovis East HS Fort Mill HS Portsmouth HS
2004 Centerville HS Rancho Cucamonga HS Loara HS (2) Franklin Central HS (6) Mission Viejo HS
2005 Center Grove HS Clear Brook HS Page HS Fort Mill HS (2) Goshen HS
2006 Center Grove HS (2) Pacifica HS Mariner HS Ayala HS Heritage HS
2007 Mission Viejo HS Pacifica HS (2) Greenfield-Central HS Ayala HS (2) Mansfield HS
2008 Dartmouth HS (3) Pacifica HS (3) South Hills HS Claremont HS Mansfield HS (2)
2009 Dartmouth HS (4) Pacifica HS (4) Los Alamitos HS Ayala HS (3) Muscle Shoals HS
2010 Ayala HS South Hills HS Timber Creek HS Ayala HS (4) Golden HS
2011 Arcadia HS Pacifica HS (5) Chantilly HS Muscle Shoals HS Portsmouth HS (2)
2012 Chino Hills HS South Hills HS (2) Lebanon HS Woodbridge HS Hickory HS
2013 Chino Hills HS (2) Upper Darby HS Hilton HS James Logan HS Clayton HS
2014 Dartmouth HS (5) Clinton HS Victor J. Andrew HS Ayala HS (5) Goshen HS
2015 Chino Hills HS (3) Lebanon HS Lake Orion HS Ayala HS (6) Mansfield HS (3)
2016 Ayala HS (2) Sparkman HS Victor J. Andrew HS (2) Ayala HS (7) Dakota Ridge HS
2017 Chino Hills HS (4) Burleson Centennial HS Fair Lawn HS Ayala HS (8) Tomball HS
2018 Chino Hills HS (5) Clear Brook HS Plainfield HS Fishers HS Clayton HS Decatur Central HS

Independent Percussion (1994–present)[edit]

Year World Class
Open Class
University [I] A Class
Concert World Class
1994 Blue Knights
1995 Atlanta Rhythm Machine
1996 Music City Mystique
1997 Music City Mystique (2) South Mountain CC UNLV Patriots
1998 Music City Mystique (3) Freelancers Patriots (2)
1999 Blue Knights (2) South Maine Georgia Tech Cynosure
2000 Blue Knights (3) Penn State Eastside Fury
2001 Music City Mystique (4) Eklipse Arthur Hill
2002 Riverside CC Rhythm X Plan B
2003 Blue Knights (4) North Coast Academy L.E.A.P.
2004 Music City Mystique (5) Eastside Fury L.E.A.P. (2)
2005 Riverside CC (2) Surround Sound Elements
2006 Music City Mystique (6) 1st Degree Walled Lake
2007 Riverside CC (3) United Pioneer
2008 Rhythm X Tyler Junior College Pioneer (2)
2009 Rhythm X (2) Pariah OC Indoor
2010 Pulse Palmetto Dojo
2011 Music City Mystique (7) Vanguard Madison
2012 Riverside CC (4) George Mason University Spirit of America
2013 Rhythm X (3) Capital City Brookwood
2014 Pulse (2) Cadets Lone Star
2015 Riverside CC (5) Spirit of America PureFusion
2016 Pulse (3) Vigilantes STRYKE 2
2017 Music City Mystique (8) Infinity 2 Modulation Z
2018 Riverside CC (6) Matrix Open IMPACT

Independent Winds (2015–present)[edit]

Year World Class
Open Class
A Class
2015 Rhythm X FIU Inertia
2016 Aimachi
2017 Rhythm X (2) Chromium Inertia (2)
2018 Rhythm X (3) Chromium (2) Valley Christian

Scholastic Winds (2015–present)[edit]

Year World Class
Open Class
A Class
2015 Father Ryan HS Ola HS Nova HS
2016 Avon HS Cleveland Jackson County HS
2017 Avon HS (2) Central Lafourche HS Valley Christian HS
2018 Flanagan HS Azle HS Lake Hamilton HS
  1. ^ Affiliated with Onyx (IW).
  2. ^ Affiliated with Paramount (IW).
  3. ^ a b c It is unclear which high school or school district this group represented.
  4. ^ Listed as Chaparrals on WGI's score archive.
  5. ^ It is unclear if this group represented North Penn High School.
  6. ^ a b It is unclear which of the Lincoln-Way community high schools this group represented.
  7. ^ Percussion Scholastic A Class champion.
  8. ^ Percussion Scholastic AA Class champion.
  9. ^ Also known as Collegiate or College Class

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "2019 CG Calender - WGI". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  2. ^ a b "2019 Perc Calendar - WGI". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  3. ^ "International Events - WGI". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "History - WGI". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  5. ^ "WGI Handbooks | LMCGPC". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  6. ^ "2018 WGI RULEBOOK || WGASC". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  7. ^ a b Shirley Stratton, Dorritie (2003). "Chapter 8: Why the Guns?: Color Guard from Military to Modern". In Vickers, Steve. A History of Drum and Bugle Corps. 2. Madison, Wisconsin: Sights & Sounds, Inc. pp. 76–81.
  8. ^ a b "A look back at the very first WGI World Championship in 1978". 2013-04-10. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  9. ^ History of WGI. YouTube: Winter Guard International. 2012-09-04. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  10. ^ a b "BY-LAWS OF WINTER GUARD INTERNATIONAL, INC" (PDF). 2016-12-03. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  11. ^ a b c d e f "What is WGI - WGI". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  12. ^ "Partners - WGI". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  13. ^ Schamma, Andy (2018-05-21). "Rule, Policy Changes Coming To WGI In 2019". FloMarching. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  14. ^ Schamma, Andy (2018-08-28). "WGI Announces 2019 Color Guard Class Promotions". FloMarching. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  15. ^ a b Anderson, Catina (2008-09-24). "WGI Brings Back the Regional A Class". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  16. ^ "Circuit Partners CG - WGI". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  17. ^ a b "Historical Scores - WGI". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  18. ^ a b "Historical Scores Percussion - WGI". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  19. ^ Nankervis, Ron (2017-09-27). "WGI Color Guard Contest Rules 2018" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  20. ^ a b Nankervis, Ron (2018-01-18). "WGI Percussion Ensemble Contest Rules 2018" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  21. ^ Nankervis, Ron (2018-02-22). "WGI Winds Contest Rules 2018" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-09-12.

External links[edit]