TechGnome - My sentiments EXACTLY!
I think it's a great shame, especially given the amount of time we've all already waited (as I already said).
And you're quite right - the judges shouldn't be judges if they are so easily swayed by anyones comments.
The Typo & WordPress 1.5 theme competitions (as well as others) have quite happily released themes as they were submitted and I see no reason whatsoever for this competition to have operated any differently.
For goodness sakes, it's a competition. Not some secretive project.
Kineda, please open up a little. Before more of us lose interest. I, for one, won't be bothering to check again in a fortnight. I've been checking in too often already (and when you don't reply to comments, it makes me wonder why I bother).
I will check back soon to see the themes in action (not screenshots - what a waste of time that will be) and in my mind at the moment, I couldnt care less who wins or doesn't. Sadly, I dont care any more. Congrats will be in order, but I wont be interested by the time the results are announced. It's all taking rather too long.
Why else? Because I won't have had the opportunity to look over them myself and going by past experience, I certainly won't be relying on someone elses judgement on who is the greatest and the best.
As TechGnome says, open them up to a 'Peoples Winner' - if nothing else, it would be a fantastic opportunity for us mere mortals to give our opinion too - and what's the betting there would be wildly differing results?