I have a postage stamp yard too, and I do pay attention to awards especially because an award winning iris presumably is able to grow in a lot of different gardens (alas my Elizabethan Age heartbreak -- three tries, always died)
Some of the iris on that list I have, or have had in the past. But its funny about lists, because of need to really make choices due to space I started thinking in terms of what would I never give up. Some of the iris on that list of mine are not on the AIS list at all. Some of the AIS favorites are things I would never buy, given my space limitations as well.
For example, Conjuration, which I had in the past, was really nice and probably astonishing when it was released. But it can't hold a candle to Keppel's Brilliant Idea, not on the AIS list at all, which is on my shortlist.
Not being involved in the iris show world, I don't have any position on judges' qualifications. More to the point, most of the people who grow iris are like me, just gardeners who will never be deciders of such things. If the nearest iris show weren't a ninety minute drive in each direction, as well as the club meetings, I would attend. I am glad that there are people who do, and we all owe them gratitude IMO, even if our favorite iris aren't on their list