Earlier I presented the game of Snooklers, which we shall enjoy playing at the 2019 Petit Prix. The “audience” for the blog was judge and course designer, and not so much for the competitor. Today, I remedy that.

Pardon me if I just call this game Snooker today. It’s uncomfortable switching between the two names for essentially the same game.

The best Snooker players in the world are, arguably, from the U.K., Canada, and the United States. Snooker is intrinsic to championship titling in the USDAA. And indeed, the USDAA requires a Super Q, which is substantially a win at the game. So, the USDAA “Championship” is more than a time over money proposition, grinding away at the Q. Championship means winning.

We’ll begin with this premise: In Snooker 51 points is likely required to win the game. If you aren’t playing for 51 points, then you aren’t playing to win. In case it isn’t obvious, in a three-red Snooker format, 51 is the maximum number of points that can be earned.


On the sample course published earlier (Snooklers variation)… it is clear that to earn 51 points both dog and handler must own some mad skills.

What might be the strategy to earn three 7’s in the opening? As a competitor, would approach this game with the following logic.

We must first get the #4 red distance challenge. Surely the transition from this red to the #7 dogwalk is problematical; But if I don’t take it first then I will have both that problematic dismount, but also a problematic approach.


Beginning with the #4 red, I see two possible transitional paths to the #7 dogwalk.

The purple line is slightly shorter and it is a continuous flow. This path just about demand that the handler can out-run his dog… and that, after giving the dog a 12′ head start. At the top of the field the handler must pull the dog through, between jump and the back fence. And, the transition ends with an obstacle discrimination with the pipe tunnel craving the dog’s attention.

The blue line is slightly longer, and it features a hard-aback change of directions after the tire; and two distinct pull-through challenges, presenting plenty of options to the dog.

On With the Show


Having made the approach to the dogwalk on the blue path the handler needs to step over the containment line to the right as the dog makes his dismount. As the #3 red is bi-directional the handler has the option of either turning the dog away to the left (green line), or drawing the dog in to turn back into the other side of the tunnel (blue line). Personally, I like the blue line here because the transition back to the #7 dogwalk is considerably less cluttered and risky.


For the final red distance-challenge I would opt for the 2b to 2a send, as it is a nice straight line off the dogwalk. The handler should endeavor to set up for a Front Cross on the dismount to make this send.

The direction that the dog turns after jump 2a is an inscrutable coin flip. The natural turning direction would be to the left (purple line); turning back towards the handler, to the right, would be ideal (green line). What the handler needs to remember here is to run the dog, and not the plan. Whichever direction the dog turns should have a programmed response. And do remember that the containment lines don’t mean anything after the dog has jumped the jump.


The final calculus is the approach to the #2 jump in the closing sequence. If I had my druthers I’d make the approach from the back-side, as wrapping the dog might be a bit messy. Be mindful that the dog might take it straight on. But, once again don’t run the plan, run the dog and have a prepared response.

Gambling on Flow


I’ve drawn here a simple 49 point strategy for the game.

I once won a USDAA Super Q with my old boy Bogie (gone a dozen years now <sigh>) on a flow strategy. There were a lot of heavy-hitter Border Collies playing in the 24″ division against my 16½” Sheltie that day. I opted for a flow strategy that won the day, while they all crashed and burned on a greedy 51 point strategy.

It’s a gamble. Do you feel lucky?



Questions comments & impassioned speesches to Bud Houston Houston.Bud@gmail.com. Visit our web store: www.dogagility.org/newstore. You’ll find in the web store The Book of Agility Games, a comprehensive reference to all manner of agility games played for competition and fun around the world.