Games of the 2019 Petit Prix: Quidditch

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Hairy Pawter’s Quidditch is the invention of Becky Dean and Jean MacKenzie. The game was played for the first time at Dogwood Training Center in Ostrander, Ohio.

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Briefing

The objective of Quidditch is to perform only three of four sequences, in any order, to attempt to earn a bonus (the Beater) after each; and, if possible, to earn a performance bonus (the Golden Snitch):

  • Hufflepuff (green circles) – 15 points; sequence is bi-directional
  • Ravenclaw (purple circles) – 20 points; sequence and all obstacles are bi-directional
  • Slytherin (blue circles) – 25 points; sequence is bi-directional.
  • Gryffindor (red circles) – 30 points; #1 is bi-directional, otherwise the sequence must be performed as numbered.

When the time expires the dog should be directed to the finish line to stop time.

If a sequence is faulted the handler can immediately reattempt the same sequence or move to another sequence.

The Beater

Upon the successful completion of a sequence the team dog can earn 25 bonus points for the Beater (tire) with the handler staying outside the containment circle. A refusal on the Beater will negate the bonus.

GI dogs are not required to honor the containment circle.

After the Beater, the dog should attempt another sequence. Faulting the Beater does not fault the prior sequence.

The Bludgers Rule

A Bludger is a wrong-course obstacle.

  1. A Bludger performed during the performance of a sequence results in a sequence fault.
  2. A Bludger performed after a sequence on the way to the Beater shall fault the Beater.
  3. A Bludger shall not be faulted; 1) between the start line and the first obstacle of an individual sequence; 2) between the Beater and the first obstacle of a numbered sequence; 3) between the Beater and the finish line (to stop time)

The Keeper

A 50-point Keeper bonus is earned if the dog completes three different individual sequences.

The Golden Snitch

A 75-point Golden Snitch bonus is earned if the dog earns the Keeper bonus and all three Beater bonuses and crosses the finish line before time expires.

Scoring

Quidditch is scored Points, then Time. Time is a tiebreaker only.

Course Times

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Qualifying

  • Games III – 160 points
  • Games II – 135 points
  • Games I – 110 points

Design Notes

Aside from learning the unique jargon of Quidditch, the course designer and judge must think through a variety of issues in the design of the game.

How Qualifying Course Time (QCT) is established

A rational approach to setting course time for nearly any dog’s choice game is to measure what would be a qualifying performance. This variation of Quidditch is quirky, as only three of the four sequences need be performed by the dog.

So, the judge should measure only three of the four sequences.

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In this case, the course designer wheels a strategy for the three highest-value sequences. As you can see, the course measured out at 131 yards. And, as the measured sequence includes three technical obstacles. Times are based on the lowest YPS from the rates of travel for the GIII class.

Had the judge measured all but the Griffindor, 30-point sequence, then the rates of travel should be based on mid-range YPS as only one technical obstacle would be required.

You’ll note that the QCT is about spot on for Superior/GIII rates of travel, but somewhat less for GII and GI; (GI would be nearly two minutes using rates of travel for that level). This decision is a compromise, as lowered points required to qualify for GII and GI takes the pressure off of more novice dogs.

About Bludgers

A “Bludger” is essentially a wrong course. The design for a Quidditch course should feature modest Bludgers on the dismount of any scoring sequence on the way to the Beater (Tire).

To illustrate, let’s look at the Ravenclaw, 20-point sequence:

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The judge has stipulated that for Ravenclaw the sequence and all obstacles are bi-directional. You’ll note that regardless of the direction the dog performs this sequence there is a Bludger/hurdle from surrounding sequences that might attract the dog’s attention on the way to the Beater.

About the Four Houses variation

Quidditch has been traditionally played as a three-sequence game.

Last year as I was leading a games clinic that included Quidditch, a lady asked me “Where is Ravenclaw?” and informed me that “Ravenclaw is my house at Hogwarts!”

Oh lordy mercy!

Now in good conscience I cannot design the game without giving all four houses at Hogwartz a fair chance at the Golden Snitch. So, the lady from Ravenclaw (Cleveland) has forced us to create this variation of the game.

Designing Quidditch

The course designer should be an advocate for nearly perfect nesting between classes. Frankly, if the judge designs Quidditch for the sake of Quidditch you’ll find that the numbered sequences unfold like predictable training sequences; or are downright uninteresting; or sometimes are ham-handed attempts at making challenging sequences.

A better idea, is to nest the game with the set of equipment for the previous course, or the next. Just about any standard course will have within it a Quidditch course begging to be exposed.

The Quidditch course used here was nested from this standard course:

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Some equipment had to be moved, including the A-frame and tunnel (with the attendant 20-tons of sandbags). The Tire should be centered on the game.

The course design should also rotate the tire to compromise between sequences so that the approach to the Beater is as square as possible on the dismount of each.

The number of obstacles to be performed, including all four numbered sequences and four performances of the tire… should amount to about 20.

And, the course designer should find in the design naturally occurring Bludgers. Quidditch is a lot more fun with Bludgers. There’s nothing quite so entertaining as the handler’s howl of anguish when the dog takes a Bludger enroute to the Beater!

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches 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.

Refusals in the TDAA

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In the TDAA refusals are called only on contact obstacles, and only in the Superior and Intermediate classes. Three refusals on the same contact obstacle result in a Failure to Perform, and the judge will advise the handler to go on with the course.

Below is an illustration of several performances which shall be judged a refusal.

Turning Away

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If the dog turns away from the obstacle after having begun the approach the performance will be called a refusal. Most judges observe “Woz’s Rule of Thirds” in the space between obstacles, if the dog turns away in the first third, the judge will not call a refusal. If the dog turns away in the final third the judge will call the refusal. The middle third is a judgement call… up to the judge.

If the dog spins in front of the A-frame (in that final third) the performance will be called a refusal.

The definition for “Having begun the approach” can be quite controversial. The easy way to understand it is that the dog is looking at it and moving towards it. If a dog is just moving across the flat undirected with no real focus on the obstacle, then the judge should not consider that the dog has begun the approach.

Crossing the Run-out plane

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The Run-out plane is the back edge of the forward contact zone. If the dog passes the Run-out plan the performance will be called a refusal regardless of whether the dog was ever on the approach.

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When the dog goes wrong course into a pipe tunnel under the contact obstacle the judges call will depend on whether the dog crosses the run-out plane before or after the dog gets into the tunnel. If the dog has to cross the run-out plane before getting in, then the judge will call both the refusal and the wrong course. If the dog is engaged in the tunnel before the run-out plane, then the performance will be called a wrong course.

Significant hesitation

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The performance will be called a refusal if the dog stops on the approach to the obstacle. The dog might stop without putting a paw on the obstacle; or stop after putting a couple paws on. In either case, the performance will be called a refusal.

The real question shall be, what does “significant” mean? A good rule of thumb is to use a span of time to say the word “significant”. If the dog hasn’t resumed the approach it is a refusal. Beware of calling a dog that might be gathering which might cause a balk that is less than significant.

On and Off

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After having committed to a contact obstacle with all four paws the performance will be called a refusal if the dog jumps off. The A-frame, dogwalk and teeter each have their own special considerations for calling the refusal.

On the A-frame the refusal for jumping off will be called if the dog leaves the obstacle before getting all four  paws on the down ramp.

Jumping Over the Up ramp

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If the contact obstacles is the next correct obstacle, jumping over the up ramp will be called a refusal (without regard to whether or not the dog touches the plank).

Please note that if the dogwalk was not the next correct obstacle… jumping over the ramp will be called a wrong course (standard fault).

Dogwalk considerations

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The dogwalk has three planks. The call is different depending on which the dog might leave prematurely. Jumping off the up plank is a refusal. Jumping off the center plank is Failure to Perform. Jumping off the down plank, without touching the contact zone is a standard fault.

Teeter considerations

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It’s important that the judge observe on the Teeter whether the plank moves when the dog leaves the plank prematurely. If the plank doesn’t move, the performance will be called a refusal; and the dog is required to retry the obstacle. If the plank moves, the performance will be called a “fly off” (standard fault), and repeating the obstacle would be called a wrong course (standard fault).

It’s important that the judge make a clear signal for the respective fault, because the handler might not know whether or not the plank has moved. The judges signal is an important clue for what to do next.

Special Considerations for the Beginner class

The Beginner is not faulted for a refusal. And, there is not a four-paw safety rule. The judge should instruct the handler of a Beginner dog that gets on and off a contact obstacle to retry the obstacle. The dog should be accorded three tries before the judge instructs them to go on, whereupon the dog would earn a Failure to Perform.

Subsequent to the Refusal

If the dog refuses a contact obstacle and does not retry the obstacle, after calling the refusal the judge will call a wrong course (standard fault) for the next obstacle taken; and will follow that with a Failure to Perform when it is clear that the handler has no intention of retrying the refused contact.

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Questions comments & impassioned speeches 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.