TDAA Petit Prix Tournament Rules Revision

If I might be allowed, I need to explain the rationale behind changing the rules for advancement to the final round at the TDAA Petit Prix.

What we have seen over the years is an inequity in representation of dogs in the final round. It wasn’t terribly fair and most people who weren’t asleep at the wheel recognized it straight away.

For example, we might have 11 dogs entered in the 16″ division. And based on our old advancement formula… 10 of them were automatically in the final round. At the same time we might have 49 dogs entered in the 8″ division… and only 10 of them were able to qualify for the final round. And it was clear to see that the 11th, 12th (and more) placing dogs in 8″ actually outperformed the 10th and 9th (and possible more) placed dogs in the 16″ division.

And so we have determined that there should be a “proportionate share” formula for advancement to the final round. So, let’s say for the purposes of simple math 16″ entries represent 9% of the field and 8″ entries represent 38% of the field. That means that of the 40 open slots in the finals will have maybe four 16″ dogs and fifteen 8″ dogs.

This wasn’t an entirely perfect solution. It’s clear that even this system can have inequities. For example, what if the 5th place 16″ dog clearly outperforms the 15th place 8″ dog? It wouldn’t be right to give away the final round seed to the 8″ dog just to be a slave to balanced mathematics; and so we determined that we would compare down the line… 6th (16″) to 14th (8″); 7th (16″) to 13th (8″). You see how neatly it works? In order to accommodate this idea, we need a background scoring system that actually compares the scores of all dogs as though they were in the same jump height.

Just as quick as we find another wonderful solution/idea, another problem presents itself. I said that the background scoring system compares the scores of all dogs as though they were in the same jump height. But in fact, they are not in the same jump height. Something seems very wrong about comparing the score of a 16″ dog to the score of an 8″ dog. In order to solve this conundrum we’ve determined to use a weighted comparison of jump heights. This means that the shorter dogs will get a formula handicap in SCT and QCT in order to make the final determination.

I have yet to discuss this with our automated scoring guru (Don Wolff) but I pretty much know how to do the scorekeeping by hand if we must do it that way.

More Information!

Let me make an attempt here. I could be very wrong about this weighting formula but I do believe it’s going to be something of this nature: The advantage weighting will be approximately 5% per jump height taken as an SCT or a QCT. What does that mean?

Let’s say that we’re playing a point accumulation game that has a specific period to earn points. The advantage we give to smaller dogs is actually more Qualifying Course Time (QCT) to accumulate points. We can predicate the calculation from the 16” dogs. Let’s say that we’ve given them 50 seconds to earn points. That means, 12” dogs will have 53 seconds; 8” dogs will have 55; and 4” dogs 58.

Take the same formula to SCT; this is actually a bit more complicated than it would seem at face value since time is the tie-breaker. Truly to make a fair comparison we actually have to deduct the advantage time from the dog’s score to make correct comparison. This is the bit I’ve been meaning to talk to Don Wolff about.

Kill Dr. Frankenstein!

I have observed the discussion of the proposed changes to Petit Prix scoring on the various TDAA and Teacup discussion lists on Yahoo and note a growing anger and hostility in the mob. This is a natural thing I suppose, to react with fear and anger and hostility when we don’t understand a thing. This was the downfall of the Frankenstein monster after all[1].

When I proposed these changes to the TDAA board of directors I was fairly sure their heads were going to explode there for a second. And so I worked through it with them as patiently as possible. It’s not that they all ever got it by the way. I’ve noted at least one member of the BOD taking up his torch and making his way with the frightened mob to confront the evil Dr. Frankenstein.

Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: And Check out my new publication the Idea BookAgility Training for a Small Universe available at

[1] It didn’t help that he killed that little child either!


14 Responses to “TDAA Petit Prix Tournament Rules Revision”

  1. Karissa Says:

    I have no problem whatsoever with the formula that you describe, but think it sounds like an awful lot of work. Is there a specific reasoning behind having *exactly* 40 dogs in the final round? Would it not be easier, instead, to say that the top percentage of dogs from each height division will move on?

    I will offer up NADAC Champs for comparison — This year the top 33% of dogs from each division will move into the final round, with a minimum number of 3 per group. So if one height class had 12 entrants, the top four would move on — but a class with 60 entrants would have 20 dogs in the final round. This seems perfectly fair to me.

    Using this top percentage also makes it easier for people to track where they are over the course of the tournament, whereas the complicated formula you’ve described might leave some people hanging until the final order is announced.

    What it all comes down to, I guess, is whether or not you are dead set on keeping the “exactly 40 dogs” number in the finals — which is fine, but I don’t understand why it’s necessary. You could wait to announce the percentage of people moving into the finals until you close entries so that you could limit it to a respectable number of participants if time is an issue.

    Whatever the outcome, I do have a great appreciation for the amount of work you’ve put into this!

    • budhouston Says:

      Well, darned if that doesn’t sound like a simpler system. I think we’re not past the notion that electing a straight-forward 33% still allows for dogs who perform very nicely get booted from the final round while dogs that didn’t perform near so well get the bye.

      Anyhow, I appreciate your note. The system that you describe will be in the back of my mind.

      Oh, and as to the “exactly 40 dogs”… actually we’re making provisions to allow up to 44 dogs because those who’re excluded by a fraction will be absolutely devastated by it. So in the final calculation every fraction will be rounded up.


  2. Marsha Nix Says:

    Bud – I went back and looked at some of the discussion on the weighted background scoring and found this:
    The question was: how are the points calculated…
    Your response was:

    It would be the dog that scored the most points in the against the
    field format.

    For each event:

    1st place 40 points
    2nd place 39 points
    3rd place 38 points

    40th place 1 point
    41st (& higher) no points

    Trish went on and added this comment, which I think cleared things up for everyone:
    1st place overall in each round gets 40 points.

    The way I understand it (Bud, I hope I’m getting it right!), 1st place overall is the dog with the fastest time (and a clean round, looking at Std course here) after reducing the dog’s time for small dog SCT factor, if applicable. Obviously, one of the 4 1st place teams (4″, 8″, 12″, 16″) will be the one who gets 1st place overall for that round.

    • budhouston Says:

      You’ve accurately captured the original discussion. The 40 point system might note give 100% true a picture. But in general it will track the top 40 dogs throughout the conduct of the tournament. That’s what we want to do.

      I’ll be especially interested in seeing how the weighting balances competition between the four jump heights. We might very well see a 4″ or 8″ overall winner.


  3. Lynn Moore Says:

    So what I understand from the new champainship round rules it is going to be the top 40 dogs it does not mater what height group they are in? We are not doing the top 10 dogs in each height group?

    • budhouston Says:

      It will not literally be the top 40 dogs. 8″ and 12″ will be guaranteed 10 places; 4″ and 16″ will be guaranteed their percentage share based on overall entry. So the spots that would ostensibly be taken from the 4″ and 16″ dogs can be taken only if earned by superior performance by the 8″ and 12″ dogs.

      Clear enough?

      Bud Houston

      • Lynn Moore Says:

        So what happens if the top 10 of 4 inch and 16 inch dogs do better then the 8 and 12 inch dogs? And what are you going to do about a tie between the 8 inch dogs and the 4 inch and 16 inch dogs!

        Why not just add more 8 inch dogs in the championship round and leave the other heights alone?

  4. Barb Cunningham Says:

    I agree that Karissa’s reply has a much easier to understand (and a very fair) scoring formula. I understand and agree with the need for a revised scoring system, but I think it can be done in a much easier way.

    • budhouston Says:

      I will agree that it’s easy to understand. I will not agree that it is more fair. Surely we could rush in and do something just because it’s easy. But we would like to see is the best dogs on the floor in the final rounds. A 33% advancement (and devil take the leftovers) would be grossly unfair to both the 4″ division and the 16″ division.


  5. Karissa Says:

    So I’m wondering — are you going through all of this “pain and suffering” because your ultimate goal is to name one overall Champion for the weekend? One dog out of all the height groups reigns supreme?

    If so, I would have to disagree with this concept. I believe that each height group should have its own Champion. No matter how you tweak the times and regardless of the fact that the courses they run are the same, the actual runs of a 4″ dog and

  6. Karissa Says:

    So I’m wondering — are you going through all of this “pain and suffering” because your ultimate goal is to name one overall Champion for the weekend? One dog out of all the height groups reigns supreme?

    If so, I would have to disagree with this concept. I believe that each height group should have its own Champion. No matter how you tweak the times and regardless of the fact that the courses they run are the same, the actual runs of a 4″ dog and a 16″ dog cannot be compared. They take vastly different paths and the handlers are going to use (in general) vastly different handling techniques. As someone who runs a 27″ and a 14″ dog, I know this first hand!

    Because there is no way to make a competition amongst all height groups “fair,” is it not then easiest to keep them seperate? Then the formula of using the top percentage from each group most definitely becomes the obvious choice to take.

    • budhouston Says:

      Hey Karissa,

      We have no intention of naming the High In Trial dog (HIT). That’s not our purpose or mission.

      I understand your argument. And who cares really if the 4th place 4″ dog out performed throughout the tournament the 14th, 15th, and 16th place 8″ dogs (all of whom get to go into the finals). The important thing is that it’s easy for us.


  7. Joan Kimmel Says:

    INteresting comments. I’m glad that the 4″ dogs will still have a chance to play in the final game. They may not be as flashy, but they work their hearts out.


    • budhouston Says:

      Yes Joan. And I will confess that your comment makes me rethink a thing or two. The TDAA is, after all, about the little guys. The moment we lose sight of that we are lost.


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