Strategic Teams

At the team tournament on the Friday before the Petit Prix we’ll be playing Strategic Teams. This is based on the USDAA game Strategic Pairs invented by Linda Mecklenburg. In this variations we play with a team of three… rather than only two.

For the first time the team tournament will be eligible for qualifying. Having run the game (today) in trial/seminar format I find myself asking serious questions about how to set qualifying criteria.

What I did today was set the QCT at 2.0 YPS… and measured the course as though it were a standard course (I imagined as I was wheeling it that it might have been an AKC Excellent course for all its’ riddles and herky-jerky transitions). As it turns out, it was a “give away the farm” QCT, as all teams finished neatly under the 72 second QCT.

The winning teams came in at about 43 seconds. So it really looks like I should have used a QCT of 3.0 YPS… which would have set the QCT at 48 seconds.

But that’s truly not the end of the complexity. The judge should take into consideration both jump heights and levels for the establishment of QCT. So my thinking it should look something like this:

4” & 8”       12” & 6”

GI                  2.00            2.25

GII                 2.25            2.50

GIII                2.50            3.00

And, when making teams the ideal is to have everyone of the same level and of the same jump height (or at least small-dog/big-dog). This will be no real problem at the Petit Prix where we have a substantial entry. But what can we do about making up teams in those small trials out in the hinterlands?

Here’s my thinking. We should be able to make up a team of mixed jump heights. But it seems reasonable that the QCT should for a jump height should be fixed for the taller jump height. While this works at the small dog’s disadvantage, it is at least straight forward and uncomplicated.

We should also be able to mix different levels in a game of Strategic Teams. Again, I believe that the QCT should be fixed at the most advanced level on the team.

If you can figure out how to do it with the software, I would not be averse to making a provision for the qualifying criteria for the individual dog to be set at the appropriate jump height and level for the individual player. The uncomfortable part of this notion is that you might have one dog qualifying on a team… because the team finishes under that dog’s QCT… but non-qualifying scores for the other two dogs.

Clear as mud?

Today’s Course



Strategic Teams is a relay; three dog and handler teams are on the course at the same time. It is run on a single course which must be completed in numerical order by any dog. If dogs are of mixed jump height the course will be set to the lowest jump height of the three dogs.

One dog is considered the active dog. The other dogs are free to move anywhere on course; the inactive dog is not judged. There is no marked exchange area on the course and there is no baton. The teams choose where exchanges will occur and execute each exchange simply by one dog assuming the course from the other. The teams can exchange as many times as is necessary or is strategic… each dog on the team must do at least one obstacle.

If the active dog faults an obstacle, the judge will call fault. Another dog must successfully perform that obstacle before the course may be resumed. In the event all dogs on the team fault the same obstacle they must continue, alternately, to attempt that obstacle until it is successfully performed. The course may then be continued. If the active dog drops a bar the bar must be reset.

Wrong courses are not faulted. If the active dog takes a wrong course… no harm, no foul. The handler is just wasting time. The handler can bring the dog around to fix the course… or another dog can be drawn in to pick up the sequence.

The judge will only be watching each obstacle in its sequence. For example, the judge will watch #1 until one of the dogs successfully performs it, then #2, then #3, then #4 and so on. If a dog performs #1 and #2 successfully but then goes off course, it doesn’t matter. The extra obstacle just wastes time. The judge is looking at #3, waiting for a dog, either dog, to perform it.

The inactive dog can do any obstacles it likes without penalty. In some cases, there may even be an advantage to taking a jump on the way to get set up for the next exchange. Handlers may talk to each other during the run. Outside assistance from the crowd is encouraged.

Scoring and Qualifying

Strategic Pairs is scored time only. The team with the fastest time wins. Faults are penalized by the time it takes to switch dogs. The only number on the scribe sheet should be the total time. There is no standard course time. It is a good idea to set a maximum course time so that teams aren’t on the course for any excessive amount of time.

Strategic Pairs is judged under TDAA Intermediate rules. Refusals are not faulted. To qualify the team must finish the course under the SCT for the respective jump level.

A Long Hot Day


We were pretty tired and hot by the end of the trial today. Here’s a picture from our trial photographer that seems to tell the whole story.


barbican – The outer fortification of a city or castle. Esp. the main gate.

beldam – woman of advanced years: a woman who is advanced in years

deuced – used for emphasis: used instead of a swearword to give emphasis or to show displeasure, irritation, or surprise.

finical – Fussy

gabble – speak unintelligibly: to speak or say something rapidly and incoherently

halms – straw, grass, or bean stems used for thatching or bedding.

heresiarch – leader of heretical religious group: a leader or founder of a heretical religious group or movement

kine – Cows or cattle

kip – A bed, a place to sleep

omphalos – the center, focus, or bellybutton. Used by creationists, weirdly to rationalize that the world was created young to look old.

Pyrrhic victory – n 281 BC Tarentum, a Greek colony in southern Italy, asked Pyrrhus (318 – 272 BC; Greek King of Epirus) assistance against Rome. Pyrrhus crossed to Italy with 25,000 men and 20 elephants. He won a complete, but costly, victory over a Roman army at Heraclea. In 279 Pyrrhus, again suffering heavy casualties, defeated the Romans at Asculum. His remark ‘Another such victory and I shall be ruined’ gave name to the term ‘Pyrrhic victory’ for a victory obtained at to great a cost.

Rashers – a thin slice of cooked bacon or ham.

rotto – 1 definition – adj.[1920] (Anglo-Irish) 1 drunk. 2 rotten, e.g. rotto with money (cf. LOUSY adj.; STINKING adj.)

shrive – to absolve somebody of sins

worsting – probably defeating or savaging


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One Response to “Strategic Teams”

  1. Michelle Says:

    I think on team games,either the entire team qualifies or it doesn’t. What about making the QCT an average of the big dog time and small dog time? Just thinking here.

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