Because we play so many different games in the TDAA we’re always faced with the riddle for setting time for games and consequently, qualifying criteria. The Qualifying Course Time (QCT) has several possible approaches to be solved.
This is actually kind of easy. You can apply the rates of travel from the standard classes at the same basic level. But there can be some thinking involved.
Unlike the standard classes in which the YPS rates of travel are fixed, games allow for a range in the rates of travel. I know we all have them memorized, so I won’t bother to recite them here. But do expect them to be on the next judges’ exam you take. If a course/sequence has a good number of technical obstacles and technical options then you should use the smaller number in the range; if the course/sequence is fast and mostly made up of jumps and tunnels, then you should use the larger number in the range.
I had a judge once submit to me a Minuet course using 8 jumps in the sequence; and also requiring the traditional number of books to qualify: (GI = 3; GII = 5; and GIII = 7); all in a QCT of 50 seconds. I wrote him back and pointed out that the GIII dog would have to do 56 jumps in 50 seconds in order to qualify (and suggested that he revisit the qualifying criteria).
“What Would You Do?” Analysis
Almost any game designed by a judge deserves a bit of “What Would You Do?” analysis. That means the judge/course designer will trace through and measure several possible strategies for the dog’s choice game. From these the judge can modestly extrapolate things like how many points a dog should score and how long he should be given to play.
Often when reviewing courses I’ll ask the judge if he will draw me a possible strategy or two. This should be easy to do as there’s probably one or two on his computer already. You see… I’m an optimist. From the judge’s own idea of strategy I can talk about performance constraints of the game.
Almost always the measured path of the dog can be compared to the rates of travel from the standard classes to determine if either the points required to qualify or the time provided to score points are reasonable.
The Gamblers Rule of Thumb for QCT in a Dog’s Choice Game
We have a number of games that require the dog to accumulate a specific number of points in a set period of play. A good method for determining the number of points required to qualify was developed in the USDAA years ago for defining points required in a Gamblers class. It works like this…
Multiply the highest value in the scoring system by the QCT/10.
In Gamblers there are two traditional point systems: 1-2-3-5 and 1-3-5-7. So the high values of those systems are “5” and “7”. The point accumulation period might be 30 seconds, or maybe 40 seconds. Divide either of those numbers by 10 and you’ll have a value of “3” or “4”.
Follow the logic here.
- The 1-2-3-5 system in 30 seconds requires 15 points to qualify (5*3=15);
- The 1-3-5-7 system in 40 seconds requires 28 points to qualify (7*4=28).
This logic can be used in any game in which the pointing system is comparably straight-forward.
You have to watch out for pointed games that have null value obstacles. In games like The Weakest Link, for example, the dog is required to periodically take the tire which has no inherent value of its own; so it will skew the points accumulated and possibly cause the judge to ask for more points to qualify than are reasonable for a good percentage of the class.
I’m going to post to the TDAA Judges list on Yahoo today a file named: QCT Calculator.xls. This is a simple analysis tool for making a ballpark guess as to how to set a Qualifying Course Time when you generally know how many yards the dog will have to work in order to qualify. The calculator can help you set a realistic QCT (course time) or amend your expectations of what the dog will accomplish. After all, we don’t really want to set course times of two and three minutes.
- The number in the dark blue cell/gold lettering can be modified, and will set the start point for this table.
- Course times are incremented by 10% reflecting the essential difference in time between big dogs and small
- The leftmost column shows what to add to the base SCT to get the high end of the range for games.
- Once you know how many yards are required for a qualifying strategy:
o Find the column in which the yardage fits in the range for the dog’s respective level and jump height
o If the path measures 96 yards; and you want to see what time to give tall dogs in Games I:
- In the analysis you’ll go row by row and find where the yardage fits. Just look at the top of the column to find where you’d set the QCT. Note that if it’s a “fast” course (jumps and tunnels) you’d want to use the lower time; if it’s a technical course (contacts and weave poles) you would use the upper.
- Here’s a comparable analysis for GIII tall dogs:
Using the CRCD Path Tool
The Path Tool in Clean Run Course Designer us useful both for measuring the overall length of a sequence or course or for performing analysis of transitional distances between obstacles. For example:
Here’s a simple numbered course. You no more want to guess at it’s overall length than you want the time-keeper guessing at a dog’s time on course. Yes, I know you’re going to measure it when you build it. But you can measure it in the design tool as well.
To view the Path tool, click on the Path Tool button, shown here.
- Connect to numbers
- A 12” jump height
- Check “Show path lengths on path”
- Feet and Inches as Units
Now you can see the dog’s path:
This is especially useful for getting a good look at the distance you’ve put between obstacles in your course design: Nice short transitions in the straight-away; 12′ or more in the turn or on the approach to a technical challenge.
But of course what we’re really interested in right now is the overall length of the dog’s path. So let’s go back and amend the dog’s path properties (you can see the Dog Path Properties menu now by right-clicking anywhere on the path you’ve already drawn):
Sometimes you have to look pretty hard to find the number. It’s always midway. In this case you can see the number up on the weave poles at #11. The length of the path is 86.9… or you can call it a nice round 87 yards.
Bud’s Google-proof Trivia Contest
In the Clean Run Course Designer how do you “hide” the dog’s path so that you can remove it from the course map for printing without actually deleting it?
Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. Check7 out my latest publication the Jokers Notebook ~ Dog Agility Distance Training ~ Issue #0 ~ August 2010 available on the Country Dream Web Store: http://countrydream.wordpress.com/web-store/ . Readers of my web log get a discount: Enter “special00” in the box for the discount code. And that will take $5.00 off the price of the order.