Asia Pacific 2012: Head Referee’s Observations and Comments

Hi everyone,

I have put together a document of my impressions and observations of the Asia Pacific competition from a rules perspective. I thought it might be helpful to people to see what some common mistakes were, so that they can avoid them in other competitions.


The rules are full of things you are not allowed to do, so I hope I don’t sound too negative when I say what wasn’t done so well :stuck_out_tongue:

I think I have got everything right in there, but it is possible I’ve made some mistake somewhere. Please don’t judge me too harshly if I have!


Thanks for this write-up. Your comments were insightful not only because of how well written the article is, but also because of your perspective on each of the situations. It is refreshing to see these comments from somebody who both understands the game and is in the position of making the calls. I hope many teams will read this and ask questions about it so that we can clear up as many misconceptions as we can early in the season.

I just wanted to give my thanks again to the referees for their efforts over the course of the competition. They had to make some difficult calls, and acted in a professional manner throughout the competition, even under intense pressure from both tournament staff trying to get back on schedule and from teams and coaches arguing with them.

Chris did a great job in leading his team of referees and scorers (Cameron, Nathan, Previn, Vincent, Jamie, Abigail, Shane, and Oliver). For the rest of VEX community, if you recognise some of those names from the Forums, it’s because they’re genuinely involved and interested in providing opportunities for hundreds of young students every year, and that’s what helps make them such good referees. They all competed in the competition themselves, have all been to the World Championships at least once, and continue to volunteer at events every month. They’re not the only qualified individuals in our region, and we are lucky to have such a strong volunteer base to ensure that our events are run to a high standard.

Good comments. My only other comment to teams would be to not unplug from field control and move your robot until you have been given the all clear by the scorers. If you move your robot, The scorer will always lean on the side of caution, and assume that you were touching a sack, or weren’t quite touching the alliance tile. Furthermore, multiple offences could result in a disqualification.

There is no need to get your robot off the field 30 seconds earlier, and it is annoying to the scorers.


Just some constructive feedback. The one thing that the teams wanted after the games was the score, ASAP. The refs told us they were not allowed to tell us, but then the scores were not posted until several games later. Everyone was left shrugging their shoulders after a close game. The only reason we knew who won the second elimination final was because there was no 3rd game played.

The winner of autonomous was divulged to the teams immediately after counting. Why were the final scores treated with such confidentiality? I found this very frustrating, but perhaps there is a reason behind this?

Thanks, Paul.

This is a general comment on scoring this year – it has NOTHING to do with the Asia-Pacific tournament.

The scoresheet the referees use does not show total points, only the number of sacks of which types are in which scoring areas. The Tournament Manager software uses that information to calculate the point totals. The referees at the tournaments I’ve worked this year generally do not know the score until the scorekeeper posts it.

I believe the refs at Asia-Pacific were actually using a mobile app to count the scores, so they would’ve known what the scores were.

From a competitors point of view I think refs should be open with the scores before allowing the field to be reset, especially in eliminations. This would allow teams to dispute a score in the case of a miscount. However, I understand how from a organisational and volunteering perceptive how not revealing the score could be advantageous, so I don’t really have a problem with the way things were done.

I do agree that this is something that could have been improved upon, and we did get a lot of feedback about it during the competition. Specific reasons that pertain only to Asia-Pacific: We only ever had the two screens to show things on, and it was decided that for the most part showing live match footage was more important than showing the scores. The idea was that teams could check scores using VEX Via as well, although I do realise that a lot of teams didn’t have access to 3G or smartphones. Normally we would have shown the scores inbetween matches, but because we were running two divisions simultaneously next to each other and also because for the most part we were running behind time, we wanted to just keep moving on. We were also short on commentators which made things a bit difficult for them. And as Rick rightly says, a lot of the matches were actually paper scored due to the mobile system not quite working, so if it was close the scorer usually didn’t know who won. And they ran the paper scores up to Tournament Manager control after every couple of matches, so it took awhile for scores to be entered. During the eliminations we were running the BDS matches as well which took a bit of time, and obviously we didn’t want to release the match scores in the middle of another match.

Generally (for all tournaments), the other reasons for not disclosing the scores is to “keep up the suspense”, especially if the match result was close. At 2012 NZ Nationals there were four scorers who (using the mobile app) knew that the outcome of one of the finals matches was a tie - but we couldn’t reveal it in our facial expressions or anything like that, because we wanted everyone to be told at the same time by the commentators. There is also an argument that the outcome of your previous match (during eliminations) should not have any bearing on how you play your next match - you should always plan to play another match, regardless of whether you won or lost (or by how much) - there are of course arguments against this. From an organisational perspective, the less opportunities people have to dispute scores, the better as well - not because we don’t want to admit it when we’re wrong, but because a lot of disputes are, to be frank, a waste of time. A referee/scorer’s decision should be final, even when they’re wrong. We also don’t want teams to jump at the scorers if they make a mistake (which could be as simple as saying red when they mean blue out loud to the teams) - as you can understand, teams can be very passionate about the game and react quite aggressively, which is why we tried to get all queries and disputes to be taken to the head referee who was prepared for that.

Hopefully that helps answer your question - I know that it’s probably not a particularly satisfying answer, but rest assured that there are multiple reasons for that decision (not telling teams who won straight away). But your recommendation is certainly taken under advisement and we will try to get the results out faster at NZ Nationals 2013 at least.

Thanks Andrew

It is poor form that teams were behaving aggressively towards the refs and scorers. This is a no go area. As you say, the refs call must be non-negotiable. It begs the question as to why teams are permitted to dispute calls or scores at all? Perhaps there could be a code of conduct spelled out before the tournament that would make it clear that disputes will lead directly to disqualification.

I hesitated to raise this issue, as I know you guys were all were busting your guts on our behalf. Last year the game was reasonably easy for our team to score themselves, so they knew who had won and who had lost. Sack attack is impossible to score accurately from outside the field if the game is close. Believe me, I had more than enough “suspense” without delaying posting of the score :D.

Any faster posting of scores that could be achieved at National would be very much appreciated by teams and spectators alike.

Thanks for the thorough explanation.
Cheers, Paul

I understand the speed of scoring was a bit of an annoyance and from overseeing both the mobile system and Tournament Manager, I can probably take some of the blame for the slow entry of scores.

While the scorers did work quickly on field and submitted the scores electronically (of course when the mobile system usually worked) it was just a matter of re-checking the display for the new score and the scorekeeper was running two divisions and wasn’t always reading the score/had the ability to instantly copy it across to TM so that the teams could see it.

I was aware of this as an issue and am currently in the process of re-vamping the mobile scoring server and some changes to the client so that we can reduce the speed for results to be produced and while I do agree with Andrew on his statement, there was a fair bit of delay in the technical department and I’m working to reduce this (We should have it heavily reduced come Nationals of course!). It did become a tad slow however when moving to the manual scoresheets also due to the distance since the scorekeeping desk was a fair distance away and again the scorekeeper was working between 2 divisions and tons of scoresheets plus extra confusions.

I’ve made a note and will have the electronic side improved by Nationals as it as you say - teams need to know the score ASAP

Hope this helps

Actually debating scores is a very necessary right. Once the tournament scorers entered one of our qualification scores incorrectly, and had us losing a match which we had clearly won. We approached them about it, they looked up the score records, and then they changed it to the correct score. If teams weren’t allowed to do this, then one small error by a volunteer could change the course of a tournament.

I agree most disputes lack merit but there should be an opportunity to challenge a wrong decision. True the referees and scorers are volunteers donating time and deserve respect but we should also respect the time and effort the students have put in to bring their robot to the field of competition. The prize should go to the best team in competition not the lucky team who benefits from a mistake after match end. (And even the winning team can be hurt by scoring errors with strength points). There are organizational considerations but the extra time by which any competition is extended is infinitesimal compared to the time the students spent preparing. The only benefit gained from simply accepting a wrong decision under the rules is that Karthik need not bother making official interpretations of the rules if we do not need to follow them. His time has value the same as the volunteers and while most queries to him also lack substantive merit and can be resolved simply by reading the rules he always gives even the stupid queries a proper response. Vex is unique in that it is truly international and the goodwill fostered in the international exchanges at events like the Asia Pacific and World competitions can easily be squandered if it does not subscribe to getting it right every time.

And while others may disagree with me, please do not interpret this as a criticism in any way of the Asia Pacific. The commitment to excellence of this tournament can be easily seen here half-way around the world. Congratulation to all for raising the bar.

I hesitated with my original post because I thought there might be some controversy with my statement about referees and disputes :smiley: As I said to others in AURA, this is probably going to be a point of differing opinion, particularly between competitors (and their coaches and parents) and referees and organisers. Having been on both sides of this I certainly do understand where you’re coming from. Thankfully the number of times our referees/scorers here get it wrong is small. Anyway, it was just an indication of some of the reasons why scores may not be released immediately and should not be read as an official RECF/VEX position towards refereeing/scoring at all; it is merely my opinion.

I agree. Wrong is wrong, no matter who you are. If a scoring call is blatantly wrong, teams need to have the right to dispute it.