Broken Rules

Hi John

I guess SG3 exists to prevent teams basically killing matches by locking up their opponent’s robot. Without this rule, a flat chassis robot with 10 drive motors might well dominate year after year without putting much thought or design into dealing with the requirements of the current game. Currently, pinning or trapping is allowed repeatedly as long as it is carried out in 5 seconds bursts separated by 5 seconds backed off. SG3 states there is a 5 second pinning count, but must this count be made out loud by the referee? Should the ref start counting the time that the pinning robot has backed off for out loud so the team knows when they are legally allowed to re-start the pin/trap? Otherwise how do teams know if the count will be resumed? I can see why this rule is hard to adjudicate.

One idea…may be a poor one but here goes.

Would this rule be easier for referees and teams alike if the pin or trap had to be released immediately, rather than after 5 seconds? Once the pinning/trapping robot has backed off the required 2 feet it would be required to stay back this distance and must not recommence the same pin/trap on the same robot in the same field location. The ref should give a pin/trap warning so the team knows to back off immediately and not go back in for a second time.

I am all for blocking, pushing and contesting for position with great gusto and for as long as you like, but feel that pinning/trapping should not be a legitimate tactic allowed at repeated intervals throughout a match. :slight_smile:

Cheers, Paul

Again, purely a matter of referee education. More of an issue for the RECF.

thats like saying in a basketball game, everyone must be offensive shooters
and if one person starts defending when you have the ball, you say that it is “unfair” and not the “task” of the game (which is to shoot baskets)

now there are many great defensive players that would stay with their check the entire game and not let the ball be passed to his check

would that mean that the defensive player is playing against the spirit of the game? no
would it kind of suck to be his check? yeah
but thats the point, the check should be able to adapt and play the game even with a dedicated defense man constantly on his behind (idk sidestep maneuvers)

as long as the defense being payed is legal, its a fair game
its up to the other players to think around the box and continually play the game with this added challenge

Reffing at some of the competitions in my area has been inconsistent over the last few years. When my students started complaining to me about it I told them that if the refs were making incorrect calls then they needed to be able to show the the head ref what the issue was. Making sure the teams have the most recent printed version of the rules on hand as well as printouts of any Official Q&A responses that may apply, combined with an appropriate attitude, helped tremendously. The majority of the time things then changed for the better. A couple refs got defensive, but if approached correctly it usually isn’t an issue.


it would be nice if there was a video situation that involves “heavy” defense thats 100% legal
only two robots in the video would suffice

however, you make the video as bias as possible towards the scoring robot
have team members shout:
“thats not fair”!
they are blocking us!
they cannot even pick up a ball!
they are soo annoying!
thats not with the spirit of the game!
this is the 5th time they almost pinned us for 5 seconds!

so referees that watch the educational video will now see that even with such a defensive robot, all the rules and intent is 100$ followed

now you will not have uneducated referees that “tells us we are not allowed to block” or “give DQ’s right away” or “defense is not in the spirit of the game”

i understand that refs want to see some more offensive action as defense can shut down entire games (2w), but if its 100% legal, there is no reason why this competition allows types of behavior while “those” competitions dont

At gateway worlds I tipped 4 robots 100% legally. I had a strong drive train and other robots had a way to high COG.

At Worlds the refs are amazing but at smaller competitions with less trained refs the rules morph a little from place to place. Refs see one robot hindering another and they think “not in the spirit of vex” and give warnings or even DQs.

When it comes to counting. At local competitions right when a robot starts pinning or trapping me I start counting out loud. Most refs are busy watching the whole game and miss pinning for a few seconds. This count is probably slower than an actual second and referees are able to watch the rest of the match knowing if I reach 6 they need to start calling a DQ.
Most refs thank me for counting and bring up at driver meetings that every team should do it but if a ref ever asks me to stop I will.

In my experience I found that tends to get some ref’s mad and they might not call it cause of it. Towards the end of the season, when pinned, I found saying “I can’t move” directly to the ref gets their attention and probably won’t get them mad at all.

Yeah, I started making index card booklets that our drivers carried towards the end of the season. They had rules and Q&A questions pertinent to our strategy. We ended up using them a couple of times, but rarely did the refs listen.

I get that people dislike defense, but it’s a huge part of the game. We think that we’ve got a great strategy and design right now, and I’m hoping to have it fully functional during our first competition.

What are some potential rule changes that would make defensive strategies less impactful while still being possible to execute?
For example, changing pinning to 3 seconds and back off instead of 5?

I don’t think the issue is solvable by changing the mindset of builders, people will always look for defensive strategies if they’re possible to pull off within the rules. Instead, tighten the rules or change them to promote scoring if it becomes an issue where a large majority of teams are playing only defensively because it leads to more wins.

also a thought to keep in mind -another confounding variable of the success of defensive robots might not come from their design at all, but rather the teams themselves. There are probably far more failed wallbots then there are the good ones we see at the highest level, and punishing that unique engineering is also something that should be strayed away from, in my opinion.

There is only 1 mechanism to deal with rule violation, DQ, and often referees are loathed to deal a fatal blow to an offending alliance thus essentially disadvantaging the opposing alliance. Pinning although strategic should not be “rewarded” as such but penalized through score deduction instead. You pin you take a hit in your score and maybe it’s worth it.
As the rules are written now an alliance could actually tag team 5sec on 5sec off and totally shut down one of their opposing team’s robots and IMO that’s not playing the game nor inspiring to anyone except the “winners”.
Think of soccer with only red cards, how dirty would the game play be? Would the refs send players off for minor violations?

We find that having the app with the rules on our phones is helpful at tournaments. In gateway we once changed a match from a tie to a win for us by showing the refs a diagram from the rule book on calling if the objects are scored or not for corner goals. They had scored the match wrong.

Seems like you’re doing it right

Anyone want to add to the general rule of thumb for challenging match scores or calls we’ve put together over the last couple of years?

  1. Read the rule to make sure you’re right
  2. Check with a teammate to make sure you’re right
  3. Being the rules (and that teammate) to a judge and POLITELY provide him with what you think happened
  4. If he completely blows you off, don’t pester the guy. If he seems interested, keep making your point.

Things not to do:

Do not insist that something happened if the judges disagree
DO NOT PROVIDE VIDEOS OR PICTURES OF WHAT HAPPENED (This was actually in the rules last year, I forget if it is for Toss Up)
Do not insist on a specific punishment
Do not raise your voice or yell at the judges or other competitors.

I love this analogy and agree 100%.

This can’t harm your case, so there is no need to emphasize it like this. They just aren’t allowed to use that evidence.

This rule sounds to me like the referees won’t look at recorded evidence when a call is being debated. When you use that evidence, it could hurt your point, as the refs that you have not read the rules thoroughly, and they will be more likely to rule that you are wrong.

Can anyone from GDC reading this thread explain why this rule is in place? It has always seemed sort of silly to me, sort of like saying “You can have evidence that clearly and concisely shows what really happened, but you’re not allowed to use it.”

There are several reasons not to allow review of video. The time it takes to review the video slows things down tremendously. Also, unless the video shows the entire field you would not have an appropriate context to base decisions.


JayM has hit the nail on the head. The main reason for not reviewing video evidence, is that many times only using one video from a certain angle, provides an inaccurate snapshot of what has occurred. As we often say here on these forums, it’s impossible to issue a blanket ruling from seeing only a portion of a situation. When pro sporting leagues use replay, they have a standardized set of cameras arranged at a multitude of angles to provide a variety of images to assist the referees. This sort of infrastructure is not feasible at the VEX World Championship, let alone local events taking place in high school auditoriums.

Thus, to ensure that calls are made consistently, fairly, and in a timely fashion, we cannot allow the use of any form of instant replay.