Toronto Vex Competition

Hey,

Today, there was a VEX event at Woburn Collegiate in Toronto.

If one word could describe it, it would be:

Unprofessional.

I’m not sure if that event was VEX sanctioned, but the staff there were way too lenient on things. Many robots passed inspection when they shouldn’t have. Our robot had sharp edges and touched the sizing box, and was also missing a 9V battery at inspection and we still passed.

During the competition, there was obvious ramming of robots, and even severe robotic damage caused from the deliberate ramming. One team had to rebuild their entire drivetrain because of it. The first place team also did not manage to score any points because of robots ramming and jamming theirs. Also, the refs did not know how to count and had many complaints regarding scoring, including a VERY obvious autonomous score that they “didn’t see”

So, to the point I was trying to make. If this VEX event is VEX sanctioned, please, VEX, go and contact the event hosts to get proper officials that actually abide by the rules and make them actually watch the referee training videos. This was a very unprofessional event and did not set a good reputation for the VEX community.

The event was most definitely VEX/RECF sanctioned, as I was present throughout the entire day. The volunteers who worked this tournament have been running VRC events since the VRC first came to Canada.

I was not personally part of the inspection process, but I know I didn’t hear of a single complaint, from either teams or inspectors. As for the reffing, counting of the scores was not an issue; one alliance complained once, and the referees were fairly confident about their decision.

Overall, the referees were presented with a very challenging job during the elimination rounds, as there were some tough calls to be made. I’m very confident that they made the right decisions in all the matches I saw, and in general I would say that this is one of the best volunteer crews that I’ve ever worked with.

I hope you have a better experience at your next event.

thank you karthik. i hope everyone else had a better experience. im sure next tournament will go smoother. I had alot of fun today but i still didnt like how inspection went.

The volunteers today looked like high school students (the head ref was definately a HS student). AFAIK, VRC has been in Canada for at least 6 years. Does that mean that they’ve been reffing since Middle School?

I have to admit, some volunteers were quite good, especially the interviewers and the queing personnel. They seemed under control and clearly had control of their job.

If you cheated and had an advantage over your competition, would you complain about it?

I sort of agree with this. The tough calls were made right. However, they did seem confused at quite often.

I hope so too. However, this comes from improvements on both all the team’s sides and also from administration.

Oh and one quick suggestion. Could you add some sort of an “Originality” award for next year’s game? Almost all of the robots looked identical in terms of design as to the ones on this forum. I believe that robotics should involve both building and designing, with original ideas.

VRC 272,

I’d like to address some of the concerns. I was the Skills Challenge Referee, along with a Field Management Assistant during eliminations. I have several years of experience in competition robotics and the VEX Robotics Competition.

This sounds fishy to me. I have great confidence in the inspectors present today. Why would you go and get your robot inspected in the first place if you knew it did not pass? Also, merely touching the edges of the sizing box would still pass the test.

That “deliberate” ramming is called defense. This is completely and totally legal. Robots are to be built robustly in order to stand up to the rigors of a fast paced, interactive offensive game like Sack Attack.

I’m also sure that the reason that team had to rebuild their drivetrain was likely because they became involved in a pushing match of sorts with another robot. It happens. Build better drives.

First, I will tell you that this is the second largest VEX event in Canada, run by likely the most knowledgeable people of the program in Canada. These are the people that I would go to for questions about the VEX Robotics Competition.

Second, I’d like you to take a step back and remember something. We are are all unpaid volunteers. The enormous amount of work it takes to put on even a small VEX event, let alone a large scale event like the one today is all done for competitors like you. Would you be able to do it? I know each and every one of this fine crew of volunteers are either on their way home or already there, and are likely very very tired from giving 110% effort all day, some even after you’ve long left the event.

So before you go running off with this, remember that they’re volunteers and they’re trying their best.

I’d tend to believe that their best is pretty darn good for an event to run so far ahead of schedule to finish nearly half an hour ahead of time, and smoothly.

-Nick

Brandon Pruniak is most definitely not a high school student. He has been head ref at both this event and the Southern Ontario VEX championships for the past few years. Brandon is in his early twenties.

-Nick

From the rules:

We had no idea it wouldn’t pass. We realized this after inspection, as with many other teams.

As I may quote from the rules again:

Ok, I will admit here that I am being a bit harsh here, and that the volunteers did do a good job for the most part, and again, big ups to those who did what they were supposed to. However, those little things such as inspection kinda did dissapoint me at times, and as humans, we tend to remember bad things over satisfactory things.

But thank you Karth and everyone else who made that event happen, regardless of the minor issues such as this. We did enjoy it for the most part, and we do thank everyone who made a positive impact on this event.

You are correct about the sizing box. However, if it’s something like a loose wire, zip tie or non functional decoration, it would pass. That’s what I meant.

Do keep in mind that the volunteers also want to see the teams succeed and have fun. Having to spend half your matches filing down part of your robot that doesn’t give a competitive advantage is not fun.

Also, you’re telling me that it’s not okay to push a robot away from your high goal to prevent it from descoring, because that’s a strategy to intentionally destroy or damage their robot?

Really?

-Nick

If it was stuff like that, I wouldn’t be here complaining about that, Nick. We had intakes and the sides of robots touching the plywood. There was a lot of slack there. I will admit though, they were very nice people.

Rules are rules. If it doesn’t abide with them they should be fixed. My team and I were ready to go back and fix anything if it didn’t meet inspection.

Yeah I am. You shouldn’t push it away. I believe that sports like this where you have a controlled moving object with others on the field/track, it should be clean and courteous. If they have a better robot than you, you should have designed a better robot. All drivers should try to avoid contact at all times. If there is some strategical stuff going on, it should be clean. When driving, I tried my best to avoid contact while scaring teams away by advancing towards them, as I believe in playing clean in non-contact sports. The only time we had contact was when an opposing team tried going for the same sack I was going to, but that’s a game incident, and not intentional.

This type of behaviour is also in more popular and multi-billion dollar sports such as auto racing. If your opponent is faster than you, you let them pass by. The opponent should also be careful to pass appropriately and safely. However, you may attempt to block an overtake in moderation. In the context of sack attack, if another robot is scoring better than you, you may lighty play strategically with them without any physical contact.

After all, its not called Robot Attack. Its Sack Attack.

Robot to robot contacts are allowed to certain extend in VEX. You can interpret and play within the rules however you want. Your team decides to not partake in too much defensive maneuvers / contacts / or however you call it, that’s fine. But your team / robot’s actions doesn’t mean other robots’ actions are illegal.

It’s illegal to intentionally damage robots.

It’s illegal to pin robots for more than 5 seconds (and a lot of other details that I will bypass in this post because it’s irrelevant to the point I’m trying to make).

And so on…

However it isn’t illegal to “push” or “block” other robots (as long as they are not violating other rules).

And so on…

You and your team believe if “another robot is scoring better than you, you may light[l]y play strategically with them without any physical contact”, that’s fine. But it doesn’t make defensive maneuvers illegal.

Robot interaction is part of the game. It’s something that should be noted while designing the robot and while competing.

Edit: VRC is a contact competition (with the possible exception of Clean Sweep but even that has interaction between robots). You can choose to believe otherwise, that’s fine.

Also, what makes a “good” or “better” robot? Does the “grading” of a robot solely depends on how good they are at scoring? Or does it depends on how good they are at playing defense? Or does it depend on how good they are at scoring with contact defense play on them? Or does it depend on (many other robot actions that can be done i.e. descoring, maneuvering around the field, etc.)? Or is it a combination of all of the above? The skills challenges are all about offense. Regular competition play, maybe not so much.

We had a VEX competition out here in BC today, as well. The original poster would likely have found something to whine about out here too.

I was head inspector at the tournament and we passed many robots that would not have passed inspection at Worlds.

Some teams left their 9V backup battery adaptors at home, a five hour drive and ferry ride away. Oooops. Guess the O.P. would like us to send them home to get them. :wink: No… of course not. Forgetting the 9V battery puts the team at a competitive disadvantage, which was explained to them and they promised to have the battery at their next event. Unprofessional? Maybe to some, but in my world professionals exercise discretion and judgement and keep their eye on the big picture.

Some teams, coming to their first tournament, made a mistake and used high-impact acrylic, thinking it met the rules. Unfortunately it was a fairly integral part of their design and wouldn’t have been ready to go for at least the first half of the tournament if they had to rebuild. We explained the difference, and when it started to crack, allowed them to tape off the cracks to protect people and the playing field from sharp edges. They did very well in the consolation finals, and went home excited, enthused and planning to rebuild their robot using polycarbonate.

We had one team use 1/8" acrylic… it was an easy rebuild for them to fix that, and they were happy to do it. Everyone fit the sizing box (eventually) and everyone had to file down their sharp edges… but we probably missed a few in the morning inspection rush. We had some rookie inspectors volunteering for their first time at an event, and even those of us with five or six years of inspecting experience sometimes miss the occasional scratchy bit.

The volunteer refs did a great job of running the tournament. Tactical blocking and defensive maneuvers played a role in most games. Some teams might not have liked all the calls, but no one whined about it. Many robots fell over, but that sometimes happens when a robot lifts 15 sacks up in the air. The refs were fair and consistent all day, at least from my point of view.

This was our second BC tournament in two weeks. Last week we had 41 teams compete in Surrey, this week was a largely different group of 49 teams. We were pleased to have two past world champion VRC teams in the field, from Gladstone and WASABI, as well as two past world finalists from Gladstone and Exothermic. It was particularly exciting to see teams from Isfeld Secondary, on Vancouver Island, come within two points of knocking some of them out in the semis. Seen many 125-126 games in the semis? That series went best 2 out of 3.

Anyway, the O.P. is correct… the rules say teams are supposed to have a 9V backup battery. But the rules also say that common sense is to prevail. Sounds like a great tournament in Toronto, and I am glad to hear that we’re not the only ones keeping our eye on the big picture when welcoming novicies to VRC!

Jason

Just to point out a logical contradiction… when you say:

In the first half a post, you shouldn’t then try to redefine the rules to suit your own personal opinion in the second half of the post.

A good/better robot is based on the design and functionality of the robot. If someone has designed it so that its very efficient at picking up many sacks, can descore, and also score the high goal, its obviously a better than a robot which can pick up a few sacks, and only score the medium trough.

But I still don’t think you understand. Rules are rules. People didn’t follow them? Too bad for them, they should have read the PDF more carefully. Not having a 9v battery can also turn a robot into an annoying obstruction in the middle of the field because its battery may have crapped out. We had a teammate who had that issue, not running a 9V.

My point still adheres to the rules.

Since you’re basing your point off common sense, here’s one for you:

If a robot with a drivetrain of 8 393s (plug them into a 3 wire extension) drives straight from his alliance tile into the robot on the other side of the field, would you deem that legal?

Oh, I understand completely. After all, I was young and knew everything once, too.

I know it may be inconceivable to you at the moment, but let me just suggest… for a moment… the possbility that those of us who have been organizing robotics tournaments and developing VEX, FRC, FTC and FLL teams for a decade or more, might actually have some idea of what we are doing. Let me put forward the proposal that when Karthik, the chair of the Game Design Committee… the guy who answers the Q&A questions… was at the event and speaks up on behalf of the volunteers and referees that maybe, just maybe he might have an informed opinion worthy of consideration.

But if you really want to get picky about rules, you have to read the whole rule book. I suggest you start with G1. It’s rule number one for a reason.

Rules are rules… and G1 comes first, eh?

I’ll leave it to your fellow competitors to point out that common sense includes building your machine to withstand physical interaction.

Jason

This is a potentially dangerous thread to jump into but I have a few comments. First, as an old guy with hopefully the wisdom that comes with age, I’m on your side Jason. Although we have some very specific inspection rules, common sense must prevail and every attempt made to pass a robot during inspection. Even at worlds there were some occasions where strictly following the rules would have probably eliminated a team from competition for several hours. One rule in particular comes to mind.

The number of teams I see that want to bury the cortex in the bowels of the robot amazes me, the inspectors often have a hard time with this and it’s a really difficult decision that has to be made as it’s usually impractical to relocate a cortex and rewire a robot.

This rule, along with other rules that give no real competitive advantage, I think can be slightly flexible at regional events, however, I do worry about the polycarbonate rule, especially when something obviously outside of the spec has been used. The problem is where do you draw the line, if 1/8" is allowed what about 3/16", what happens if that robot is tournament champion? Although it would be difficult to fail a team in this situation I can understand how others would feel if they lost to an obviously illegal robot.

Good points, particularly about the fact that the common sense rule must be tempered with judgement, and the potential for a team to go “all the way” with a non-compliant robot.

There are many robots that show up at inspection that clearly have the ability to go deep into the elimination rounds. They also tend to be the robots that pass through inspection the fastest… they are from veteran teams who have learned that attention to detail in following the rules pays off not only in getting through inspection, but also in on-field performance. I’d like to extend my thanks to all those teams who “make it easy” for the inspectors.

There are also teams that show up with little to no VRC experience. To their credit, most of these teams tend to be reasonably rule compliant as well. We spend a fair bit of time in tech inspection with them discussing ways they could make their robot better, not just compliant, but actually better. Some teams are non-compliant and most of the time we can help them get their robot 100% compliant within the time constraints of the competition. In the event of a robot being non-compliant we have to look at whether the non-compliant parts pose a significant risk to the field or humans (squishy bags of mostly water that we are) and whether the non-compliant parts provide any competitive advantage. Within that context we ask the students to make the changes, given the time and resource contraints, to make their machine as compliant as possible within the context of a one-day VRC tournament. We may also pass a team for the qualifying rounds, with the provision that any outstanding items need to be fixed prior to the elimination rounds, and re-inspect at that point.

Our overall goal is to provide the optimal experience for all. Disqualifying a team at tech inspection means that there will be a large “hole” in the schedule. It will mean a very negative experience for the team who is DQ’ed at tech, but also a negative experience for their scheduled partners and opponents.

As the season goes on, and teams gain experience, the level of compliance tends to rise… and the inspectors tend to get picky. Teams competing in “A” division of the BC Championships will be inspected at a level similar to what they could expect at worlds.

It sounds like our tech inspections are pretty similar in philosophy to those conducted at most events, and that we have a shared opinion that by using tech inspection as an opportunity to help teams improve, rather than an excuse to kick teams out, we provide the best long-term experience for all the teams.

Jason

P.S. Thank you for mentioning the “have the lights showing rule”… we allowed one team to compete yesterday, even though their cortex was upside down and buried in the middle of the robot (the on/off switch, however, could be reached safely, if not easily). We made sure that they understood, however, that they needed to change that prior to the next event.

Event Partners have a menu of awards to choose from when planning a local event and can select the awards they value for their event.

The CREATE or INNOVATE award might fit what you are looking for (although INNOVATE has been removed from the Guide for local events).

All the awards and their descriptions can be found in the “VEX SA Local Judges’ Guide”. You can access this and Appendix E-Awards listing through the epdocs.

This isn’t the first time I have seen an idea like this, but it doesn’t get any better with time. more than once I’ve seen 2 teams come to the exact same design without any discussion. Even if 2 teams were to come to the same design through collaboration, does the fact that 2 teams found a great way of solving a problem really deserve to be awarded less than 1 team who failed in their own unique way? I’m not saying that all teams should follow design trends, or that teams that don’t are inherently disadvantaged, but to experienced, competitive teams, learning can be done in the classroom, the competition field is a place for doing whatever it takes to win. As many of the awards as possible should go to the teams who are getting results.

In my opinion, this event was very fun and successful. I thought everything went well and as planned. Shout out to all the volunteers and everyone that helped make this event possible!