Tortoise and the Hare

Jon T made interesting observations about events that try to maximize the number of robot matches. He said (my words) when matches are back to back often teams don’t have a chance to reflect on the last match, think of a strategy or mechanical change, implement it, change battery packs (where is that joystick screwdriver) and get to the next match (sorry Jon, I smashed two posts together)

We try to get each team to have 6 plays before the eliminations. On our 18 team events teams will get 7 and maybe 8 plays. (The more fields you have the easier it is to do this, for example with 8 fields and 32 teams each team would play 14 times in a single day, but intra-match time is 2.5 minutes)

We do our events in cafeterias, so the fields and the pits are close. Mid-Atlantic is in a building that covers 4 acres, so it’s a long walk between matches.

What’s the best balance? More matches? Less matches (Hey come to the 2011 Slow Poke Round Up, only three matches!) How about a Segway for Jon T and I to get back and forth to our teams pits :rolleyes:

This is based on FRC time for me so obviously it will be a bit different, but I like having no less than 20 minutes from end of match to first call for queueing, or about 30 minutes in between matches.

In VRC, this gives you 5 minutes for debrief, 10 minutes for next match strategy, and 15 minutes for robot repairs. Pretty good I’d say.

Assuming my colleagues are unable to talk/beat some sense into my hard head, I am planning to try something a little unusual at this year’s NOVA. It is neither Tortoise nor Hare. Maybe it is Sled Dogs working in parallel.

It seems to me that the practices of holding only one match at a time, of announcing each match individually, of being extraordinarily concerned with queuing teams, and… are practices FRC or similar programs have in place mostly for the benefit of the audiences. And that makes a lot of sense when 3/4 of every team is sitting in the stands instead of working on a robot.

But since VRC isn’t like that, my strawman plan is to let three Qual match fields run truly in parallel. At any given moment there might be 3 Qual matches going on simultaneously right next to each other.

If that strawman becomes reality, ask me how it works out. It certainly gets rid of the stress of needing to start each match immediately after a neighboring one ends. I am hoping that it turns the day into one of essentially running three small tournaments at a sane pace instead of running one big one at a not so sane pace.

There will probably be times when nothing happens for 5 minutes on any field (time for a bio break:)), and times when things are happening on 2-3 fields at a time for several minutes in a row. For the sparse audiences at VRC tournaments, I think this will be OK.

If we do have an MC, they can roam to wherever the action is the hottest.

Your scorekeeper will hate you. :slight_smile:

I know what you mean; but… Surely they can key in 3 sets of about 8-10 numbers once every 7.5 minutes.

If TM allows it (multiple score entry windows) we might just let each field have a scoring window and a field control window open on the PC dedicated to controlling it. Then the person at each field just need to click a mouse 3-4 times and enter one match score every 7.5 minutes.

When I was young they told us that in the 21st century this sort of advanced computing would be feasible. :wink:

My 3 teams will be there, and I think I am going to hate you. :slight_smile: What kind of match spacing are you talking about? We ran two field sets in parallel (in one division) at the VMAC last year and the 50 HS teams complained we worked them too hard.

On Foster’s point, I do understand. But you also need to run enough matches that all teams have a reasonable chance of some successful matches. Even the best team can have a bad match, and there should be enough other matches to allow them to overcome most of the impact of that one bad match.

In the NOVA thread I explained that I planned to use a schedule that would send each/any single team to a field 8 times in a 4 hour period (actually 4.5 hrs minus a 30 minute lunch break). Ignoring the lunch break, that sends them to a filed once every 30 minutes on average.

Separately, each field averages a match every 7.5 minutes.

The result is perhaps a bit of a rush for some teams. Others probably like it.

The pace is rather leisurely for each field.

I have asked tournament participants to tell me (in that NOVA thread) whether they prefer a faster or slower pace for each team’s matches and whether they prefer a longer day as a way to get more matches without shortening the time between any single team’s matches.

For the NOVA, fields shouldn’t be our constraint. Wall clock time, and the distance from the Pits to the Fields are our enemies.

To answer Foster’s direct question:

If TM would allow more control over match schedules, I would be working on a method for bringing a small temporary grouping of teams to a field, having them play (in various combinations) 3-6 matches in a row, and then releasing them back to the pits for an extended break. I would cycle through all the teams using this small group approach, and then I would rotate the composition of groups before repeating the process.

I would do this to give the teams in each temporary group a good look at the other members of the group, and to give all the teams lots of matches. I think this would work well in part because the overhead of traveling to and from the field would be amortized over more than one match each time a team made that trip.

Fragile robots, unlikely to survive 2-3 matches in quick succession would have a tough time. However, I don’t think that is a flaw in the scheduling approach. Instead, I think it is a flaw in the design.

This sort of thinking puts me firmly on the “More Matches” side of the discussion