Feeling Snookered by USDAA Snooker Rules?

This is just TOO FUNNY!   Here is the Merriam-Webster definition of the transitive verb:


: to trick or deceive (someone)

: to prevent (someone) from doing or achieving something

A quick note about this post.  I stopped competing in USDAA a couple of years ago and have not kept up on their ever-changing rules… so the Snooker rules I am referring to are the rules I competed under.  It appears that there are still issues of fairness when it comes to Snooker Super Qs due to small class sizes (other than the HUGE 22″ mostly BC class).

A current slew of posts on USDAA’s Sounding Board further confirms (for me at least) that USDAA is not particularly interested in fairness when it comes to the largest and smallest dogs.   This most recent example is regarding Snooker Super Qs.  To make a long story short, a team needs 3 Super Qs (I think it is 3) to earn an ADCh.  However, any class / jump height that does not have a minimum of 5 or 7 dogs, is combined with another class / jump height when it comes to earning Super Qs.  

For example if there are less than five 8 inch (jump height) Performance dogs (a common occurrence in USDAA), they are combined with 12 inch (jump height) Performance dogs.   Just to spell it out… that means a 9 inch tall dog would be competing against dogs up to 16 inches tall.  Sure, you can win a Super Q with a very small dog competing against much larger dogs… but since the combining of classes is due to USDAA’s inability to attract a reasonable number of 8 inch dogs in the first place, it does not seem fair to punish the few remaining 8 inch dogs by combining them with much larger dogs.  26 inch competitors run into the same situation when there are fewer than seven 26 inch dogs, in which case they are combined with the very large 22 inch class which consists mostly of BCs.

There have been some interesting suggestions on the Sounding Board about how to make the earning of Snooker Super Qs fair (or more fair) for the smallest and largest dogs.  However, the current rules are so convoluted that many people don’t know what it is going to take for their dogs to earn a SQ when their class is combined with another class.

Reading so many posts by competitors expressing frustration regarding the lack of fairness for bookend dogs and SQs must have been cooking on a back burner in my brain because while driving up to Woodstock from NYC this morning, a simple solution occurred to me…. USDAA could solve the Snooker SQ issue the same way they solved the A-Frame height discrepancy issue for mini Performance dogs last year.  All they need to do is to change the wording in the Rules and Regulations Book so it matches what is actually happening at trials.  The Take It or Leave It approach.

Here is specifically what happened regarding Mini Performance dogs and the A-Frame height discrepancy a year ago:  Instead of correcting the A-Frame height discrepancy for small dogs, USDAA opted to quietly change the description of the Performance Program.

Original wording: “The Performance program offers lower jumping heights for dogs, more generous time constraints on course, and a lower A-frame for all height classes.”

New wording:  “The angle of the ramps beneath the apex determines the power of ascent and skill required to scale the ramp, as well as the impact on the ramp as the dog engages it. The angle for large dogs is 98° and the angle for small dogs is 104°. All dogs in the “Performance Program” use 104° angle of ascent and descent.”

The discrepancy with the original wording was that all height classes only applied to Performance dogs jumping 16″ and 22″ and not for dogs jumping 8″ and 12″.  Small dogs had the same height A-Frame as they would have in the Championship Program.  Many competitors supported lowering the A-frame on USDAA’s Sounding Board and sent letters and emails to the President, but instead of fixing the discrepancy, he opted to quietly change the wording to match the Reality.

Here are my thoughts about the A-frame discrepancy that still exists (even though the rules now support the discrepancy):  How does one come to terms with USDAA allowing small Championship dogs to run over a lower A-frame than big Championship dogs.. yet not allowing small Performance dogs to run over a lower A-frame than big Performance dogs.  Perhaps the forces of gravity and momentum magically change at 5 feet 6 inches?  I think not.

IMO, USDAA’s changing of their Rules to match Reality made it clear to 8 inch competitors that we need to either Take It or Leave It.  I know of some fantastic 8 inch teams who opted to Leave It due the A-Frame height issue and perhaps also due to no jump height concessions for mini-dogs… but both of those topics are ancient history at this point.

Back to Super Qs… How might this same simple solution look if applied to Snooker Super Qs?

USDAA could simply (and quietly) change the Rules and Regulations wording so that two jump heights are always combined for SQs, regardless of the number of dogs in each jump height: 12 and 16 inch Championship dogs would always compete against each other, as would 22 and 26 inch Championship dogs. 

The same could be true for Performance dogs:  8 and 12 inch dogs would always compete against each other as would 16 and 22 inch dogs.

OH WAIT!!!!  In order to be totally consistent with the A-Frame height rules / wording for the Performance classes, perhaps the rules would be changed so ALL Performance dogs compete against ALL OTHER performance dogs when it comes to Super Qs.. just like A-Frame heights.. from 8 inches all the way up to the largest dogs.

Clearly, this would be a ridiculous solution for the current SQ inequality.   My purpose in writing this post is to remind people how ridiculous it was for USDAA to change their Rules to match Reality instead of fixing the discrepancy re: A-Frame heights for mini Performance dogs in 2013.  Changing the rules to match reality was not a solution… It was, however, a very strong statement to 8 inch dog competitors, many of whom responded by taking their trial dollars elsewhere.

All in all, I think USDAA is brilliant at playing the game of Snooker with its competitors, with special emphasis on Snookering their largest and smallest teams.

snooker: to trick or deceive (someone): to prevent (someone) from doing or achieving something

7 thoughts on “Feeling Snookered by USDAA Snooker Rules?

  1. You’re not exactly correct with the current USDAA snooker rules. Heights aren’t really combined anymore, kinda. Basically the class who doesn’t have enough dogs in it have thier Super Q standards based on the previously combined height. This can mean zero differences to how it was before, or sometimes less Super Q’s available then there were before.

    It is an interesting problem that is almost impossible to fix without having more entries in the non 22in class. For the most part I’m not really bothered by the Super Q requirements, although of course I do have a 22in dog. (But a 22in dog who will likely never get an ADTCH due to the Super Q requirements from snooker.) I would love for Lance to be able to play USDAA and would strongly support changing jump heights and more specifically the rule that dogs never jump lower than their height in the championship program.

  2. I stopped doing USDAA after the A-frame decision and was unable to find their Snooker rules. I’m sure they are somewhere on their website…. just not intuitive to find them. Regardless, I had fun writing the post and comparing Snooker fairness to A-Frame height fairness. 🙂

  3. Note 7 of the “Hurdle and Obstacle Settings for 2014” (don’t ask me why it’s there – I always have a hard time finding it!) describes the Super Q rules for 2014. http://usdaa.com/binary/files/NJHs%20Spreads-Long%20Jump-Table-Aframe%20FINAL-03032014.pdf

    Essentially for the 8/12 class (I run a P8 dog):
    – if there are less than 5 P8 AND less than 5 P12, the heights get combined and the # of Super Qs awarded is (total 8+12 dogs) * 1.15 and rounded up [so less than 7 = 1 SQ, more than 7 = 2 SQs]

    – if there are 5 or more P8 AND 5 or more P12, each height is separate and # of Super Qs awarded is the top 15% for each height class

    – if there are 5 or more P12 but less than 5 P8, then there is top 15% Super Qs awarded for P12s. For P8s, the *winner* of the P8 class can get a Super Q if their points + time is the same or better as the lowest Super Q earning P12 dog.

    I understand #1 and #2. #3 is a little more problematic and that was what the original poster (with a 26″ dog) was talking about in that original thread. In May, we were at a trial with 4 P8 dogs and 4 P12 dogs, which meant combined heights with 2 Super Qs up for grabs. Here were the results:
    – top P12 dog earned 43 points (6/7/7 opening, finished through 6 in closing closing)
    – top P8 dog (my dog) earned 47 points (5/5/7 opening, finished closing) in 53 seconds
    – 2nd place P8 dog also earned 47 points (5/5/7 and finished closing) in 54 seconds
    Since we were combined, my dog and the 2nd place P8 dog got the two super Qs. However, let’s say that the same results stood in terms of time and points, but my dog was a P12 dog, making the split being 5 P12 dogs and 3 P8 dogs (still 8 dogs). In that case, there would be 1 dedicated Super Q for the P12 class, and that would go to my dog. But the winning P8 dog (who ran the same points but 1 second slower) would not get a Super Q because she did not beat mine on time even though she did on points.

    I understand that a class with enough points for a Super Q shouldn’t be penalized because its “grouping class” is small, but it’s just something that needs to be worked through, I guess, for the small classes (FWIW, where I live it seems like there usually are 7+ 26″ dogs so they don’t split their Super Qs, and although the 8s & 12s do, I’ve yet to meet a mini performance dog whose last PDCH Q is a Super Q, whereas my P16/C22 friends do have that challenge.)

    • Thanks for taking the time to explain the new rules….. and where to find them on USDAA’s site. So funny that the revised rules are under “Hurdle and Obstacle settings for 2014.” I would never think to look for Super Q rules there.

      • Yes – that’s what gets me! Every time I try to look it up to figure out how the Super Qs will be broken out for a given trial I have a hard time finding it. I guess I have to snooker my way through the website :-D.

  4. I just happened upon this blog looking for timing rules for snooker. Frankly, I don’t compete much in AKC because there’s little distinction between really good dogs and others; between those to practice seriously to improve and those who only run during a class or during competition. I appreciate snooker because it’s a game of strategy and I believe probably more fair than other runs. Typically, at USDAA trials, 75% of the dogs are 22″ or above. A recent trial statistics show 12″ dogs were 7.5% of the entries, 14″ 1.5%, 16″ 13.5%, 18″ 2.75%. Is it truly fair that these high classes receive as many placements and top-10 points as the large breed dogs? Snooker attempts to balance the accomplishments across competition as a whole and is perhaps the only run that does. Is a first place in a group of 6 dogs really the same as a first place in a group of 207 (recent trial statistics)? What I do believe needs to change is that once you receive your ADCH, Super Q’s are not necessary to advance in titles so perhaps the Super Q’s should only be awarded to those have not received an ADCH. I personally only go for maximum points during a snooker run. If I receive a super Q, then I deserved it. I seldom complete the closing which allows me to maximize my fun and possibly Q without taking Super Q’s away from those still trying.

    • My dogs were one of just a few and more often than not, the only 8″ dogs competing in USDAA at the trials I attended in the NE which was kind of boring. But that is not why I quit giving USDAA my $$$$$. The reason for that was 3 years ago, they chose not to attend to the A-frame disparity for mini-P dogs.. saying the “A-frame is low enough… end of story.” Now this is the same organization in which Open P dogs get a lower A-frame than Open CH dogs…yet all mini dogs run the same height A-Frame. That was enough to send me to compete in NADAC, an organization which seems to value dogs of all sizes equally, which I’ve enjoyed immensely.

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