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Unread 05-01-2011, 11:34 PM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

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Originally Posted by gblake View Post
Or do you believe is there something special about a match that doesn't apply to complete tournaments, or to portions of a match?
There's indeed something special about a qualification match. The teams on an alliance are working together for the specific common goal of winning that match.

For anyone saying they think the original question assumes all teams on the alliance would be in agreement on losing the match, please read it again. It's about whether a team should lose on purpose in order to cause one of their opponents to be seeded #1 instead of one of their partners. While it might be a mathematically justifiable tactic in the pursuit of winning the tournament, it's a dirty trick to play on your alliance partner.
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Unread 05-02-2011, 10:14 AM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

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Blake,
I believe it is implied that B would be losing the match without the consent of C. Why would C agree to a strategy that leads to them eventually losing in the eliminations to the A-B alliance?
...
Sam/Alan, I understand and I don't disagree, but, out of all the responses in this thread, I think 2, maybe 3, took the time to say that they would find nothing wrong with the strategy if alliance partners agreed, and that they would never carry it out if alliance partners disagreed. I found that willingness to think outside the box refreshing.

Everyone else appears to be saying that they abhor the strategy regardless of whether the entire alliance wholeheartedly embraced it (and would paint a scarlet letter on any alliance that employed it) . If I am mistaken, please correct me.

I too find it quite improbable that all three allies in the OP's scenario would agree to lose the match; but I think there are other scenarios in which all allies might agree. Regardless, please notice that I emphatically list agreeing allies and publicly announcing the strategy as two requirements that have to be satisfied before employing it.

Then we get to the topic of all the moral/ethical baggage that many folks pile on when they assert that losing one part of a contest to improve your chances of winning the entire contest is simply reprehensible. Well, I personally think that folks are extrapolating from other contexts, and in the process are overlooking the subtly different (odd/unusual) nature of FRC tournaments. In very extreme/unusual (but not impossible) circumstances the unusual nature of an FRC/FTC/VRC/etc. tournament can turn upside down the rules of thumb that apply in so many other contexts.

In just about any other sports type competition, I fully agree that trying your best to win every game/inning/quarter will monotonically maximize your success. That doesn't apply to every pitcher/batter match-up, or similar parts of games, but it is the rule to live by as far as games against an opposing team are concerned.

However, it is also undeniably true that there are many circumstances in which (without deceiving any allies) the right thing to do is to lose a battle in order to win a war.

In some extreme circumstances I 100% believe an FRC team (without deceiving any allies) can benefit on the scoreboard by intentionally losing a match. But - so long as many, many observers can be expected to react as strongly as folks have in this and other threads, and can be expected to apply the yardsticks applied in this thread; I would advise the teams in question to lose a battle (the tournament) in order to avoid losing the war (getting incorrectly labeled by observers).

The tournament arithmetic might be as clear as a bell in those extreme circumstances; but it is the psychology of the observers that is even more important. To me this (instead of blanket statements that anyone-who-does-it-is-evil) is the better and more educational answer.

Blake
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Unread 05-02-2011, 04:10 PM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

Is it horrible in baseball that you intentionally throw crappy pitches in order to walk a really good batter?
I realize this is different, but in essence, 1 player is intentionally not doing his/her best in order to support a larger goal of the team. Walking was not always considered reasonable. In many old fashioned baseball leagues, not throwing a fair pitch meant that you had to keep throwing fair pitches (which slowed down an already slow game).
http://www.baseball-almanac.com/rulechng.shtml

In Freakanomics, there is a discussion about how Sumo Wreslters cheat. Within that culture, Wrestlers are divided into an upper and lower class system by having abetter than 50% season (see controversies section). Wreslters often come from the underdog position well above the statistical expectation. This article also talks about motivational issues.

Having played with many teams that have forgotten to connect batteries, had code issues, coms drop, minibot misfires, and just plain old bad luck... it would be difficult to prove a team intentionally losing unless they started playing defense against their alliance.

******************
On a tangential note, all of you that feel there is a moral issue involved with "not doing your best", how would this play in with partners not doing what is best for the alliance? If your team has a 2 tube auto that is 90% on the first tube and 50% on the second tube, and you partner is 0/8, shouldn't they then be forced by moral obligation to allow you to run your 2 tube? This past weekend teams often wanted to demonstrate that they finally got their Auto "working". Even though they had no chance of seeding top 8, even though they were 0/X (6, 8...) they insisted that it was a moral imperative that they give it another shot. Wouldn't this be considered throwing the match when they miss and it causes a loss?
******************

Overall, I agree in doing your best. Even last year, we only did 1 6v0, and that was before the update clarification and that the GDC did not intend for 6v0 matches. After that update, we played all of our matches straight even though it would have been in our best interest 2 times to do a 6v0, and not doing the 6v0 ended up costing us quite a bit. I would warn against trying to apply your moral views to other teams. If the other team views the "tournament" as the game, and each match just a subset of the larger event, they could share similar morals, and just differ on the definition of what constitutes doing your best. For teams that would then take this team "off their list", aren't you now not doing your best because you have added in an additional requirement that the team must subscribe to your view of the game and its moral obligations? Where do you draw the line? Should you cross off every copycat minibot because it is morally objectionable to steal someone elses design?
********************
I really like this discussion because it is out in the open. You should have discussions like this one with your team before presented with the situation. Discuss the Pros/Cons and get peoples opinions. When we discussed it as a team last year, initially most did not want to do a 6v0, but through discussion we decided if it was truly in our teams best interest, and both alliance partners agreed to it, we would do it. After the update, we felt less comfortable as FIRST mentioned it was not their intent. We also though decided we would not hold it against anyone as it was a reasonable strategy, and that many smart teams would use it if necessary.
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Unread 05-02-2011, 04:17 PM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

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Originally Posted by gblake View Post
Everyone else appears to be saying that they abhor the strategy regardless of whether the entire alliance wholeheartedly embraced it (and would paint a scarlet letter on any alliance that employed it) . If I am mistaken, please correct me.
While 'abhor' is too strong a word, that is a reasonably accurate representation of my feelings on the subject.
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Unread 05-02-2011, 05:54 PM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

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Originally Posted by gblake View Post
The tournament arithmetic might be as clear as a bell in those extreme circumstances; but it is the psychology of the observers that is even more important. To me this (instead of blanket statements that anyone-who-does-it-is-evil) is the better and more educational answer.
You've created a straw-man argument based on assuming an unlikely edge case, and then used that to scold quite a number of intelligent, thoughtful contributors. Since the OP did not include the approval of his alliance partners in his hypothetical, that is how the majority of people here responded.

Let me ask you a simple question -- if you were a student driver on team XYZ and your alliance partner DEF told you that they were not going to score during the match in order improve their chances in Eliminations, how would you feel? Would it be wrong?

Since I am not uncomfortable making value judgements, I would say that the correct answer is "yes, it is wrong."
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Unread 05-02-2011, 06:11 PM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

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I really like this discussion because it is out in the open. You should have discussions like this one with your team before presented with the situation.
We had this discussion with our teams and the conclusion was that if I ever had proof that one of our teams threw a qualifying match, either they could quit or I would.
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Unread 05-02-2011, 08:46 PM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

This is related to what several people have already said, but to the people saying that it's worth it if it gives your team a chance at a championship:

A very wise man once said "It's not about the robot." I think you know who he is, and I think you all know what he would think about that strategy. And I wholeheartedly agree.
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Unread 05-02-2011, 09:39 PM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

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Originally Posted by Rick TYler View Post
... Let me ask you a simple question -- if you were a student driver on team XYZ and your alliance partner DEF told you that they were not going to score during the match in order improve their chances in Eliminations, how would you feel? Would it be wrong? ...
In this answer I am using myself to represent a team's decision makers. I don't intend to imply that "I" make such decisions for any team I mentor.

That is easy. If they told me they were going to do it I would be miff'ed by the impoliteness of being told instead of asked; but regardless I would decide if the match was important to my success in achieving my goals, and then I would either answer "OK.", or "Please don't."

If I said "Please don't." but they went ahead and purposefully underperformed, I would be quite annoyed.

Even if I said "OK", I would only go along with it if we also asked the announcer to explain it to the audience.

Further:

If they asked me whether I cared if they used the match to give a rookie driver some training, I would go through the same analysis.

If they asked me whether they should risk damaging their fast, but fragile mini-bot I would go through the same analysis.

Etc.

Blake
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Last edited by gblake : 05-03-2011 at 08:06 AM.
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Unread 05-02-2011, 09:41 PM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

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Originally Posted by aldowyn View Post
... A very wise man once said "It's not about the robot." I think you know who he is, and I think you all know what he would think about that strategy. And I wholeheartedly agree.
Actually, like you, I don't; but I might ask him some day. I sincerely wonder where his "Compete like crazy on the field" attitude would lead him.

Do you only compete like crazy to win matches, or do you compete to win the meta-game that is the tournament?
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Unread 05-03-2011, 08:05 AM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

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Originally Posted by Rick TYler View Post
We had this discussion with our teams and the conclusion was that if I ever had proof that one of our teams threw a qualifying match, either they could quit or I would.
By "threw a match" do you mean finding out after the match that they surreptitiously, and without the permission of their ally(s), used less than their full ability in order to purposefully lose a match? or do you mean announcing before the match that they and their ally(s) have agreed to not score because they all have determined that outscoring their opponents lowers the chances of at least one team winning the tournament (and the match outcome is irrelevant to any other allies)?

These are not the same situation. Everyone I know or have corresponded with agrees that the first is deceitful/bad/wrong/unethical and should not be entertained. I would call the it "throwing a match" and would tend to agree with your reaction.

The second is 100% out in the open, occurs by consensus, and might not be a bad thing to do in some very rare, but possible situations. I would not call it "throwing a match" any more than I would say that intentionally walking a batter is throwing a baseball game.

If you agree with the way I use the terms, then we might be on the same page. If you don't, reasonable people can disagree.

Under the heading of "Reasonable people may disagree", someone who considers using the latter option should perhaps either be dissuaded or told how to do it correctly; but they should not be scolded or threatened with figurative banishment, in the vehement manner most replies used.

Blake
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Unread 05-03-2011, 09:44 AM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

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Originally Posted by pfreivald View Post
I just wish FIRST would put out a statement that it is in the spirit of gracious professionalism to try to win every *match*. I can see why they wouldn't -- because gracious professionalism encompasses good sportsmanship, so this shouldn't even be a discussion we're having on a yearly (or more often) basis -- but I wish they would.

So I'm going to say something that some people will immediately try to rationalize as not true, too black-and-white, naive, or what-have you:

Every team should try as hard as they can to win every match. To do otherwise is to shortchange your alliance partners, your sponsors, the spectators, and yourselves.
I don't. For multiple reasons.

First, isn't saying "X ig GP, and Y isn't GP" really defeating the point of GP? That's a rule or a guideline. It's not a matter of ethics or morals anymore, it's a question of rules at that point. GP isn't about rules, it's not a metric to evaluate behavior. Creating a concrete rubric for "GPness" completely defeats the value in GP.

Secondly, as I'll elaborate on in a minute, your root principle is a fallacy. And it's openly accepted in both FRC and sports that there are cases where it's acceptable to give less than 100% in favor of a larger goal.

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Is it horrible in baseball that you intentionally throw crappy pitches in order to walk a really good batter?
I realize this is different, but in essence, 1 player is intentionally not doing his/her best in order to support a larger goal of the team. Walking was not always considered reasonable. In many old fashioned baseball leagues, not throwing a fair pitch meant that you had to keep throwing fair pitches (which slowed down an already slow game).
http://www.baseball-almanac.com/rulechng.shtml
Baseball has an absolutely fascinating history. Even ignoring walking not being accepted, there was a point in baseball's history where intentionally trying to strike out a batter was considered dirty. You were supposed to serve up easy pitches down the middle of the plate for the other team to hit.There was actually a letter written to the university's baseball team from the Dean of Harvard condemning his players for throwing "deceptive" pitches with the intent to fool the batter. It wasn't considered the gentlemanly conduct that Harvard represented.

Should all the pitchers prior to Candy Cummings (the "inventor" of the curveball) be condemned for not trying their best to help their team?

Sometimes there are cultural convictions that limit the actions teams try in order to win. Should teams resort to "dirty" tactics in order to win a match? Wouldn't they not be giving an 100% effort if they intentionally avoided these tactics knowing they could give them a better chance to win the match? As Al Davis says, "if you 'aint cheating, you 'aint trying."

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Originally Posted by IKE View Post
On a tangential note, all of you that feel there is a moral issue involved with "not doing your best", how would this play in with partners not doing what is best for the alliance? If your team has a 2 tube auto that is 90% on the first tube and 50% on the second tube, and you partner is 0/8, shouldn't they then be forced by moral obligation to allow you to run your 2 tube? This past weekend teams often wanted to demonstrate that they finally got their Auto "working". Even though they had no chance of seeding top 8, even though they were 0/X (6, 8...) they insisted that it was a moral imperative that they give it another shot. Wouldn't this be considered throwing the match when they miss and it causes a loss?
This is a terrific point.

It's a pretty common and generally accepted tactic to "showcase" your robot's capabilities for potential alliance captains during qualification matches. Sometimes it comes to the detriment of your alliances' chances of winning. Is it wrong to try and demonstrate your defensive ability, even though you're your alliances' best (or only) offensive machine? Or to run your autonomous code even though it may interfere with your partners' autonomous efforts?

Should the struggling team who just wants to see their robot score its first game piece play defense in every match because its how they're most effective in terms of a winning strategy? Is it wrong of them to value seeing their robot complete the task they designed it for above winning? Are they "un-GP?"

Was it wrong to let Rudy play? Was it wrong for the Florida Panthers management to trade away good players in exchange for future prospects and draft picks? Was it wrong for Cal Ripken to play so many consecutive games when there were cases the Orioles may have done better with him on the bench?

There are obvious exceptions to the "play to win every match" doctrine. There's some truth in the underlying concept and motivation, but there's no 100% rule about this for a reason. Finding where that line lies for different teams makes for great discussion.

Last edited by Lil' Lavery : 05-03-2011 at 11:21 AM.
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Unread 05-03-2011, 04:32 PM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

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Originally Posted by Lil' Lavery View Post
First, isn't saying "X ig GP, and Y isn't GP" really defeating the point of GP? That's a rule or a guideline. It's not a matter of ethics or morals anymore, it's a question of rules at that point. GP isn't about rules, it's not a metric to evaluate behavior. Creating a concrete rubric for "GPness" completely defeats the value in GP.
To quantify a thing is to destroy a thing?

Such an entertaining notion in an engineering competition.

Yeah, I understand that you can't make a comprehensive all-things-GP rubric, and I understand that dissecting a butterfly might teach you how it works, but it ruins the beauty...

But I don't buy the argument that GP is immune to definition or guidelines -- because if it is, it is completely subjective and thus meaningless.

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Originally Posted by Lil' Lavery View Post
Secondly, as I'll elaborate on in a minute, your root principle is a fallacy. And it's openly accepted in both FRC and sports that there are cases where it's acceptable to give less than 100% in favor of a larger goal.
A. No it isn't.
B. No it isn't. It's openly accepted by some people =/= it's acceptable.
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Unread 05-03-2011, 06:36 PM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

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Originally Posted by pfreivald View Post
To quantify a thing is to destroy a thing?
The whole point of GP is doing what is right because it is the right thing to do. If you make guidelines, people will do it because that is the rule not because it is right. People will be doing the right thing still, but for the wrong reasons. If a person helps a person out because they want to, they are a good person. If they do it because they have to, it really doesn't say much about the person. GP is not, has not, and never should be a law. It should be something we all define for ourselves with the intention of being the best person we can be. Making GP a rule would be the equivalent of making a law that says you have to help get kittens out of trees. Yes, it might lead to more people helping others and doing the "right" thing. It will also eliminate the possibility of being truly GP. It doesn't destroy GP, it destroys the meaning of GP.

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Unread 05-03-2011, 06:47 PM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

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The whole point of GP is doing what is right because it is the right thing to do.
I'm sorry, but this GP-as-all-encompassing-morality take is rather funny to me. Don't get me wrong -- I take doing good for the sake of doing good very seriously, and I impress upon everyone I know the importance of exactly that -- but this idea that 'gracious professionalism' is the best thing since Jesus is a bit tiresome.

Humanity as a people can't agree on what 'good' is, for a variety of reasons both good and bad. Elevating GP to that level is, to my mind, downright silly.

I'm all for "Do good things. Just because." It's what I live by, and the primary reason I became both a teacher and a FIRST mentor. My philosophy is "if you have to choose, choose the option that would make your priest/pastor/imam/rabbi/mother/grandmother/father/grandfather/teacher smile the biggest". A corollary is, "if you have to ask on a matter of ethics, you shouldn't be the one making the decisions". A further corollary is "if you have to explain to your parents, mentors, or sponsors, you probably didn't make the right decision".

All that aside, good sportsmanship and faithfulness to your alliance obviate the need to bring GP per se into this. Matches are special, because your sponsors, parents, school administrators, and alliance partners will be extra-happy when you to win matches.
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Unread 05-03-2011, 07:28 PM
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Re: Losing on Purpose to Gain Advantage

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Originally Posted by pfreivald View Post
I'm sorry, but this GP-as-all-encompassing-morality take is rather funny to me.
...
Humanity as a people can't agree on what 'good' is, for a variety of reasons both good and bad. Elevating GP to that level is, to my mind, downright silly.
The first part I quoted: I generally define GP as a term for doing the right thing for the right reasons. Its really just a phrase attached to the already existing ideology that you've mentioned towards the end of your post. How do you define GP? I guess that might be where we disagree on whether it should be written into rules or guidelines. Just because I refer to something as GP and you refer to something GP, doesn't mean we are talking about the same topic. We might just give that title to two completely different entities. Depending on your definition, I might agree that your GP should be written into a set of rules. I am almost certain that I am not the only person here that uses the definition(or one similar) to the one I used above.

The second part I quoted: It is because nobody can agree on what GP is, is exactly the reason it can't be written into direct guidelines. Once again though, I'm not elevating GP to the level of good. I'm just defining GP as a synonym of sorts.
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