Etiquette of the coopertition bridge

This is one of the few questions that can not be answered by webcast, nor has anyone really spoken about it much on Chief Delphi.

What are the rules of etiquette surrounding the Coopertition bridge? How rude is it considered to reject a teams offer to balance? When are the offers made? Long before the matches? Right before them? During the match? How do these change based on the caliber of the teams involved? (ie, if you’re the first seed, people may be more likely to choose to balance with your alliance rather than with one that the teams are both competing in the same bracket) Last but not least, are any teams making a “do-not-pick” list based upon choosing or not choosing to balance with yourself.

Thanks, and hopefully this should help set teams up for negotiations in Week 2!

I imagine rules of etiquette tend to vary from team to team, so even though we don’t compete until week four, here’s my two cents.

We plan to be making Coopertition plans well in advance of each Qualification Match, with all six teams present, so that everyone knows exactly what is going on. It’s difficult to blacklist teams because we only participate in one regional and we want to give our team the best possible chance at the title. If an opposing alliance refuses our offer of Coopertition, we’re not going to put them on any sort of blacklist, though of course it will go into our scouting report. If a team agrees to attempt balancing the bridge pre-match and then tries to double-cross us during the match itself, that’s when we’d start breaking out a blacklist. Even then, if the best team at the regional does that to us, we’d probably still pick them given the chance, because regardless of whether they actually wind up with us we want to break up power alliances (that don’t include us).

I plan on talking with my own allaince to start with and figure out who we thing should go on what bridge. After this we would take our plan to the opposing alliance (or maybe just one of the teams if they are not together yet) to tell them our plan and work out the details. As far as a blacklist, I don’t plan on having one, but if 2 robots are close to the same effectiveness and I have to pick one… I hope to get 2 coopertition points ever match this year even if I’m pushing a dead robot up with me (yes I know this won’t happen but I can try).

We talk to all the competing robots in queuing about the Coopertition bridge and sort out exactly who is going to the bridge, when they’re going to the bridge, and whether our team needs to assist with the balance. We show all the teams a video of us assisting with a Coopertition balance and that usually gets most teams to go along with it. If teams can show a plan for the bridge that’s already been thought out, most other teams will go along with it.

I would put a team on the Do Not Pick List if they agreed to go to the coop bridge and then didn’t during the match (assuming no obvious reasons not to, like they were tipped or something).

We were discussing the coop bridge with the alliances while in the queing line, figuring out who was most likely to make a successful bridge balance. If any team on the alliance did not want to do the coop bridge, I would put them lower on my pick list.

The coop bridge is terribly important to be in the top rankings and there is no reason that I can think of to not go for it.

I’m guessing that a Week 1 district event will be different from most regionals and even later districts, but few teams I saw or worked with had time to talk to one another long before the match. I had one pre-queue alliance meeting in 12 qualifiers. Mostly we met and talked to our alliance in queue. Then I’d either talk to the opposing drivers queued with us or cross the field during setup and ask. It’s a brief conversation; usually “Do you guys wanna Co-Op?” followed by a “Yes, 45 seconds/if…/we’ll go first/lower for us” or just “No (sorry)”.

To be honest, I don’t really remember who turned us down this past weekend or why. I started to track it, but so much of it ended up being “we’ve tipped 3 times in a row” or “we’re probably not going to move”, that I just let the 'no’s slide. I suspect teams will be better prepared in Week 4, so I’ll track the reasoning more closely then.

I’m trying to wrap my head around why a team wouldn’t go for the coopertition bridge, and I can only imagine it would only be useful in very limited situations. For example:

Team A and Team B are playing against each other in the very last match of the qualification rounds. Team A is 1 point behind Team B in the standings. Lets assume that all other teams are beyond reach of Team A - whether Team A gets 0 points or 4 points, all they can hope to do is pass Team B in the standings.

In this situation, if the score is anywhere close as the game nears its end, Team A may decide to skip the coopertition balancing in order to keep scoring more points and ensure a win, thereby passing Team B in the standings.

Now, realistically, this scenario is probably one in a million… With so many other teams at the competition, getting 2 points for balancing the bridge is probably going to see you pass several other teams in the standings. Getting 4 points for a big win will be a huge advantage. Getting 2 points while your opponent gets 4 is still a win for you, even if they’re going up more. For a majority of the qualification matches, there are too many games left for you to ignore coopertition - those two points may be the difference between playing Saturday afternoon and not.

There were two scenerios I saw at SMR:

  1. the alliance felt its aims were better served focusing on winning (we had two teams agree to balance, but went on scoring while we held the bridge). These seemed to be higher ranked veteran teams (suprisingly).

  2. the alliance did not have a plan, and did not know who would be available for balancing. These were mostly younger teams.

After getting stood up twice, we wouldn’t offer to do the co-op bridge unless we had a solid, detailed commitment before the actual match. When we talked to the opposing teams in the que, it was only to confirm who would be where, and when. If we didn’t get a solid promise from you, we moved on to the next team

Although it is a dumb strategy, apparently teams have decided in some cases that denying a perceived better team a coop bridge balance is a strategy. We spent about 45 seconds in a couple of matches holding a bridge for the coop partner who never showed up. So we did not get many coop bridge balances although we are able to do most of the work to get someone else on there with us. It is hard to cooperate alone.

It goes back to many teams not reading and understanding the rules so they don’t realize how beneficial it is getting on that bridge.

I was crunching some numbers earlier today (a lot of numbers…), and something I thought I’d take a look at was how rankings would have turned out if coopertition points did not effect qualification score. Let me tell you, there was a BIG difference. In fact, none of the top 8 teams would have come up in the same order, and with the exception of 772 at Smoky Mountain, 4161 in San Diego, 247 at Gull Lake, and 341 at Hatboro-Horsham, the number one seeded team would have been different. And teams as far down as the 7th Seed could have become 1st seed (3568 at Kettering). So, given these numbers, it’s understandable why some teams would decline. If you can’t beat a top seeded team, the best you can do is deny them the top spot. It goes without saying, that’s what a lot of teams are willing to do. Simply put, it’s not a nice or GP thing.

However, what a lot of teams didn’t seem to realize, and this also came from the numbers, the top few spots were rarely determined by more than a hand full of qualification points (2-4, usually). And the tiers (what I’ve called the clusters 4-5 teams with the same number of qualification points), could easily have been totally changed by just one balance of the coopertition bridge. Teams could have advanced by leaps and bounds if they had chosen to cooperate more.

Yeah, it’s understandable why teams would want to not balance. It gives some a better chance to come out on top (especially if the stronger teams have had a run of bad luck and are losing). That being said, you make no friends, and don’t guarentee yourself a better finish by turning down balancing.

tl;dr: Just balance. You make more friends, look nicer to teams looking for a good balancer, and you rank higher. Those things come in order of how important I think they are.

**1.**Offer to send your best robot to the co-op bridge if the other team will as well. That way both sides agree they are not just trying to slow down the other offense so they can win. Let the opposite alliance pick who they think your best robot is if it helps the negotiations.

**2.**Set a time to meet with a pre-negotiated time to pull out if the other doesn’t show. Make it early enough that success is assured. If you’ve been burned by this try asking the other team to go first and then meet them promptly. Verbaly acknowledge that both teams have a reputation at stake here when it comes to honoring their commitments.

**3.**Set a strategy for the bridge so the other alliance feels confident that the time invested will achieve success. (One team gets on and tips the bridge to the other side, allowing the opponent on. Down hill member pushes until bridge starts to tip and then freezes. Uphill person then makes the fine adjustments.)

**4.**If you invite the other alliance to your key area to get on, tell your partners to avoid fouling them.

If all else fails, try beating the other team by so many points that they realize their only hope for a qualification point is to co-op. :rolleyes:

Every match in the Kansas City regional seemed to focus on coopertition points to the detriment of their own team many times. Look, if you are losing by less than 10 points and have single “bridge-bot” you have to try and get on your bridge to secure the 2 QP. Its at least twice as hard to balance two bots from teams on opposite ends of the field and I saw quite a few fail and end up with zero points where their own bridge would have gotten them the win and 2 QP. My instructions are to secure the win first and then go for coopertition points or as someone else already said, if the win is out of hand you go for coopertition points. I can’t believe how many times I saw a team down by less than 10 get flipped or not able to pull of a coopertition balance on the middle bridge and walk away with nothing while handing two points to the other alliance. Why?

Keep in mind that had the coopertition bridge not been in play, the win-loss record probably would have been a bit different. Many of the top teams placed a high priority on the coop bridge going into this past weekend. I’m willing to bet that the standings would have been pretty similar if the coop bridge didn’t exist.

That’s absolutely true, and I hadn’t particularly thought about that to the extent I should have.

That said, I’m not 100% sure about that. If you have another robot on each alliance that isn’t coopertitionating (that’s a word now), then you have another robot for each alliance that can score or balance. If teams sent their best balancer/best robot in general to the co-op bridge (which would theoretically be the smart thing to do), then that robot is left to score for their alliance, potentially balancing things out. So, in theory, it would be a wash, or close to one. But that’s just my guess. This will require further study :smiley:

Also, with the 20pt cap on balancing in qualification rounds, the addition of a 3rd robot solely for benefiting the alliance wouldn’t be a super drastic change. Depending on the alliance, strategy and robot firepower.

But that’s definitely a point I need to consider more next round. Thank you very much for pointing this out to me!

-Leeland

Even with pre-made plans, my drive team reported to me that my team was ditched from the coopertition bridge in least two separate qualification matches.

From what I noticed on the field at Horsham, teams that consistently offered Co-op were already strong teams without it. A lot of teams, especially after the first few tips, were kind of nervous about the bridge. Most of the initiative came from good teams, as theyyou already understood the system and had confident/compotent drivers and good bridge lowerers. I wouldn’t expect huge changes until later weeks.

Looking back, I had 4 agreements to balance in 12 matches (our allies had some as well). We always had to go second as we couldn’t lower. 1 ended in the partner robot tipping themselves before we got there, 1 broke down, and 2 didn’t go for unclear reasons.

Who made the plans? I’ve found that if only the coaches talk to each other it doesn’t mean much. If the lead drivers and coaches meet then the decisions made carry more weight. :confused:

We’ve been ditched before too, but it never resulted in the other team winning. We always had time to recover. This has a way of making a lasting impression on a team. Sometimes for years. (Our scouts have a long memory when it comes time for alliance selections.) A reputation is a valuable thing.

A plea to all teams. Don’t make an agreement you can’t or won’t keep. You represent more than just yourself in this endeavor, and the consequences can reach beyond the game. :frowning: