Hypothetical Cheesecake Ruling

These new rules are intentionally left vague. How can the understanding be clear if we cannot get straight answers on real situations that have come up in the past and will come up in the future?

Leaving interpretation of, by FIRST’s own admission, an intentionally vague rule, up to the LRI is borderline irresponsible. This ambiguity is compounded by the timeframe in which these decisions are likely to be made (likely after alliance selection and during playoffs).

Here is what we have determined could happen, according to FIRST’s QnA:

  • TEAM A and TEAM Z select TEAM B to join their alliance
  • TEAM B begins constructing a blocker to complete the needs of their alliance, with the support of TEAM A and TEAM Z.
  • TEAM C watches TEAMS A, B and Z working and photographs the process.
  • TEAM B gets re-inspected by a the LRI with their blocker
  • TEAM A, B and Z play and win their QF matches
  • TEAM C then delivers a credible report of an I1 violation to the LRI with photographs of TEAM A, B and Z working on TEAM B’s robot (https://frc-qa.firstinspires.org/qa/24)
  • LRI investigates the matter by pulling aside students and a mentor from TEAM B and asks them some questions about the blocker (https://frc-qa.firstinspires.org/qa/19)
  • TEAM B answers questions and asserts they built the blocker, in their honest assessment (https://frc-qa.firstinspires.org/qa/19)
  • LRI reviews pictures from TEAM C and determines that TEAM B may not be honest when they say they built the blocker (https://frc-qa.firstinspires.org/qa/19)
  • LRI consults local Event Organizer and calls HQ (https://frc-qa.firstinspires.org/qa/19)


  • LRI determines that TEAM B is being dishonest, due to the picture of TEAM A, B, and Z, which beyond reasonable doubt in the LRI’s mind shows that TEAM B did not in fact build the blocker to a sufficient level, and is attempting to exploit loopholes in I1
  • TEAM A, B and Z are DQed from both QF matches and is out of the tournament


  • LRI determines that TEAM B is being honest, and they likely built enough of the blocker to satisfy I1
  • TEAM A, B and Z are still in the tournament

Which call was the right call? What other information do you need?



I think this is a valuable question. I’m going to propose a Q&A question that I think will help address this (but not post it yet so other people get a chance to suggest changes first)

Q19 says, “If…there is other reason to believe I1 may have been violated (e.g. a credible report to the LRI that a team received a MAJOR MECHANISM from another team) the LRI may investigate the matter…”, and Q24 says “it is possible for a credible report to come from another team.”

Is there a minimum criteria for a credible report? Do pictures of one team working an another team’s robot qualify? Can you give an example of evidence that would qualify?

Edit: As recommended by @Clint_Ott, another question:

Q19 says " If they [LRI] come to the conclusion, beyond reasonable doubt, that I1 has been violated, they will work with the team (with guidance from HQ as appropriate) on how to proceed with getting the ROBOT inspected." If these reports come after the team has competed in matches with the illegal mechanism, is there a possibility of retroactive penalties?


I don’t know.

What details did the LRI see when he/she did these:

To second-guess the LRI I would need to see everything the LRI saw.

Are the pictures from Team C the LRI’s only reason for deciding against trusting the Team B? I’ve served as an LRI, many years ago. When I did that, I think it would have taken a lot more than pictures from Team C to convince me that Team B is not honest.



LRI Q: Did you build this blocker?
Answer: Yes, we built this blocker.

LRI Q: How does this blocker work?
Answer: Team B explains adequately how the blocker works

LRI Q: I have seen pictures of other teams working on your robot, can you explain this?
Answer: We built the blocker and did most of the work. Our alliance partners helped us out as needed, but we believe we did most of the work for the blocker.

LRI Q: So did you really build the blocker?
Answer: Yes, we really built this blocker.

What pictures did the LRI see?

TEAM C took 5 pictures, all of which clearly show members of TEAM A and Z working on TEAM B’s robot, some of them with TEAM B near the robot, some without a member of TEAM B in the picture at all.



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Two thoughts.

First, thank you for coloring-in the situation a little more. Details help.

Second, so far I don’t see enough to guess what call the LRI made. Without more detail I expect he/she will stay with the default and trust Team B.

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Thanks Richard.

What if instead of the pictures I listed, TEAM C took a 10 minute video which shows TEAM A, B and Z all working on the robot together for 10 minutes? It is unclear from the video where the parts are coming from, and TEAM B told the LRI that some of the parts came from their pit and some parts came from other pits.

Thoughts then?

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I feel like TEAM A and TEAM Z could avoid this issue if they just let TEAM B be the ones to assemble the blocker for their own robot.


You’re not wrong.

But what if TEAM C, D and Y are working together to get a blocker on TEAM D, and they’ll clearly finish the blocker in time, but there is a chance TEAM B on their own will not?

What do you recommend TEAM A and TEAM Z do instead?


I would prefer they inform the LRI and maybe something is done about it or the other alliance is told to just allow TEAM D to do the work themselves vs going down to the other alliances level and play close to the line of cheating. I think situations like this are similar to First trusting teams to properly use the bag and not cheat, its mostly honour based.


Thanks for the perspective and opinions Kaleb. We are getting further into the root of the issue.

I can get on board with your first point. Essentially TEAM A and Z do what TEAM C would have done to them in my hypothetical. They monitor TEAMS C and Y and notify the LRI with a “credible report”. Makes sense. Now we have both alliances policing each other.

Your second point of “the other alliance is told to just allow TEAM D to do the work themselves”: Who is going to tell TEAM C and Y to “just allow TEAM D to do the work themselves”?

Lastly, is “close to the line of cheating”, in fact, cheating? How close to the line is close enough before you are “going down to the other alliances level”?

While completely based upon the honor system, the bag rules were much clearer than I1. I think there is a reasonable difference between these two sets of rules, even if they both rely on the honor system.




They don’t have to make a detailed report and wait until after a round of the playoffs they can just walk over to the LRI and say I think this might be happening right now can you take a look, and then the LRI goes over and sees the other two teams working on the robot and says “TEAM D should be the ones working on TEAM Ds robot” and then everyone moves on was what I had in mind.

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Thanks Kaleb.

I think I understand clearly what you have in mind, but I don’t think the rules give the LRI the authority to tell TEAM C and Y that "TEAM D should be the ones working on TEAM Ds robot”. This would be an overstepping of the LRI’s authority in that moment.

If there is a separate safety concern, the LRI should ask the teams to stop and the Event Manager or Safety Adviser should be notified.

If the LRI believes that TEAM D violated I1, that would come up during the inspection process.

The inspector cannot stop TEAM C, D and Y from working on TEAM D’s robot, unless of course there is an immediate safety concern.

Like Frank says, none of this is worth getting hurt over!



But what if at the moment the LRI walks over Team C and Y happen to not be working on the robot. Then it comes down to Team A/Z’s students’ word. He will say “but i swear i saw it” and the LRI is back to not having enough information.

I appreciate Mike’s “lawyering” of the rules. It seems he’s just trying to clearly show how subjective rules based upon feeling and spirit cannot be enforced consistently in FIRST.


Based upon these rules and this situation, it sounds like its in every alliance’s best interests (interest of winning) to have a dedicated student to go watch and police the alliance they are up against next to make sure they are not violating the rules. No respectable student would lie but if they are able to get a “credible report” of a few pictures at opportune moments, they gain a huge advantage in elims.

(I’m not advocating for doing any of this just trying to bring up a situation that could arise because of these subjective rules)

"Examples of exploitation include:
a. assembling pieces of a MAJOR MECHANISM provided by another team
b. receiving a mostly complete MAJOR MECHANISM from another team and providing a small piece "
With this being part of I1 I was under the impression that teams suddenly having new parts on their robot after alliance selection would seem questionable and that most teams would understand that giving their partner a blocker to add to them would most likely be illegal and situations like that would happen a lot less often. But in the situations where teams decide to push the line difficult situations can occur and a lot of pressure is on the LRI but I think taking the teams word that they did upgrade their robot right before playoffs on their own is the best option at that point.

I think this should read “Most teams would understand that giving their partner a blocker to add to them is illegal under the new rules so they will come up with a way to add that blocker within the new rules* rather than giving up that competitive advantage”

*To what they view as within the rules which brings us back to the whole issue. Another team might not view that method as within the rules and various LRI’s may or may not view it as within the rules.


I think you’ve done a great job explaining your perspective.

Stepping back a moment, the broader discussion here is that these rules are too subjective, and do not provide adequate guidance to teams. There is so much nuance if you take these rules to their logical conclusions.

Many people have superimposed their personal wishes to see cheesecake eliminated onto these brand new rules. The bad news for these people is the new rules to do not ban cheesecake, plain and simple.

The rules only regulate collaboration. They do not eliminate collaboration.



I believe the situation would have to be truly ridiculous before an LRI would actually disqualify an alliance, or even remove the “cheesecake” mechanism. The fallout would be enormous if they made the wrong call to DQ.
In the team A B C Z case, it would have to be a blocker made with A/B prefabricated parts before I could imagine the situation escalating to a DQ.

Sidenote, we can use pictures of other teams now to get them DQ’d, but match videos still can’t be shown to refs. Wack


It seems that the implementation of these rules are markedly similar to bag rules. As long as the team being worked on is happy/perceived to be telling the truth, there won’t be any issue. If I build most of a MAJOR MECHANISM, but the team feels like they have contributed enough to have “built” the mechanism, then it’s fine.

Much like bag rules, FIRST seems to be indicating (at least to me) that LRI only gets involved in particularly egregious cases (team admits they didn’t build major mech, LRI sees full mechanism being carried as one piece to another robot) which I think is similar to the honor system for bag rules. (Team says they bagged, therefore they did) and something egregious would be penalized like:

  • Team says they didn’t bag
  • Team shows up with no bag on robot.

That being said, Team A reporting Team B likely works similarly to say… Team A reporting Team B for not bagging, if the paperwork is fine, and the team says they bagged, it’s okay.

That’s just my current understanding of the clarification from the Q+A…


But I think there’s a bigger difference between Team A reporting Team b for not bagging, which is highly unlikely that they had any “credible report” compared to Team A reporting Team B for violating these rules which is much more likely to have a “credible report” (at least according to the reporting team. When something happens at the event and is more directly involved with elims, teams are more likely to want to police each other and more likely to have a reason to for competitive advantage.