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Training: 2014 Cynosport World Games Gamblers Course Analysis

Use this course analysis of this Cynosport Team/Performance Versatility Pairs/Veterans Gamblers course to help you train your strategy skills at home or in a class. By Julie Daniels

A very fun Gamblers course invited all sorts of strategies and paths for dogs and handlers in Team, Veterans All Around, and Performance Versatility Pairs classes. One of the good things about this class was how clear and well-worded the written general briefing was. The specific rules of this course were written at length on the back of the map for all competitors to study. So often, the rules of a unique Gamblers class are not clear, and the wording of a written briefing can allow for differing interpretations. That is not happening here. Check out both the map and the briefing and see what you think!


This is a 1-2-3-5 point system course, with the weave poles worth 5 points. The weaves are positioned at the opening side of the course, so almost everyone worked to include them. 

Because of the stipulation that the "doubler" obstacles set up a bonus of double points for the next obstacle to follow, many handlers chose to try to get directly from the open tunnel under the dogwalk to the 5-point weave poles. Doing it twice, if possible, afforded the maximum number of points plus repetitions. 

This was not so easy to do, however, because there were more than 30' between the tunnel exit and the weave entrance, and the dog had to thread through the box of jumps on either side of the path at about 20' distance. Only the dogs trained to stay on the direct path were getting successfully all the way to the weaves from the tunnel. The problem with going over either jump en route is that now the 1-point jump was doubled rather than the 5-point weaves. In other words, that path traded 10 points for 2 points. 

Quite a few handlers chose the lucrative opening line of the start jump into the wingless two jumps as a 180, then the winged single jump into the right side of the open tunnel under the dogwalk, and directly to the weaves. From there to a repeat of the wingless jumps and winged jump, tunnel to weaves again. That opening was worth 31 points. 

Most handlers did not go all the way out to the 2-point chute at the back of the ring, but some handlers chose to do a loop from A-frame to jump at the right back corner of the ring and back over the dogwalk, for 7 points. 

As is usually the case at Cynosport, the gamble here was not a distance challenge. It was a time and strategy challenge. 

This closing pretty much limited the handler to the front half of the ring because weaves and contacts were at that point worth zero. The jumps, tunnels, and tire were all worth double points and could be taken twice. Many handlers were able to include more than two of these more valuable obstacles in the generous closing time. The closing time limits were just generous enough to inspire aggressive handlers to go for extra obstacles, and the time was just tight enough to catch them out if they bobbled. If the dog did not break the finish beam prior to the second whistle, then all of their closing points were lost. 

I sat ringside watching Adrienne Lynch judge this class. We all loved the wireless microphones! Her calls were coming quick and clear, making it easy to follow along. No question that if the first whistle sounded while the dog was on a contact, then those points were available in the opening period. I even heard handlers comment on some of the calls after their runs, so it's obvious that the judge's voice and her decisions were understood in the moment. Because of the multiplier used in Gamblers scoring, this class was where a great many team victories were made.

This article is part of USDAA's Training Tuesday series that is appearing on USDAA's facebook page. We encourage you to discuss this course on our facebook and to upload videos of your class or training group playing this game. If you have a facebook account, please join in the fun here:

Julie Daniels is one of the foremost names in the sport of dog agility in the United States. She was one of the early champions of the sport and helped many clubs throughout the country get up and running. In 1993, Julie opened White Mountain Agility, a 100-acre dog agility facility in North Sandwich, New Hampshire. She developed and teaches the White Mountain Agility Instructor Certification Course, which has honed the skills of hundreds of teachers and thousands of dogs worldwide. Julie is a two-time IFCS gold medal team member and a two-time USDAA national champion. Julie also provides commentary for the Cynosport World Games and can be reached through her website


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