4NCL: 23 - 24 March 2002

Saturday 23 March

    BARBICAN 4NCL 1   v WESSEX  
1 w Parker, Jonathan 2532 - Webb, Richard M. 2361
2 b Webster, Andrew 2413 1 - 0 Rossiter, Philip J. 2380
3 w Knott, Simon 2383 1 - 0 Poulton, James 2409
4 b Palliser, Richard 2443 - Corkett, Anthony R. 2316
5 w Ferguson, Mark 2376 - Yeo, Michael J. 2206
6 b Collinson, Adam 2391 - Simons, Martin J. 2230
7 w Rogers, Jonathan W. 2346 1 - 0 Neil, David R. 2222
8 b Kieran, Rosalind (F) 2079 - Howard, Emily (F) 2017
        5-2    

About what was expected, although it might have been closer. Philip missed a clear win 4 moves from the end, but had as usual left himself virtually no time in which to see it. Martin turned down a draw offer when better, but then played passively and was obliged to agree one a few moves later. On the other hand, Tony was under pressure throughout, and I nearly resigned at one point. The other games were a mixture of dull and depressing.

Sunday 24 March

    WESSEX   v BRISTOL 1  
1 w Webb, Richard M. 2361 - Ansell, Simon 2396
2 b Rossiter, Philip J. 2380 0 - 1 Sherwin, James T. 2339
3 w Poulton, James 2409 - Burgess, Graham 2298
4 b Corkett, Anthony R. 2316 0 - 1 Beaumont, Chris 2300
5 w Simons, Martin J. 2230 - McFarland, Robert S. 2280
6 b Yeo, Michael J. 2206 - Cobb, Charles 2297
7 w Neil, David R. 2222 0 - 1 Collier, David O. 2255
8 b Howard, Emily (F) 2017 0 - 1 Buckley, Melanie (F) 2147
        2 - 6    

On Saturday night, we had thoughts of winning this match, but Bristol strengthened their team for Sunday and we had our worst performance of the season (so far). Philip again missed a win, this time 3 moves from the end, although his opponent had been comfortably better until then both on the board and the clock. Martin played the same opening as on Saturday with the same result - he declined a draw offer when better, but was obliged to offer one himself a few moves later. James was also clearly better, but when he declined his draw offer he left himself a minute for 15 moves and was somewhat fortunate to still be able to draw at the time control. I played a line of my own invention that I had prepared and played in a tournament 15 months previously. As with most such creations, it will have to be sent back to the repair yard as my opponent gained a comfortable edge before allowing me to wriggle free. Richard maintained his 100% 50% record. We were always struggling in the rest. A weekend without a single victory consigns us to Division 2 next season, or does it....?

What are the odds on Wessex not getting relegated?!

Over 30 years ago, while at university, I remember coming across a book by Professor J.E.Littlewood (not the chessplayer!) in which he attempted to calculate the probabilities of extremely unlikely events. One I recall involved the chances of a snowball surviving a couple of minutes in hell. Although a qualified actuary, I get few opportunities in investments to perform such mathematics, so I thought I would estimate the chances of Wessex winning their last three matches.

For the match against Wood Green, we might expect to be outgraded by 250 points a board. Based on the ELO tables, this would give an expected score on each board of .2. There is no set formula for splitting this score between wins and draws, but a probability of winning of .1, drawing .2 and losing .7 gives an expected score of .2 and feels about right. The probability of losing 8-0 would then be .7 to the power of 8 = .058 or about 1 in 17 which might be a bit low. The probability of drawing 4-4 works out as .013 while the probability of winning the match is .0063, a bit less than 1 in 160. The match against Beeson Gregory 1 would be about the same.

For the match against Beeson Gregory 2, we might expect to be outgraded by 200 points a board, which would equate to an expected score per board of .25. Using a probability of winning of .1, drawing .3 and losing .6 gives an expected score of .25. The probability of an 8-0 defeat reduces to .017 (about 1 in 60) while the probability of drawing 4-4 improves to .027. The probability of winning the match rises to .014. Multiplying together, the probability of Wessex winning all 3 matches works out as .0000005467 or a bit better than one in two million! (somewhat similar to the snowball's chances in hell).

It is of course possible to construct a series of results such that even 8 points is not enough to avoid relegation, but this is offset by other series whereby 7 points or even 6 points might be enough to survive. These are of course so unlikely as to not be worth calculating!


Last modified: April 1, 2002

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