Thursday, September 25, 2008

Division Multiplication

I've been thinking lately about the multiplication of divisions.

No, I'm not talking math-ese (I haven't taken math since high school! You do not want me talking math-ese).

But...with a tourney coming up so soon, my thoughts have been on where exactly I'll end up seeded in the whole melee of players. Yesterday, all evidence indicated I'd be first seed in Division 3 of 3, but divisions are like Michigan and Ohio weather...wait five minutes. They'll change.

I'm now fourth seed in Division 3 of 4.

Makes me much happier :) I've never had to deal with the trickiness of being first seed in a division, but I don't really want to. As first seed, I might have been more statistically likely to win money, but the consequences if I have an off game or two are far more severe. (Not to mention that in any given tournament, I'm there personally for fun and for rating points, not for money!) I'd consider - for me personally - a tournament to be far more successful if I gained rating points but didn't finish in the money than if I won money but lost rating points because my performance wasn't statistically up to expectations.

And if an off game or two exists for you, and you're one of the top seeds, you might miss out on both the money and the rating jump. Also, in any given tournament, it's likely that there are one or two people whose rating might be equal to or lesser than yours - that, for whatever reason, you don't have a consistent record of winning against.

There are several players I can think of about whom this is true in my case. Michael is one of them! For whatever reason, although I am fairly consistent in wins when we're hanging out at Starbucks and playing endless games on weekends (we've calculated that I've won just over 60% of the games we play in this context), the record reverses in tournaments. The same percentage is just about true in tourneys - except, there, it's Michael who statistically comes out ahead.

So if I need to win 6 of 7 games in a tournament because I'm near the top of the division, and Michael's one of the people I have to play - I know that either I have to pull out a win that is historically somewhat unlikely, or else I can't lose any other game in the tournament!

Middle-of-the-pack is just about right for me in terms of division placement. I'm the underdog and don't need to have a brilliant performance. If I place well, it's a pleasant surprise and an equally pleasant rating boost; if I don't, it's okay because statistics never expected it of me in the first place.

There then comes the question: how tightly packed is the division? By that I mean (and I think this is what Michael's going to do a post on when he emerges from the Great Swamp of Private Practice Law Must-Do's, so I won't go into it too in-depth here) what's everyone else in the division rated? Are everyone's ratings close together, as in the division I'll play in in Battle Creek if nothing changes? We're all within about 200 rating points of each other there, from 935-1184. This is great in that anyone, statistically, has a chance to place well if they perform just a little beyond what probability predicts they will! It's not the greatest for rating point gain - you've got no really high-ranked players who would raise your performance rating whether you win or lose the game(s) against them. But it's a fun, evenly matched division in which there should be a lot of really down-to-the-wire good games!

Anyone have any preferences as to where they like to be seeded? Why do you like it there?

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