Browsing category sport

Ask Uncle Colin: Expected goals

Dear Uncle Colin, What on earth is "expected goals" and why is it supposed to be useful? - Just Enjoy Football FFS Hello, JEFF, and thanks for your message! The first part of your question is simple, although with some subtleties. What does 'expected goals' mean? 'Expected goals' is a

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Review: The Numbers Game, by Chris Anderson and David Sally

"'The book that could change football for ever' -- The Times," screams the garish orange front cover. Noted football experts Malcolm Gladwell and Billy Beane shower it with praise. Apparently everything I know about football is wrong. Despite all of the dubious hype, The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know

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A tennis puzzle

A puzzle that occurred to me watching Wimbledon this week: A tennis match goes to five sets. The number of games one of the players wins in each set forms an arithmetic series. Given that the two players won the same number of games in total, who won the match?

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An ex-Formula 1 driver asks… why does nobody ever ask me my opinion?

Former Formula 1 driver @MBrundleF1 asks: These election opinion polls. I've never been approached, nor has anybody I know, about a poll on anything whatsoever. Who are these people? — Martin Brundle (@MBrundleF1) April 5, 2015 (Obviously, he didn't ask me specifically, but I thought it was a good question.)

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Sport, maths, twitter and hulk-smashing (a rant)

My dear readers, it is not often I become angry. Rage is not an emotion that frequently troubles Flying Colours Towers. A sharp word for a student who is trying to wind me up, perhaps once in a while, but rarely a rant. As the man says, you wouldn't like

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How big a lead can a football team have?

A reader asks: What’s the biggest lead a football team can have in the table after $n$ games? In a typical football league, teams get three points for a win, one for a draw, and none for getting beat. After, for example, one game, if one team wins and all

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Probability and prediction

A reader asks: Is it easier to predict every game in the first round of a tournament1, or to pick the eventual winner? There's a competition run by Sky, which is free to enter; you win £250,000 if you correctly predict the scores in six Premier League games. It's free

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BBC Sport’s anti-smartness bias

“[James McEvoy] is an unashamed geek - he was reading a book on physics, as you do, to see if it could improve his performance.” - Radio 5 swimming commentator “You need some kind of accountancy degree to work out what each of them needs to do in the final

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Sam Warburton’s Dilemma

There are six minutes to play in the last Autumn international, and Australia are leading Wales by 30 points to 26. Australia, however, have just conceded a penalty in front of the posts, leaving the Welsh captain, Sam Warburton, with a dilemma: should he kick at goal (and take a

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Scheduling a Scrabble tournament

Once upon a time, there was a Scrabble tournament. Sixteen of the county's greatest Scrabbleologists descended on the venue... only to find the organiser had lost the fixture list. What the organise could remember was this: there were five rounds, and each player played each of the others exactly once.

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