Closer still

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

To continue my self-analysis of exercise routines, and specifically to follow up on my squash post, @Bain asked the following: “I'd love to see win percentage by game # within a match. I'd guess that Steve was 75% in the first two games; I was 75% in the third and fourth games, and we were even in game five.” His hypothesis sounded right to me—I also perceived that I tended to come out strong, then fade. Turns out, we were wrong again.

Here are the totals for the full set of games. I think that past the first match we've got some pretty small sample sizes and weird incentives with added on 1 or 3 game sets[1]:

But, this isn’t exactly right, since matches don’t always stretch to five games. Someone’s going to try a lot less hard in game 5 if they’ve already lost the match. In the match-relevant games[2], here is my win percentage by game:

It looks like I had a *slight* edge in game 1, Alex had the edge in 2/3 and I completely dominated Game 4 (reflecting, in part that it's often a "must-win" for me, and in part that I tend to win matches 3-1 and Alex tends to win them 3-2). A final note is that within the games that determined matches we're 44-38 in match *games* (my advantage) even though we're 10-9 in matches. I've won more matches 3-1 while Alex has won slightly more 3-2. Here's how our match scores have broken down (again, all from my perspective)[3,4]:

Put one way, Alex converts his game wins more efficiently into match wins than I do.

1. E.g., “Now that I’ve lost, let’s bet lunch that I can take game 6”*
2. (ignoring games after the match was concluded; e.g., counting only the first four of a LWLLW match -- this is why there aren't 18 games for Game 4 and Game 5)
3. There's one match missing because I recorded only that Alex won the match, not the game totals (methodologically, I also credited Alex with one game in the game totals, since you must have taken *at least* one game more than I did from the first five).
4. Also, methodologically, I’ve got two fewer match win/losses in this analysis than I did in the last one because I excluded three round robins in which we played two games against each other (result: 2-0, 1-1,0-2) for simplicity.

*Most matches included a wager on the match. A post-game Gatorade was common, as was a beer (though those rarely got redeemed). Big bets were usually lunch. Oddly, the post-match bet was often higher stakes than the first bet; e.g., a beer following a Gatorade, or the loser had to listen to a podcast of the winner’s choice or purchase and read a book of the winner’s choice.


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