Friday, June 04, 2010

office pool (world cup)

OK so Bill, one of our teachers, printed up a pool for basically gambling on the World Cup. It's not really gambling, because no money is involved, though maybe he'll get a prize of some kind for the winner, which in any case can't be a teacher. And, to tell you the truth, none of my students would take my advice anyway, since I'm an American, and have absolutely no instincts for how to, say, predict a draw, or know when a team like Serbia has an edge. None. My advice is virtually worthless.

The pool is actually complex and lots of students don't really understand it. In any given group, say group C, you have to predict whether each game (Group C has six in the first round) will be won or drawn, and, if won, won by whom. Then, you rank in order 6 to 1, whic outcome you are most sure of. If you are bloody sure the USA will beat England, then you might give that outcome a 6, and relegate to 1 some draw that you really aren't so sure of, like maybe USA and Algeria.

I say all this tongue in cheek because, a) my brother lives in England, which is heavily favoUred against the USA actually, but if the USA has any grudge match, or someone they might LOVE to beat, it could be England, and b) most of my students who really know this stuff are Saudi and seem to be pulling for Algeria although smart money seems to be saying that the USA can beat them.

So I filled out my form with whatever predictions I had; I might share them, but then found out that it wasn't due until TH, which would give me some time to actually learn a little more, before I hand in my most educated guess. Here's a little of what I've learned so far:

They call Group G the "Group of Death" because Brazil can kill anyone, but both Portugal and Cote d'Ivoire are highly respected, really good, and North Korea is acting like it can beat anybody, and some people believe them. But Cote d'Ivoire just lost a star. This kind of gives a tilt toward Portugal, but I have a natural inclination toward the Cote; I'm kind of stuck here. And by the way, they want to be called Cote d' that so hard? I think it's bloody anglocentric to insist on giving them our own name.

They call group D "deep" and difficult to call...I'm still getting to the bottom of this; there are lots of groups where I'm just now finding out the FIFA rankings, or what you could call received wisdom about what might happen. The wild card for me is when to predict a draw. How often does this really happen? My experience says, maybe 20% of games tops. But that's more than a guy like me is likely to predict; I'm not likely to give a six to any "D" prediction since in my own little win/lose world draws are highly unlikely. Yet I also don't know what the scorer does with the 6 I just gave to my other prediction: do I get 60 for getting it right? or 6? If I predict a draw correctly, and then give it a 6, I should get double, then the whole thing times 6, or maybe to the sixth power. Seriously, I have no idea how it's scored. All I know is, I have to rethink this Mexico-South Africa game.

My Japanese student says, don't bet on Japan. My African student says Ghana, Nigeria and the Cote will make it to round 2, but not Cameroon or South Africa. Honduras and New Zealand appear to be nobodies in the public estimation, but I met a guy on a plane out of O'Hare one time that would dispute at least half of that assertion, back when Honduras was playing the USA in the qualifying rounds and at least half the plane was wearing Honduran coloUrs. I tend to favor the teams up and down the Americas, and I guess the USA and Honduras worked together to boot poor Costa Rica out of there, but there's still Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and of course Brazil, and, my student from Chile is wearing a sly smile these days; I think he's pretty sure his team is going to round 2. I'm with him; I'm betting on Chile, but other teams, like Slovenia, Slovakia, Denmark, Greece: how does one figure out whether these teams will win or draw? Your guess is as good as mine...or, more likely, better than mine.



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