Monday, December 3, 2012

This Will Surprise You!

Those who know me, also know I'm not a great fan of statistics (don't even get me started) but there is a statistic that always surprises people, curling people, when I ask the question, "When a team blanks an end for the sole purpose of scoring a multiple end the next time they score, what are the chances (in percentage form) they will be successful?"

Answers cover a very wide range and certainly it will depend upon your competitive environment to some degree. The key phase in the question is ...'for the sole purpose..."!

Ends are blanked for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is to retain last stone advantage. You may wish to simply take one more end off the "game clock" and scoring is not a priority at the time. And I'll freely admit that to blank for the sole purpose of scoring a multiple end might not happen as often as I believe it does but nonetheless the statistical answer surprises most people.

To test the validity of the answer, when an event concludes and I have access to the line scores, I use only ends that are blanked in the first half of the game in my calculation as clearly there's a much greater likelihood that an end will be blanked in that part of the game where scoring a multiple end is at least on the radar screen.
The likelihood of scoring a multiple end after a blanked end the next time a score is recorded is 25%!

Yes, it's not a keyboarding error. It's 25%! If you blank an end you only have a 50/50 chance of scoring at all in the next end when a score is recorded.

I know, there are many of you out there who are scoffing at this statistic. To you I suggest you watch the scoreboards at your curling facility or when you watch a major event or do what I do and check the line scores (remember, use only blanked ends in the first half of the game) and test it for yourself. In recent tests using line scores of national events as I recall the statistic was in the low teens, not even breaking the 20% plateau.

The result for the recently concluded 2012 Canada Cup played in Moose Jaw, SK (for my international readers, yes, Canada really does have a place called "Moose Jaw") was a surprising 30% and there were only 20 ends blanked in total for all games played. Perhaps the message is getting through?

Is there a lesson here? Well, that's for you to determine but if you're the one on the team making decisions like this, before you blank the end you might just want to remember that you have only a 25% chance of being successful if the reaon for the blank was to score 2 or more points the next time a score is recorded. Let that rattle around in your head before you make your decision!


  1. There are too many variable to make this concept a reality. The quality of the competition you are in, the quality of the opposing team, and what actually happened in the end that was blanked are just starters.

    The most important factor to look at in this concept is whether you are a "have' or "have not" team. That is to say, is your team on paper better than the other team.

    If you are a "have not" team, then, yes, your chance are slim, ... but simply because a better team is out-playing you most of the game. But in that respect, you might as well blank the end and play for a surprise big end, because you won't be good enough to hold a good team down all game.

    Conversely, if you are a "have" team, you surely have the talent to score multiple points more than 25% of the time, otherwise, buy a good set of golf clubs.

    My father's old adage, "liars figure and figures lie" always seemed truer than not. Not calling you a liar Bill, but to live and die by statistics can be precarious at best. To be able to benefit from statistics, you have to have some God-given talent and also be able to shoot from the hip. Give me Kevin Martin and last rock any day over any skip reading an i-Pad.

  2. email address is and I look forward to your email but before you do, please re-read my post, your comment and then send me your email.

  3. Not sure how good a theory that is Handyman. Those statistics would have been drawn from both "have" and "have not" teams.

    Let's take the stats that Bill used from the Canada Cup. Clearly some accompolished curlers yet they could only manage 30% for multiples after blanked ends. Even if you were a "have" team as you define it, with those odds I would rather take the single and use your "have" abilities to exert pressure on your opponent and potentially steal in the next end.