The art of prediction


I used to play tennis when I was 12. I played for less than a year before I got tired of waking up early in the morning for practice. I wish all the activities that I quit or sucked at when I was young, started a little late; preferably around 12.00.

Anyway, this year’s US open tennis is one of the tournaments that I was following closely. Federer was playing as invincible as ever till he reached the finals. Roddick on the other side wasn’t too bad either. Today, minutes before the finals started, I thought of predicting who’s going to win and how he is going to do it. I scrapped it in my Orkut’s ‘scrap book’ as the match progressed (my Orkut profile is set for PST). Let me list my scraps (to myself),

9/10/2006

1:46 PM - A scrap of prediction - 3 minutes before the match's start

It's going to be a four set match. Federer would win the first two without tie breaks. Roddick would win the 3rd set in a tie breaker. Fed, however, would bounce back in the 4th set to win it and the match.

2:01 PM - things are going according to my prediction, Fed broke Rod's first serve game and he's now leading 3-0 in the first set. He's going to take it 6-2

2:07 PM - oh man, I could be wrong, Fed is leading 5-0 already. Come on you damn American, win at least one of your serve games and make it 6-1 or something.

2:14 PM - As if to go by my prediction Rod won his serve and broke Fed's too, now the set is set at 5-2. Roddick is now serving, let's see if Fed will break and make my prediction right.

2:20 PM - f*ck yeah! Damn I'm impressed. Not only did Fed win the game he won it just like the way I predicted (6-2, breaking Rod's serve). Now who else predicted it so precisely? :))


2:56 PM - oops it's all going awry; the second set has not been very impressive from Fed. He lost it 6-4; it wasn't even a tie breaker. Oh boy, I better shut up!

4:21 PM - The match is over, let's see what I've got right

Federer won - something that anyone can guess, no big deal
The first set's split - pretty amazing indeed
Third set being a tie breaker - of course, Fed won it (as opposed to Rod as I had said)
The game was a 4 set game - again, not bad at all.


***end of scraps***

My “prediction” is not completely random. I saw almost all of Federer’s matches and the last three of Roddick’s in this year's US open. I’ve now seen 6 of the last 12 matches in which the two played against each other. I didn’t consciously work out any permutations like they do in horse-races, but I can clearly say that my guess was a little “educated”. I remember reading something like this in ‘Statistics for dummies’ – inadequate information leads to inaccurate prediction of a random outcome, abundance of information leads to precise estimation of a random outcome. But, I wonder if any outcome is random at all (including Steve Irwin's "accidental" death).

8 comments:

Priya said...

Such a pity that you didn't get to play tennis solo in matches, which would have happened if you had continued practice. Have you played in any matches?

The same thing happened to me when i was around 14. When i was 10, i had an interest in Sangeetham. But at that time my family got transferred to Singapore. So we couldn't do anything. Then at 14, I joined a music class. So unfortunate that it was on a Sunday. I don't have any qualms on having classes on a Sunday. But the timing was in the morning 8am. I was already waking up everyday at 6am during the weekdays and also on Saturdays. Cos on saturdays i have other school activities. It was so tiring to wake up on a Sunday and by the time i reached home half the day had gone. I couldn't continue like that, so i quit after 3 or 4 months.

Although now that i think back, i would have liked it if the class was on a Saturday in the evening.

Suresh said...

nah, I wasn't that good when I stopped. I was doing ok in my club, mathapadi onnum periya idhellam illa:P.
But yeah, if I had played a little longer I might have played more inter-club matches (and won more, for a change :P). I mean, the fact that I stopped because I was lazy shows I lacked the passion to get good at the game. A lot of other kids were/are doing it.
Your case seems different though, no matter how passionate you are, there's only so much energy you can draw out of yourself.

Keshi said...

i think u've got issues. Check my ans to u in my blog.

Tharsica said...

Damn.
I am learning so much Tamil on your blog....thanks. thats all.

Suresh said...

@Keshi - Yeah I had issues with what you had written in your blog, and hence I made a comment. Now that I've replied your answer (rather in detail), I think you now know who's got "issues".

@tharsica - are you being sarcastic? because I haven't made a 'Tamil' post yet. If you're talking about my podcasts, then thanks (and you're welcome).

Known Stranger said...

oh you have a good analysis to give a time for this. amazing buddy. shows your interest in tennis.

Known Stranger said...

oh just saw the titel. art of preditcion hmmm hmmm like art of seduction - by john greene

tharsica said...

Suresh.

No, I was not being sarcastic. I did mean your podcasts which are awesome by the way. Keep posting.

Thanks.

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