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Will Magnus Carlsen play world championship against Anand? Please vote here.

Unfortunaetly, I cannot close the poll. When Carlsen signed for the world championship, there were 19 yes, and 15 no votes of the 34 people who voted. Thank you everyone who voted!


World Cup Finals are here!!



Two of my favorite teams – Germany and Argentina will be battling it out tomorrow in the much awaited FIFA world cup finals. Best wishes to both teams!  It will ultimately be a win-win for me, but I am leaning towards and will be rooting for Germany to win.

Who will win the world cup? Assessment before quarterfinals

There is a substantial gap between what data websites and betting websites believe. Well, at least they have the order right!!

Here is what the betting websites believe:

Country Probability of winning
Brazil 24.1%
Argentina 18.0%
Netherlands 16.4%
Germany 15.0%
France 11.3%
Belgium 6.9%
Colombia 6.9%
Costa Rica 1.3%

Here is what the data websites believe:

Probability of winning before quarterfinals begin


Which continent plays best football? Findings from the group stage of 2014 world cup.

Update1: Thanks to suggestions from ‘faustus’,  Table 2 and Table 3 are now updated to include numbers of wins / draws, and some grammatical errors in previous versions are corrected.

The Group Stage of 2014 FIFA world cup is now complete, and in fact the round of 16 has already started.  Congratulations to the 16 teams that have advanced to the round of 16 after 48 very exciting games. In all 136 goals were scored, averaging 2.83 per game. This is far greater (~35%) than the 2010 FIFA world cup in South Africa, when 101 goals were scored after the group stage.

How did my predictions fare so far? I received an email from ESPNFC Bracket Predictor that I am better than (or equal to) 51.26% or all brackets, which basically means I am barely above average. Not bad for a person who watches football once every 4 years, and for whom the first thing that comes to mind when someone says football is an oval ball usually thrown and caught with the hands. However, when you think of the fact that majority who entered in that bracket competition is likely Americans, it may be sort of an underachievement.

 Let’s see which federations were represented in this World Cup by how many teams:

Table 1. Participants of the 2014 FIFA world cup, broken down into continents.

Federation Continent Countries
AFC (4) Australia, Asia Australia, Iran, Japan, S. Korea
CAF (5) Africa Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria
CONCACAF(4) N. America Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, US
CONMEBOL(6) S. America Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Uruguay
UEFA (13) Europe Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland

A small cartoon to enjoy below, acknowledging the introduction of spray foams in this world cup,  before we delve into which continent is the best?


Which continent has played the best football in 2014?

To be fair, we must first admit that the climate is tropical – hot and humid, and many footballers from Europe, N. America, Asia, Australia, Africa may not feel at home. Of course this analysis does not consider or adjust for this, nor is this a statistical inference. It is pure descriptive statistics. Below is the breakdown of all intercontinental games. This table includes the 5 games that was played between two European teams.  I have added the last column which represents how many games were won by the first continent (W1), how many games were drawn (D) and how many games were won by the continent that is listed second(W2).

Table 2. Summary of intercontinental games. (Number of games = 48)

Continent-1 Continent-2 No. games Goals-1 Goals-2 Total Goals W1-D-W2
Africa Australasia 3 6 3 9 2-1-0
Africa Europe 7 7 13 20 1-2-4
Africa N. America 2 1 3 4 0-0-2
Africa S. America 3 4 9 13 0-0-3
Australasia Europe 6 4 11 15 0-2-4
Australasia N. America 0 NA NA 0 NA
Australasia S. America 3 2 8 10 0-0-3
Europe Europe 5 NA NA 21 NA
Europe N. America 7 10 6 16 3-2-2
Europe S. America 9 7 14 21 2-1-6
N. America S. America 3 4 3 7 1-1-1
48 136

Excluding the 5 games played between two European teams, we have 43 games and 115 goals.  Here is how each continent performed. As expected, the top two continents were South America and Europe (Table 3), although North America was not too far behind and 3 of the 4 teams in fact advanced to the round of 16.

Table 3.  Performance of each continent against all continents combined. (Excludes 5 intra-European games)

Continent Games Goals For Goals Against Goal Diff Goal Ratio % teams advanced W-D-L
Africa (5) 15 18 28 -10 0.64 60.0% 3-3-9
Australasia (4) 12 9 25 -16 0.36 0.0% 0-3-9
Europe (13) 29 41 31 10 1.32 46.2% 13-7-9
N.America (4) 12 13 14 -1 0.93 75.0% 5-3-4
S.America (6) 18 34 17 17 2.00 66.7% 13-2-3

For those interested, I report in detail the 9 games played between Europe and S. America. As shown in Table 2, South America beat Europe 14-7.  It could be debated, however, that Europe may not be represented versus South America by their best teams.

Table 4. S. America v. Europe games (N=9)

S.America team Goals Goals Europe team
Brazil 3 1 Croatia
Colombia 3 0 Greece
Ecuador 1 2 Switzerland
Argentina 2 1 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Chile 2 0 Spain
Uruguay 2 1 England
Chile 0 2 Netherlands
Uruguay 1 0 Italy
Ecuador 0 0 France
South America 14 7 Europe

Hence, my very preliminary analysis based on only 43 games, and including only 9 games between Europe and S. America, shows that S. America is playing the best football in 2014 world cup.

Predictions for FIFA World Cup 2014

Although my three favorite teams are USA, Argentina and Germany, and I will root for them to win – I think the probability of Brazil winning is approximately 40%, which is huge given that 32 teams are participating.

Here are my predictions for the football world cup that begins tomorrow:



My chess personality

My chess personality

I took my chess personality quiz at chesspersonality.com and these are my results.

Predictions for Anand vs. Carlsen world championship. What does the data say?

Anand vs. Carlsen world championship 2013 will start in little less than 6 hours. It has been described as a battle between experience and youth, and arguments have been made for both sides. Carlsen is arguably the best player the world has ever seen, and has  an Elo rating of 2870, that no other player has ever seen on earth. He is not known to have a very deep opening knowledge, but has superior midgame and endgame knowledge and stamina and tends to grind his opponents to gain wins from equal positions after opening. He is known for precise plays, and has a good intuitive feel for the position. On the other hand, Anand is a 5 time world champion, has won world championship in 3-different world championship, and has been playing top level chess for more years than Carlsen’s age. He is known to have good opening preparations, but recently has been seen unmotivated or disinterested and tends to make mistakes at all three phases of the game. The bookies think Carlsen has 2:1 odds, or about 67% chance to win the match. The official website is chennai2013.fide.com

What does the data say?

Given an Elo difference between the 2 players of 95 points, which roughly translates to 0.6 points for Carlsen in a game, and 0.4 points for Anand in a game, we can predict what will happen during the match. Here, we need to assume a probability of a draw. I did 30,000 simulations, 10,000 each by assuming 40% draw rate, 50% draw rate, and 60% draw rate. The results don’t differ a lot.


The most likely outcome is that Carlsen wins with 6.5-3.5 or 6.5-4.5 points. After 12 games, there is about 80% chance that Carlsen wins, 10% chance the match goes into tie-breaks and 10% chance that Anand wins. We will come back and check after approximately 3 weeks, how good these predictions are 🙂

Please leave a comment for your own predictions. If you wish to just vote in a poll it is here