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!