Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Question authority

The story goes I was in the back seat of the car continually asking "Why?" which seemed to disconcert my father. His mother said, "Well, Ronald, how else is he going to learn?"
The great baseball writer, and thinker, Bill James, made a career out of questioning accepted truths. He was castigated by the so-called 'establishment', but later was asked to join and accepted a job with the Boston Red Sox, who later won the World Championship.
I have many questions concerning chess. Today I will ask about statistics.
Why is it that when I looked at the pairings for the last round of the recent US Open and saw my friend IM Ron Burnett paired with GM Dimitri Gurevich I could not ascertain which player had White and which had Black? There was a letter, 'A' in front of the pairing number. The letter 'A' was before every pairing. Why could it not be the letter 'W', or 'B'?
Why is it a player has only one rating? Like a baseball hitter, who has a different batting average vs either a right-handed pitcher, or a left-handed pitcher, it would seem only logical for a chessplayer to have a rating when playing White and one for when he plays Black, would it not?
I would like to know how some of my chess playing friends have done against GM's as opposed to how they have fared vs IM's. I would like to know how they, and, for that matter, I have faired against Masters; Experts; class 'A', etc.
The great GM Walter Browne, is called 'Mr Six-Time' because he won the US Championship a total of six times. I would like to know how he fared against his opponents, not only in the US Championships, but in other tournaments as well. Many years ago there was an article in CHESS LIFE before the US Championship detailing how each opponent had fared aginst the other participants. I thought it one of the most interesting articles to appear in our magazine. It would have enhanced my enjoyment of this years Championship to have known how, for example, Hikaru Nakamura had fared vs Josh Friedel before the last round battle. It would have also have been nice to have known how they have fared against each other, with each color, and how they have done 'lately'.
As a fan of baseball, I can go to www.baseball-reference.com and find an answer to just about any question I may have concerning the history of baseball. For example, I can learn what Mickey Mantle hit vs left-handed pitching in any year he played. Because of www.retrosheet.org I can check on a statement like, for example, "Whitey Ford was used by Casey Stengle mostly against the better teams."
Some years ago while working at the Atlanta Chess and Game Center I met a young couple, Ed and Jillison Parks, who were real chess fans. I gave them lessons and Ed even came to the House of Pain to play in a few tournaments. They enjoyed getting online and keeping up with the Royal Game, just as fans of other games do. Chess needs more fans of the Royal Game. I believe better statistics would enhance the prospect of having more chess fans, and the more fans of chess, the better for those who play the game!
We chess fans can have more, and better, statistical analysis if we demand it.


Anonymous said...

I like the idea of having a rating for both White and Black. Maybe someone should consider a performance rating for each color. Baseball has stats for each month, so maybe all players could have a performance rating for both colors for each year.

Parx said...

I think this entire story is made up. Ed and Jillison Parks? Ridiculous names. Impossible tale!

One of my wife's stalkers forwarded this to me.

I'm so glad to know you're still alive. I'll email you soon.