Sunday, November 17, 2013

Another figure of fun

Read GQ and lower your IQ, as the old gag goes.

The nonsense above comes from a piece written for GQ by one Jason Henderson, who is apparently editor of Athletics Weekly. If he reckons a billion people are watching Anand-Carlsen, God knows how many people he reckons watched Usain Bolt. Maybe more than the number of atoms in the solar system.

 Naturally one expects all sorts of nonsense to be written about chess by people who know little or nothing about the game. One also suspects all sorts of nonsense to be written about chess by certain people who do know about the game - and sure enough, on Mr Henderson's athletic heels came Susan Polgar.

Bringing us updated, timely, fair, and objective chess daily news and information from around the globe, Polgar brought us the following objective news:

which may well have been achieved by now

an outcome foreseen by Mystic Polg

where "predicted" might as well mean "made up".

But wait! One billion is already yesterday's news!

Good Lord! So where does that figure come from? As yet nobody has been able to find out. But returning to the more modest one billion figure, Polgar is sure that GQ wouldn't publish such a figure without some kind of fact-checking procedure having been followed.

Now you may feel that this is a slightly inadequate explanation of a figure which Polgar herself apparently "predicted". You may also feel that it places more confidence in GQ than that publication necessarily merits.

You may have company.

Two's company, three's a crowd.

Problem with reproducing any old rubbish, see, is that you develop a reputation for reproducing any old rubbish.

But the question is this. Having got her prediction up to two billion before game six, and the population of the world being a little in excess of seven billion....

....can Polgar reach that figure before the match is over?

[Thanks to Matt Fletcher]


John Cox said...

Don't knock it, Justin, apparently this article is more popular than 100 pictures of fetching young ladies in their smalls.


Of course, chessbase didn't run this story just so they got to put up pictures of fyl's. No, sirree. No goatish lechers they.

John Cox said...

By the way, I’m not sure this one billion figure is so absurd. It depends what you mean by ‘watching’. Clearly nothing remotely like a billion people are watching, in the sense of logging on to the official site. But if you take ‘watching’ to mean ‘keeping an eye on with some interest as to the result’, I wouldn’t be quite so sure it was wrong.

ejh said...

I would. I think if you look at the world's chat forums, bulletin boards and what have you, the amount of interest in Anand-Carlsen is not very high (I say this having checked one popular bulletin board beforehand, to see). I should think the proportion of the world that even knows the match is happening, compared to, say, the proportion that knew the Olympics was happening, would very very small - and knowing that an event is happening doesn't constitute following it, let alone "watching2 it.

John Cox said...

Well, you might want to learn Hindi first before commenting on that, I guess!

Let's face it, neither of us actually has any idea. And nor does GQ, I grant you.


ejh said...

Well, it ought to be possible for people with the right data, the right statistical tools and the right standards of comparison to propose a figure in a broadly correct (or at least resaonable) range. This would probably not involve referring to a figure manifestly plucked from GQ's collective and well-dressed arse as if it had been arrived at by a process similar to Nielsen ratings. (It's also possible that a little too much weight is placed on the population figure for India. It's not as if everybody is intersted in chess.)