Predicting The Men’s World Championship Field…With SCIENCE! (Guest Post by Todd Kozlowski)

The Fencing Coach

Disclaimer, I’m not a statistician. Not even close. I’m so, so sorry to any of you who are for my lack of rigor.

Todd made these predictions using the Elo method. Whatever the hell that means.  Todd made these predictions using the Elo method. Whatever the hell that means.

The prediction here is based on the commonly-used Elo system, which tracks competitor performance in other sports like baseball, soccer, and chess. I threw together a program to calculate the odds of each competitor reaching a certain round. The percents are given, along with a color-coding (green, >50%, is likely, yellow, between 15% and 50%, is a challenge, and red <15% is unlikely).
Problems with the model: because I haven’t been tracking Elo over the entire season, theses are very crude preliminary provisional scores. I hope to track the specific Elo of each major international fencer in the coming 2014-15 season, and will have a (remarkably better) model by World Champs ’15. Other problems:…

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The Referee: Friend, or Foe? (Guest Post by James A. Weiss, Editor, The Fencing Coach)

The Fencing Coach

James Weiss (left), Michael El-Saleh (center), and Ira Schlosberg (right). We experienced many biased referees at the Maccabi games in Israel. James Weiss (left), Michael El-Saleh (center), and Ira Schlosberg (right). We experienced many biased referees at the Maccabi games in Israel.

(Disclaimer: There are three roles that fencers and referees have assumed, or may assume during their relationship with fencing: the fencer, the official, and the spectator. It is important to note that none of these are, or should be thought of as, similar or interchangeable for the other two. And, not being able to realize which role an individual has personally assumed provides nothing less than an intellectual disservice when trying to comprehend the following discussion.)

Recently, I was talking with a fencing friend of mine about our respective experiences as both fencers and referees. We had both agreed that, oftentimes, our experiences as officials were infinitely harder than our experiences as competitors.

During our conversation, in which both of us had recounted instances of being “screwed”, as fencers…

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