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December 30th, 2003

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06:47 am - El Gordo
You might remember that one of my obsessions is the multi-billion-Euro Spanish lottery, El Gordo; buy a ticket numbered from 00001 to 66000 for €20 (currently US$63 * due to the weakness of the dollar), hope it's one of the 1540 winners drawn out of these large-bottomed draw machines and receive a payout of up to 10,000-for-1. (Lots of prizes for near misses, too; in total 3,820 of the 66,000 numbers make a profit and another 6,599 of the 66,000 numbers return their stake, with about 70% of the prize money being returned.)

However, each of the 66,000 tickets is duplicated many times (this year, 1,900 times), so someone really obsessive might buy all 1,900 €20 tickets for a number and stand to win €380 million or lose €38 thousand. It's a big Spanish tradition on the Saturday before Christmas; they have kids singing the numbers and prizes in a glitzy, all-singing, all-dancing draw. Apparently one of the consequences of conversion from the peseta to the euro is that "€2,000,000" has far fewer syllables to sing than "239,595,840 Ptas.", so one hopes there is more dancing to compensate for the less singing.

(Technically, that link refers to El Niño, Spain's second biggest annual lottery, next scheduled for January 6th: similar, but 100,000 tickets not 66,000, each € ticket repeated 400 times, top payout is 8,000-for-1, 8,613 of the 100,000 tickets return profits, 29,999 of the 100,000 tickets return the stake, again 70% overall payout, 43% less dancing. Source. Searching web pages in languages you don't speak is tremendously good fun when you can figure things out from context.)

However, the name El Gordo has been purloined for at least one other prediction game; here is where I kindly request your assistance. A list of sporting, political, cultural, financial or other categories is given; each player must predict, some time in advance, who the single outstanding performer within that category as requested is. 60 points are split between all players who guess correctly. Accordingly, being the only player to pick an outsider who proves victorious may return several times more points than picking a favourite. I understand there are only ten players in this game, so the totalisator is not expected to be at all a precise one; I suspect the likely effect of this is to put equal odds against all but the three or four favourites in each case.

Anyway, here are the categories for the game I'm playing, plus my suggestions. If any of you have hot tips or value suggestions, please pipe up with promptness. (And with reasons. Reasons good.) I'm not expecting everyone to opine on everything, but if you have a specialist subject, please let me borrow your expertise. Yes, there is rather a British bias. No prizes, this is just for fun.

2. Australian Open Women's Champion Justine Henin Hardenne
4. Rugby Union Six Nations runner-up France
5. Democratic nomination for US President Howard Dean
6. World Snooker Champion Mark Williams
7. Italian Serie A football league winner AC Milan
8. FA Cup football winner Manchester United
9. # of seats won by Labour at European Elections 27
10. UK men's croquet champion (see the rankings - note that the game's organiser is there, ranked #108.) Reg Bamford
11. European Nations football Championship 2004 winners France
12. Ice Hockey's Stanley Cup Winner New Jersey Devils
13. Round in which Tim Henman is eliminated at Wimbledon Last 16
16. Olympic men's 100 metre champion Deji Aliu
17. Cricket county champions Surrey
18. Formula One Championship runner-up Kimi Raikkonen
19. Winner of cycling's Tour de France Alexandre Vinokourov
20. Rugby League's Super League winner Leeds
21. FTSE 100 financial index at 30/9/04, +/- 50 points 4747
22. US PGA golf champion Vijay Singh
23. Bank of England interest rate at 31/12/04 4.25%
24. Price of a litre of petrol at organiser's local BP garage in London at 31/12/04, +/- 2p 79.9p

...and, for completeness, though I don't expect you (unless you're the_maenad) to be able to help with any of these...

1. Zine Poll 2003 winner Ode
3. Oxcon Settlers of Catan tournament champion Markus Welbourne
14. 2004 World Diplomacy Champion Brian Dennehy
15. 2004 Manorcon Croquet Champion Nicholas David Alfred Parish
25. Number of most recent issue of the zine in which this appeared at 31/12/04 66

Incidentally, I would be prepared to run a similar prediction game myself if there is the demand. Choosing the categories is always fun, but the constituency of players is not clear. As it's my Friends list, I suppose I could include some particularly lurid or LiveJournal-related personal categories, but good taste should perhaps prevail.

Unrelated: inspired by Peter Sarrett and alice_and_lain, a tech prediction. In two years, between 1% and 10% of weblogs will distribute video clips instead of HTML. (Over 90% of video weblogs would be better as HTML weblogs because it's quicker to read text than to watch video, but many will use video's advantages as an improvement. The adult industry will drive the technology, as usual.) Whether RSS is still in use, whether the distribution method of choice is Atom or something else, there will be so many similarities between following your favourite video weblogs through an aggregator (eg add RSS feeds to your Friends page) and following your favourite TV shows through a PVR (eg TiVo) that the world will want to treat both broadcast TV content and narrowcast video weblog content in the same way using the same apparatus. No longer will LiveJournal's adverts say "Be heard", they'll say "Be seen and heard"!

* ...OK, US$24.87.
Current Mood: Gordo!
Current Music: A lady wearing purple reciting poetry

(14 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:December 29th, 2003 10:54 pm (UTC)
Try $34.82/20 pounds. To change my money the other day, it cost me $200 to get 100 pounds (including their fees to do it, of course). -.-
[User Picture]
Date:December 30th, 2003 06:51 pm (UTC)
There's a fair chance that it may get substantially more lop-sided in the same direction over the coming year - analysts reckon a 30% chance of €1 = $1.50, which is likely to drag things up to £1 = $2.00 or thereabouts, even before fees.

On the other hand, this may do wonders for US businesses that depend significantly on exporting goods.
[User Picture]
Date:December 30th, 2003 01:55 am (UTC)


I was just going to predict Edward Hawthorne for World Diplomacy Champion when I clicked your link and discovered you're referring to a different World Championship ! Ooh - controversial !

In which case I change my vote to: no idea. Since I have no idea who'll attend ManorCon !
[User Picture]
Date:December 30th, 2003 06:59 pm (UTC)

Re: Interesting

Now I want to know which Diplomacy World Championship you were thinking of. :-)

I'm guessing you're thinking of the Diplomacy event at the World Boardgaming Championships - which, confusingly, was the World Diplomacy Championship not so many years ago. The Dip WC is reasonably credible as these things go, rotating around the world from location to location from year to year (originally, from two-years to two-years).

This year sees the 14th World Championship; it's been in Australia twice and in Europe more often than it's been in North America. Dip is played in other continents (Israel in the Middle East, which I guess is Asia, Brazil in South America, and there was talk of a load of the Euros going to Morocco, but there are no Moroccan locals known). Normally you get between 4 and 20 people travelling to another continent for a World Dip Championship; I think we've had an intercontinental winner once in the first 13 iterations.

There should be a reasonably good turn-out of Americans coming across to the UK for the World Championship, not least because there's a big French Dip event the week after. (This is deliberate; the last time the World Dip Championship was in France - two or three years back? - it was held the week after ManorCon to make it worth potential intercontinental travellers' while to double-dip, so to speak.)

Accordingly it is not at all inconceivable that Edward Hawthorne might win it, which would be rather amusing!
[User Picture]
Date:December 31st, 2003 03:15 am (UTC)

Re: Interesting

I get pretty much all my Diplomacy stuff from The Diplomatic Pouch, who give the World Champtionship results here.

However, on closer inspection these may in fact be one and the same WDC, just somewhat lacking a unified website.

The reason I rate Hawthorne's chances is because he managed something of a career best last year and so is presumably improving. Given that last year he came 2nd... Also, I'm in no way biassed by the fact that he now edits The Diplomatic Pouch !
Date:December 30th, 2003 02:59 am (UTC)
May I suggest England for Six Nations runner-up? They failed to convince beating Wales during the World Cup, will be everyone's target and look well capable of getting bounced at least once now it seems not quite so important.

Also, Fulham as FA Cup Winners looks tempting. They have that "not quite good enough to be serious contenders in the league but well capable of beating six randomly chosen opponents in a row" air about them to me.
[User Picture]
Date:December 30th, 2003 07:01 pm (UTC)
I have changed my answers accordingly. Admittedly you weren't the only person to suggest either one, but nevertheless, your share of the credit and/or blame will be clear. :-) (In all probability, we'll both be equally wrong!)
[User Picture]
Date:December 30th, 2003 05:07 am (UTC)
I'll of course go for Fulham as FA cup winners .
Vinokourov to win the TdF? Quite likely ... given that Armstrong and Ullrich are unlikely to be able to keep the pace for another year and is a sixth win for Amstrong even possible?
[User Picture]
Date:December 30th, 2003 07:03 pm (UTC)
Y'know, I think Lance probably will win it a sixth time, which will be rather nice. However, I would expect at least eight of the ten players to have gone for either Armstrong or Ullrich, on the grounds that they're the only non-British Tour de France cyclists that the British have heard of, and I have half a feeling that I heard Ullrich is a bit crocked these days.
Date:December 30th, 2003 10:11 am (UTC)

Remember my form on predictions!

2. Australian Open Women's Champion

We're tacitly assuming that Williams and Williams won't be back to crash the Famous Belgian party, and that Capriati doesn't do anything at her favoured tournament. Henin or Clijsters.

4. Rugby Union Six Nations runner-up

It's an even year, so England plays in France. That should give the French home advantage.

8. FA Cup football winner

MUN is at AVL in the opening round. I'd back Chelsea.

9. # of seats won by Labour at European Elections

At this stage, I'd go lower than 27, as electors will work out how to vote so that Labour doesn't pick up the last seat in a region. Do remember that there are only 78 mainland seats this time!

11. European Nations football Championship 2004 winners

France is past her best. Italy in a weak tournament. If you want the full 60, Latvia or the Netherlands might be a decent bet.

12. Ice Hockey's Stanley Cup Winner

Toronto is on unusually strong form this year, but will have to clamber past Philadelphia and/or New Jersey.

21. FTSE 100 financial index at 30/9/04, +/- 50 points

Moderate growth early in the year, stabilising over the summer. I think September could be the bottom of the market, somewhere around 4700. (Today: 4464)

23. Bank of England interest rate at 31/12/04

4.5% (today: 3.75%). The weakness of the dollar gives enough room to delay rises for a couple of months along the lines.

24. Price of a litre of petrol at organiser's local BP garage in London at 31/12/04, +/- 2p

I'd go a little higher, expecting the dollar to stabilise around its current 1.75-1.80 levels. 82.9p. (Down the road: 77.9p)
[User Picture]
Date:December 30th, 2003 07:11 pm (UTC)

Re: Remember my form on predictions!

Do remember that there are only 78 mainland seats this time!


I forgot exactly that, despite this having been a topic we have discussed in the past. It'll be interesting to see whether any of the other players have flagged it up. Accordingly I asked for my 27 to be lowered to a 24 (assume half the six missing seats go to Labour), but I was too late. Shucks.

(I wonder how Rev. Ian Paisley finds the time to hold down so many seats?)

France is past her best. Italy in a weak tournament. If you want the full 60, Latvia or the Netherlands might be a decent bet.

Mmm, it does look fairly open. With only ten votes to be cast in the game, I don't think you need to pick a distant outsider in order to be the only person to have picked it. You could turn the game into an accurate totalisator by permitting people to split their single vote among different options (0.5 of a vote for France, 0.4 for Italy, 0.09 for Spain, 0.01 for Latvia and so on) and then splitting the 60 points pro rata among fractions of a vote cast, but I think that would be very likely to decrease the number of players. Nevertheless, a twist worth considering and possibly exploring. Don't think it would work for questions like 21 or 24 where there are a range of answers, though.

Very interesting speculations - thanks for your thoughts!
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