by Douglas Zare
3 March 2014
Some backgammon events are extreme. You might have your largest box run ever, make the largest blunder, get the luckiest exchange, play the longest game, or face your strongest opponent. We'll call it a record if it was the best/worst event ever at the time it occurred, even if it was surpassed later. Records are fun, and people like tracking how results compare with the records, including in the Winter Olympics which just concluded and extreme weather events. How often should you expect to see a record-setting performance?
Marking records can be amusing, but it also has some value. We can model how frequently you should see a record if current games are like past games. Exceptionally many records indicate that the games have changed. Of course, there may be more powerful tests, but sometimes aggregate statistics are harder to track than the extreme events. I can't remember the average error rate of my opponents, but I can remember the largest blunder an opponent made against me:
Red misplays 6-2.
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