Thursday, February 23, 2006

David Tufte and Strategy

I recently, via a Google search, stumbled on some excellent recent posts by David Tufte at voluntaryXchange on the subject of curling and its strategy (I link to one in the previous posting). He captures the deep subtlety of the sport that arises from its scoring rules.
Has anyone actually done a properly metric analysis of the general strategies used in curling?
Typically a skip will work to win 2+ points if he/she has the hammer, and to keep the enemy to 1 if not. So in many circumstances the player with the hammer will try to score no points for lack of a better alternative.
Are these really good general rules? Are there marked and significant differences in the ability of teams to steal and prevent suffering steals, and the distribution of the scores they get with and without the hammer in individual ends? Do such changes suggest different teams should play strategies with more knobs to turn than those described above? If the other side has the hammer, might I prefer for them to take 1 (and give me the hammer) over my stealing 1 (and losing the hammer). Maybe the question is whether we can assign a point value to the hammer, which is likely to change over the course of a match. A probably crude analysis of high-level games over history could provide a crude estimate of what thye hammer in the first end is worth. Could it conceivably have negative value?
I should think this is very fertile ground for some excellent analysis from economists, and others oriented to game theory and the like.
I'd love to read such material.


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