Thursday, 31 October 2013

Bonus Question
How many Only Connect stats are too many Only Connect stats?

Following on from my analysis of Only Connect's missing vowels round, and with my team's (the Board Gamers - I'm one of the ones sitting next to Jamie Karran) next appearance on the show just around the corner, I thought I'd put together a post detailing some fun scoring statistics from the show. This is unashamedly geeky, however, so if you're not prepared for some hot, raw, game show stats action, look away now.

Round-by-round scoring

In my previous post I looked at how important the missing vowels round was in terms of the total points scored along with how often it allowed a team to come from behind and win (spoilers: not very). Here I'll be going into a bit more detail about round-by-round scoring, specifically how individual teams have scored. The graphs below show the points scored by each team across the four rounds of the show for the first seven series (I've not included any statistics from series eight as it's ongoing). With 99 shows in total you're looking at data for 198 teams in each graph. You'll probably want to right-click and open in a new tab to get a bigger version; there are a lot of delicious numbers here.

Distribution of round-by-round scores by each team

Those who are interested in the details can doubtless puzzle over the graphs themselves, so I shan't clog up the post with too much of my own commentary. Broadly speaking, however, all the rounds except for the wall have similarly shaped distributions, with missing vowels a bit more spread out (reflecting the greater granularity of scoring in that round). On the walls, meanwhile, the most common score is the maximum 10, achieved by one in three teams, while over half manage at least seven. My team's score of four a few weeks ago, meanwhile, puts is in the bottom quarter. The wall graph also illustrates a fun quirk of that round's scoring, where the 'six points' bar upsets a nice steadily increasing pattern. This is because it's actually quite awkward to score six points on the wall; to do so you have to either spot all four groups but only identify two connections, or vice-versa (you can't get 'three and three' because it's impossible to find exactly three groups).

It is of course fun to single out a few 'records' that these data reveal:

Round 1 (connections) highest score: 12. Achieved by the Alesman (vs. the Pool Sharks) in a series 4 first round match.

Round 2 (sequences) highest score: 10. Achieved three times: Gamblers (vs. Bowlers, series 3 second round), Wintonians (vs. Quitters, series 6 first round), and Francophiles (vs. Cartophiles, series 7 semi-final).

Round 3 (walls) lowest score: 1. Achieved by the Second Violinists (vs. the Footballers) in the first round of series 6.

Round 4 (missing vowels) lowest score: -3. Achieved by the Geocachers (vs. the Brit Poppers) in the first round of series 4.

Round 4 (missing vowels) highest score: 22. Achieved by the Epicureans (vs. the Courtiers) in an incredibly long missing vowels in the first round of series 4.

It's only fair to add that the Geocachers' -3 should be put into context; they had some ground to make up and so needed to be a bit trigger-happy. Curiously their opponents in that game, the Brit Poppers, faced similar misfortune in their next episode scoring -1 in missing vowels against the Radio Addicts. This gives the Brit Poppers the fairly impressive distinction of appearing on the only two shows in Only Connect history to see a negative score recorded in the final round.

It came as some surprise to me, when putting these together, that the Board Gamers' round two score of 11 in our opening match this series is a new record for sequences. I have subsequently reminded our captain that, had he listened to the two people shouting "point!" at him (and not inexplicably said "warhead") on a throwover, this 'achievement' would be even harder to surpass.

'Winning' rounds

Another idea that interested me was whether certain rounds are more or less likely to be won by the team that go on to win the match. It turns out there is some variation across rounds in this regard, albeit not much. At the top end, it's round 2 (sequences) that best indicates which team will win; being carried by the eventual winners 70% of the time. Missing vowels comes in second, falling to the match winners in 64% of episodes, while the connections round is much more of a toss-up at 59%. The team that wins the match only wins the wall 52% of the time, but this is mainly thanks to a large number of draws; 28% of wall rounds end in a tie.

Finally, I thought I'd look at how many rounds are won by the team that win the episode. Obviously there are a lot of drawn rounds, and so I've produced a comprehensive table here, but if we look solely at the rounds won by the winning team we get the figure on the right. It does, admittedly, barely warrant a graph at all, as most teams either win two or three rounds (38 and 42 times, respectively) but I like the colours. What's impressive is that 11 teams have won despite only carrying one of the rounds (although all of these were accompanied by tied rounds), while eight teams have achieved a 'perfect game' of sorts, winning all four rounds.

There are, of course, still plenty of fun questions to look at, and I'm planning to do some slightly more analytical work on these data at some point soon(ish). In the meantime, if you have any burning Only Connect related questions (and let's be honest, who doesn't?), feel free to ask (either in the comments or on Twitter @statacake) and I'll see what I can do!

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