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Hot Topic (More than 10 Replies) Sam Collins' bias towards White (Read 8864 times)
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Re: Sam Collins' bias towards White
Reply #5 - 06/22/17 at 14:33:46
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I hate statistics.

Collins: 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 : 83,3%
This is the sort of number we used to see for an opening like the Grob, based on only half-a-dozen games.

MegaBase 2017: 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 : 47,0%
If a healthy developing move like 2.Nc3 cannot score 50% for white, there is something wrong with the data. If the players are evenly matched, I would expect to see something like 50,5%. What does Mega2017 show for 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 ?
  
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Pessoa
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Re: Sam Collins' bias towards White
Reply #4 - 06/22/17 at 13:18:11
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IsaVulpes wrote on 06/22/17 at 11:19:09:
Does White scoring well necessarily have to be some kind of bias, and not just that those are more crucial games to cover?

Yes – an interesting thought. But ...

If this were true – i.e., if there were no bias – how then to explain the rather obvious differences between the white scores in the games selected by the different writers? For the same lines? Would you say that, e.g., Jonathan Rowson did not look for the most crucial games in the Rossolimo? (That would constitute a different kind of criticism ... )

IsaVulpes wrote on 06/22/17 at 11:19:09:
On the other hand, if White tries something new, and it works (!), it becomes crucial.

I think one could easily turn this argument around: If Black tries something new, and it works (!), it becomes crucial, too. E.g., there appears to be a recent trend in the Rossolimo with Black preferring to answer an early Bxc6 with ...bxc6 instead with ...dxc6 (the latter having been considered almost forced for a long time). If it turns out that White gets no advantage whatsoever after ...bxc6, it certainly becomes crucial, and the score should be close to 50%. The Rossolimo with ...bxc6 might even stay crucial for a while, if only because White – unsuccessfully – tries one new idea after another against it, and in the chesspublishing updates the black players are regularly shown precisely why these new white ideas were unsuccessful. This, however, would presumably need a writer with a certain bias towards Black ...
   
There are other – yet admittedly rare – examples where new ways to handle a position with Black are so successful that White feels urged to seek salvation in altogether different lines. To quote Alexander Delchev from his book The Most Flexible Sicilian:
"The most dangerous plan against the Taimanov has always been the English Attack – 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Nf6. In 2013 Black has developed a new way of meeting it – 8.0-0-0 Be7! 9.f3 b5 10.g4 Nxd4! 11.Bxd4 Bb7 which brings terrific results. White even began to avoid it and switched to 8.f4 ..." 

Another point. Suppose the writer responsible for the Anti-Sicilians section is a devoted Sicilian player himself and also firmly believes that after 1.e4 White's position is already beyond repair – to quote a classic, tongue in cheek. Now he notices a new idea for White played succssfully (1-0) in an important game. He could then choose this game for his next update. Or he could wait for a couple of weeks to see if there is another important game in which this new idea is refuted (0-1). He would then choose this game for his next but one update and quote the first game only in the comments. This "strategy" would not naturally get a vast plus score for White.

Now consider the other case. The writer responsible for the Anti-Sicilians section is a firm believer in Fischer's "1.e4 is best by test" and thinks the new idea for White mentioned above is a killer. He then proceeds to publish the first game in his next update and "tends" to overlook the second game or "hides" it in the commentary to another one. 

Finally, let me repeat what I wrote in my initial posting of this thread:

"Of course I know that very often the result of a game has nothing to do with the result of the opening, and in his comments Collins regularly points out ways for Black to equalise. Still, as a Sicilian player, I find it depressing how often the games he chooses for his updates end with 1-0." 
  
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Re: Sam Collins' bias towards White
Reply #3 - 06/22/17 at 11:19:09
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I'm not a subscriber so I can't give any sort of "proof", just a random thought: Does White scoring well necessarily have to be some kind of bias, and not just that those are more crucial games to cover?

Say you have a well known equalish position.
If Black "finds" something new, it'll just be "In this position, which is already known to be a draw, Black now tries something new (why even?), and it's also a draw.", which isn't the most interesting thing to go over.
On the other hand, if White tries something new, and it works (!), it becomes crucial. Does this actually bring an advantage? Was it just a surprise? How should black respond to equalize? etc

Which basically means every White win with a new/rediscovered try has to be put under close scrutiny (to find a way for Black to equalize / figure out if it's actually the way forward for White), while Black wins will usually be born from outplaying White in equal positions (not too relevant for an opening page), and draws will often just be "You've seen this before, and I've talked about this before, they got an equal position and the play that followed was logical".

This way, you'd naturally get a vast plus score for White in the analyzed games - without any sort of bias (as in "This opening is the greatest, look, 70% win in the game I look at!"), but just because those games tend to be the most important ones to look at (for both sides).
  
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Re: Sam Collins' bias towards White
Reply #2 - 06/22/17 at 10:51:25
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GMTonyKosten wrote on 06/21/17 at 13:31:37:
I'm curious to know the scores for the other writers in this section, are they all biased towards White?

Well, some of them are, but not all.

Let's begin with Gary Lane. I did some statistics on the 515 games he has annotated in the Anti-Sicilians section which were played between 1990 and 2004. He mainly discussed the lines given below.
The scores attached to each line are: White's score in the games annotated by Lane • White's score in the "top games" of MegaBase 2017 (played over the same period of time, i.e. 1990 – 2004).

Gary Lane (515 games, 1990 – 2004):
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+      57%  •  51%
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5      70%  •  56%
1.e4 c5 2.c3                        62%  •  49%
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3                      68%  •  47%
1.e4 c5 2.d4                        64%  •  33%

Obviously Gary Lane's selection of games also showed a distinct bias towards White. To some extent, I suppose, this can be explained by the openings he prefers (preferred) to play in his own games. According to MegaBase 2017, with White he usually opens with 1.e4, and with Black he meets 1.e4 almost exclusively with 1…e5.

Analogous stats for other writers:

Jonathan Rowson (146 games, 2004 – 2006): 
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+      38%  •  52%
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5      52%  •  56%
1.e4 c5 2.c3                        54%  •  49%
(Rowson with White: 1.e4, 1.d4; with Black: 1.e4 c5)

David Vigorito (179 games, 2008 – 2010):
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+      40%  •  50%
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5       60%  •  58%
1.e4 c5 2.c3                        59%  •  48%
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3                      44%  •  48%
(Vigorito with White: 1.d4, 1.Nf3, 1.c4; with Black: 1.e4 c5)

David Smerdon (298 games, 2013 – 2016):
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+      65%  •  51%
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5       68%  •  57%
1.e5 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3           77%  •  50%
1.e4 c5 2.c3                        53%  •  46%
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3                      60%  •  48%
(Smerdon with White: 1.e4; with Black: 1.e4 e6 and 1…d5, but also 1…c5)

Other writers who have contributed a lot to this section over the years are Andrew Martin, Richard Palliser and John Shaw. However, the number of games they've looked at in the various Anti-Sicilian lines seems too small for any stats to be meaningful.

From the above, I think, one can conclude that some bias in the writers' selection of games originates in their own opening preferences. This observation is corroborated by Sam Collins' repertoire: with White he mainly plays 1.e4; with Black he meets 1.e4 mostly with 1… e5 (but also with 1…c5). (Let me add that the stats I gave earlier on the lines looked at by Collins are from MegaBase 2017, not from MegaBase 2016).

It stands to reason that similar tendencies are likely to be observed in other sections, too. It's a very natural thing to happen, I guess, and in principle that's fine with me, but of course the bias towards White or Black shouldn't become too strong.
« Last Edit: 06/22/17 at 13:29:01 by Pessoa »  
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Re: Sam Collins' bias towards White
Reply #1 - 06/21/17 at 13:31:37
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Pessoa wrote on 06/21/17 at 09:57:58:
In the archives (Anti-Sicilian section) I found 231 games commented by Collins since 2010


I'm curious to know the scores for the other writers in this section, are they all biased towards White?
  
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Sam Collins' bias towards White
06/21/17 at 09:57:58
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For quite some time now I have been having the feeling that Sam Collins, in his updates for the Anti-Sicilian section, has a rather strong – and hence, in my view, unjustified – bias towards White. His latest update ("Plenty of success for White") urged me to have a closer look.

In the archives (Anti-Sicilian section) I found 231 games commented by Collins since 2010. He mainly discusses five systems / move orders. In the respective games, White scored:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ : 57,5%
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 : 77,3%
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3 : 76,7%
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 : 83,3%
1.e4 c4 2.c3 : 54,5%

By contrast, in the "top games" of MegaBase 2016, played since 2010, White scored:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ : 50,2%
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 : 57,2%
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3 : 49,6%
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 : 47,0%
1.e4 c4 2.c3 : 46,5%

Quite a different picture, isn't it? Of course I know that very often the result of a game has nothing to do with the result of the opening, and in his comments Collins regularly points out ways for Black to equalise. Still, as a Sicilian player, I find it depressing how often the games he chooses for his updates end with 1-0.

Come on, Mr. Collins, the Anti-Sicilians are not that good for White! Please, redress the balance! 
  
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