Douwe Osinga's Blog: Foosball

Thursday, May 4, 2006


The first time I heard the term Foosball it was during an episode of Friends. I thought it was some sort of joke, the Americans using the German term because it isn't really football and table-soccer sounds so odd. Maybe it is such a joke, but it seems it is the official term. Also, it seems to be a game popular among the Google going geeks. When I came to Google I fancied me to be somewhat of reasonable player. Man was I wrong. There's people doing trick shots I've only seen videos of. And then there's people with perfect control. One tricky thing is, how to create balanced teams (for playing two on two).

Actually, it started out with the desire to run some sort tournament. Problem is of course that if you pair anybody somewhat reasonable with Stefan, that team wins the tournament. What we need is a good ranking that spits out even pairs. Something like the ELO ranking.

So for a few weeks or so we tracked all games and wrote down the results. Last week I loaded up the results in a 50 line python program that does some machine learning. It actually predicts like 90% of all games correctly, which is not that far from optimal, given that the games are far from consistent with each other. And it probably is a simpler algorithm then the famed ELO.