In the knockout stages of a tournament, football is a fairly simple game to understand. Each team tries to score goals and the team with the highest number of goals wins (and proceeds to the next stage). The pre-knockout, qualifying stages, however, are a different beast — filled with intrigue and sometimes tactical behaviour. The most egregious example of this, obviously, is the 1982 qualification round in which Germany and Austria effectively stopped playing for the last 80 minutes of the game to ensure they both went through, while Algeria was cut.
On this week’s QI podcast though, I came across an even stranger match — between Barbados and Grenada in the 1994 Caribbean Cup qualifier. Barbados needed to beat Grenada with a goal difference of at least 2 in order to proceed to the next stage of the tournament. The tournament also had a weird sudden-death golden goal rule, whereby if the teams were drawn at full-time, they would proceed to extra time, where the first goal scored would win the game AND count for two goals.
Barbados led 2-0 at the 83rd minute, when Grenada scored a goal, making it 2-1. Barbados realised it was more advantageous for them to go to extra time and try to score a goal there, than let the game end at 2-1, so they scored an own goal, making it 2-2.
And then it got weirder still. Grenada now realised that it was in their best interest for the game to end at full-time even if they lost the game by one goal (since Barbados wouldn’t have the two goal difference they needed to proceed to the next round). So Grenada tried to score an own goal, but were blocked by the Barbadians, forming a penalty wall in front of the Grenadian goalkeeper.
Here’s a game-theoretic explanation of the whole thing; Barbados eventually got to extra time, and scored a goal, making the final scoreline 4-2.
Other bits & bobs
Your partner’s laziness is contagious. (To my husband, I apologise in advance.)
A new study finds that when couples sign on to do something together — start a savings account, diet, get fit and so on — their level of commitment defaults to the least-motivated member of the pair.
A strange tale of photobombing : Photographers Joey L and Anthony Kurtz captured each other in their pictures in Varanasi in 2007, and figured it out six years later over a twitter exchange.
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock all week, and haven’t yet seen Weird Al Yankovic’s #WordCrimes, it’s worth a watch.
I loved the Zen Pencils tribute to Maya Angelou.
The Favourites List is a somewhat irregular (usually weekly) roundup of things I’ve enjoyed reading. Expect some fiction, long-form writing, travel, food, technology. I usually link to free content, but occasionally to items behind a paywall (because I think paying for quality content is awesome!).