Tag Archives: Luck

Luck in Science

Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.
— Thomas Edison

Chance plays a leading role in science, but to gain the glittering prizes it is not sufficient to be in the right place at the right time.
— Frank Close “Neutrino“, 2010

Science has a much more decorative word for “luck” — “serendipity“.

So, considering my posts of Games & Luck, how much luck do you think is involved in science?  Do you have any famous quotes I can add?


Filed under Philosophy & Religion, Science

Luck in Games

Luck plays prominently in human thinking and thus, in religion.  But before getting into that, I would like to ask readers to help me with something I have wondered about for ages:  Is it possible to order mind games in terms of the amount of luck vs. skill in the game?  We all have intuitive ideas about which games are luckier than others, but does anyone know of disciplined attempts to rank games by luck?

Below I have quickly and casually attempted to make an  ordered list of a few games — the most skilled are on top and the most lucky on the bottom.   Have I left out your favorite game–where should I put it? Are any games over/under-rated — why?  Do you think this a pointless venture?

  1. WéiQí
  2. Chess, XiangQi, Shogi
  3. Mahjong , Bridge
  4. Poker
  5. Reversi, Pente, Connect Four
  6. Checkers
  7. Backgammon
  8. Scrabble
  9. Solitaire
  10. Stratego
  11. Yatzee
  12. Monopoly
  13. Dominoes
  14. Tic-Tac-Toe
  15. Coin Flip

Challenges in the this ordering include:

  • Many different kinds of skills: spatial, memory, reasoning …
  • Effort vs. Natural skill: Some skills come natural to some people and take no effort.
  • Several sorts of luck (perhaps).

I think a one-dimensional spectrum is totally inadequate so I am looking for suggestions before going off on my own.  Any ideas, arguments, or questions?   For instance, though I made WéiQí as number one in skill, I sometime doubt this status.  But when I tell WéiQí enthusiasts that I suspect even WéiQí has luck, my skepticism is met with violent objections.

Anyway, let me know your thoughts about luck in games.

This post on wiki mentions the complexity of comparing abstract strategy games.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion