Almanac Maths and Tip the Top 8: What is this about?

P Flynn photo of Top 8 formula




This is the formula developed by the greatest Almanac minds to calculate the winner of the famous Footy Almanac Tip the Top 8 competition.

All you have to do is pick first to eighth on the ladder as you think they will finish at the end of Round 23.

It’s actually very simple.

Send your entries in before first bounce tonight – Richmond v Carlton.

Best if someone explains this to the footy public. P. Flynn?


Send your Top 8 in order, to Tip the Top 8

$10 per entry to

Malarkey Publications

BSB 633000

A/C 154103428


Here are the other tipping comps:


About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst three. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Peter Flynn says

    Hopefully the following makes a bit of sense. I’ve tried to minimise strict formalism. Sum of squares is grounded in and across many areas of mathematics.

    (1) Definition of Terms:

    xp is the predicted ladder position so xp=1 corresponds to the team you predict will finish 1st

    xa is the actual ladder position so xa=11 corresponds to a team that finishes 11th

    (xp-xa)^2 is the difference squared and squaring ensures a positive result

    sigma denotes a sum

    The n=1 below sigma and the 8 above sigma denote that 8 numbers (as we will see squared differences) will be summed.

    The resulting sum gives S which is your Tip the Top 8 score

    (2) Interpreting the formula for S:

    We calculate 8 differences between predicted ladder position and actual ladder position. We square each of these 8 differences to form 8 positive (squared) numbers and we then add these together to give a value for S.

    The operation of squaring these differences means that everybody obtains a non-negative score.

    (3) Sample Calculation (2011 Season)
    Predicted Ladder Position (xp) Actual Ladder Position (xa) (xp-xa)^2
    Geel (1) Geel (2) (1-2)^2=1
    Haw (2) Haw (3) (2-3)^2=1
    Coll (3) Coll (1) (3-1)^2=4
    Syd (4) Syd (7) (4-7)^2=9
    NM (5) NM (9) (5-9)^2=16
    St-K (6) St-K (6) (0-0)^2=0
    WCE (7) WCE (4) (7-4)^2=9
    Frem (8) Frem (11) (8-11)^2=9

    So 1+1+4+9+16+0+9+9=49 and hence S=49. That’d be a pretty competitive score.

    The lowest possible S value is zero. This corresponds to correctly tipping the Top 8.

    Unless I’ve made a silly error, the maximum S is 968. This is tipping Ess to finish 1st and they finish 18th, Carl to finish 2nd and they finish 17th etc.

    In a perverse way, if you get the maximum score I reckon it’s as good as getting zilch.

    Good tipping!

  2. Peter Flynn says

    The table formatting changed when posting.


  3. E.regnans says

    So it’s another way to enunciate:
    How Close You Got To Tipping The Top 8 In Order.

    where: “pretty close”
    “Not bad”
    and “orright”
    don’t quite cut it.

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