Skiena's obviously right on top of the game, but you need to take all statements in context, for example, he says:
"...A player playing from the eigth post position has to win almost 90% of his points. on average, to win the game. Life is considerably easier for players starting in the first two positions, who can win only 79% of their points and expect to win the match."
How different that seems, at first glance, from this statement (mine):
"#8 only has to win 4 points, where #1 has to win as many as 7."
But, they're both true. And we're talking about the same
thing.
The point-win% is theoretical unless you're charting the games.
Theoretical shows what would occur for the average player over
the long haul and has nothing to do with what happened last week,
or yesterday.
For example: suppose you note that #1 won the game. If he runs
it out, he wins 7 points, loses 0. Then, it gets harder. Here's
how it plays out - note: I'm leaving out Rounds 3+ and playoffs
for simplicity, but the same principle applies. No playoffs for
win, of course.
Pts in: Pts: R1 R2 Won Lost 7 7 0 0 4 4 1 1 3 4 1 2 3 5 1 3 2 5 1 4 2 6 1 5 1 6 1 6 1 7 1
So, win points for a Post 1 winner (which are obviously most significant), could be anywhere from 4 to 7, almost a 2:1 variation.