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HenryK

Ozeki demotions

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I enjoyed reading your post and found it as an intersting way to consider ozumo. Just a couple of things...what did you mean by "the high likelihood that the Japanese government wouldn't allow this to happen"? Are you suggesting that the government would come in to bail sumo out if there was a battle over secring athletes for the highest price or that the Ministry of Education would allow NSK to develop differently to combat a challenge from an outside group? Or perhaps something else?

Conceivably those two alternatives, too, but my main thought was that they simply would make it law that only the Kyokai can stage professional sumo competitions within Japan, under the guise of "protecting the national sport" or something like that. I realize that that's potentially fraught with lots of legal pitfalls, but with the public importance of sumo, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect such an anti-competition clause to be introduced. (Of course, the way things have been going lately, maybe protecting Ozumo wouldn't be considered quite so important any longer when such a situation might occur...who knows.)

My other point is just a nitpick regarding the piece I've quoted. The problem with the WSL for sumo purists* (both amateur and ozumo) is that it did not drop the traditions and rituals alogether. Rather, it tried to make amateur sumo (which has kept the rituals in a perfunctary sense) ritzier and more like ozumo as a package for largely unaware audiences and so invented its own Orientalising rituals and narratives. Thus, WSL was caught between amateur and professional sumo as a pale comparison to either, and as somethig approaching the cheesiness of WWE professional wrestling.

Thanks for the correction, I just plain forgot about the ripoff rituals they did include. For the most part I was getting at such a WWE-ification of Ozumo anyway, so it's really just a nitpick indeed. (In a state of confusion...) I'm mostly on the purist side on this as well, but I do think there's some wiggle room for the Kyokai or a potential competitor to exploit without angering major sections of the audience. Definitely less room than the WSL (hypothetically transplanted to Japan) used, though.

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Kotonishiki and Wakansato would have made for fine Ozeki though.

Average wins from 2003.11-2008.11(wakanosato would have been promoted for 2003.11)

Chiyotaikai 8.419

Kaio 7.903

Kotooshu 9.00 (only took from his Juryo debut on)

Tochiazuma 7.57(only took until his retirement)

Kotomitsuki 9.03

Harumafuji 8.58(again, from his Juryo debut on)

Wakanosato 7.32

Yes, this is apples and oranges. Well, maybe peaches and nectarines.

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Kotonishiki and Wakansato would have made for fine Ozeki though.

I agree. I'm not really opposed to lowering the hurdle for promotions anyway - the mere fact that so many rikishi who achieved 30 wins also achieved 33 is a good indication that 30 wins would probably be a good enough requirement, too. I just think that an attempt at a corresponding increase in demotion standards would make things quite a bit worse, and I don't think you can have one without the other, at least not nowadays when the perception of the ozeki as too weak already exists. And I'd rather have neither than both. As Shomishuu mentioned, it's arguable that the ozeki as a group would simply adjust their behaviour to any new demotion baseline anyway...not a lot of sample size to go by, but the high success rate in sekiwake 10-win repromotion opportunities (most with exactly 10 wins) provides a glimpse into what that would look like, I think.

Edited by Asashosakari

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FWIW, my own pet idea for new demotion standards would be something like this:

Go back to the old kadoban standard of three sub-standard basho before demotion instead of two, but increase the standard from the simple KK 8 wins to 9. So, no matter if you just went 8-7, 8-7 or 8-7, 1-5-9, you need 9 wins to keep the rank. One exception: after two straight makekoshi you need 10 wins instead. That's equivalent to the current sekiwake repromotion basho after 2 MK, just without the ignominy of demotion. That might encourage ozeki to sit out a basho if they can't really compete*, without giving them a complete pass like kosho did. In turn, either scrap the sekiwake repromotion altogether, or increase the required standard for that to 11 or more wins.

* That's based on my notion that most fans would rather see an 0-0-15 followed by a strong performance than two 8-7's where the ozeki gives up seven ginboshi, which may not actually be the case. The Kyokai probably prefers to have as many active ozeki as possible each basho, for one thing.

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Kotonishiki and Wakansato would have made for fine Ozeki though.

(I am not worthy...)

Dunno how you figure Wakanosato would have been a fine ozeki. He has never won more than 11 at any rank in makuuchi.

7 double-digit bashos at sanyaku looks pretty respectable to me. That's more than some real Ozeki have produced, even though they benefited from rank protection.

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FWIW, my own pet idea for new demotion standards would be something like this:

Go back to the old kadoban standard of three sub-standard basho before demotion instead of two, but increase the standard from the simple KK 8 wins to 9. So, no matter if you just went 8-7, 8-7 or 8-7, 1-5-9, you need 9 wins to keep the rank. One exception: after two straight makekoshi you need 10 wins instead. That's equivalent to the current sekiwake repromotion basho after 2 MK, just without the ignominy of demotion. That might encourage ozeki to sit out a basho if they can't really compete*, without giving them a complete pass like kosho did. In turn, either scrap the sekiwake repromotion altogether, or increase the required standard for that to 11 or more wins.

* That's based on my notion that most fans would rather see an 0-0-15 followed by a strong performance than two 8-7's where the ozeki gives up seven ginboshi, which may not actually be the case. The Kyokai probably prefers to have as many active ozeki as possible each basho, for one thing.

Nice idea. Seems we are not on a too different page with this one.

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Kotonishiki and Wakansato would have made for fine Ozeki though.

(I am not worthy...)

Dunno how you figure Wakanosato would have been a fine ozeki. He has never won more than 11 at any rank in makuuchi.

7 double-digit bashos at sanyaku looks pretty respectable to me. That's more than some real Ozeki have produced, even though they benefited from rank protection.

I think he probably means that an ozeki should be capable of mounting a decent yusho challenge at least once in a blue moon. I would agree with that, too.

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I think he probably means that an ozeki should be capable of mounting a decent yusho challenge at least once in a blue moon. I would agree with that, too.

2004.11: 10-1 start, tied for the yusho lead at that point, and one behind sole leader Kaio after Day 13

2005.07: 9-2 start, tied for the yusho lead at that point, and one behind two leaders (Shoryu and Osh) after Day 13

Assuming that he would have had a relatively short ozeki tenure (say about 2 years, analogous to his real-life drop after 2005.11, and roughly what Dejima did as ozeki), that's a perfectly acceptable performance level in my book.

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That's really grasping at straws.

Not really, just a different and IMHO more realistic definition of "ozeki in the yusho race". In my opinion, the "job" of an ozeki (as the Kyokai appears to understand it) is to look good during the first 10 days or so to give the audience some superficial hope of him challenging the yokozuna if all goes well, and after that it's between those yokozuna to bring home the basho in as exciting a fashion as possible. Pre-Takanohana injury and Asashoryu domination we did generally have 2+ active yokozuna (or at least future yokozuna), after all, so the current decade's pattern of relying on the ozeki squad to help prop up the yusho suspense all the way through to senshuraku just isn't the normal way of things.

Anyway, ideally a decent ozeki should be able to do that at least as often as not - which is why I don't have any complaints about Chiyotaikai's recent years as he usually beats up on the lower-rankers as expected and I just don't care if he always finishes the basho with a 1-4 or 2-3 stretch. Not every career-high ozeki needs to be a boom-or-bust type like Tochiazuma who's either going 12-3 or struggling to get kachikoshi (and stay in one piece).

Nobody's saying that Wakanosato would have been a huge revelation if he'd been promoted. (Although it's really speculation either way; maybe he'd have done fine for a while, maybe he'd have bombed worse than the Flobmonster.) Just that he probably wouldn't have been an outrage given his steady long-time performance as a sekiwake.

Tied for the yusho with 4 days left a whole two times.

Two times in the two-year period that I've assumed as Wakanosato's hypothetical ozeki tenure. I didn't look for additional cases before and after that period, though at a glance there are definitely a few more cases one win behind on Day 12+ and the like.

Wakanosato was a fine high maegashira / lower sanyaku rikishi in his day but there is no way he was ever ozeki level.

I'm pretty sure the internet rating system disagrees. 2359 points after Aki 2003, the culmination of his 30-win stretch, in the copies of Doitsuyama's old pages that I have laying around. And averaging 2308 for the next year, without including the 2359 itself. That's no doubt a bottom-quarter ozeki level, I guess somewhere between Dejima and Miyabiyama (though closer to Dejima), but not the type of utterly inconceivable proposition that you're painting it as.

Wakanosato has never been in a yusho race on the last day at any rank in makuuchi. Name me a single ozeki that you could say that about.

That's kind of deflecting the point since we're talking about what those ozeki were doing at the ozeki rank. What does it matter what they previously did or didn't do as maegashira or in their ozeki run? Nobody's going to e.g. call Kotooshu a good ozeki at this point because he managed to challenge Asashoryu three basho running prior to his promotion, because it's irrelevant. Anyway, I'm sure you can come up with several ozeki whose career at the rank wasn't appreciably better than what Wakanosato did between 2003.11 and 2005.11 against the same level of opposition, so I'll spare the list.

BTW, your assertion is wrong (see arasoi on the sidebar), not that it really matters...

Edit: Just to pile on, because it's this time of the year right now: Reading you on Wakanosato and the ozeki rank is much like reading old-timey baseball writers who refuse to vote for a qualified candidate for the Hall of Fame because "he just doesn't feel like a HoFer to me". (I am not worthy...)

Edited by Asashosakari

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That's really grasping at straws. Tied for the yusho with 4 days left a whole two times. Wonder how many times Hokutoriki has been in the yusho arasoi after day one (I am not worthy...)

Seriously though even Hokuriki got to a playoff once. Wakanosato was a fine high maegashira / lower sanyaku rikishi in his day but there is no way he was ever ozeki level. Being strong couldn't compensate for his lack of a decent tachi-ai or suspect defense.

Wakanosato has never been in a yusho race on the last day at any rank in makuuchi . Name me a single ozeki that you could say that about.

Masuiyama.

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I'm pretty sure the internet rating system disagrees. 2359 points after Aki 2003, the culmination of his 30-win stretch, in the copies of Doitsuyama's old pages that I have laying around. And averaging 2308 for the next year, without including the 2359 itself. That's no doubt a bottom-quarter ozeki level, I guess somewhere between Dejima and Miyabiyama (though closer to Dejima), but not the type of utterly inconceivable proposition that you're painting it as.

Anywhere this rating system could stil be found? If there is one single sumo statistic that I'm thirsting to see it's this one...

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Out of curiosity as there ever an 11 win yusho in makuuchi in a 15 day tournament?

Ah-hah... From the 70s, Tochiazuma (Sr.) won his yusho with an 11-4 record. Can't remember exactly when...

After checking THE database, it shows it as Hatsu 1972. Yokozuna Kitanofuji (the only Y at the time) went a strange 7-7-1. Two of the four ozeki went kyujo opening the way for M5 Tochi's yusho... Funny note: there were SIX 10-5 jun-yushos...

EDIT: Further check: Musashimaru also won the yusho with an 11-4 at Kyushu 1996 after winning a 5-way playoff. (Tochiazuma Jr. got a 10-5 in this, his shinumaku tourney)

Edited by Washuyama

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Nobody's saying that Wakanosato would have been a huge revelation if he'd been promoted. (Although it's really speculation either way; maybe he'd have done fine for a while, maybe he'd have bombed worse than the Flobmonster.)

I have to take issue with this. The flobmonster made it from hatsu-dohyo to Ozeki in 13 (yes..) basho. How many of the numerous tsukedashi have accomplished that? Too quick for anyone to adjust, yet he managed to keep the rank, though going 54-51 in 7 basho ain't that great.. Then he was injured. That is what ultimately made him lose his rank and stopped him from at least attempting to get his 10 wins as a Sekiwake. It wasn't THAT long ago, so I still remember it vividly. He is being done a great injustice by many members here. And then there's the 33 wins he did manage to put together in 2006. Although I do agree he shouldn't have been promoted, he did put up the numbers, and we all know how hard it is to start an Ozeki run from scratch.

I think he deserves more respect. And of course, he WILL return to Ozeki.

Edited by Kintamayama

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I call him the Miyabiflobmonster as an endearing nickname. I really am glad to see him back on form and I sincerely hope he makes it back to ozeki. His first week good form in Kyushu was a good sign, I hope he can keep it up for a full basho and then two more as well. Ganbatte Miyabiyamazeki!

What about Dejima? He started well last basho too but then really faded. Does he have another run in him? No disrespect but right now I don't see it for Dejima.

Are there any osake drinking rituals to be performed in front of their tegata to wish them luck? If not I'll start one (In jonokuchi...)

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I call him the Miyabiflobmonster as an endearing nickname. I really am glad to see him back on form and I sincerely hope he makes it back to ozeki. His first week good form in Kyushu was a good sign, I hope he can keep it up for a full basho and then two more as well. Ganbatte Miyabiyamazeki!

What about Dejima? He started well last basho too but then really faded. Does he have another run in him? No disrespect but right now I don't see it for Dejima.

Well, Miyaibyama isn't the youngest fella any longer. I think he can still make it to sanyaku and even have a few KK there. But Ozeki? That's a tall order. I agree on Dejima, he seems to be on the downward slope.

I see clear Ozeki potential in Baruto, however, and am curious in how he will handle himself in his third basho as Sekiwake.

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I agree on Baruto. I think he's a lock for ozeki, barring any new knee injuries.

Unfortunately you may be right about Miyabiyama. Time certainly isn't on his side. I still hold out some hope as Kaio has been on the dohyo for ten years longer so you never know...

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Oops, I forgot about this thread in all the weekend commotion...

Nobody's saying that Wakanosato would have been a huge revelation if he'd been promoted. (Although it's really speculation either way; maybe he'd have done fine for a while, maybe he'd have bombed worse than the Flobmonster.)

I have to take issue with this. The flobmonster made it from hatsu-dohyo to Ozeki in 13 (yes..) basho. How many of the numerous tsukedashi have accomplished that? Too quick for anyone to adjust, yet he managed to keep the rank, though going 54-51 in 7 basho ain't that great..

Well, it's pretty disastrous for an ozeki, actually. In any case, "bombed" was strictly to describe Miya's actual stint at the ozeki rank, not the entirety of his career. And sure, if the injury hadn't struck, maybe he would have become a respectable ozeki later on, but that's not what happened (in this part of the multiverse anyway). In a way it's the flipside of what I was arguing for Wakanosato...Miyabiyama was great before the promotion and pretty darn bad afterwards, and just like that Wakanosato could have been mediocre (for a contemporary ozeki run) prior to 2003.11 and at least respectable as an ozeki afterwards.

Of course, that's all predicated on the idea that Wakanosato would have been out of the rank again after 2 years or so so it wouldn't leave a bad taste for fans like e.g. Musoyama's hanging on did. But as we're seeing with Kotooshu right now, insisting on a superlative ozeki run performance sure isn't going to protect the Kyokai against weak ozeki, either. Wakanosato went 93-72 from 2003.11 to 2005.07, right after posting a 11-9-9-10-11 stretch all in sanyaku (total 143-97!). I can think of boatloads of ozeki who have had weaker 16-basho stretches than that. (Kotooshu is 150-106-14 for his 18 ozeki basho...) Yeah, for those guys it was after they had passed their prime, but they did it as ozeki all the same. I just think that some Guy #1 who has a three-year peak as a 9-win-average sekiwake and posted 30 wins in 3 basho would have been just as qualified to be ozeki as hypothetical Guy #2 who puts together 33 wins, averages just under 10 wins for the next year (never posting more than 30 in 3 again), then falls off a bit and averages just under 9 wins for the next three years.

#2 is better than #1 because he had a higher peak, no question about that, but I don't agree that the in/out line between sekiwake and ozeki should run between those two guys, especially when the justification for putting the line in that spot rests entirely on the performance of three basho. As my quoted message earlier in the thread demonstrated, it's not like there are tons of guys like Wakanosato for whom you'd be opening the floodgates with the relaxed 1960's criteria of ozeki promotion.

Anyway, Miyabiyama > Wakanosato for their career, I'm not arguing anything different. Just that Miyabiyama's actual ozeki tenure (and probably also Dejima's, adjusted for heya advantage) was no better than what Wakanosato was likely to do if he'd been promoted after Aki 2003.

He is being done a great injustice by many members here. And then there's the 33 wins he did manage to put together in 2006. Although I do agree he shouldn't have been promoted, he did put up the numbers, and we all know how hard it is to start an Ozeki run from scratch.

Actually, I have to take issue with that. I'll continue to maintain that his 10-14-10 stint was perfectly promotion-worthy, and in keeping with my notion that today's 33-win barrier is unnecessarily high, even the 8-10-14 stretch right before would have deserved at least consideration to me (though I'd probably go thumbs down on it in the end).

Agreed. Miyabiyama on form is in a different class to anything Wakanosato ever achieved

Totally correct, but Miyabiyama has been on form relatively rarely in his career, while Wakanosato was a model of consistency for half a decade*. I just think that there's a reasonable tradeoff to consider between those two things, which isn't captured at all by just saying "33 wins or bust".

* Exactly half a decade, actually...from his re-promotion in 2000.09 to 2005.07 before the knee injury reduced his effectiveness to sub-sanyaku level. If Doitsuyama calculated the top 5-year average for all stars of the Heisei era, I honestly wonder just how many ozeki would fall below Wakanosato, or finish barely above him. (Wait, that's effectively almost the same thing as the R10 rating...any chance to get an update to the R10's from here for Wakanosato and those ozeki who were still active afterwards?)

Edited by Asashosakari

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Here is a stat on my own -- the average number of Ozeki wins per basho per year. Only completed bashos were counted.

In 2008, the Ozeki won on average 8.8 fights per basho (Kotooshu 9.6, Kotomitsuki 9.2, Kaio 8.4, Chiyotaikai 8.0). This is significantly below the long-time average for Ozeki (9.9 for 1958-2008) and actually closer to the long-term average for Sekiwake (8.2). It is also the lowest Ozeki-score since 1980 (a special year, when the only two active Ozeki, Takanohana and Masuiyama, went intai). Typically, when the Ozeki average comes down close to 9 or lower one or more Ozeki went intai, but not in 2008.

I'm somewhat surprised that this hasn't been commented on, but I really think it should, since this statistic is completely useless and says nothing in its current form.

Any year where there have been a lack of "soon-to-be-Yokozuna"-Ozekis will have lower average numbers since no one getting really strong numbers will be there. Comparing that to average Sekiwake-numbers doesn't say much either since such numbers inevitably includes Ozeki-promotion-streaks, which will make them higher than what can normally be expected from a typical Sekiwake. In other words, it is comparing apples and oranges. It will also fluctuate quite wildly depending on what type of Ozeki happens to be present a particular year or for that matter, whether an Ozeki has decided to step out from tournaments or not when being injured/in bad shape.

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Here is a stat on my own -- the average number of Ozeki wins per basho per year. Only completed bashos were counted.

In 2008, the Ozeki won on average 8.8 fights per basho (Kotooshu 9.6, Kotomitsuki 9.2, Kaio 8.4, Chiyotaikai 8.0). This is significantly below the long-time average for Ozeki (9.9 for 1958-2008) and actually closer to the long-term average for Sekiwake (8.2). It is also the lowest Ozeki-score since 1980 (a special year, when the only two active Ozeki, Takanohana and Masuiyama, went intai). Typically, when the Ozeki average comes down close to 9 or lower one or more Ozeki went intai, but not in 2008.

I'm somewhat surprised that this hasn't been commented on, but I really think it should, since this statistic is completely useless and says nothing in its current form.

Any year where there have been a lack of "soon-to-be-Yokozuna"-Ozekis will have lower average numbers since no one getting really strong numbers will be there. Comparing that to average Sekiwake-numbers doesn't say much either since such numbers inevitably includes Ozeki-promotion-streaks, which will make them higher than what can normally be expected from a typical Sekiwake. In other words, it is comparing apples and oranges. It will also fluctuate quite wildly depending on what type of Ozeki happens to be present a particular year or for that matter, whether an Ozeki has decided to step out from tournaments or not when being injured/in bad shape.

I' a bit at loss what you are expecting from the statistic. It says that 2008 was a poor year in terms of Ozeki performances, no more no less. For the reasons you cite, and others.

In other words, this:

it will also fluctuate quite wildly depending on what type of Ozeki happens to be present a particular year
is exactly the point. Edited by HenryK

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I' a bit at loss what you are expecting from the statistic. It says that 2008 was a poor year in terms of Ozeki performances, no more no less. For the reasons you cite, and others.

I expected some sort of point. A random statistic as this pretty much says nothing, so I don't understand what that point was.

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I' a bit at loss what you are expecting from the statistic. It says that 2008 was a poor year in terms of Ozeki performances, no more no less. For the reasons you cite, and others.

I think what Yubi is getting at is that the number of ozeki basho in any given year is so low that one outlier can skew the results dramatically and make the number not match up with the situation. Imagine Ama going 11-4, 14-1, 14-1 and getting promoted to yokozuna while the other four ozeki all survive the year with a sub-mediocre record of 51-39 (8.5 wins) each. Ama would be there only half a year and still raise the overall average to 9.0, even while the popular perception would obviously still be that of a very poor year for ozeki.

Edit: Eh, alternative suggestion removed upon further consideration...

Edited by Asashosakari

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Edit: Eh, alternative suggestion removed upon further consideration...

If this alternate explanation was that "grouchy ol' Yubi obviously fails to live up to his own expectations in some other area and therefore takes his frustration out on some random poster in the Sumo Forum" you would not be completely wrong (Sigh...)

Edited by Yubiquitoyama

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I expected some sort of point.

The point is that 2008 was an exceptionally poor year in terms of Ozeki performances.

I think what Yubi is getting at is that the number of ozeki basho in any given year is so low that one outlier can skew the results dramatically and make the number not match up with the situation. Imagine Ama going 11-4, 14-1, 14-1 and getting promoted to yokozuna while the other four ozeki all survive the year with a sub-mediocre record of 51-39 (8.5 wins) each.

9.0 is still significantly below average (9.9), but you're right that there is a borderline small-sample issue (on average there are about 20 ozeki basho per year).

More generally, it's of course composition that drives these things. For example, in 1994 -- the best Ozeki year ever -- the Ozeki were Takanohana, Wakanohana, Musashimaru, and Takanonami. Three future Yokozuna and one career-high Ozeki who had his best year. Compared to this, the Ozeki in 2008 were just a tad shallow.

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If this alternate explanation was that "grouchy ol' Yubi obviously fails to live up to his own expectations in some other area and therefore takes his frustration out on some random poster in the Sumo Forum" you would not be completely wrong ;-)

;-) No, it was a suggestion for how to make the numbers more meaningful, but I didn't quite think it through.

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