December 31, 2006

Our 2006 predictions: how’d we do?

Our 2006 Fearless Forecasts are now a year old, so we’ll account for our prognostications and assess how our panel did. We consider each prediction and award ourselves one-point for a correct forecast; deduct a point for an incorrect one; and calculate no points for a net-neutral, hung-jury, a joke prediction, or still-pending-decision.

Prediction: “Maxville will be hot and sticky. This will be especially true if Shotts & Dykehead end up being there.”
What actually occurred: The North American Championships enjoyed absolutely perfect weather and, contrary to early-year rumours, the 2005 World Champions House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead didn’t attend.
Score: -1

Prediction: “Scotland will enjoy the warmest summer for years and the temperature will top 25 degrees at Inveraray games.”
What actually occurred:Inveraray games was on one of Scotland’s hottest days of the year, with the temperature topping 27 degrees. The 2006 Scottish summer was the warmest on record.
Score: +1

Prediction: “Pipers (the CPA) will have a hand in picking the set-tunes from now on.”
What actually occurred: Nape. Contrary to some indications that this process might be wrestled away from the sole-proprietorship of the Piob-Soc, it didn’t happen. We can only hope the competitors start to be given a say.
Score: -1

Prediction: “At least one big name will retire from competitive solo piping in 2006.”
What actually occurred: John Cairns announced his retirement from solo competition, making the 2005 Glenfiddich his swan-song.
Score: +1

Prediction: “The new international panel of judges at this year’s World’s will make no difference to the prize-list standings in any of the grades.”
What actually occurred: Moot, since only one of the new international judges (Greg Dinsdale) was actually used at the World’s.
Score: 0

Prediction: “Shotts will play more than one tune in a medley not composed by Robert Mathieson”
What actually occurred: In a profound change of pace for the Shottsters, the band actually played six non-Rab tunes in its 2006 World’s medley, including a catchy adaptation of Coldplay’s “Til Kingdom Come.”
Score: +1

Prediction: “A North American Grade 1 band will make an appearance at a Major other than the World’s.”
What actually occurred: Simon Fraser University made the 6000-mile trek to Pitlochry for an ill-fated test-run of the band’s new Naill chanters.
Score: +1

Prediction: “Field Marshal will be the best band at the World’s (again) but will not win.”
What actually occurred: They won.
Score: -1

Prediction: “The fledgling trend for balmorals worn by solo pipers will die before really getting off the ground. Tweed, however, will go from strength to strength.”
What actually occurred: We’re noticing more tweed, or at least more non-black jackets, and the balmoral thing is still a niche fashion-trend of the uber-tasteful.
Score: +1

Prediction: “SFU will win the World’s.”
What actually occurred: Hmmm. SFU did not win the Big One, but, as always, debate rages as to whether they should have.
Score: -1

Prediction: “The 78th Frasers will continue to lead the Ontario scene, but look for the Toronto Police to be more competitive.”
What actually occurred: The, ahem, Scottish Lion-78th Fraser Highlanders finished sixth again at the World’s, but lost to the Toronto Police at the Hamilton Highland Games. Surprisingly to those who heard the band earlier in the summer, Toronto Police again failed to make the Grade 1 final at the World’s.
Score: +1

Prediction: “Cane and natural bags will continue to make a comeback, with solo pipers and top bands leading the way. Synthetic drone reeds will still be the savior of lower and middle grade soloists and bands, but the top levels will see more cane than in previous years.”
What actually occurred: This is happening, with latest evidence being St. Laurence O’Toole and Alberta Caledonia going au-natural.
Score: +1

Prediction: “In the solos, Willie McCallum looks good for a long time, and there are a number of first-rate competitors who entertain every time out. 2006 will be another great year for playing or listening to solos.”
What actually occurred: The redoubtable Bearsden Willie had another good solo season, and some rising stars made big marks, like Alastair Dunn taking the Medal at Aviemore.
Score: +1

Prediction: “No Grade 1 band will play wooden Sinclair chanters at the 2006 World Championships.”
What actually occurred: SFU played Sinclairs at the World’s, as did the Toronto Police.
Score: -1

Prediction: “FMM will win the World’s.”
What actually occurred: Yep.
Score: +1

Prediction: “Simon McKerrell will win at least one Gold Medal.”
What actually occurred: Nope, but he did win the A-Grade MSR at the Northern Meeting and the Dunvegan Medal Clasp, among a raft of other prizes.
Score: -1

Prediction: “When it comes to the World’s, the top three will still be the top three, and the most interesting contest will be for prizes four through six, with a number of bands showing potential for improvement and moving up.”
What actually occurred: Spot on. Watch for Strathclyde Police and possibly the Vale to break the top-three gridlock.
Score: +1

Prediction: “St. Laurence O’Toole will win a major championship.”
What actually occurred: Faith and begora, no. In fact, SLOT seemed to slip a bit in 2006, perhaps hastening the band’s aforementioned move to cane and sheep.
Score: -1

Prediction: Jim Kilpatrick will win the World Solo Drumming.”
What actually occurred: Say it with us: Steven McWhirter.
Score: -1

Prediction: “Simpler, more musical medleys with fewer transitions between tunes will start to appear in 2006.”
What actually occurred: Debatable. In Grade 1 it didn’t get any worse, but probably not any better, as bands continue to cram as many time signatures and tempos as possible into their wee selections. We did notice a less-is-more approach from Grade 2 down, though, perhaps brought on by MAP fever.
Score: 0

Prediction: “3/4 marches will become the ‘in’ tunes instead of 100 mph hornpipes.”
What actually occurred: Ah, the flickering candle that is the 3/4 march. Perhaps the antiquated 3/4 will be the piobaireachd of light music: saved by being artificially propped up by an unnamed powerful association that begins with the letters RSP . . .
Score: -1

Prediction: “Watch for a breakthrough win (again) from Margaret Houlihan.”
What actually occurred: Young Madge had another excellent solo season, but did not cop a big prize, mainly because they keep her out of the Gold Medal events when she clearly belongs. She did bag Alastair Dunn, though, but we’d say he got the long end of the stick on that one.
Score: -1

Prediction: “The ANAPBA movement will fizzle out and be replaced by an Alliance of World Pipe Band Associations.”
What actually occurred: ANAPBA was very, very quiet, and nothing significant happened all year. The RSPBA even scrapped its usual meeting of “International” associations on the Sunday after the World’s. But no AWPBA that we can see.
Score: 0

Prediction: “Roddy MacLeod will win the Senior Piobaireachd at Oban. His new-found freedom will help re-establish him as one of the men to beat.”
What actually occurred: Jings, are we good or what?Score: +1

Prediction: “More pipers will be submitting tunes from sources other than the Piobaireachd Society. The interest in other styles will continue to develop as players explore the musicality of other styles.”
What actually occurred: Not quite a trend yet, but we are seeing some non-generic settings being entered and courageous judges looking for a wee tonic are picking them.
Score: +1

Prediction: “Ian Duncan will rebound somewhere in Scotland.”
What actually occurred: Wherever Ian G. goes, success seems to follow, and he went to the Tayside Police and is now the band’s Musical Director.
Score: +1

Prediction: “Grade 4 bands in North America attending the World’s will struggle to stay interested in the music set by the RSPBA. Many of the Grade 4 bands, especially from the USA, are adult bands attempting ‘boiled down SFU and FMM’ and the mandatory tunes and settings will go down like a greasy pie on a hot day.”
What actually occurred: Few lower-grade North American bands traveled to the World’s. The turgid MAP system is again in place for 2007 at RSPBA contests, but there’s not another association on earth that is adopting or even emulating the format.
Score: +1

Prediction: “Greg Wilson will win Gold at Oban.”
What actually occurred: Help ma boab, we are good!Score: +1

Prediction: “Lorne Cousin will remain in the Scotland on Sunday list of most eligible men in Scotland, but will drop below his 2005 level of No. 6.”
What actually occurred: Madonna’s piper needs to latch on to the Christina Aguilera Tour or something, since he slipped to #8 on the list. But he can console himself by watching his many appearances in Madonna’s I’m Going to Tell You a Secret DVD. We hear he watches it incessantly, even at work, and has posted clips of himself on YouTube.
Score: +1

Prediction: “Look for more harmonies (again) in medleys, and bands continue to push the ‘no plain breaks’ envelope.”
What actually occurred: More wild and whacky breaks than ever in Grade 1. We’ll give ourselves a point for this.
Score: +1

Prediction: “Same three will dominate World’s again, despite talk of other bands breaking in.”
What actually occurred: Same-old, same-old.
Score: +1

Prediction: “Band to watch: ScottishPower. Will take fourth at World’s.”
What actually occurred: Pipe-Major Chris Armstrong’s new band held its own in Grade 1, but didn’t make the top-six at the World’s.
Score: -1

Prediction: “Argyllshire Gathering will attempt to run the Gold Medal on McBrayne’s ferry to Mull. The Piping Steward will explain this away as trying to expand the appeal of the AG.”
What actually occurred: This is supposed to be funny, but for anyone who has competed at Oban there’s something peculiarly serious about this. It would be more scenic than the basement disco-room of the Great Western, though.
Score: 0

Prediction: “The College of Piping-Scottish Pipers Association will once again run a professional contest with an audience of five.”
What actually occurred: There were reportedly a record six people listening to this wheezing event . . . but who’s counting?
Score: +1

Prediction: The Joint Committee will ask senior pipers to retire in order to boost their numbers.”
What actually occurred: The what? Whose numbers? Huh?
Score: -1

Prediction: “We will see less of the white popcorn socks, whose purpose seems only to beef up skinny legs. We will see more coloured socks, maybe with extra thick turndown tops for men.”
What actually occurred: Nary a stark-white sock to be seen. It’s all coloured-wool-legs the noo.
Score: +1

Prediction: “Grades 4 and Novice Juvenile will become so good at playing easy 2/4 marches that they will forget how to play 4/4 marches, and the bands will end up being judged on marching and discipline.”
What actually occurred: For all we know, this may well have happened in the UK by not a few judges who couldn’t split musical hairs any more finely. But who knows?
Score: 0

Prediction: “2006 will mark the beginning of a long-running revolt by solo pipers against the set tune system.”
What actually occurred: Revolt? We have to laugh. The ill-fated 1995 “boycott” taught pipers not to step out of line against any system – at least if they want to win.
Score: -1

Prediction: “The RSPBA will use more international judges at UK majors. Alastair Aitken will continue to promote the professional development of all adjudicator’s within that jurisdiction.”
What actually occurred: Yes, more non-RSPBA judges were used at championships, but not at the World’s where it matters most. Aitken continues to be the smartest guy in the RSPBA system and is passing on his smarts to others.
Score: +1

Prediction: “On the pipe band scene, Windsor Police just might make a huge impact in the Ontario Grade 1.”
What actually occurred: Huge? No, but this rookie Grade 1 band held its own and then some, with solid showings at Maxville and Pleasanton, beating far more established Grade 1 bands.
Score: +1

Prediction: “2006 has to be better than 2005 – too many outstanding pipers passed away in 2005. Let’s be optimistic.”
What actually occurred: Happily, deaths of famous pipers or drummers were low in 2006.
Score: +1

Prediction: “The Gold Medal at Aviemore could go to James MacHattie.”
What actually occurred: Well, sure, it perhaps could have gone to Jimmy-MacBonnet, but Alastair Dunn won it and MacHattie finished a solid fourth. Chapping at the door, as they say.
Score: -1

So, overall, how did we do? By our count, we got 23 of our 42 predictions absolutely correct, BUT, we scored a zero on five of them, so in essence we got 23 out of 37 for a solid 62 per cent success rate, way up from our down 43 per cent of 2005.

Watch for our 2007 predictions, coming soon on pipes|drums!

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