Sport: Question and Answer: Platform for your sporting queries

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Q. Most betting odds are reduced to their lowest common denominator. Why is 100-30 never reduced to 10-3?

A. Most betting odds are indeed generally reduced to their lowest common denominator, but not for convenience. Originally bookies quoted the amount required to win pounds 100, eg 100-1, 100-2, 100-3, 100-4, 100-5 etc. They realised that by reducing these ratios, they could shave off the fractions and make more money so that 100-3, which is 331/3-1 becomes 33-1; 100-6, which is 161/3-1 becomes 16-1; 100-7 which is 141/4-1 becomes 14-1; 100-8, which is 121/2-1 becomes 12-1 and so on. This explains the unusual jumps in betting odds from 16-1 to 20-1 to 25-1 to 33-1 to 50-1. In recent years intermediary prices such as 18-1, 22-1, 28-1 and 40-1 have been introduced. So 100-30 (31/3-1) remains, as shaving it would have made it 3-1, which already existed.

Pete Ratcliffe, Manchester

Q. Why do the "in goal" areas on a rugby union pitch usually extend further than on a rugby league pitch?

A. In the kicking game that personifies rugby union the authorities want to see more tries scored. Their only solution - apart from forward passes - is to make the in-goal area twice the size it should be.

Jeff Molyneux, Rainhill, Merseyside


Q. In a penalty shoot-out, if the scores are level after five penalties each, the competition proceeds to sudden death with penalties taken by the remaining players on each team. What would happen if the competition reached the 11th penalty, but one of the teams had had a man sent off? Would the team which has lost a man automatically forfeit the goal? If they were allowed to start from penalty-taker No 1 again would that not give them an unfair advantage?

Harold Somers, Manchester

Q. Where did the terms "the pits" derive from in relation to car servicing areas in motor sport and motor cycling?

Kevin Maguire, Batley

If you know an answer to this, or have a sporting question of your own, write to Question and Answer, Sports Desk, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square London E14 5DL. Fax: 0171-293 2894.