Marketwatch brings back old WSJ “Beat the Darts” game

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Marketwatch.com editor Jonathan Krim has posted the following:

 

 

Once, before this whole Internet thing, the Wall Street Journal newspaper had a famous stock picking game. Editors would take the printed stock tables, throw darts at them to form a random portfolio, and play it against picks  from money managers over a period of time.  More often than not, to the delight of the reading public, the Darts won.

Despite its popularity, the game went the way of printed stock listings.  But we figured, isn’t it time to bring the Beat the Darts game back, online style? So partnering with our siblings at the Sunday Journal, which has continued the game in print supplements that are syndicated to regional papers around the country, the first new version of the Beat the Darts game launches Friday. Which means you have until then to sign up and play. Nearly 1,500 are in already.

It’s pretty simple: You get $100,000 in absolutely genuine fake money. You pick up to six  stocks, ETFs or funds. By going digital, we can allow unlimited trading within the three-month period of each game. So you can pursue a buy-and hold strategy, actively manage your basket, or something in-between. Best total return after the period ends wins.

There will be a leaderboard, and you can sign up for updates. Play against friends, co-workers, some famous money managers, some of us in MarketWatch and Journal land, and of course the ever-formidable Darts entry.

Read more here.

In 1988, the newspaper began a regular feature where investment professionals picked stocks and compared their performance to stocks picked by throwing darts. The feature was wildly successful and copied, and academics have studied its significance.

The experts outperform the darts by a wide margin, but they outperform the broader market by a statistically insignificant spread, noted researchers Allen Atkins and James Sundali in Applied Economics Letters. Another study of the picks by University of Massachusetts business professor Bing Liang showed that the picks by the professional investors have been “indistinguishable” from the dartboard picks 90 percent of the time.