The theory and practice of gamesmanship; or, The art of winning games without actually cheating. Title of book There are those who believe that the sole duty of the poker gamesman is to build up his reputation for impenetrability and toughness by suggesting that he last played poker by the light of a moon made more brilliant by the snows of the Yukon, and that his opponents were two white slave traffickers, a ticket-of-leave man and a deserter from the Foreign Legion. To me this is ridiculously far-fetched, but I do believe that a trace of American accent — West Coast — casts a small shadow of apprehension over the minds of English players. The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship pp. Even the best players are sometimes beaten, and that is precisely what happens to me.
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Request new password Stephen Potter: Oracle of Gamesmanship Since the dawn of the first tee-time, golfers have been rattling opponents with silly chatter and oafish manners, or by invoking irrelevant rules or otherwise crossing the bounds of decency to induce anxiety.
Today, the man who came to see his concept placed securely in the lexicon of sportswriters, broadcasters, athletes, and fans is now practically forgotten.
But Potter achieved cult status throughout the late s and 50s with a succession of slender books of humor, mostly of a "-manship" variety -- One-Upmanship, Lifemanship, Supermanship -- also mostly brilliant, mostly funny, and mostly successful. And though he spent a lifetime playing tennis, snooker, squash, and countless other contests, it was golf that most kindled his fascination with gamesmanship.
Potter left us a body of golf humor that deserves a wide audience. Born in , Potter was the only son of a London insurance accountant, and along with his older sister, enjoyed a comfortably though hardly luxurious middle-class lifestyle. Too late to see action after enlisting as an officer in the first World War, he was sent by his parents to Oxford, an expense they could scarcely afford.
Along with the intensely social and academic life he found there, Potter played all manner of sports and games, honing a deep competitive streak through rowing, tennis, squash, golf, and snooker. This period included marriage and a stint teaching secondary school and college. Lawrence -- the first ever written about the controversial author. In , things started coming together for him: he was elected to the exclusive Savile club, and he was playing enough golf to bring his handicap down to 5.
His connections got him a job writing and producing radio shows for the BBC, where he worked his way up from learning programs and literary adaptations to documentary broadcasts.
With Grenfell -- who eventually came into her own as an singer and actress, appearing in several dozen films -- Potter turned out nearly wartime documentaries, some fictionalized, many with a propagandistic bent.
Toward the end of the war, he began a series of light-comic programs called the "How" series: "How to Talk to Children" was followed with such subjects as "How to Argue" and "How to Woo. Postwar life was a trial for all of Britain. Potter, ever in search of rent money, moved his family in and out of six different houses during the war.
With two sons to put through school, he moved his family back to London, which in was still a city largely in ruin, with bombed-out shells of buildings and rubble everywhere.
That year the England was hit by its harshest winter in 53 years. Potter calculated that a small, humorous book to amuse the still-reeling country might be the ticket. So he sat down -- by candlelight, thanks to the fuel crisis -- and penned the first draft of Gamesmanship.
Stephen Potter: on match-play demeanor "But the [Henry] Cotton gambit was a powerful one, as useful in life as it is in golf. No Unnecessary Smiling, as we might name it, is as effective as it is simple One can dance mad boleros as soon as one is in the changing room; but Not Smiling within the boundaries of the actual course is a powerful weapon. This is unsporting. In general let them not act as if games were play.
When the carved wooden heads of the earlier clubs went out and iron heads were substituted, though it was not necessary actually to forget these heads oneself, it was requred form to know the famous old character concerned, and if possible to stand in his smithy and see the sparks fly. But there is also a deep-voiced 18, a man who has recently given up football, a man of strength, who, though often off course, can, using only a spoon and number 8, slash his way round by sheer muscle Old 16s are sound sensible people who may have been 7 before the war.
Upon its appearance in November , Gamesmanship was greeted with praise by critics including Ian Fleming, pre-James Bond and became a Christmas best-seller in England. Frank Wilson. Gamesmanship is a subtle but intense confection of highly concentrated wit. The jokes are hardly obvious, but nevertheless broad in their understated way, evoking a certain abysmal kind of country-club caddishness, say, or a heated friendly rivalry at tennis or billiards.
That Gamesmanship is concerned with the most genteel sorts of knavery -- guiding bad athletes in the most effective ways of all-but-unsporting behavior -- is treated simply as a secret better left unsaid. Over the next twenty years, Potter expanded and applied the basic tenets of gamesmanship to matters of the social world with titles like Lifemanship and One-Upmanship Stephen Potter died in December after struggling with heart and bone-marrow problems for several years.
It is clear, reading accounts of his life, that he was nothing like the petty and politely mean narrator of his books. To the contrary, he was a jovial, convivial soul, good-humored and truly sporting, according to Julian: "I had a lot of games with him, and he played them absolutely straight -- no larking about with gamesmanship when he was seriously trying to win.
He was commissioned into the Coldstream Guards as a second lieutenant just as the war was ending, and did not see active service. Potter achieved only a second-class degree in English language and literature. There were two sons of the marriage. The Manchester Guardian wrote, "a brilliant performance Lawrence: A First Study, the first book-length work on Lawrence , which appeared in print within a few days of the death of its subject, unfortunate timing because it seemed like an inadequate memorial rather than what it was intended to be, a critical reappraisal. It also suffered from a regrettable misprint, rendering the heading "Sea and Sardinia", as "Sex and Sardinia". After this he concentrated in his next four works on Coleridge.
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This is a very tongue in cheek book about gamesmanship. Or how to win without actually cheating. It does however have some serious points to make about getting the upper hand without being obvious. Glad I read it though. Jul 07, Chris rated it liked it Potter gives an introduction to winning games despite lesser skill without being unsporting. This is done either by winning the mental game, such as by putting the opponent on edge or dissecting their form.
Theory & Practice of Gamesmanship
Alleged origins[ edit ] Potter cites the origin of gamesmanship to be a tennis match  in which he and the philosopher C. Joad competed against two younger and fitter men who were outplaying them fairly comfortably. On returning a serve, Joad hit the ball straight into the back-netting twelve feet behind the back-line. Because they were young and polite, the slight suggestion by Joad that their etiquette and sportsmanship were in question was extremely off-putting, and distracted them for the rest of the contest. Potter and Joad went on to win the match.