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8/3/2004
Alex Castaldo on Deception

The deceptions Vic is most interested in of course are the deceptions in the marketplace. Any buyer or seller must be aware of them to avoid being taken in. You mention used car salesmen and horse traders, and these are good examples, but it is much more general than that. Deception is everywhere.

To understand deception Vic believes you should start by looking at Biology and Ecology. For example some moths are the same color as the trees they land on; that makes it difficult for birds to see them and eat them. This is called "protective coloration" and is the first, or simplest level. The next level is "adaptive deception" where the organism changes its appearance to some extent (color, shape) to blend in with the environment or adapt to its situation. In "active deception" the organism does something to trigger a specific behavior in another organism; for example there is a flower called the Titan Arum that emits a strong smell of rotting garbage, this attract flies and other insects, they land on it and help it to pollinate, but then leave when they find no edible decayed matter. The anglerfish that live at the bottom of the ocean are another example of active deception; they attract smaller fish by means of antenna like lures and then eat them. [There may be other levels of deception, I have just summarized the main ones].

Biological cases of deception presumably arise because they are beneficial from an evolutionary viewpoint.

We can then ask how this relates to the stock markets. For example is there any deception involved in IPO's (Initial Public Offerings), or in investment newsletters, or in Enron or General Electric's financial statements, etc. etc. And how can we guard against this.

Finally, the behavior of prices itself may involve deception. Prices may form patterns that appear bullish or bearish to many people, and then do the exact opposite of what people expect. This ability to get many people to "lean the wrong way" is a form of deception. For example today stock prices opened down on concerns about terrorism, probably causing many short term traders to throw in the towel on their longs in expectation worse was to come, then stocks rallied strongly in the late afternoon on no news, leaving those same traders behind.

8/3/04
Nigel Davies Comments: Deception in Chess

Deception is very much neglected in current chess literature, perhaps because the people that write the books want people to send their kids for lessons. But a second reading of Ed Spec has persuaded me to try and categorise some of the forms. Here we go:

Luring
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One of the best known lures is to offer a 'poisoned pawn', a pawn sacrifice which it is highly dangerous to accept. The problem is that your opponent will usually look at such a pawn with great suspicion, so your best chance of acceptance is to make it look as if it could be a blunder. Away from the actual board there are some cases of players attempting to dope an opponent before the game (eg with offers of alcohol).

Goading
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Goading is essentially a stronger form of the lure, examples include 'playing dead' or running yourself desperately short of thinking time. Occasionally a player will attempt to anger his opponent in order to get him to lose his cool and objectivity; usually this involves means which are blatantly against the rules, but enforcing these rules can be a tricky business.

Bluffing
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In a sense this is the opposite of the lure in that you want to feign strength rather than weakness in order to provoke concessions. There's often an element of bluff in the game of confident and aggressive attackers.

Mimicry
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Some players feign friendship before and even during the game in order to put their opponents off their guard. Other forms of mimicry include playing your opponent's own moves (usually his openings) against him so that he faces the problem of playing against himself.

Decoy
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A good example of the decoy in chess is a strategy by which you attack on one side of the board in order to tie your opponent's pieces down to defense and then switch to the point at which he's least well defended.

Change in Tempo
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Very common in chess, you get your opponent acclimatized to a slow game and then angling for a breakthrough so that the game changes pace.

I'll try to give some examples in subsequent posts.


Update with examples:

A good example of deception in chess. With a very dodgy position on move 44 I saw a nice trap should Black go after my g-pawn with 45...Rg4. Under normal circumstances he'd probably just see it, so to raise his blood pressure I made a cheeky draw offer after my 44th move (it's considered somewhat rude to offer draws in inferior positions).

I guess he didn't expect this kind of thing from an Englishman.

Davies,N (2505) - Kaiumov,D (2450) [A30]
Goodricke op Calcutta (9), 1997

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 b6 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.0-0 e6 6.Nc3 a6 7.Re1 Be7 8.e4 d6 9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Qc7 11.Be3 Nbd7 12.Rc1 0-0 13.f4 Rfd8 14.f5 Nf8 15.Qe2 Re8 16.g4 h6 17.h4 N6h7 18.Qf2 Bf6 19.Nf3 Nd7 20.fxe6 fxe6 21.g5 hxg5 22.hxg5 Be5 23.Qh4 Nhf8 24.Qg4 g6 25.Red1 Bg7 26.Bf4 Qc5+ 27.Kh2 Ne5 28.Nxe5 Bxe5 29.Bxe5 dxe5 30.Ne2 Rad8 31.b3 a5 32.Ng1 Rd4 33.Ne2 Rd6 34.Rxd6 Qxd6 35.Ng1 Rd8 36.Nf3 Rd7 37.Re1 Rh7+ 38.Kg1 a4 39.Qg3 Nd7 40.Nh2 Rf7 41.Ng4 Rf4 42.Nf2 axb3 43.axb3 Bc6 44.Nd3 The point at which I offered a draw. 44...Qd4+ 45.Qe3 Rg4 46.Kh2 Qxe3 47.Rxe3 Rxg5 48.Bf3 Now Black's rook is boxed in! 48...Nf6 49.Nf2 Nh5 50.Re1 Rg3 51.Bxh5 Rxb3 52.Rg1 Kf8 53.Rxg6 Ke7 54.Bg4 Bd7 55.Nh3 Rc3 56.Ng5 Rxc4 57.Bxe6 Rc2+ 58.Kg3 Be8 59.Rh6 Rc1 60.Bg4 Rg1+ 61.Kf3 Ba4 62.Re6+ Kf8 63.Nh7+ Kf7 64.Bf5 b5 65.Rb6 Kg7 66.Rb7+ Kh6 67.Nf6 Rf1+ 68.Kg2 Rb1 69.Nd5 Bd1 70.Nc3 Rb2+ 71.Kg3 Rb3 72.Kh4 1-0


Great example of the goad. Playing 1...a6 against the World Champion is very insulting.

Karpov,A (2725) - Miles,A (2545) [B00]
EU-chT (Men) Skara (1), 1980

1.e4 a6 2.d4 b5 3.Nf3 Bb7 4.Bd3 Nf6 5.Qe2 e6 6.a4 c5 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.Nbd2 b4 9.e5 Nd5 10.Ne4 Be7 11.0-0 Nc6 12.Bd2 Qc7 13.c4 bxc3 14.Nxc3 Nxc3 15.Bxc3 Nb4 16.Bxb4 Bxb4 17.Rac1 Qb6 18.Be4 0-0 19.Ng5 h6 20.Bh7+ Kh8 21.Bb1 Be7 22.Ne4 Rac8 23.Qd3 Rxc1 24.Rxc1 Qxb2 25.Re1 Qxe5 26.Qxd7 Bb4 27.Re3 Qd5 28.Qxd5 Bxd5 29.Nc3 Rc8 30.Ne2 g5 31.h4 Kg7 32.hxg5 hxg5 33.Bd3 a5 34.Rg3 Kf6 35.Rg4 Bd6 36.Kf1 Be5 37.Ke1 Rh8 38.f4 gxf4 39.Nxf4 Bc6 40.Ne2 Rh1+ 41.Kd2 Rh2 42.g3 Bf3 43.Rg8 Rg2 44.Ke1 Bxe2 45.Bxe2 Rxg3 46.Ra8 Bc7 0-1


The US GM John Fedorowicz once told me a nice story about how he played in a tournament with former World Champion Tigran Petrosian. He couldn't figure out why Petrosian was always smiling and being unexpectedly friendly towards him until the light finally dawned; they were due to play in the last round and Petrosian thought it wise to be on good terms in case he should need a quick draw.


The first time I played Tony Miles he repeated a position twice against me and I quickly went along with it for threefold repetition and a draw. But after the game he told me that had I used too much time on the clock he would have varied on his third move and kept playing.

This in fact was one of his favourite tricks and a nice lesson for me. Should the opportunity arise strong players often repeat the position a couple of times.

Dangling the prospect of a draw in front of an opponent often gets them to use time on the clock and can lull them into a false sense of security. It's also very dispiriting if you then reject continued repetition and play for a win.


Alekhine Escapes a Mimicry Trap

According to legend, former World Champion Alexander Alekhine was challenged to play a couple of correspondence games for money by two separate amateurs. In one of the games Alekhine had White and in the other Black. The games were played at money odds so that Alekhine stood to lose more for a loss than for a win.

As the games progressed it became clear that he had fallen into a trap, the amateur with White would see what Alekhine played against his colleague and then play that very same move against Alekhine. Alekhine's reply as Black would then be used in the other game, effectively forcing the maestro to play against himself.

Of course when one sups with the devil one needs a long spoon. Alekhine played what looked like a blunder in the game in which he was better, causing the amateurs to think they could win both games if they abandoned their plan. But the blunder was a trap and it was Alekhine who emerged triumphant.

This story has an interesting postscript in that some magician used a variation on the same trick to beat a team of International Masters and Grandmasters plus one chess club president. I think that my colleagues must have been well paid to fall for it...


Drink Like a Grandmaster

Before playing Stahlberg in one game, Najdorf kindly invited his Swedish colleague to lunch and promptly started plying him with alcohol (Stahlberg couldn't refuse). It got to the point where even Mrs Najdorf whispered to her husband about how unfair this was, but Najdorf whispered back that Stahlberg was a grown man and could make his own decisions.

The time came for the game and Stahlberg was completely drunk. But he proceeded to play one good move after another until Najdorf's position was quite lost. Suddenly, with victory close at hand, Stahlberg offered a draw which Najdorf had little choice but to accept.

After the game a spectator asked the wobbly Stahlberg why he had offered a draw in such a good position. "How could I beat the man who had just bought me such an excellent lunch?"