It has been alluded to that during the Tennis Open, when a player is in trouble with injuries, cramps, or dehydration, instead of the opposing player finishing him off (which obviously seems like a great idea) … the match spirals into a seesaw affair. Is this due to the fact that only so many people possess that killer instinct, and people actually feel "sorry" for their opponent? … or does the tempo and hitting of the game change that much that the "fit" opponent loses direction and momentum, and thus finds himself out of sorts?

The parallels to the market, i.e. being able to take advantage of a winning period and putting the foot on the accelerator when able to … or being in a winning position only to observe changes out of left field, effecting normal market cycles, and status quo, are maybe self evident … Do traders go for the kill while maintaining risk parameters when in a good position or has the market mistress blown the minds and the trader's account so that many times before, they are worried where the next serve will land?

O wise humanity, terribly wise humanity! Of thee I sing. How inscrutable is the civilization where men toil and work and worry their hair gray to get a living and forget to play! -Lin Yutang

Victor Niederhoffer comments:

Mr. Mee reminds me of Yvonne Goolagong in that he's such a natural for trading. I only wish I had his ability so that with the hard work I am accustomed to, I could go very far. He writes about the Australian Open and notes that many matches where one side is injured ends up being very close or actually losing to the healthy. Racket sports is the one subject I am truly an expert on so I would like to comment on it. I have often been involved in games where my opponent is injured. One of the National Squash champs of my day had a tendency to faint in the middle of a match, go out cold for half hour and then come back and play much stronger. I knew about this and always redoubled my efforts when the game started, and won because of that. Sports Illustrated had a full page picture memorializing the victory. The market has that same tendency of playing possum, which of course is widespread in the natural world, and is covered in most books on camouflage. Since I'm not an expert I will leave it to one of our naturalists to generalize and model. However, the market of course has encapped this tendency. It frequently pretends to be totally weakened and attenuated. This is a snare and a delusion. The tendency can be quantified in many ways, and were it not for the Minister's ever vigilance, one would do so.

Scott Brooks adds:

In the natural world, it almost always comes down to experience. But before experience can occur, luck comes into play. Here's what I mean.

I have reached a point in hunting where killing a deer is not hard, whereas years ago, it was much more of a challenge. I've written about my first hunting experience and a few experiences thereafter, and the bottom line is that I simply get lucky.

When I'm hunting, I come across game all the time … young inexperienced deer that have never encountered a hunter. Many times, I can tell that they know I'm there … they can just sense something. Since what they sense has never been associated with danger to them, they ignore it. Since I'm not hunting these young inexperienced deer (too easy to kill), I let them go. They live another day because of luck (not because I let them live, but because they got lucky to cross my path and not one of the hunters on my neighbor's property who certainly would have shot them).

When dealing with an older, more experienced animal, it is a whole different ball game (whether buck or doe). These animals have a much higher sense of what danger is. They have learned what to pay attention to. They have almost developed a sixth sense to know when danger is present.

I have watched nice bucks coming into my stand, with the wind in my face (meaning they weren't going to wind me and pick up my scent), and I've been sitting perfectly still and have been completely camouflaged. I know the deer can't hear, see, or smell me, but then he stops. He goes on high alert. It seems as though every nerve in his body is like a highly sensitive radar, searching for whatever it was that alerted him. He may never look at me. He may never cock his ears in my direction … but he knows I'm there. There are a myriad of perfectly logical reasons as to why he senses me. For instance, when I walk in the woods, my pant leg brushes against a small bush, leaving the slightest amount of scent … and the wind (that seemed favorable from where I was sitting) blew that slight amount of scent his way … maybe the smallest number of molecules necessary for his olfactory system to sense it … and that one little molecule triggered a reaction in his brain that said, "Danger!". So he freezes, assesses the situation and slowly, carefully slinks into the brush, moving back the way he came (because there was no danger in that direction), and becomes invisible in a tangle of the wild. He won that battle.

The longer one has been around as a trader, the more likely his sixth sense is more highly developed and attuned to the very subtle nuances of the market … the more likely we are to pick up on the scent of danger … or said another way, because we are more attuned to the scent of danger, we need less molecules of "danger scent" to detect and recognize that danger.

As to camouflage, this is an interesting subject. When I hunt, I am in full camouflage from head to toe. You would think that this is pretty simple … slap on some army greens and go to the woods, but nothing could be further from the truth. Camouflage, proper camouflage is an art … it is literally a detailed process that begins way before going into the woods, continues on the trip out to the woods, all the way through the actual hunt, including the exit.

Simple camouflage is meaningless. Anyone can slap on army greens and go hunting. As a matter of fact, for the most part, the pattern of the camouflage doesn't matter. If I've done my prep work, I could go out into the woods in blue jeans and a shirt with muted colors, such as grey, brown, green, or even blue. As long as I'm sitting very, very still, the deer is not likely to see me. It is my opinion that the color pattern of the camouflage that I'm wearing has less than 20% bearing on the outcome of the hunt (maybe less than 10%).

Deer are basically brown with no real camouflage coloration or patterns, yet they are very hard to see.

On my farm, we keep statistics of deer sightings. Some hunters on my farm simply see more deer than others? Why is that? It is because most hunters are like inexperienced traders. They simply don't know what to look for. You see, most hunters look for "a deer." As a result, when they don't see "a deer" their mind registers nothing … when in reality, there was a deer right in front of them.

When I hunt, I don't look for deer. I look for movement. I look for a glint of sunlight off an antler. I look for a horizontal (the deer's back) in a vertical world (trees, weeds, switch grass, etc.). I look for the flick of a tail. I listen for the slight crunch of a leaf. I study my surroundings, and because of years of experience, I am more likely to figure out where deer will be, or where they will be coming from and/or moving to. Deer don't jump up and say, "here I am."

When you trade, you have to understand that the market never says, "here I am, buy me now" (and if it did, well then it would be too late). You have to look for the nuances in the market. You have to find the "glint of sunlight off the market's antlers" or see market movement, and see it before anyone else (or at least very many people do).

You see, when I go into the woods camouflaged, I am as camouflaged as I know I can be (and hopefully I'll get better over time). I've done my research. I know that scent is the deer's biggest defense, so I will be as scent free as possible. I will wash my clothes in scent free detergent and dry them in a scent free dryer (there is a whole process involved that I won't go into at this time just for this step). I take a scent free shower with scent free soap (what about my towel, was it washed and dried scent free and stored in a scent free plastic bag … another detailed process I'll skip for now).

Getting dressed … I do not want my clothes to touch anything that would give them a scent … and I do not want to sweat either (remember, I'm in my house putting on very warm clothes so sweating can be easy … therefore, I have a system of dressing that will keep me from getting sweaty … again, I'll skip that for now).

What about my breath? That's the biggest scent maker on my body as I have no choice but to breathe. Therefore, I brush my teeth with baking soda and I take four chlorophyll pills everyday (sometimes more) during the whole deer season.

As I go into the woods, I know I'm gonna have to take my time so I don't sweat … but I will perspire, at least a little bit. Therefore, I spray myself down with scent reducing spray.

I know that even though I'm careful, I'll rub against brushes and leaves (it's pitch black in the morning going into the stand and at night coming out … so I will rub against a few). So how do I combat that? I like to find cow patties, the fresher the better, and then I tromp right through them, getting manure all over my boots. Then, using my boots, I rub the manure all over my pant legs to act as a cover scent.

There is far more to this process (I'm even thinking about writing a book on the subject) than I will go into here, but I'll spare you all the details. The key is that I go into the woods prepared. As a result, I see more deer and harvest more big deer.

One must realize that trading/investing/advising is a lot more detailed than just showing up and buying. There are many nuances that one has to learn to recognize. There are many forms of deception that the market mistress employs in order to separate you from your money.

And you have to remember that in the market, not only is the mistress trying to separate you from your money, there are predators everywhere, that are hunting you too.

You must be willing to work hard, study hard and prepare hard, and develop your sixth sense. It takes years of practice, trial and error, a thick skin and a willingness to lose money … to get to the point that you can make money, and make it consistently.

There are many more analogies and correlations to be made. I'll save those for another day … as I said, I could write a book on scent alone … and scent preparation is only a small part of being a great hunter.

Just like _____________________(fill in the blank with whatever "one thing" you want) is only a small part of investing.

GM Nigel Davies offers: 

To the best of my recollection, only Tony Miles was the first to use the injury ploy in chess, with one of his best wins being on a stretcher. In minor form, the same tactic worked for me in St. Vincent 1999 where I was on crutches. It was especially useful that there was much snow and ice around, so I was sliding around looking especially vulnerable. Now in a game not involving legs, this really shouldn't matter, but I'm sure this has an effect on the opponent's primal subconscious. It says 'victim' and he sees red.

You can see a similar effect with the pretty pouting Russian girls sitting at their boards in Washington Square. Female players often seem to try and look vulnerable on purpose. It's also worth noting Stefanova's tendency to wear off the shoulder tops, which alone probably adds some 50 points to her rating.

The other main ruses include getting into time-trouble if your position is bad, though I must say that many people are wise to this one now and know what their opponent is up to. More subtle is the idea that if you are black and have a knight on c6 and want to bring it to d7, ceteris paribus, it's better to go to b8 rather than e5 as optically your position looks much weaker.

Russell Sears offers: 

Basically, the whole point in distance racing is to run your opponents into the ground, and then leave them. You learn to sense your opponents falter by subtle clues. His breathing rhythms change, the turn is not taken as sharp, and the hill is not met.

I once wrote of the poor high school girl that had Indiana's State Cross Country race in the bag, until she looked back and saw she had a big lead with 200 meters left. You saw her pace slow, then her form crumble, and the weight of the race hit her all in a few yards. With 100 meters left, she was staggering and weaving back and forth, and with 50 meters, she was down on the ground.

In the heat of the race, your body is in equilibrium. Once you let up the lactic acids and other poisons hit you, your heart slows. I always try to coach kids by telling them that if you want to hurt less during a race, push yourself harder rather than ease up.

An expert at this was Todd Williams. He would train with 400's at sub 60 second followed by 400's at near 70. In a race against fellow USA guys, he would rip the competition up, as they, knowing he was the one to beat, would try to key off his pace.

But then again I have been in many races where the pace, heat, wind, cold etc. were the real problems, and once one succumbed to the elements, it was like one was finally excusing himself early from a bad dinner party. They all soon follow. The last one standing is often the winner, despite staggering in at the end.

I remember a classic duel between Bob Kennedy and Todd Williams I saw at the Indianapolis US Nationals. Todd was better at the 10,000 meter and Bob at the 5,000 meter. When they met at Bob's hometown at his specialty, they went out running the first six laps of the 12.5 lap 5000 meter in sub 4:00 pace, despite it being in the 90's and the track temperatures in the 100 F. By about 3000 meters, Todd collapsed and Bob continued on and won, but barely hung on at the end.

Basically, if you are not prepared to lead or go into it alone with conviction, they can easily suck you into their vortex, and send you into a death spiral. It matters little if the staggering competitions are real, feigned or imagined.





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