Mar

4

 This table tennis video shows a crowd-pleasing point and players with strong skills.

But the contest is held at a casino and the big dramatic play seems as much to entertain the crowd as to win the point.

It is fun to play way back and with experience, a surprising number of deep shots can be returned, just as many NBA players can regularly hit 30- and 40-foot jumpers.

Still, skills for winning a game differ from skills that entertain audiences. Flashy tennis players can return shots between their legs, but just because they can doesn't mean they should. Sinking a jump shot from half-court is impressive, but also signals bad judgement, poor planning, or both. When the shot goes in, the crowd goes wild, but whether a hit or miss, few reflect on the poor play that forced the desperate shot.

So when does the fun of wowing an audience with rare skills overwhelm caution and get us into trouble in the first place? Is a steady and modest return so boring that the chance for a flashy score draws us to danger? In table tennis, when the room is large enough, it is so easy to hit a soft shot then move back to try some deep returns. But if your opponent is skilled and serious, you'll quickly be crushed.

In markets, how often do skilled players drift toward difficult positions where they believe their deep speculating skills can be called upon to save the play, as an approving audience looks on?


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