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The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship: Or…

The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship: Or the Art of Winning Games… (1947)

by Stephen Potter

Other authors: Frank Wilson (Illustrator)

Series: Lifemanship (1)

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Dated and extremely British but sprinkled with a few chuckles and laughs. Interesting to see the evolution of some of these topics and how they have been reused through the years by other authors. ( )
  bensdad00 | Jan 10, 2017 |
I first read this book at the tender age of six or so. I knew it was supposed to be funny, because the way I had found it was by browsing the humor shelves of the public library. (At six I was already exploring out well beyond the confines of the library's juvenile sections.) It probably had a salutary effect on me, in terms of making the gamesmanship in which it purports to offer instruction seem utterly repellent, albeit curiously arresting.

Potter often describes the complex and antagonistic relationship among the three factors of sportsmanship (constructive sociability in the game context), skill (mastery of game-specific processes and contents), and gamesmanship (exploitation of socio-psychological factors to defeat opponents). In fact, gamesmanship turns out to be not so much about the "art of winning" (note the sparse and apologetic chapter on "Winmanship"), but the art of precipitating losses in rivals.

Some of the best bits of the book are the elaborate (and often pointless) diagrams, and the end-matter: especially "A Queer Match" in the "Gamesmanania" section (105-107). Appendix II, a "Note on Etiquette" betrays the essentially esoteric character of gamesmanship, which may account for the fascination it once exercised over me.
2 vote paradoxosalpha | Aug 12, 2011 |
Picked this up cheap at a book sale, not really knowing what it was. I was a third of the way through before I began to suspect it was intentionally humourous. Nothing actually confirms that in my edition, but for the inside back cover. It's so well written, in such a true-to-type style, I was completely hoodwinked. If I hadn't clued in sooner, the section on Chess would have given it away; I love the Potter Opening and other recommended approaches for garnering a sparkling reputation over the board while having no real talent whatsoever. Even not being a particular enthusiast of most of the sports mentioned, I could well imagine the author's advice being applied to my own games of choice. Don't miss the appendices, which divulge some particularly good examples of gamesmanship in action. ( )
  Cecrow | May 14, 2010 |
The first, and by far the best, in Stephen Potter's Gamesmanship series, this is one of the funniest books I have ever read.
It was published just after the war, in 1947, and is a reflection of the British humour of that time - on a par with Lawrence Durrell's Chancery stories and the incomparable Michael Green with his Coarse series.
What makes Gamesmanship so funny is that it makes perfect sense and is merely a formalised account of the niggling little ways we try and put down our oppoenents and boost our own esteem - sub-conscious psychological warfare.
Once it has been pointed out however, it takes a brave - or conscienseless - sportsman to deliberatly bring the gambits and wheezes into play! ( )
1 vote adpaton | Aug 5, 2009 |
very amusing, truthful to this day. ( )
  myykkall | Apr 6, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephen Potterprimary authorall editionscalculated
Wilson, FrankIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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If I have been urged by my friends to take up my pen, for once, to write of this subject -- so difficult in detail yet so simple in all of its fundamental aspects -- I do so on one condition.
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