Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer & Laurel Kenner

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Proverbs of Tom Wiswell

Walking in Central Park one sunny day, carrying his toddler Galt on the shoulders, Vic spotted a man playing checkers under the trees. The meeting that ensued resulted in one of the most remarkable collections of proverbs ever assembled. The man under the trees was checkers champion Tom Wiswell. He began to make weekly visits to Vic's trading offices in Manhattan. On each visit, he wrote down a dozen or so proverbs applicable to winning in markets and life as well as board games. At his death, he had left some 10,000 or 15,000 proverbs in Vic's keeping. We are pleased to periodically post selections from the treasure chest.


10 New! Wiswell Proverbs

Hovering: Good players seldom hover over the board. After you decided on your move-take a firm hold of the piece-and move in to the right square. Hovering shows that you are nervous, undecided, and in doubt about your game. That give your opponent a decided advantage and you may be headed for a fall.

The Bottom Line: Don’t bunt. Aim it out of the ball park. Aim for the company of the immortals. The base ball season will soon be here. Let the games begin. –David Ogilvy

The Bottom Line: No victor depends on chance; instead, skill, science, and study, are the winning watch words.

Men and Machines: Many players depend on their computers for help, and I suppose that is alright; however, the winning players depend on themselves, as Dr. Marion Tinsley will demonstrate when he defeats the computer “Chinook,” in London later this year.

From the Mouth of A Babe: Never let the fear of striking out get in your way—George Herman (Babe) Ruth. He never did!

Miracle Workers: Good players do not complain about their lack of opportunities: they are good, in most cases, because they go out and make their opportunities. Marion Tinsley is such a player, and so was Bobby Fischer now retired!

Making Sense: Use your eyes when playing a master; use your ears when a Champion is talking; and finally be careful which piece you touch when playing anyone, good or bad. That’s using your sense!

The Uncommon Player: Common Sense, of course, wins many games, but there are positions where it would actually lose, and it will take uncommon sense to win…or draw. However, you must decide when uncommon sense must come to the rescue.

The Bottom Line: When you invest in a new line of play, investigate…for information, and mis-information.

The Bottom Line: Fast moves often lead to fast defeats: slow moves often lead to slow victories.

The Bottom Line: Many games are won by players who are smart, many games are lost by players who too smart.

Masters and Company: Behind every master there are analysts and players who supplied much fine play, plus coaches and writers who aided them with cooks and acted as sparring partners. Few players, if any, reach the top alone.

The Trading Games: In Chess and Checkers every exchange makes a fundamental difference in the character of your game; therefore every trade should be made with great care regarding the new formation: be wary about jumping to conclusions!

Don’t Resign: Just because you are down a piece down doesn’t mean that you should resign: in fact, a close look at the position might suggest you should re-sign.

Using One’s Mind: What is a demanding pleasure? A pleasure that demands the use of one’s mind: not in the sense of problem solving, but in the sense of exercising discrimination, judgment, awareness. –Ayn Rand

The Sounding Board: We depend on our sound moves to make our draws; and we depend on our opponent’s unsound moves to make our wins.

According to Plan, But not Yours: Sometimes you have your opponent exactly where he wants you… and then it’s too late.

The Source: A weak opening is the mother of invention; I get many beautiful problems form these “ugly ducklings.”

Mysteries: When you have a winning move and, instead, make a losing move, it is like two games: you lose a point instead of winning a point. This is especially true in Chess where you get half a point for a draw, and a full point for a win.

Coordination: Never let your hand move faster than your brain; synchronize your thought processes.

The Bottom Line: Checkers: simplicity, carried to an extreme, can be elegant; players who can be patient can have what they will. –Ben Franklin

Fair Play: If you don’t play on the square , beware of Nemesis, the Greek god of retribution.

The Endless Endgame: No Matter how brilliant your opening is, and no matter how brilliant your mid-game is, it is often the endgame that determines the result of the match.

It’s always Moving day: You can’t mark time in Chess and Checkers, you must make a move when it’s your turn. In other words, you must move-or pay rent.

The Translation: Every move has a meaning all its own, and your job is to interpret that meaning and translate it into a win or a draw.

Einstein’s Theory: Once when asked how he worked, the great scientist replied: “I grope.”

The Bottom Line: The Sphinx: The board never lies: but the players often mis-read it.

Analyzing the Players: If you want to know what players are like, see how they act when they win, or better yet, see how they act when they lose.

Advice to Student’s and Players: The Word “listen” has the same letters as the word “silent.” Alfred Brendel.

Tune of Glory: You have to know the rhythm, and the beat, and the melody, and if you do, you can make beautiful music on the boards.

*Entire List of Proverbs