Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer & Laurel Kenner

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Bridge and Trading, by Bruno

Most bridge books deal with bidding or card play. That 's funny, because in bridge, intangibles like discipline or character are just as important as technique. Trading literature is similar. It is mostly focused on making money, not on managing stress or emotions. I recently reread one of the few bridge books devoted to psychology and character. It is called Winning Bridge Intangibles and was written by Mike Laurence, a legendary US bridge player. This very small book is structured in 25 chapters, that each illustrates one aspect of intangibles . What is absolutely amazing, is that almost all the chapters of this bridge book, apply to the business of speculation. I'll just give two examples.

Chapter 14 "Don't catch the New York Times Syndrome".

There is a certain type of player who is always snatching at opportunities to be tricky and devious. Examples of this might be:

- A very unusual opening lead. - Psyching or frequent tactical bids. - Trap passing or master-minding the auction.

A leading East Coast player was described as having the New York Times Syndrome. He often attempted to concoct a brilliant bid or play that would warrant the hand and his name's inclusion in the New York Times bridge column. As in most competitive activities, the contest is not won by the occasional, erratic brilliancy. The victor is the competitor who plays consistently and steadily with few errors.

There is scope for creativity and flair in bridge. Just don't go to extremes.

Isn't it so true? While reading this lesson, I couldn't help thinking about my last New York Times trade. The year was 2002 and the month July. I told to myself: well, this looks like a panic and this smells like a panic. I am going long . This experiment in buying into a panic looked absolutely great and an anthology trade for a while. But not two months later when all my leveraged positions were in the red and down even more than the indices.

Next time there is a panic I might buy into it. But with 50% leverage only. Bread-and-butter trades bring the money home, not beluga-and-champagne ones.

Chapter 19 "Strive to improve"

At a recent ACBL National Tournament panel show, a two-time World Champion player with over 10,000 master points, was asked this question: what goals can a player of your lofty status possibly work for when you have already accomplished so much? The answer was: I just hope to continue working on improving my game .

Striving for improvement is essential for players at each level of the game. You need not devote an enormous number of hours a week in this pursuit.

Simply recognizing that you have room for growth and the willingness to learn are the keys. Probably the easiest and most desirable methods of improving are to:

- Ask questions of better players. - Read worthwhile bridge books. - Participate with and against the strongest players possible.