Notes on Elwood & Baldwin

by Suspended Reason

Notes on generalized reading from a People Who Read People interview with fencer Seth Baldwin about Baldwin’s career as a top-ranking fencer. Some thoughts are Elwood’s, some are Baldwin’s, some are my own.

feint: a move which entices a commitment by an opponent, so as to be exploited by the feinter

lure: a feint which works, in part, because the lured player does not realize he is in a game

variance: luck, distribution spread of possible outcomes, the bracketed unknown context. Definitionally that which averages out: over n many rounds, as n increases, variance decreases; thus, outclassed players are incentivized to keep n low (against higher-skilled players)

watching footage: a way to develop good inferential instincts (a well-developed action schema of differences which make a difference) for a given opponent

establishing, then subverting, patterns: a means of exploiting players by staying a step a head in Sicilian-reasoning or anti-inductive games; akin to what I have called pseudo-legibility, insofar as it feigns readability” or predictability”

builds & balance: in non-PIG-optimal games, there are tradeoffs between being a generalist or a specialist, between different kinds of specializations and identities; in team events, following the Pareto principle, these builds are akin to the complementarity of social heuristics

frequency dependency: left-handers outcompete right-handed fancers, on average, because they regularly face and practice on right-handers, whereas right-handers only very rarely oppose left-handers. At high levels of competition, this disparity lessens.

divergent cultures of player: Hazard once asked if I knew examples of games where different cultures of play emerged from philosophical differences over proper” or preferred spirit & letter of play. Here we learn that the saber, foil, and epee divisions are exactly the product of such schisms. (Religious schisms generally are another good example.)