The Art of Strategy
Written by Avinash K. Dixit, this is one of those rare books that have an actual effect on your reality. It changes the way you view the world. I see games happening all the time. In the work place, relationships, among friends, on the news. Life is a game. And it’s good to be aware and recognize the various types of games you deal with on a daily basis.
My favorite games discussed in the book was on the topic of Brinkmanship. The idea is that you take another player “to the brink”. Who is going to blink first? For example, imagine you are playing a game of chicken. You’re in a car, and your opponent is in their car and you’re going to drive head on to each other and the first person to swerve out of the way is the chicken. Let’s analyze this:
1. Both swerve at the same time. Both considered equal chickens.
2. Opponent swerves first. You are the victor.
3. You swerve first and lose.
4. Neither swerves and both dies.
The desired outcomes in order is 2, 1, 3, 4. The worst case, 4, is if you both die.
How do you ensure that you win this game without dying? The opponent has to believe that no matter what, you will not swerve. If they genuinely believe that, then they have to swerve or die. Simple, yes? But how do you convince him of this? Just telling him that you won’t swerve is not reliable since he can mistake you for bluffing, killing you both. The answer:
Remove your steering wheel, hold it out the window, and drop it on the ground. Now the opponent knows that you have absolutely no option but to drive straight. If you have no option, then he has to swerve. Sometimes, when you play games of brinkmanship, you have to go to the point of no return in order to win. And something about that appeals to me.
The book is thorough and talks about many other types of games. Extremely useful book and I highly recommend it.
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