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Stephen Potter: the hilarious classic "One-upmanship"

March 05, 2006

$15 (Inc S/H)

[$15] "One-upmanship" is a slim, 175-pg send-up of stuffy British clubbishness and the endless ways that "players" have of foiling and impressing each other. [UPDATE: Out of stock on "Up" but I do have a fine copy of "Gamesmanship," also a great read, with a great section on how to win at not paying for lunch.]

Stephen Potter (no relation) wrote several hilarious volumes in this theme. But "One-upmanship" includes more of the outdoor sports world, including the timeless "Art of Not Climbing"---in which you can appear to your peers to always be coming or going from an extreme climbing venture but avoid ever being actually seen climbing, thus avoiding the need to climb at all, with its attendant sweat and danger.

Basically, it's source material in posing and a send-up of manners and style guides. After all, posing is a skill every player needs to excel at if they're not going to excel at what they're actually doing.

A prime gambit, hamper or ploy involves, when you're losing at a game--and all of life is a game in the club view---admiring the better player's style and asking them about some fine point. If you can get them to try to explain their superior play, you'll wreck em---ah ha! All this kind of thing is delivered in the driest and wittiest of writing styles, complete with typically pedantic British artwork.

These books are rather hard to come by in nice hardcover editions with dustjackets. My inventory is in medium-grade "Very Good" condition. But they're nicer, in a sense, than the paperbacks, if you care about that sort of thing. I mean, a certain kind of person cares. As for others, well...

I just want to give props to some hilarious inspiration in my own gaming life. And to keep this source material alive and in play. Every clubman needs a copy.

Shown lifesize, 5.25"x7.5":

As I mentioned for the "Three-upmanship" compendium book listing: There's a new movie coming out called "School for Scoundrels" starring Billy Bob Thornton. It's an update of the clever British classic which was based on Potter's work. I suspect it'll be terrible and will wallow in the depths of exploitation but it might revive interest in the superb original. And it gives me a great excuse to promote the source: the hilarious books of Stephen Potter.

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