A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Foy's Tenth Law: The Principle of Enforced Expertise

Foy's Tenth Law is also known as "The Principle of Enforced Expertise", and it states:

However obscure and personal may be your interests or beliefs, someone will eventually appear and tell you that you are doing it wrong. You may hide, or lock the door, or move to a secret address, but you cannot prevent this happening.

I was thinking about this, and it reminded me of a short story which I once read and which, infuriatingly, I cannot identify. I thought it might be Stephen Leacock, but I can't find it. The story is about a man and his friend who regularly get involved in social card games, but always do badly. Whatever game they play, there is always someone who knows it better, and plays it better. Eventually, in desperation, they invent their own game, with a crazy name, and very strange rules, which vary by the day of the week and so forth.

They are delighted with their game, and thrilled, at last, to be the world's leading experts in something, until the friend reports that he has found a book in the public library on how to develop an unbeatable strategy for their new game.

If you can think of anything more pointless than a quotation without a known source, please do let me know. You get the idea, anyway.


  1. A friend of mine describes this (in relation to games) as "Stop, stop, you're enjoying it wrong."

  2. I distinctly remember reading Peter Young's Charge in high school, and thinking he's doing it wrong, since I had already read four or five other wargaming books with different approaches, some of which seemed more mathematical.