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Batman Gambit / Real Life

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  • Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of Prussia, successfully manipulated his enemies to unify Germany, using his ally Austria to defeat Denmark, then caused Austria to declare war on Prussia, and finally manipulated France into another war, thus creating the political climate to unite the many German states into a single one. He pulled some of this off by taking advantage of pre-existing circumstances and he lured enemies (and his boss!) into traps several times. Then again, a man wearing that formidable a hat is clearly working at a higher level than most.
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  • Konrad Adenauer manipulated the Communist party of Germany (whom he actually despised) so they supported him on a specific project of building a bridge.
  • Near the beginning of World War II, Hitler and Mussolini attempted to convince Spanish Dictator Francisco Franco to join their Axis. Franco agreed, on the condition that, after the war, Spain received basically all of North Africa that didn't already belong to Italy. This condition was too much for Mussolini, so Spain remained neutral (if Axis-leaning). On one hand, this can be seen as an example of Franco's ego. On the other hand, it is very possible that Franco deliberately overreached during negotiations in order to stay out of the war, while remaining on better terms with the Axis than he would have if he had outright declined an alliance.
  • World War I:
    • An escalating war of Batman Gambits emerged in the use of artillery in WWI. Infantry would attack after their own side's artillery significantly barraged the enemy's trenches so the enemy's infantry (that would have been taking cover in their dugouts during the barrage) would have made to immediately form up in their trenches after a large barrage ended. Sometimes instead of having the infantry attack after a big artillery barrage, the artillery would wait a bit and then fire again in the hopes of killing more infantry that would have gotten out of their cover, fire off gas shells to hit as much of the enemy as possible as they ran out of their dugouts, or barrage the enemy on-and-off continuously to prevent the enemy from sleeping from being on alert in expectation of an attack/bait them into not expecting an upcoming night raid...until they eventually actually just did a barrage for preceding an infantry attack, of course.
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    • Due to the proliferation of gas masks in the war making the gas a lot less likely to be actually lethal, there were many occasions where smelly-but-harmless agents were released to just hamper the defenders (gas masks are highly restrictive and uncomfortable for a person's ability to see and breath), or gas and the "stink bombs" were used interspersed between different barrages to stress out defenders longer, or a lot of gas was used onto a location not for the purpose of killing the defenders, but getting them to flee it due to how there would be so much gas that their gas mask's filters would eventually fail if they stayed in their posts.
    • German U-boats were causing the Allies, the British in particular, no end of trouble. So the British came up with Q-ships, the latest variation on an old idea. These would be apparent merchant boats that had concealed deck guns behind fake bulkheads. They were purposely sailed into waters where U-boats were known to be active. So when the U-boats saw the Q-ships, they surfaced -— only for the crews to remove the fake bulkheads, run up the Royal Navy ensign and fire away. Later on they got even more clever. The boats would be loaded with light cargo like balsa wood so that it would stay afloat even if torpedoed, encouraging U-boat commanders to surface and finish the job from there. Sometimes the "crews" would even abandon ship to further entice the U-boat up into gun range. U-Boat commanders eventually grew wary of the trick, and instead would just torpedo any ship they came across without warning, rather than risk getting shot at, though this was still considered an overall "win" for the British, since the U-boats only carried a handful of torpedoes. A U-boat captain who was unwilling to risk a surface attack with the deck gun therefore had a strict upper limit to how many ships it was possible for him to sink on a single patrol. While each individual ship attacked by a U-boat was more likely to sink and the crew was less likely to be able to safely abandon ship, the total number of ships lost was still reduced.
  • Also during WWII German commanders on the Western Front frequently banked on the Allied tendency (especially Americans) to cease operations with nightfall. So they would avoid pitched battle during the day, delay, retreat and trade space for time only to roll up pretty much directly to the American front in the night, mined, trap and prepare the ground for next day and start the game anew.
  • Also during WWII, when the Allies were planning to invade southern Europe from Africa, the British launched a uniformed corpse from a submarine, in an area where the Spanish would recover his body. Chained to his belt was a briefcase that explained that the invasion site would NOT be Sicily, and hinted instead it would be Greece.note  With an additional hint that the target could be Sardinia, via an Incredibly Lame Pun about sardines. The Spanish under Franco, being on friendly terms with the Germans, found the body and gave the evidence to the German embassy, who bought the story, leaving the invasion site nearly undefended. It may also help that the Abwehr, which asserted the authenticity of the documents, was riddled with British agents, including its head, Admiral Canaris.
    • The success of this plan, Operation Mincemeat, was actually what led the Germans to disregard other information they'd actually gotten. Once the invasion was complete, they realised they'd been fooled and disregarded several other actual intelligence leaks as simple repeats of Mincemeat. Due to the effectiveness of the other major deceptive operation this failure included the actual landings at D-Day being ruled as a repeat of Mincemeat.
    • Allied intelligence also effectively played the highly paranoid attitude among German spies and their handlers. They used turned German agents to discredit reports filed by (still loyal) spies. As a result, German intelligence dismissed many of its actual spies in favor of one who were getting "better" information (who happen to be double agents). In one notable case, a Juan Pujol García (German codename "Arabel", British codename "Garbo" managed to stall the advance of tanks to counter the D-Day landings by convincing his handlers that the other spies in France has been turned and that he alone knew that Normandy was a diversion attack meant to pull troops away from the real landing site. The Germans were so impressed with this and other information he gave them, he was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class, an award given only on Hitler's personal authorization. For his service to the British war effort, he was secretly made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by King George VI. As a result, he was the only person to be given high honors by both sides of the conflict, for doing the same thing.
    • The Battle of Leyte Gulf. The Japanese came up with a plan to use their remaining aircraft carriers as bait. The hope was to lure the main American carrier fleet to the north, while they sent in battleships from the west to attack the mostly defenseless tranports at Leyte Gulf. Admiral Halsey, who was in command of the main American fleet, swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker. Halsey raced north to attack the Japanese carriers, leaving almost nothing behind to defend Leyte Gulf. When the Japanese battleships arrived, they very nearly massacred the American transports and their few escorts. Only a very frantic defense by the Americans and lots of miscommunication and confusion on the part of the Japanese eventually convinced the Japanese commander to turn back.
    • The Alan Turing team invented Chosen Plaintext Cryptanalysis on Enigma - a method of breaking codes by intentionally feeding known plaintext into an unknown cryptographic system and compare the output ciphertexts - by exploiting the German standard form naval mine reports. RAF would drop mines at locations chosen by Bletchley Park, so the cryptanalysts can intercept the corresponding encrypted standard form naval mine report and know both most of its exact contents, facilitating the cryptanalysis of Enigma.
    • A successful WWII gambit in a non-combat context: When the Nazis invaded Denmark in 1940, the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen was in possession of the Nobel Prize gold medals awarded to German physicists Max von Laue and James Franck. During the occupation, it was illegal to send gold out of the country. Hungarian chemist George de Hevesy, then working at the Institute, had a plan. He prepared a jar of aqua regia, a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids capable of dissolving gold, and dumped the medals in the acid. De Hevesy then placed the jar on a shelf at his laboratory along with dozens if not hundreds of other jars of chemicals. The Nazis, not knowing any better, ignored the jar. He fled for Sweden in 1943, receiving his own Nobel Prize shortly after arriving in Stockholm, and returned to his old laboratory in Copenhagen after the war to find the jar undisturbed. He then precipitated the gold out of the acid, and sent it to the Nobel committee and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. They then cast new medals for Laue and Franck from the original gold.
  • In 1967, during The Vietnam War, the U.S. Air Force faced a problem. The North Vietnamese had received several MiG-21 "Fishbed" supersonic interceptor jets. These planes were causing problems for heavy, bomb-laden flights of F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bombers ("Thuds") that were being used to attack targets in North Vietnam. Thuds were less maneuverable than Fishbeds, but the USAF's F-4 Phantom II jets were even better (though not by all that much). Plus, leaders in Washington, D.C., forbade the bombing of North Vietnamese airbases (out of fear that if one of the many Soviet advisors in North Vietnam was killed, the Soviets would use it to start World War III). With this in mind, Colonel Robin Olds came up with what would become a classic Batman Gambit. Codenamed Operation Bolo, the plan consisted of using F-4 Phantoms, convincing the enemy that they were inbound Thuds (by using Thud callsigns, air routes, radar jammers, etc.), lure the Fishbeds into the air, then hit them with AIM-7 Sparrow radar-guided missiles and AIM-9 Sidewinder heat-seeking missiles. On January 2, 1967, the plan went into action. 12 Fishbeds intercepted the "Thuds", only to be embroiled in a dogfight with what were actually Phantoms. Seven of the twelve Fishbeds were confirmed shot down once the fight was over.
    • That said, before he was stationed in Southeast Asia, Colonel Olds was stationed in England as a wing commander at RAF Bentwaters, where he received terrible news: He had made the list for promotion to Brigadier General. Which meant he wouldn't be given a combat assignment. So he got his three best pilots together to put on a very unauthorized air show for an open house over the base. He got exactly what he had hoped for: He got in just enough trouble to get taken off the promotion list and sent to command a combat unit in Thailand as punishment.
    • At this time, Col. Olds' deputy was an African-American colonel named Daniel James (who would later become first African American four star general in the US Air Force). Together, they were called "Blackman and Robin" as a team, adding yet another Batman linkage to this episode.
    • Another Batman gambit in the USAF a few years later ended up creating the highly-successful F-16 Fighting Falcon. At the time the trend for jet aircraft was for heavier and less-maneuverable planes like the F-111 that were meant to engage enemies beyond visual range with missiles; Colonel John Boyd and a group of like-minded individuals dubbed the "Fighter Mafia", however, saw that the technology wasn't up to spec to keep situations from devolving into close-range dogfights with guns, and began pushing for a lightweight and highly-maneuverable fighter. The Air Force initially would have none of it and insisted on sticking to the heavy F-15 Eagle for air superiority - up until the Fighter Mafia suggested that the Navy might be working on a lightweight fighter of their own that they could then force onto the Air Force. As for that potential Navy lightweight figher program? They ended up starting just such a program, and adopted the F/A-18 Hornet, based on the YF-17 Cobra, the design that lost the Air Force contract to the F-16.
    • Similar may have played a role in the creation of the F-22 Raptor about 20 years later - the prototype YF-22 only beat the competing YF-23 in agility (the YF-23 was faster and stealthier), but it was also speculated in the aviation press at the time that the YF-22 would be more adaptable for a concurrent program the Navy was running to create their own stealth fighter. The Secretary of the Air Force at the time has admitted that said adaptability was the reason the YF-22 was selected to become the Raptor, and given that the Navy dropped their program within a year of the selection...
  • The Athenian politician Themistocles, seeing the Persian threat, convinced the Athenians to spend the proceeds from a lode of silver to build a large navy, naming a threat from Greek rivals (Persia seemed too distant to the people). He then formed a battle plan to defend the pass at Thermopylae while the Allied (largely Athenian) navy held the Strait of Artemisium so the Persians couldn't sail around. When the Spartans were reluctant to deploy their armies far away from their home, Themistocles goaded them into it by successfully pledging the entire able-bodied population of Athens to man the allied Greek fleet. When the Spartan naval commander wanted to run from the approaching Persians, who outnumbered the Greeks six to one, Themistocles secured a large bribe to have the fleet stay there and defend the people. He subsequently took the initiative in the sea battle by attacking the Persians in the late afternoon when they off guard, so that that it would be dark by the time the Persians got their act together (the Greeks could withdraw more easily.) After holding the strait until the Spartans were defeated, Themistocles sailed back to Athens to evacuate everyone, leaving messages at all the towns along the way for the Ionians, Greek allies of Persia, in the Persian fleet to make Xerxes distrust them. Then, playing on Xerxes' desire to conquer the Greeks totally, he tricked the Persian fleet into an ambush in the Strait of Salamis, destroying most of their troop ships and crippling Persia's invasion force.
    • Simultaneously, King Leonidas of the rival Spartans was killed at Thermopylae, thus weakening one of Athens' domestic enemies. This may have been entirely intentional.
  • The "Highland Charge" was a shock tactic the Scottish used during the 18th century that took advantage of expectations of infantrymen at the time - a good showing of the Highland Charge would have the Scots close to 60 yards and fire their muskets, duck to the ground under the expected retaliating volley (further aided from the smoke that would have came from their guns) and drop their firearms, draw blades and targes, and charge the enemy. This was initially highly devastating even against enemies that tried to stand their ground, as there wasn't much time for early plug bayonets to be fitted to muskets once the true charge began and even after ring bayonets became standard, the Scots would still be able to easily deflect an enemy's bayonet with the targe in his left-hand and render him helpless. The British would end up defeating it by drilling their troops to expect the Scots' charge and having their bayonets deflected by training them to stab at the enemy at his right.
  • This is how the 17th president of the U.S., Andrew Johnson, was impeached. Congress passed the (unconstitutional) Tenure of Office Act, which basically said that the president couldn't fire any of his appointees without Congressional consent. The Radical Republicans knew that Johnson would fire his Secretary of War and thus violate this act, so they just sat back and sold tickets to the trial. However, the ultimate plan of removing Johnson from office failed. Republicans had presumed that it wouldn't be difficult because removing an impeached president required a 2/3 vote of the Senate (at that time, 36 out of 54 senators), and 42 senators were Republicans. Johnson thwarted this by bribing 7 Republican senators to vote for his acquittal, causing them to fall short by 1 vote.
  • Pablo Escobar was once arrested with 39 kilos of cocaine; when he found out the name of the judge that would be trying his case, he attempted to bribe him but the judge refused. Escobar found out that the judge had a brother who was a defense attorney, and that the brothers did not get along, so he hired the brother as his lawyer, assuming a judge with enough integrity to refuse a bribe would recuse himself rather than try a case with his brother representing the defendant; he was right, and the judge who replaced him accepted Escobar's bribe.
  • There is a card trick that can be done where you ask the volunteer to pick this or that, guiding them towards the preferred answer no matter what they say. If you want them to pick pile A and they pick pile A, good, picking it means keeping it. They pick pile B? You say nothing and pretend as if picking it meant discarding it. Rinse and repeat until you get the final card. Most people won't notice it's being done to them unless they've had it played on them before and/or they're looking for it.
  • A more concrete example is the story of Hotel 52. You select a card with a notable feature (say, the Queen of Hearts), loaded it where appropriate, and begin the story of Hotel 52, where you had a dream Hotel 52 is holding a ball and all the cards are attending. You ask for help finishing the dream and say, "Suddenly, the hotel caught fire! Embellish to taste. The fire is burning to the cards. Quick, is it burning to the Black Cards or the Red Cards?" If they say Black, you say, "Oh no, all the Black cards burned up. The Red ones see the danger, and now they're running!" If they say Red, you say, "The Black cards escaped and are safe. Now the Red ones are in danger, and they're running!" Continue until only the Queen of Hearts is left to escape.
  • Napoléon Bonaparte laid a masterful Batman Gambit in 1805 at the Battle of Austerlitz against both the Russians and Austrians. Having already destroyed an Austrian force months earlier, Napoleon knew he needed a decisive victory over the Third Coalition (as the Allied cause was known) to not just win the war, but keep his army together, as he was far from home and had campaigned long and hard. Knowing it would take the Russians a long time to arrive in Austria, Napoleon was able to pick the site of his decisive battle, and making sure the allies saw his deployment, intentionally withdrew his center from the Pratzen Heights, which dominated the area and allowed the Russians to occupy them, while also intentionally making his right flank seem like the weakest part of his army. The Allies couldn't resist an opportunity to outflank him, so sent waves after waves of men against Napoleon's right, drawing off reserves from their center in this attempt. Napoleon immediately had his center storm the Pratzen Heights, taking the Russians by surprise, driving the center off and swinging right, trapping the bulk of the allied army and routing them. Bear in mind that Napoleon was outnumbered by nearly 15,000 men, he inflicted nearly twice that many casualties on the allies while only suffering about 7,000 of his 65,000 man army. It's widely considered Napoleon's greatest tactical victory.
    • Particularly notable because the Russian general Kutuzov, who had actually occupied the Heights, had saw through the ruse and ignored orders from his immediate superior Von Weyrother (Austrian general and commander of the combined Austrian-Russian army) of leaving to attack Napoleon. The battle ended in a Napoleonic victory because the czar Alexander I considered Kutuzov an old fool and forced him to obey Von Weyrother. Alexander would learn his lesson, and when Napoleon later invaded Russia he ordered Kutuzov to stop Napoleon. Kutuzov would later pull a Batman Gambit on Napoleon, letting him waste the Grande Armée in a vain offensive against Moscow under the impression that Russia would surrender and then keeping him there until winter, and blocking Napoleon's only way to retreat where there was any food.
    • In the German campaign of the Sixth Coalition, the Coalition realized that Napoleon was still a highly skillful adversary. Therefore, they decided on the Trachenberg Plan, where they would avoid fighting Napoleon himself, but would fight his Marshals in separate battles. The Coalition believed that Napoleon would try to get into a pitched battle with their armies and defeat them separately, while sending his Marshals to other objectives. Napoleon did not disappoint, and he repeatedly got suckered into sending his Marshals into defeats that would drain his army of manpower for much of the campaign.
      • They pulled another gambit on Napoleon in the final battle of the campaign at Leipzig. Their three combined armies had such an overwhelming number of half a million men that if Napoleon chose to stand and fight, it would quickly boil down to numbers, a fight that Napoleon would clearly lose. An overwhelming majority of his Marshals urged Napoleon to fall back to the Rhine rather than fight at Leipzig, but Napoleon knew that fleeing at Leipzig would result in the abandonment of France by his German allies, whereas the Napoleon of old would have immediately tried to retreat. Napoleon chose to stand and fight, and following the loss of Leipzig was quickly left without much of an army to defend France.
  • In 1573, after getting his butt kicked at Mikatagahara, future ruler of Japan Tokugawa Ieyasu tried Zhuge Liang's "Empty Fortress" strategy. Rather than close the gates to the castle and allow the enemy to overrun his army, he left the gates wide open, lit the way with huge braziers, and even had a vassal beat drums. The enemy saw this whole arrangement, and decided that Ieyasu was up to something shady, and camped for the night.
  • Brazilian president Jânio Quadros tried this in 1961. He ousted himself from office, accusing "hidden forces" of plotting his downfall. He expected to be supported by the people and make a triumphant return. It failed.
  • Ask a volunteer to picture a simple geometric shape, "like a circle or a square." Now that you have eliminated two of the three most likely possibilities, they are almost certainly thinking of a triangle. Congratulations! You're a mind reader!
  • During World War I, one of the ways some of the Allied soldiers got themselves out of the frontline is by shooting themselves in the foot or the hand. The higher-up is then forced to take the wounded soldier out of the frontline, thus saving his life from (probably) certain death. May also count as Deliberate Injury Gambit.
    • The failure condition came from the Commander-in-Chief of the Army in question possibly anticipating this and ordering the doctors to report what weapon had caused the wound, the bullet angle and if the shoe or the skin had burns around the wound, thus determining if the wound was self-inflicted. In the Royal Italian Army, that meant immediate execution.
    • In World War II, soldiers on the Eastern Front got to shooting themselves in the chest or stomach through a piece of bread (to avoid powder burns, and quickly discarded). No doctor would dare to accuse a soldier of a Deliberate Injury Gambit when the wound was to a vital area!
      • There was also a practice called "voting" - raising a hand out of the trench hoping that the enemy would notice and wound you in the arm.
  • Most forms of blackmail and kidnapping are this. While they appear to be other forms of gambits because the victim supposedly has no choice, they really do. The other option is to not allow the blackmailer/kidnapper to win at all. The victim goes to the police and reports the crime. For blackmail, the secret is exposed. This can be turned in favor of the victim if they confess to the public before the blackmailer does. One notable example is of American talk show host David Letterman. A blackmailer threatened to expose the fact that he had sexual relations with many of his staff members. Instead of complying, he went public with it and even joked about the whole affair, thus exposing the blackmailer's plan.
    • Alexander Hamilton tried this with the Reynolds affair by releasing a sordid (if not TMI) pamphlet exposing his affair with Maria Reynolds when he was accused of improper speculation with James Reynolds, her husband, who actually blackmailed Hamilton about his romantic meetups with Maria. Hamilton failed miserably - the pamphlet ruined his political career.
    • For the kidnapping, the police do know what they are doing in those cases. There is always a chance of the kidnapped being killed already, or killed to cover the crime. For the best, the victim should contact the police. A simple answer that may trip up the gambit and derail the entire problem safely.
  • Director Christopher Nolan wanted to bring Inception to the screen. To do so, he had to show the Powers That Be that he could direct, as well as gain experience for his magnum opus. Thus, Nolan actually uses Batman (through directing Batman Begins and The Dark Knight) as a Batman Gambit to bring Inception to the screen.
  • According to The Illusion of Life, Walt Disney himself did this. Everytime his staff came to talk about subjects he did not want to discuss, he would do anything in his power to make them go into an unimportant conversation (be it by flattering their style of drawing, their animation, their ties...) Then, when everybody had their guard down, he would come out with an excuse and leave before anyone noticed he didn't answer the questions.
    "Hey, wait a minute! Do you realize we didn't get a word in?"
  • According to some initially vague statements made by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski that he later expounded upon, which are also supported by other sources, the United States anticipated the likelihood of a Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan before it occurred and, in Brzezinski's words, "knowingly increased the probability that [the Soviets] would [intervene]" by covertly aiding mujahideen groups six months in advance of the invasion proper.
  • The 1956 Suez Crisis gives us possibly the most poorly-executed Batman Gambit ever to have been tried. After Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, the British and French realized that this was very, very bad for them. They enlisted the help of the Israelis, who, according to the plan, attack Egypt, taking over the whole Sinai Peninsula; when the Israelis got close to the Canal, the British and French would parachute in to separate the Egyptian and Israeli forces "in the interests of international peace and security". The hope was that the international community, and particularly the US and USSR, would be fooled into thinking that the British and French were genuinely responding to an emergency of which they had no foreknowledge. If it worked, it would all be seen as legitimate and have the blessing of the superpowers and the United Nations, while securing British and French interests in the Canal and giving Israel a gigantic buffer zone against its most powerful neighbor. This backfired spectacularly: everyone saw through The Plan, leading both the US and Soviet Union to condemn the three of them, while the UN made them hand back the land they took, humiliating Britain & France and putting the nail in the coffin for the already-crumbling establishment of Western imperialism.
  • Hannibal's victory over the outnumbering Romans in the Battle of Cannae was pretty much a result of this. Hannibal curved his battle line forward in hopes of goading the Romans into focusing their attack on their center, in which they did. Hannibal would then use the rest of his infantry to flank the Romans. Meanwhile, his cavalry would need to defeat the Roman cavalry and surrounded the Romans on all sides. Above all, the plan would rely on the Romans going into disarray once they got encircled instead of trying to make a concerted effort to break out. Needless to say, it was successful.
  • Penn & Teller pranked Nobel Prize winner Arno Penzias in the late 80s. The setup involves one of Penzias' colleagues showing off a supposedly voice-driven video museum installation, that would allow you to ask questions and get responses. The prank started by having Arno pick an interview. Now who do you think he picked: Janet Kirker (an obscure daytime soap opera star), Mike Wills (author on a book on modern dance), or famous stage magicians Penn & Teller? Commence trolling!
  • Arguably done by 44th President Barack Obama during the first reelection campaign debate against Republican candidate Mitt Romney - according to various political experts. President Obama is known to be a great public speaker and very good at debating because of his Harvard background. However, during the first debate, he appeared weak and subdued while Romney attacked him during the whole debate. Afterwards, the Democratic base demanded that The President stop being a nice guy and show some fight. He would do this in the following debates, especially in the second one, where The President would use a clear Batman Gambit on Romney. Obama brought up his response to Benghazi knowing Romney would jump at the chance to discredit him. Romney accused The President of not calling the Benghazi terrorist attack an "act of terror" immediately after it happened. The President allowed Romney to conclude his accusation, only to get the debate moderator to fact check him during the live debate and prove him wrong live on air.
    • Also, the first debate happened on the day of the anniversary of his marriage. While not everyone cares about this, some people do, and with those people, every criticism of Obama's debating skills just made them feel more strongly in their position that he shouldn't be expected to be on his A-game during his anniversary. So he makes points with the "family values" set and still has two debates to recover.
    • Speaking of the 2012 elections, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill managed to pull off an even more impressive gambit than the president himself. Being a relatively liberal politician in a conservative-leaning state and having been involved in a series of controversies throughout her tenure, McCaskill was facing rather dismal prospects for reelection. She was trailing all of her potential opponents in the polls and many commentators pegged her as being one of the most vulnerable incumbents of the year. Her campaign’s strategy in response to this? Run ads that implicitly supported the candidacy of Todd Akin, one of the Republicans running against her in the GOP primary. Akin was known to be the most conservative of McCaskill’s Republican challengers so she would likely have the best chance to win a general election against him by portraying him as too extreme. And sure enough, Akin did win the primary and, just mere days after doing so, made his now infamous “legitimate rape” remarks.note  The result? Akin’s support plummeted over the controversy and McCaskill ultimately won reelection by a comfortable 55-39% margin. McCaskill herself later wrote an article for Politico about the campaign, entitled "How I Helped Todd Akin Win - So I Could Beat Him Later".
  • One of Harry Truman's greatest regrets about his presidency was having appointed one of his longtime allies, Attorney General Tom Clark, to the Supreme Court, where he became the only reliably conservative member of the relatively liberal Warren Court throughout the '50s and '60s. Kennedy wasn't too fond of him either, and neither was his successor Lyndon Johnson, who, as the famously crafty politician he was, actually came up with a way to get Clark off the court that made excellent use of this trope: He appointed Clark's son Ramsey to be his Attorney Generalnote . Since that meant the elder Clark would have to recuse himself from just about every case the federal government was involved in before the Supreme Court, and those cases account for at least half the Court's caseload every term, Clark really had no choice but to resign from the Court as that would leave the possibility of too many cases and their important issues remaining undecided if the other eight justices deadlocked.
  • According to some accounts, Bill Clinton may have attempted a Batman Gambit when he encouraged Donald Trump to run for President before the start of the 2016 campaign season. The thinking was that Trump would roil the Republican field of candidates, and while he likely would not get the nomination, the Republicans would have been forced to go with a consensus pick for their candidate, someone who would not have had strong popular support and making it easier for Hillary Clinton to win the election... This could also be placed under Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!, Gone Horribly Right, or What Were You Thinking?.
  • Before the World War II Battle of Midway, the US military cryptography section suspected that the Japanese code word AF meant "Midway". Therefore the Midway island base was instructed to radio in the clear that it was short of fresh water in the hope that the Japanese intercept it and radio it back. The Japanese fell for the trick and the US Navy had the confirmation that Japanese were going to attack there.
  • A man in Manitoba was suspected of having killed his girlfriend, but the police couldn't find enough evidence (including the body) to charge him. In an inspired undercover operation, they conned him into believing that he was being recruited into a criminal organization, spending months faking "drug buys", moving "stolen goods" and even witnessing his friend and sponsor into the gang (an undercover cop) apparently brutally beating a woman (also an undercover cop) who owed the gang money. Once it was clear he was keen on getting in on the "illegal" operation, they dropped hints that the only way to be a member was confessing any criminal acts you had done in the past to show you could be trusted by trusting "The Big Boss" with your secret, implying that he'd know if you were lying. The man gave the details of the crime, including the location of the body, to impress the Boss. It also impressed the jury when they saw the recording of it from the hidden camera.
  • According to The Histories of Herodotus the Persian King Cyrus performed one on the Massagetae at the advice of Croesus. He left his camp well-stocked with food and wine and with only a small number of men, a third of the Massagetae troops attacked and killed the men. They were unused to wine and got drunk. The Persians then attacked and captured them, including the General Spargapises, who committed suicide. Despite this Cyrus was then killed in battle with Queen Tomyris, mother of Spargapises.
  • There's a parlor trick involving a person to pick a country that begins with the letter "D", then an animal after the last letter of that country, then a color after the last letter of that animal. Due to Small Reference Pools, the number of choices is virtually down to one for each category that you can correctly "guess" each time. Try it yourself. Did you think Denmark-kangaroo-orange?
  • A Tunisian get-out-the-vote group had one. On October 18, 2011, five days before elections on October 23 (the first since the Tunisian Revolution on January 14 of that year), they set up a giant poster of former president/dictator Ben Ali on a building near a major intersection. The result? People got so riled up they tore down the poster entirely, revealing another poster behind it that said "Beware, dictatorship can return. On October 23, VOTE".
  • An old Chinese story tells about a general who had to defend a city against enemy soldiers. He knew he'd lose in battle against them, being heavily outnumbered. So instead, when the enemy horde arrived this general was sitting outside the palace gates drinking tea. A couple of emissaries asked him what he was doing, and he invited them and the rest of the horde to come drink tea inside the city with him. The enemy troops figured that the offer had to be a trap, and retreated.
    • Note: This only worked because the Chinese General had a reputation for Refuge in Audacity tactics that would turn entire campaigns in his favor. It would be like Patton inviting the Nazi High Command for breakfast in an empty field.
    • Per the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, it was Zhuge Liang playing music while Sima Yi was preparing to attack.
  • During the Three Kingdoms era of China, Meng Da was planning to defect to Shu. Sima Yi took him by surprise by immediately attacking him well before he was ready, well aware that Meng Da, being familiar with proper protocol, would expect him to inform the court first. Therefore, Sima opted to do the unexpected and strike first. The emperor Cao Rui praised him for the insight.
  • During the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. would select Southern cities he knew were governed by racist bullies, like "Bull" Connor in Birmingham, Alabama, who would surely violently overreact to peaceful protest marches. While there were a handful of sheriffs who realized this strategy, Connor was not one of them and he got suckered into providing dramatic footage of Southern racist tyranny that would be condemned around the world.
  • Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, prime minister of the kingdom of Sardinia during the Italian Wars of Independence (in short the Italian Bismark) sent a token of elite troops to aide the winning side of the Crimean War in order to sit on the peace talk. From there he proceeded to strike a secret alliance with Napoleon III of France against Austria (which at the time controlled much of northern Italy). Problem was, it was a defensive agreement, in which France would have aided Sardinia against Austria only if Austria attacked first - and so Cavour started amassing troops on the Austrian border in order to provoke Austria to war, which happened, and France intervened. Batman who?
  • General Daniel Morgan doubled down on this trope to win the key Battle of the Cowpens in South Carolina late in the American Revolutionary War:
    • The Patriot forces in the area had been decimated by the raids led by British Col. Banastre Tarleton, one of which reportedly ended with his men massacring the defeated Patriots. Retreating from one of those raids, Morgan decided to make his Last Stand with the remaining troops at the Cowpens, a local grazing area, instead of trying to ford the Broad River beyond, fearing that Tarleton would catch him and his forces doing that at great loss. But he also knew that when Tarleton learned, as Morgan believed he would, that Morgan had decided to stop for the night just short of the river, he would try to seize the advantage immediately. Which is exactly what Tarleton did ... getting his troops up at 3 a.m. and marching them a dozen miles or so through cold, drizzly rain, instead of letting them get some rest or even eat breakfast.
    • He also knew Tarleton, confident from his earlier victories, would attack him head-on and arrayed his forces to take advantage of that. Leaving his flanks mostly undefended due to the terrain, in the center front he put local militia, whom he and other Continental Army officers knew to be unreliable in battle. So ... he told them they could all fire two shots, and then retreat behind the other lines. On the flanks, which he had deliberately left unprotected since there was a creek on one side and a ravine on the other, he put his regulars. In the back was the river, which made escape impossible, meaning defeat was not an option.
    • So, when Tarleton's wet, cold and tired troops advanced on Morgan's men, they saw the Patriots quickly scatter under pressure. Thinking they had another one in the bag, the redcoats marched ahead ... into a suddenly stronger Continental presence, where they were suddenly flanked where they had expected to see reinforcements. Half the British troops fell to the ground from the shock rather than any wounds, due to their extreme fatigue and hunger.
    • The ensuing Curb-Stomp Battle, one of the most original tactical moves by any Continental officer, not only humiliated Tarleton but ruined any chances the British had of reestablishing control over the Southern colonies, hastening the moment of truth at Yorktown. In one hour.
  • Earlier in the war, the French landed an expeditionary force at Newport, Rhode Island, to help the Continentals. The British soon learned of it and made plans to march their troops up from New York, which they occupied throughout the war, to knock the French off this foothold before they could fully fortify it and entrench themselves, which would take about two weeks.
    • This created a short-term problem for George Washington. He knew that if the expeditionary force was routed by the British, as they likely could be if the British attacked before their defenses were in place, the French would probably not risk sending another one any time soon no matter how much Lafayette pleaded the colonists' cause. And the British could get to Newport from New York before the two weeks were up.
    • So Washington drew up fake plans for an attack on New York to take place while the British were marching to Newport, and made sure they got into the hands of known British spies (and some double agents who reported to Washington personally). When the British command got these plans, they postponed their plans to attack the French and hunkered down in New York, waiting for the Continentals to come across the Hudson, as losing New York would have been too great a price to pay for beating the French at Newport. After a few days of high alert they began to realize they'd been had, by which time it was too late to move on the French.
  • Two classic "Perry Mason moments" in 1990s televised criminal trials were made possible by this trope:
    • Erik and Lyle Menendez claimed that they had driven all the way to San Diego from LA to buy the shotguns used to kill their parents because they feared further abuse from their father and needed the weapons right away, so they abandoned their plans to buy handgunsnote  due to the mandatory waiting period. They claimed they had looked at some at a Big 5 store. But a viewer tipped off the prosecution that Big 5 had stopped selling handguns years earlier. So ... the prosecutors waited to ask the more manipulative, shrewder Lyle Menendez about this, letting him describe in detail the guns he and his brother had looked at and handled. Then they spring "Did you know Big 5 stopped selling handguns in March of 1986?" on him. There were audible gasps in the courtroom. While Lyle stuck to his story and the trial ended in hung juriesnote , a key part of their story was permanently undermined, and they were later convicted.
    • Johnnie Cochran and F. Lee Bailey teamed up on to deploy this trope on Christopher Darden, resulting in the glove demonstration, the Perry Mason moment in the O.J. Simpson trial. When the prosecution introduced the gloves into evidence, they referred to them as they had an expert from the manufacturer testify as the gloves just sat there on the table. Bailey looked at them during a break and realized they were too small to fit O.J. So he went up to Darden and told him he had "all the balls of a stud field mouse" since he wasn't having O.J. try on the gloves, adding that if he didn't, the defense would. So when the testimony resumed, Darden went straight to Judge Ito and asked him if Simpson could try the gloves on. Cochran raised minor objections, like that O.J. could try them on if and when he testified—which of course made Darden even more determined to have O.J. try them on, and finally Cochran relented and Ito told him to go ahead. After the gloves spectacularly failed to fit, perceptive analysts realized the acquittal was coming.
  • There's an old truism for trial lawyers - "Never ask a question you don't already know the answer to." It's this trope in distilled form, as it permits the lawyer to carefully construct their case in the manner they see fit.
  • This story is about an elderly couple whose dogs, Charlie and Theo, went missing for almost a hundred hours. The couple desperately set up a rescue campaign and recruited 120 people to help search for the miniature schnauzers, to no avail. Finally, knowing the two dogs loved sausages, the couple's last resort was to cook sausages at the site of the place the dogs disappeared, and they came scurrying back.
  • Terrorism can sometimes delve into this in that one of the reasons for the use or threat of violence is for political or idealogical goals. If they can flee from killing their enemies, great. But if they hide in a holy place and are subsequently hunted down and killed then their enemies look barbaric and war hungry. This tactic had arguably been used time and time again to make efforts against terror look wrong and those against terrorism come off as the aggressors.
  • Not quite as much trickery, but at the end of World War II, German General Walther Wenck was given the task of saving Berlin from advancing Soviet forces. With the Soviet armies under Zhukov baying for blood and putting Steiner on the retreat, Wenck realized the situation was hopeless and the best he could do was minimize the loss. Under his direction, the 12th Army forced open a corridor from Berlin to and over the River Elbe. They evacuated as many as a quarter of a million civilians into the hands of the advancing American 9th Army under William Simpson before surrendering themselves to the same, who, true to Wenck's predictions, realized the humanitarian issue at hand and would inadvertently protect them from Soviet wrath.
  • Robert E. Lee attempted one of these in his first large-scale maneuver into the North. He split his army up into mutually non-supporting groups to go after divergent objectives, which would normally have been very unsound. But he knew that the opposing Union Army was led by George McClellan, excellent at training and good for morale, but exceedingly cautious and indecisive in his movements. Lee counted on McClellan having such a delayed noncommittal reaction upon discovering Lee's invasion, that he would have plenty of time to gather the portions of his army together before battle. He also counted on McClellan being so worried of even the possibility of a battle where the odds were not with him, that if he did catch a small portion of Lee's army off guard before it recombined, he would wait and make sure it really was the smaller force it appeared to be before he actually attacked it, giving it time to withdraw towards the other groups. It was a very good assessment of how McClellan would likely have acted, had a lost copy of Lee's deployment plans not been discovered, giving McClellan certainly that Lee's forces were scattered and encouraging him to move unusually rapidly so that he could attack right away before Lee was ready, ending Lee's invasion almost before it began. Even so, Lee's gambit still had some payoff, as McClellan's attack was still rather ponderous and failed to press it's full advantage of numbers, so that the resulting Battle of Antietam was a draw when the "Lost Orders" could have resulted in a disastrous defeat for the Confederacy.
  • This was implied to have happened in the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States. Six court cases challenging the states of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee all resulted in those states' bans on same-sex marriage being declared in violation of the US Constitution. Those states appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which holds jurisdiction over those states. A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit ruled 2-1 that the lower courts' decisions should be reversed, as being in violation of a previous US Supreme Court case, Baker v Nelson of 1972. The trouble is, the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits had already come to the opposite conclusion, that such bans are unconstitutional. This created particular trouble, as one of the legal issues involved was the lack of recognition by one state of a same-sex marriage performed in another state, and having the law interpreted differently in different parts of the country only increased the confusion. The dissenting judge on the Sixth Circuit remarked in her opinion that "because the correct result is so obvious, one is tempted to speculate that the majority has purposefully taken the contrary position to create the circuit split", thus making it more likely that the US Supreme Court would get involved to resolve this discrepancy. It did, and the subsequent ruling not only overturned the Sixth Circuit decision, but struck down all remaining bans on same-sex marriage for the entire United States.
  • The Shafia family murders ended up using this trope to capture those responsible for four women's deaths. They were more than certain that Mohammad and Hamed, patriarch of the Shafia family and his son, were responsible for the deaths of their daughters and Mohammad's first wife, but they needed proof. Taking the two and Tooba, matriarch of the family, to where the women were found, the police set up a fake camera at a nearby building with the idea of hoping that they would focus more on that, while planting a wiretap device on their car. To the police's shock, they were right on the money about Mohammad and Hamed as they did the murders as a "honor killing"; what they didn't expect was that Tooba had participated in it as well.
  • There are two cases of criminal scammers using this trope to ensure the success of their schemes by gambits that depended on their marks not doing things:
    • An Australian scammer decided, as many do, to make money off child pornography enthusiasts. He promised videos and other material likely to interest them over the Internet, took the money, and ... well, sat still. When some of the customers who had shelled out hundreds of dollars demanded their money back, he obligingly sent them checks with "The Internet Child Pornography Company" prominently named as the account holder. Very few, if any, were cashed or deposited.
    • Among many of its schemes, the infamous Berkley Pharmaceuticals, makers of the Enzyte purported penis-enlargement drugs sold by "Smilin' Bob" in its late-night TV commercials, required that if any customer wanted a refund on the grounds the product didn't work, they would not only have to get a doctor to sign a letter that their penes had not changed size but also to have that letter notarized ... in other words, they had to let a third and fourth party know of their shameful secret. A federal appellate judge described this as "admittedly ingenious".
  • 50 Cent pulled off a masterful example of this scheme with his Breakthrough Hit, "How to Rob". At the time, 50 was an unknown artist signed to major label Columbia Records, where if he didn't get some attention fast, his music would go under-promoted and he would be lost in the shuffle. So he decided to make a song where he listed off dozens of rappers and R&B singers and how he would rob each one of them, counting on them to find out about it and diss him by name, thereby increasing his exposure. The resulting backlash got him mentions from everybody from the Wu-Tang Clan to Big Pun to Jay-Z, putting him on the map in New York and opening the door for a long, successful career.
  • In the Philippines, there is a form of robbery where Batman Gambit is at the core of its 'modus operandi'. In this case, the (Always Male) mugger approaches their (Always Female) target, then lets loose a vicious amount of yellow, name-calling, and slapping upon the victim, even in full view of the public, while taking away their belongings. The whole crime rests on the tendency of Filipino people to dismiss such fights as "just a typical bickering between couples", which leaves the victim completely helpless.
  • U.S. Senator Doug Jones pulled a masterful gambit during his run in the 2017 special election for the Alabama Senate seat that had been vacated when Jeff Sessions became Donald Trump's Attorney General. Well aware of Roy Moore's shortcomings, with many moderates and suburbanites deeply nervous over Moore being booted off the state Supreme Court twice, Jones repeatedly hit Moore over the head as an incredible embarrassment to the state, while polishing himself as a compromiser who would not humiliate the state. This message was greatly helped by the plethora of corruption scandals involving Alabama Republicans in the prior years, and thus, the staunchly conservative Alabama electorate broke for the "outsider" Moore in the Republican primary over the disliked "establishment" incumbent Luther Strange. The final nail in the coffin were the allegations of sexual misconduct levied against Moore. Many moderates and suburban voters decided, that as much as they were wary of Doug Jones, Moore was too extreme.Postscript 
  • In a sort of meta example, there's the Censor Decoy trope ... putting material that would be a blatant red flag to any public or private body with authority over the work's content in order to keep borderline material the creator or creators really want in the work after the former is removed.


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