Monday, November 08, 2004

Pizza Pronto, Sandton

Monday, November 08, 2004

Service: *
Food: N/A
Ambience: * * *
Babe Count: * * * *

It's a special backgammon tournament tonight. We've got 14 people each paying a hundred bucks to slaughter each other in order to win entry into a major tournament this Sunday at Montecasino. It costs R1500 to enter the big one, and many of us wouldn't have been entering cos the price is too steep. This way, whoever wins has only laid out a hundred bucks, and stands a chance of picking up the first prize of R65 000.

Peter calls for attention. "We need a neutral party to do the draw," he says.

A delectable blonde, a backgammon groupie I've never seen before, attached to a new player I've never seen before, assumes the position. In the first round, I'm playing against Tony Lelliot, and Matt Ryder. I don't fancy my chances against Matt, and Tony beat me last time I played him. But hey.

I'm in a highly concentrated mood. I've had five hours of sleep the night before. And I'm keen to get as far as I can. I WANT to play at Montecasino.

First up is me against Tony. Flick flack flug. I destroy him, 7 points to 2. He goes to the toilet. Matt sits down. Vavavooooooom. I kill him, 7 points to 2.

So now I have to wait for the others to catch up so I can find out who I'm playing in the semi finals. Eventually, after having long chats with Matt about literature and the craft of being a writer, Clifford Camberg emerges as my opponent. I narrowly lost to him a few months ago, and because of that, he made it into the A-division, and I stayed in the B-division. So I have an axe to grind.

I offer Clifford an early cube from a marginal position. It's a bit of a cocky play, and I'm really just pissing out my territory, making him wonder what my game plan is. He spots an opportunity a few rolls later, and turns the cube to four, and offers it to me. I ponder, and take. A minute or so later, I see an obvious drop, and I decide to cash, by offering him the cube on eight. If he drops, I win four points in a seven point match, taking me to 4--0.

We've got some assembled spectators, and they're collectively not breathing. It's extremely bad form for a spectator to even hint at what players should do next. So everyone's practicing poker faces so that Clifford won't know what they think he should do.

I can't believe the dude! He takes the cube!

He's in a clear losing position, and now, we're both playing for match. Whoever wins, takes eight points and goes to the finals.

Badabing babash.

I beat Clifford 7--0.

Now it's a matter of me waiting for Sophia and Renee to finish their match. It started off quite easy for Sophia, when she leapt ahead to 5--1. But then Renee gritted her teeth, and soon, it was 6--6. In the final game, Sophia, in a clear winning position, lost to a few bad throws of her own, and a few extremely good throws from Renee.

So I'm playing Renee, and I'm quite happy about that. She's easier for me to beat than Sophia. And anyway, I'm working with Sophia right now. She's my producer in this tv gig I'm directing. So it would be bad form to beat her, wouldn't it?

So Renee and I start.

"Are you still trying to set your cousin up with a boyfriend?" I ask.

For the final, we're playing to eleven points. I lose the first game, cos she offers me the cube and I drop.

"She's still single," says Renee. "But Roy, I don't know if you're her type. Her last boyfriend was an investment banker."

"That's okay," I say. "I've got a current account."

I win the second. Lose the third. I'm 1--2 down. Then I win a few in a row, and suddenly I'm 8--2 up.

"But you're not allowed to beat me," she says. "If you want her number, you know what to do."

We're in what turns out to be the last game. She gives the cube to me for some obscure reason. So I'm sitting with the cube on 2. If I win a normal game, it puts me at 10--2, which is a Crawford game. This means that noone's allowed to turn the cube in the next game. If I win a gammon, that's a double game, and I take the match, 11--2. If I lose, it puts me at either 8--2 or 8--4, depending on whether I lose a normal or double game. But I'm not losing. I'm winning.

So, crazily, I make a series of blunders. It's almost 12:30, post midnight, and those five hours of sleep I got last night have faded to nothing. I'm tired. And I've got a hard day of editing tomorrow. Which is the only way I can explain the blunders.

But it's okay. I kinda recover from the blunders, and I'm still ahead in the race by about two throws of the dice. So I'm okay. If I just keep my cool, and don't do anything stupid, I'll win my two points, and will have only one game left to win, to get entry into the Montecasino money game.

Instead, I lose my cool, and in a moment of aggressive hard-on cock-rock backgammon, I do the insane thing of turning the cube to four, and offering it to Renee.

Now this has serious implications. If she does the correct thing, and immediately turns the cube back to eight, suddenly, I'm fighting for my life. If I accept the cube on eight, and she wins, it goes to 10--8 in her favour. Suddenly she'd be ahead of me! And I'd be fighting to catch up.

But luckily, it's 12:30 post midnight, and she's just as tired as I am. So she forgets to return the cube!!! An unbelievable error! Even worse than my own error!!!

So we play on. And we're in a tight race. And I blunder taking off with a double-three throw, which puts me marginally behind in the race. But still, somehow, I survive.

I win the game, and win the match.

So, on Sunday, I'm playing at Montecasino, looking to beat 60 other people to sixty-five grand!

Renee says, "Now I don't know if I can give you my cousin's phone number."

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