Monday, February 07, 2005

The Fan, Bryanston

Monday, February 7, 2005

Service: * * 1/2
Food: * * *
Ambience: * * *
Babe Count: * * *

My ex-boss isn't at backgammon for some or other reason. Pity. I'd love to know why she hasn't replied to my email. After last week's letter from her in which she informed me I was under threat of arrest for debt collection, I thought long and hard, and sent her a conciliatory email.

No response at all.

So I'll be meeting my lawyer on Thursday, and we'll see what there is to see.

In the meantime, Boris seems to have had a fresh shave since last week. He's normally fairly shaggy, probably a legacy of his past in braving Bulgarian winters.

He's risen up the ranks in the backgammon club quite nicely. From being a beginner a few months ago, he came first in the third division. Impressive.

In our first game, I notice some erratic play on his part. I decide to punish it by offering him the cube. This serves two purposes at this stage of the game. Firstly, it warns him that I'm going to pounce on poor play. Secondly, it tests how he responds to the cube. If he takes it with cavalier disregard to what's actually going on, it gives me some knowledge to use in later games.

He takes the cube without even pausing to evaluate the board. This is great for me. Knowledge is power, and from this point on, I know I'm going to win.

In this particular game though, our first of the evening, I lose two points. So he's up. And gloating. And I'm smiling. Cos he's got some serious butt-ache to contend with shortly.

We start our second game. It's going quite nicely for him. He gives me the cube, turning it to two. There's NO way he should have cubed me. So now I hold the cube, and this gives me a huge edge over him.

He makes a dubious play, putting himself way behind in the game. But he's already shown me what he's made of. So when I casually turn the cube to four, and place it on his side of the board, I stare off into the middle distance and wait for his testosterone to steam through his veins, into his temples, and pop through his brain.

I don't have to wait very long. He takes the cube. And it's just a matter of playing tight from now on for me to win. Not only do I play tight, he also makes a few bizarre moves of his own, and I end up gammoning him. In one fell swoop, I'm 8--2 up.

We start our third game. I cube him early, when there's no real advantage for either of us. He takes.

I've read his cube play. Soon, if I make what he thinks is a mistake, he'll cube me back, putting it on four on my side of the board.

A few moves later, I play my turn, pick up my dice, and exclaim, "Ah, shit! I misplayed that. Shoulda played like this." And I show him some spurious move. All I'm doing is playing his ego. He's NOT analyzing my position very well. But he THINKS that I've made a mistake. Sheesh. I'd love to play poker against this guy. Sure as dynamite, two moves later, in an indifferent position, he cubes me back. So there it is. Sitting on four. In my clutches.

I outplay him a bit, and when it's ALMOST hopeless for him, but not clearly so, I turn the cube to eight. If he takes, and I win, I shoot ahead to 12--2. If I gammon him, I win the match, cos we only play up to 21, and a gammon puts me at 24--2. Of course, if he beats me, he goes 10--8 ahead. But I'm not worried about that. I've got his measure.

Very quickly, my position becomes insurmountable. I decide to play for the gammon. This involves a little bit of danger to me, but the payoff is huge. It means I go home early. Boris throws a few disastrous dice, which really screw his position totally, and I sail home, sipping a delicious and fairly cheap minestrone soup between throws.

We shake hands after I beat him, and he asks for a friendly rematch. So we play to five points, just for fun, and he beats me 5--2.

My ex-boss still hasn't pitched by the time I leave. Ah well. I'll see her next week.

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