Nearly 30 years ago an older friend of mine who owned the place where we
used to play tournaments in Rhode Island was pissed off to be continually
losing to a guy he used to play at some other bar/club. He suggested that I
show up there and teach this guy a lesson and told me that the guy almost
always stops in after work for a couple drinks and a couple hours of
backgammon. I asked what stake, and my friend said 5's or 10's.
Noting that I usually played for 2's or 3's back then and was a poor
college student, I asked my friend if he wanted a piece of that action, but
he said, "Nope, all I want to hear about is you teaching him a lesson. He
thinks he's really hot shit at backgammon and will be flabbergasted to
lose to a kid like you."
So I get there a bit early, order my usual Molson in those days and set up
a board and play a couple games for 1's with some random guy while
mentioning that I was looking for higher stakes. Nice of the guy to tell me
that my "mark" would play for 5's or 10's and was likely to drop in soon.
"Mark" shows up and we agree to play for 10's rather than 5's once I showed
him that I had about $600 so he wasn't worried that I'd stiff him if he
destroyed me as he expected to. I win slowly but steadily and he is
starting to steam more and more with the cube and is down 32 points in about
He opens with 4-3: 24/20, 24/21 and I respond with 4-3 and couldn't resist
hitting both, which draws the cube from steamer, and I promptly beaver.
(Raccoons were unheard of in my circles, not that it would have stopped my
"Mark" dances with boxes and I--while it is a big error, especially vs. a
steamer--send the cube back at 8, hoping for some huge action, and to
really steam him. He takes, and I cover both, and he dances again, I fill
my 3 point with nickels, and gammon him hopelessly.
I'm now up 48 points and as I'm scoring my opponent reaches into his pocket
for his wallet and says, "That's enough, you're way too good for me, here's
half, $240 take it or leave it."
Well, I still am rather naive, but back then I could realize that I'd best
thank him, take the $240, pack up my board and get into my '70 LeMans and
drive home. $240 was good money to a college kid in 1980.
My opponent then says, "Blank (my friend) set me up, didn't he?"
I replied, "He told me that there were guys here who'll play for 5's and
10's since I told him I was looking for bigger action."
Opponent replied, "Yeah, he set me up. I knew it!"
At which point, with his $240 in my wallet, and my board packed up I was
quickly out the door and into my car.
A couple days later, at our next tourney, my friend asks me, "How did you
"I clobbered him for 48 points and then he quit."
"Dimes?" my friend asked.
"Nope, just nickels," I replied, knowing enough to leave well enough alone.
"Great that you taught the cocky jackass that he isn't God's gift to
backgammon, Neil. Your drinks and dinner are on the house tonight!".
It was fun being a kid at backgammon 30 years ago when almost no one knew
how to really play.