The summer of 1985. The realisation that backgammon was “my game”, that my (imaginary) skills could be perfectly combined there, I had long since gained in boundless overconfidence. I had read through all the available books and developed another feeling: in a previous life I must have been a backgammon pro. The gradually accumulating tournament successes made the illusions grow and flourish.
Of course, I also knew that every summer the Backgammon World Championship would be held. Even more so in the players’ paradise Monte Carlo. And what had I not heard about Monte Carlo before! I had even found a kind of invitation once, where one could supposedly get free accommodation, in return for which one would of course be welcomed at the game tables quite gladly and frequently. The only prerequisite for playing for free: you had to open an account there, at the casino, on which you would then have to have 10,000 DM available for playing.
I had been thinking about this offer for a long time. I didn’t have 10,000 DM, certainly not. But it might be possible to get it somehow? In the meantime, I had calculated the Black Jack completely and for the really very good Black Jack rules in Monte Carlo from the player’s point of view, my calculations spat out an infinitesimally small disadvantage of 0.3%. If you then develop a little routine in card counting, you would certainly play without a disadvantage, of course, when applying the winning strategy really with an advantage. But the prerequisite for this was also: capital. When I thought about the additional costs I would incur, such as travel and food, I could not seriously suggest this as a “source of income” to anyone with a clear conscience.
So the dream remained. And playing in this world championship was only a dream at first. I knew that the entry fee would be about 1800 DM (6000 FF). Legends had also been heard about the prize money. Such unbelievable amounts as 100,000 DM for the winner. In addition, a boom had broken out. One could expect the number of participants to increase significantly. I also knew that the Americans, from whose books I had learned so much, were certainly still far ahead of me in terms of knowledge and understanding. It was relatively easy for me, with my innate arrogance, to talk myself out of it. But a potential sponsor?
I remember those days well, too: End of 1983 Learning the game. Backgammon Simultaneously working out the Black Jack system. First tournaments with success in 1984. First attempts at Black Jack in the same year. But it was all a question of capital. But what I remember best is how I kept puzzling over why I never managed to accumulate more than 1000 DM as “wealth”. I often came up with this 1000 DM, but never really exceeded it. Were the costs involved in the “Backgammon Profi” enterprise simply too high after all? I was constantly on the road and, despite occasional private accommodation, I stayed mainly in hotels.
I was at the entry level in all disciplines. But was I really capable of entering/staying in the professional track? At the age of 26, one can still turn around, go back to study, finish that and start a middle-class existence.
I just wanted, I had to go to Monte Carlo. There had to be a way, also to give me final certainty about whether I should try. To compete with the best and see if I could keep up?! And the dream of the big coup, the 100,000 DM, fame, honours and fortune. How do I go about it?
Of course, you think: “What the hell, I’ve got DM 1,000, I’ll go to the casino, put it up somewhere, Black Jack or Roulette, it doesn’t matter, and if I’m lucky, I’ll win the 5,000 and I can go. When they’re gone, not much changes.” But something stopped me. Hard work, or what’s the saying?
I had another arrow in my quiver: