Me on the wrong side
The number of huge stupidities I myself have committed is certainly long, very long. One can also call it luck if one never learns about many of them. Unfortunately, I found out about the following one very soon and very painfully. A distinction has to be made here as to whether one consciously does something stupid, such as playing the lottery or roulette, a game with disadvantages but for entertainment, like going to the cinema, or whether one believes oneself to be on the right side, the side that will bring success in the long run. And especially with games of skill, the criteria are not quite so easy to assess (or who wins at your skat evenings?). In any case, I remember how I once became a real victim.
Now I have to briefly explain the rules of backgammon: Well, backgammon is Man-Erger-Dich-Nicht for adults. Each player has 15 checkers, usually one in red, one in white. There are 24 squares on the board, represented as prongs. The two parties try, in opposite directions, to move their stones past those of the opponent. Two dice are used to move the stones. The eye sum of each die may and must be moved forward with a stone. You may also move the eyes of each die forward with one stone, but you may also move the eyes of each die with different stones. So you roll 5 and 3, then you may move a 5 with one stone and a 3 with another. Or you may move the 5 and the 3 with one stone, i.e. 8 eyes forward. If the dice both show the same number, i.e. a double was rolled, you may or must move this number 4 times. Waiving is also not possible, only if it is not possible, you have to waive the throw. If you succeed in getting all 15 stones into the last quadrant, i.e. onto the last 6 squares, you may throw your stones out. That means you take them completely off the board, every stone you can take out with the sum of your eyes. The winner is the first player to roll all 15 stones. Special rules are like this: A single standing stone can be hit. It is placed on the bar, i.e. in the middle of the board. This stone must be moved again first when the opponent rolls the dice. He must start all over again. And: if there are two or more stones on a point, the opposing party may neither capture these stones nor occupy the point. You are not even allowed to skip this point in an intermediate step. So if you have rolled 3 and 5, but your opponent has two or more stones 3 and 5 points away from your stone, but not 8 points away, then you may not occupy the point 8 points away. This is precisely because you would not be able to execute any of the intermediate steps. In addition, there is the doubling cube, which is indispensable for the money game. In the beginning, you can both offer it to your opponent, i.e. set the cube to two. You do this when you have a promising position. The opponent must then decide whether to accept the cube, i.e. to continue the game by two points or units, or to refuse and thus lose a point.
Of course, this is a game of skill. But the use of dice makes the state doubt this and it assigns it to the category of “games of chance” and in principle prohibits it.
All right, anyway, in one game I observed, a position came up. I quickly had a superficial assessment of the position. Another player also observed the game and had a different assessment. Then in backgammon there is always the possibility, if two players disagree about a position, an assessment, to play this position as a “proposition”. In this case, each player backs up his assessment with money and the same position is played repeatedly. In this case, as is usually the case, or at least very often the case, it was a “double – take” decision. That is, the question is: Does one side have to double, i.e. use the cube in the middle? And if so, must the other side accept this doubling, i.e. play on for two units or rather give up one unit. Well, I had one estimate, another had another. So we sat down and played it as a proposition. My opponent, Vladimir Dobrych from Canada, was willing to play it for big money. I went for it. 200 FF per point. And I was unlucky. Really bad luck. Extremely unlucky. I lost and kept losing. But I could tell I was unlucky. Everyone could see it. So, I lost 100 units, 20000 FF. I paid and went to my hotel room. My night’s sleep was bad, as you can imagine. So, I got up early and went to the breakfast room. I took a pen and paper with me and started to calculate. And sure enough, I had had bad luck. Gigantic bad luck. I lost 100 units. But I should only have lost 40 units on this number of games.
Well, what does that teach us? If you play the wrong side and have bad luck, you may attribute the loss to the obvious bad luck. You don’t correct your assessment. If I had lost less, slower or without bad luck, I would certainly have realised more quickly that I had done something wrong.