ARTICLE #20 [First published in August 1988 Chicago Point]
It was a new dawn in the days of trial for the veteran backgammon player. He had gone to many tournaments all over the world and successfully faced the competition they had to offer. This tournament was being held at a resort in the Bahamas. The matches would start in the late afternoon and continue through the evening. It would be a shame to miss the beauty of the white sands and blue waters of this tropical paradise, so he decided to go down to the beach.
It was calm and relaxing by the tides---a peaceful retreat to unwind before the onset of the competition. To pass the time, he started to build castles with the wet sand. During his labor, he thought about his upcoming matches and the competitors he would face. He knew the abilities of the old guard, but felt somewhat uncomfortable in dealing with the emerging new players. “They are the unknown factor. How good are they? Perhaps they are the start of a new era---the changing of the guard.”
The possibility of change brought back memories of his early backgammon days. It was a time when excitement was in the air and he was totally entranced by the beauty of the game. He wanted to be the best he could be and see how far he could go. He valued the knowledge achieved more than the victory awarded.
As he finished his towering fortress, he realized how much he had changed. He had established a certain presence through time and effort and wanted to receive his dues. Each tournament challenge appeared to be an assault to his stamina; each defeat took a toll on his pride. How did the seeker of truth become the defender of the faith?
It was getting late. The tournament would be starting shortly. While walking back to the hotel, he noticed the rising of the tide. He sadly knew that his sand castle would soon be washed away. He wondered if all his backgammon efforts might suffer a similar fate.
You can steer a match towards victory, but you can’t make it win.
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