ARTICLE #28 [First published in December 1989 Chicagoland Backgammon Newsletter]


What is it like to be captured by the intensity of an important match? Is there anything that can help to relieve the pressure that comes from the uncertainty of a given play?

I’m in a dark and gloomy medieval castle. Ahead of me lies the celebrated Hall of Champions, a grand auditorium with narrow stained glass windows crowning its walls. The stained glass artwork honors the glory of Backgammonhood and its past heroes. It conveys a religious tone making this a perfect place to practice the rites of passage. The Hall’s darkness and foreboding appearance adds to the great mystery that has piqued my curiosity.

Today is my day of initiation. I am here alone -- to face the challenges only I can face; to cast off the dominant shadow that hangs like a shroud; to confront my uncertainty; to overcome my fears.

The trumpet sounds! The banner unfurls. My test is about to begin. As the sunlight shines through the stained glass, I can see my position, I’m standing on top of a pillar in the center of the Hall. The platform that supports me rises 100 feet and is only 12 inches in diameter. In spite of this height, the ceiling extends far above my reach. As I look down into the deep, dark abyss, I grasp the enormity of my position. My knees start to buckle. My fear of falling freezes me like a statue.

I have to regain my composure. What’s that? Unsettling ominous sounds from below intrude my ears. bone-crunching snaps and reptilian roars. It is as if there are hundreds of crocodiles below fighting for position to get first taste of their next meal!

Looking up and across, I see a row of pillars running the length of the hall. Their tops protrude the darkness like small white islands on a sea of black. At the end of the row stands a doorway blazing with light. I must hop from one pillar to another in a straight line. It is my way out of this trap; my only hope.

but to get to the other side, I have to run the gauntlet. That gauntlet is made up of five free-swinging pendulums: gigantic battle-axes that can rip a man to shreds. the prospect of passage does not appear good.

Maintaining a footing over the pillars will be difficult, but the added jeopardy of trying to avoid the meat cleavers makes my endeavor nearly hopeless. I feel trapped. I need a miracle.

the back wall starts to move forward. things are getting worse! The luxury of time to think is quickly abating. I am being pushed off my perch; I have to choose my fate . . .

Fighting for existence, I awaken from my nightmare drenched in a cold sweat. In the hazy transition between wake and sleep, I hear a distant voice echoing to me: “Act now or react later. That is the only choice you will get.”

Fortune Cookie
If you always wait for the best option, the good ones will often be gone.

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