Backgammon Wins!

More news about “Patrick”:, the second-best backgammon player in the world. Apparently last Saturday he kept track of the games he played and then posted his scores inside the front window of the coffee shop, facing out. I don’t think I’d be able to describe them sufficiently with words, so it’s a good thing that Britt, Official Polytropos Roving Photographer, was on hand. “Take a look”:

“Jim”: has stood by his theory that Patrick is pulling a hustle on us. I sure hope so, because if those two pages of obsessively-recorded stats are all part of his carefully-constructed act, then we are privileged to be witnessing the performance art event of the century. I’d consider any money I lost a bargain price for admission. But it’s infinitely more likely that he’s simply an oddball generating content worthy of “FOUND Magazine”:

How _could_ you hustle at backgammon, anyway? It’s not like pool or chess, where you could suddenly turn your mojo on and be virtually guaranteed a victory. Abruptly upping your skill level would drastically increase your _rate_ of winning, but you’d have to keep playing a while in order to cash in. By then, presumably, your opponent would realize that you were playing very differently, and would get suspicious.

But if you were really, really good, and had a mark who was willing to play for a long period of time, here’s what you could do: start off by making poor moves, but then very gradually, game by game, improve the quality of your play. Unless your mark is actively analyzing your moves as well as his own, he’s not likely to notice from game to game, and will probably chalk up his increasing losses to a streak of bad luck. The trick would be to pick a mark who, at that moment, would be determined to recoup his losses, certain that luck would swing his way again, as opposed to someone who’d quit before things got worse. Again, it’s that lack of a quick payoff that makes the backgammon hustle so hard. But it sure would be fun to try.