Innovations in Sleep-Aids & Backgammon
Innovations to help us sleep are few, far between, and usually come in pill form. I came up with the concept of Virtual Dreaming out of pure frustration with a medical community that seems to have given up on any homeopathic sleep-aids. I have always thought that innovation was the lifeblood of human advancement and am reminded of an 'innovation' my brother and I came up with for the game of Backgammon decades ago.
In our early teen years my younger brother and I were avid Backgammon players. As anyone who has ever played the game knows there comes a point in many matches when conceding is the prudent thing to do. You get so far behind in some games that spending another five minutes 'playing it out' makes no sense. But, give up? Why, that's simply un-American! My brother and I saw this as a basic flaw in the rules and we innovated a better, more dramatic ending. We came up with the innovation of double-doubles. That's right. I said double-doubles. If you are getting your butt kicked you can insist on your right to take a shot of rolling the same number on all four dice and miraculously snatch victory from the cold boney fingers of certain defeat. It was kind of the 'Hail Mary' pass of North Alabama Backgammon.
I was two years older and therefore wiser about strategies and the odds when it came to that game. So, like most older siblings, I reveled in the lopsided victories I could heap on my little brothers fragile ego. One winter's night I had beat him not twice, not thrice, but nine times in a row. I explained to him that at no time in human existence had anyone ever lost ten games of Backgammon in a row as it was not statistically possible. In the proceeding millennia of Backgammon play, of the countless boards unfolded and chips laid out, a ten-game beat down had never occurred. I further explained that he must have something wrong with the wiring in his smallish little brother brain as 'pure luck' should have helped him win at least one game. I offered to stop the carnage right there and then but, like a true 13 year old warrior, he insisted on tempting history.
Game ten began like all the rest. He played 'safe' moves and I countered with aggressive moves. He switched to aggressive moves and I played the odds. He had a moment when he thought he could possibly win this one only to be beaten down again by my brilliantly played 'back' game. Oh yes, dear reader, this was a Backgammon game for the ages. When it appeared all was lost my little brother stood, red faced and full of vinegar, and claimed his right to double-doubles. Now, the odds of rolling double-doubles are about 200 to 1, or there about, and even though we had been using the double-double rule for a good year I had never seen a successful roll. I chuckled to myself and handed over my dice. He shook the four cubes in his leather bound dice holder while doing a kind of ritualistic spinning dance of the primitives. He rolled the bones:
6 - 6 - 6 - 6
Now, there was no crowd there that day. Had there been a crowd they certainly would have exploded with excitement. My little brother certainly did. He never gave up, had beaten the odds and did not have to live out the rest of his days with the knowledge that he was the singular human who had lost ten Backgammon games in a row. His celebration was something to behold. Even I had to congratulate him. That night we both felt that our innovation of double-doubles would spread from North Alabama, thru the southeast USA and permeate out into the big world. It was that good. It's still that good.
Thirty something years later I see that our double-double innovation has not been incorporated into international Backgammon rules... yet. But I can guarantee you that should my younger brother and I ever play another game, and it looks like all is lost, one of us will shout out ' double-doubles!'.