Dirty Diana

by Duane Jensen

I'm at double match-point with "Dirty Diana" and my 5-5 from the bar makes me the favorite in this game.

Pos 1. Tournament double match-point. BLACK TO PLAY 5-5.

I'm studying the possible plays carefully because I've lost many games in which I was "favored." Here are a couple examples:

Pos. 2. In the 9 point match, I lead Bill Davis (IL) 8-6 (Crawford). Playing the Black pieces, I MUST PLAY 1-1. (I lose the game.)

Pos. 3. Leading Mary Franks (NV) 3-0 in a 5-point match, I am again Black and have a 6-2 TO PLAY. (I get back-gammoned.)

My history of losing games in which I was the favorite causes me to play carefully against "Dirty Diana," but I can't find the right play. I can't concentrate enough to allow the correct play to filter through. I think it's time to explain how "Dirty Diana" got her name.

"Dirty Diana" doesn't refer to her personal hygiene or the 1987 Michael Jackson song of the same name. "Dirty" refers to her use of distractions to confuse her backgammon opponents. My friends had told me about her dirty tricks so I was prepared. Since I knew what was coming, I decided to let her show me the whole arsenal. It might be distracting but I was sure I could deflect her best weapons.

Diana had set up her board just inside the front doorway of the playing room. She leaned across the board, extending her hand to greet me. She wore a baby-blue, very soft, very low-cut dress, which exposed me to distraction #1 . . . and #2. Her perfume was intoxicating; not sweet and heavy like the kind my Aunt Mary wore to church, but more spicy and sexier.

I took a minute to examine the playing arena. My view through the doorway was in direct line with the rest room doors. I saw a guy leave the rest room with his shirt-tail peeking through his half-zipped fly. Then I saw a woman exit with a length of souvenir toilet paper stuck to her shoe. "Dirty Diana" had strategically placed her board in a location that would be distracting for me. My friends hadn't warned me about this one. She got an extra point for originality.

When I leaned on the right side of the table, it tipped, almost spilling my beverage. She had chosen a table with one leg shorter than the others and put that leg on my side.

Her backgammon board had been altered or damaged. The bar on my half of the board had been beveled. A checker placed on the bar had to be positioned perfectly or it would fall off.

The diamonds or "points" on my side of the board were badly worn and were peeling up in some places. Additionally, the board was asymmetrical-wider on my side than hers. This irregularity meant that a "closed board" on my side didn't look closed because there was room for a seventh column of checkers.

The dice cup she gave me had a loose bottom so I always needed to keep one hand on the bottom to stop the dice from falling out. And she requested that I play with my home board to the right. This would cause me to roll more cocked dice because of the congested space during bearoffs.

I knew what was coming next . . . her bag of unshelled walnuts which she was going to crack open while I was trying to think. This was not a surprise. My friends had prepared me for this. Was this the best she could do?

She could play all the games and tricks she wanted. By knowing in advance what "Dirty Diana" was trying to do, I was able to defuse all of her weapons. Nothing would bother me; not the cleavage, the perfume, the swinging rest room doors, her personalized backgammon board, or the cracking walnuts. I might lose the backgammon match, but I felt I'd won this battle.

Then she put on a headset to listen to her portable MP3 player. Her head was bouncing and her fingers were dancing on the table. It must have been a catchy tune. Then she said, "Would you like to listen?"

She handed me the headset and I sat back to hear the lively tune . . .

Click on the Chicken to continue . . .