Checkers: (noun) a game whose object is to annihilate one's opponent using stealth, cunning, manipulation, bullying, and mind games.
synonym: see Open Warfare.
I rarely play games against Malystryx. The few times we've played card games with family and friends, we were a team and we were invincible. We are both incredibly competitive (there is no surrender, no backing off, no mercy), we are both stubborn as mules (of course, in my personality, this comes across as pleasantly determined. In his...well, I won't go there.), and we know the way each other's twisted minds work.
We are an excellent team.
We make fierce opponents.
Tonight, Malystryx challenged me to a game of checkers. Given that the last time he played checkers against me, he ended up throwing all of his pieces to the floor in a fit of pique to rival that of a three-year-old, I was somewhat surprised.
Naturally, I accepted, even though I knew I would lose. Why would I lose?
A) It's been years since I've played any kind of strategic game where long-term planning is key to success. I'm much better at games that require instant reactions and quick, on-the-spot thinking.
B) Malystryx ammended the rules to suit his strengths and exploit my weaknesses. (In other words, no creative interpretation of the rules or moving of the opponent's checkers while they've turned their backs was allowed) I do well by approaching a game with a certain flexibility to the rules. If you are foolish enough to provide an opportunity for me to maximize my chance of success by any means possible, I'll do it. Malystryx takes exception to this - note the checker throwing fit mentioned above.
Why did I accept, though I knew I would lose? Because I don't back away from a challenge. Because Malystryx knows this. Because I knew he would be overconfident of a quick victory.
His victory was anything but quick.
As team members, knowing how the other's mind works is helpful. As opponents, it's invaluable.
To beat Malystryx (as I believe I mentioned in the "how to bring down an evil Malystryx" post), I needed to make him mad, frustrate his sense of order, and defy his bullying of my poor little blonde checkers. Malystryx approaches games like a 5 Star General approaches a world war. He thinks several moves in advance and calculates all potential outcomes.
My job was to throw a monkey wrench into the whole thing.
I just love throwing monkey wrenches.
I began by refusing to give him the upper hand. He told me to start. I declined. He also declined and it was an instant stalemate. I was prepared to sit there and make small talk for an hour just to defy him. I know better than to give in to him right from the start. He knows me well enough to realize I meant what I said. The stalemate lasted less than 3 minutes when he caved and made the first move.
The next part of my strategy was to provoke a frustrated response from him. (again, see above for checker throwing fit) I mirrored his every move. This was a piece of unmitigated brilliance on my part (and cheeky to boot). For one, I know nothing of setting my board up for success in checkers and he does. By copying him, I turned his own strategy against him. Also, he was ticked at me in just five moves.
I think that's a record for throwing him off his game and provoking an outburst.=)
Once he thought I would continue to copy his every move, I changed strategy and began thinking it through on my own.
This was tricky.
I am easily distracted. I don't even need outside distractions for this. A stray thought that sounds interesting can pass through my head and my brain will seize upon it and examine it thoroughly. Several minutes will pass before I remember I'm supposed to be playing checkers.
Still, I played well because if I am going to do something, I'm going to do it with everything I've got, losing battle or not.
Malystryx relaxed. Got cocky. Started with the smack talk. Began pushing me to back into corners.
I don't back into corners.
Also, I know Malystryx enough to know that most of his smack talk and bullying was because he knows me and he realizes that if you push the right buttons in me, I'll do just the opposite of what you've said just to spite you.
Thankfully, I know that about me too and I caught him trying to manipulate me.
I had the upper hand once or twice. Not bad for a girl who likes to think on her feet, improvise, and hasn't played checkers in years (and frankly, was never good at it then, either).
I was like Jamaica trying to stave off the advances of the entire United States Marine Corp. Guerrilla warfare only gets you so far before the Corp blows up all the trees and you are left running from rock to rock, knowing there is no where left to go.
In the end, he backed me up as far as I was willing to go. Refusing to be cornered, I instead used the kamikaze approach and stepped in front of the opponent.
I'm satisfied with the outcome. I played well. I got under his skin. I saw through his mind games. I made him work for his victory.
Now he wants to play me in chess. I will. As long as the rules are a little flexible.