I heard about this guy Charles Denby, who is a sort of hustler. A hustler in backgammon, whatever next?
This guy Denby, or to give him his proper title, Lord Charles Denby, plays the role of an English aristocrat, who has not only perfect manners and etiquette, but has also perfected the art of backgammon.
This is his story.
The Black & White Lord
Lord Charles could be found in the top ranked hotels and resorts of the jet set trendy world that he inhabited. He wasn’t difficult to miss either, with his almost classic uniform appearance of immaculately crafted suit, Churchill shoes and a black attach? case that never left the grip of his right hand. On his left arm, a lady of luscious and impeccable taste always accompanied him. Whilst the Lady maybe beautiful and desirable, she is just a trinket. The real treasure is what is inside the attach? case, for in there lies the secret of Lord Charles Denby. It contains what he lovingly calls his 'children.' A couple of dozen polished ivory disks--'checkers,' two leather cups, four dice and a cube with various exponents of the number 2 on each side.
For Lord Charles Denby, backgammon is not a kid's game. As the world’s first and probably best backgammon hustler. (Though the word hustler in this case is too much of an Americanisation for a charlatan, scoundrel or cheat, and is too un- British an explanation), his double life is along the lines of that of a secret agent. A man of deep mystery and sophistication, Bond himself would be proud to know Lord Charles. His skill with the checkers and dexterity with the dice, is similar to that of Bond and his Walter PK automatic.
Lord Charles’s talent lies not just in the way he plays, but in how he plays. His monumental knowledge of the game is locked away inside his head, waiting to be unleashed upon some poor unsuspecting victim.
However, in the beginning it was all so different for Lord Charles or Charlie Denby as he was then. At 15 he picked up his first backgammon set and learned the game quickly, he found it easy. What he found difficult was mastering the game. That needed some devoted research, which Charlie proceeded to do by skipping his lessons in favour of a couple of hours of backgammon swotting. How he scraped through his degree, well that must be down to his other technique, charm.
By the time he left his education, he was already good at the game. So much so that he paid his rent out of his winnings. It was this novel way to make money, which put him on the road to hustling. His appreciation of the finer points of the game (excuse the pun) was the start of his career in backgammon, for he made more money playing the game than most people did in a week. He wasn’t like a poker or card shark, so reminiscent of this profession, he was something different and this above all was the reason why his notoriety spread.
For Lord Charles was an exponent of the game, making it into the top 10 or 20 players across Europe. In a few short years his prowess on the board became legendary. Not for Charlie boy the world championships or the World Cup, his prize was cash and lots of it. Lord Charles used a dollar point strategy, starting small at $10 a point and building up till he reached $100.00 a point. With each success the stakes grew higher, rising to $1,000.00 then $1,500.00 and $2,000.00, at which point Lord Charles would stop, quoting his favourite principle ' if you don't redouble (challenge your opponent to double the stakes) when you've got a demonstrable edge, you're playing too high for your bankroll '. 'Backgammon is an open information game,' he explains. 'There aren't any hidden cards. You can see when people, yourself included, make mistakes. If you're properly objective, you can assess your opponents' weaknesses.
Lord Charles has just finished playing a weeklong match against a Pakistani banker; the banker beat him out of $250,000. But Lord Charles is not down, he knows his day will come and then he will eventually take this guy for a couple of million.
The one facet that Lord Charles has is his almost unemotionally reaction to losing, Even the most famous casinos on the Las Vegas Strip have a bad day, a bad week, maybe even a bad year. But in the end they get their money. So does Lord Charles.
Like the casino’s, Lord Charlie’s doesn’t disguise his losses, he openly tells people he can be beaten, this makes the chances of a challenge that much more inviting. In letting people know how beatable he is, it offers those who wish to, the opportunity to try and take him on.
Did you like reading about Lord Charles? it’s complete fiction, but it does go to demonstrate how backgammon can breach the gaming traditions, whether in truth or fiction.