1) How do I get my money?
In the early days, it almost inevitably happens to you at some point. I was still in Freiburg, at the beginning of 1984. I was always looking for places where backgammon was played. I actually found one. I had an opponent right away. Fortunately, he turned out to be a hobby player and I won. Only I immediately agreed to note down the amount owed in the form of points. I didn’t even dare to ask him for immediate payment. When we reached about 400 DM, I asked quite politely if my opponent didn’t want to settle some of it? He was enraged and now accused me in turn, which was a welcome opportunity. He would always pay, so why did I ask him about it? That was an impertinence. And such a big one that it was enough to invalidate his principle of “always paying” for the day.
2) One night in the chess café
Well, as the saying goes? You can learn from bad luck (I know what you’re thinking: it didn’t work for me). But nevertheless, a while later, the following happened:
I was sitting, as so often, late at night in the Café Belmont, the gamblers’ meeting place in Berlin, hoping for a good game (you can also put it this way: I was waiting for “clientele”, the willing are also sometimes called “punters”). And suddenly a man entered whom I had never seen before. He had somehow come with the intention of playing. He was also willing to play backgammon with me.
That alone does not mark a “clientele”. He also wanted to play reasonably high, but had almost no cash with him. He admitted this straight away, but then said he had euro cheques. Of course, this was extremely worrying, what did I know about Eurocheques and their reliability? On top of that, I had to hope that he was a weak player at all.
In the absence of any viable alternatives, I let myself in for the game. The luck of the dice was in my favour to the extent that I also won that night. The cash was exhausted (DM 200 maximum), but we kept playing. What did I have to lose? After all, my patience had already paid off, I could have come home with 0.
He willingly filled out more and more cheques. One each for 400 DM. The supposedly guaranteed sum insured. In the end I had a total of 10 cheques in my pocket. He left the restaurant in a hurry and I never saw the man again.
Fortunately, I was spared sleep disturbances, because the night was already over. So I waited for the last 2 hours with a cup of coffee (it might have been two) for the bank to open. I also went straight to the main branch of the bank and was at the counter right on time for opening. I can well imagine that the palpitations got through to the lady. But, what can I tell you? Her hesitation was probably only triggered by my scepticism, she paid me an even DM 4000!
That was the biggest profit I had ever made up to that point anyway. I had won a chess tournament before, even a good one with a lot of money, but it was nine days of hard work and discipline, combined with the necessary luck, and I got 2000 DM. But now 4000 DM in one night? That was overwhelming, especially since I could still hope for plenty of repetition.
I went shopping straight away, new clothes, for a total of 1000 DM. Then I went to the travel agency and booked a week in Ibiza, and half of it had already been used up (that’s how you recognise the right “suitor”. The effect is also called: Easy come, easy go). But the week in Ibiza was really wonderful. By the way, I had also chosen the holiday destination because I had heard that they also play backgammon there. And there was also a casino. And if I were to tell you about my encounter with Jackpot Guido… but not here.