Divisions

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Divisions

Greetings Sir R-----! I trust that I find you in good spirit? Will you join me in a draught of this rather fine Cognac and perchance some sporting diversion?

Good man!

I propose a game that ever puts me in mind of an adventure of mine in the town of Bağçasaray, where I was posted after General Lacy had driven Khan Fetih Giray out from therein. I had received word that the Khan was anxious to retake the town and been given orders to hold it at all costs.
I had at my disposal three divisions of the Empress's own Hussars with which to fend off the Khan's impending assault. Unfortunately I knew not whether he intended to concentrate his forces at the north or at the south gate. This placed me in something of a quandary; entire, I was certain that my company should prove more than a match for his, but divided they might easily be overwhelmed.
After much deliberation I decided to place my trust in fate and directed all my men to defend the north gate, whilst I alone stood guard over the south. To my very great fortune, the Khan brought the greater part of his company to bear upon the south gate, affording me an excellent morning constitutional!
Modesty forbids me from observing that the lesson I gave them that day in no small part contributed to their ultimate defeat at Qarasuvbazar.

But I fear I digress! We should most assuredly be better served if I described the manner of play!

Here before you I have chalked out a square that shall stand for the north gate, and another that shall stand for the south. At each turn you must wager three coins from your purse upon these gates. You may divide the coins between them howsoever you wish; you may place your coins in whole or in part, it is of no consequence.
I shall then toss this here coin; if it comes up heads then the north gate shall win the turn, else it shall be the south. Those coins that you wagered upon the winning gate shall be returned to you and I shall add to them a bounty of equal size. Be warned, however, that I shall have those wagered upon the losing gate for my own purse!
Honour compels me to add that the coin is not fair; on the average it comes up heads nine times out of twenty and tails eleven times out of twenty. Or was it the other way around? Now that I think on it, I have quite forgot!
No matter! The game shall last six turns and cost you twenty cents to play.

When I described the rules of play to that oafish student acquaintance of mine he, true to form, commenced to babbling on about some utterly inconsequential topic. As I recall it was some hospital tragedy involving triangular pastilles of all things! I should say that the only hospital that he should concern himself with is the Bethlam Royal in which he should rightly be admitted forthwith!
But let us not tarry upon his ridiculous concerns. Come, take another draught and think upon how you may best hedge your bets!


Based upon an article I wrote for ACCU's CVu magazine.

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