Two By Two


Two By Two

Hello there Sir R-----! Come join me by the hearth for a dram of warming spirits! I trust that this cold spell has not chilled your desire for a wager?

Good man! Good man!

I must say that the contrast between the warmth of this fire and the frost outside brings most vividly to my mind an occasion during my tenure as the Empress's ambassador to the land of Oz; specifically the time that I attended King Quadling Rex's winter masked ball during which his southern palace was overrun by an infestation of Snobbles! His entire court was in attendance for the lavish celebration of the solstice and the revellers were competing to be the most extravagantly costumed. A particularly daring courtesan had contrived to have a small cage woven into her hair in which a pair of Snobbles were hibernating. Unfortunately, they took the light and warmth of the main ballroom to be the onset of spring and, upon waking, became rather agitated.
Breaking free from their captivity, they wove between the legs of the quite unnecessarily panicked crowd, with the King taking refuge under his throne until they finally made their escape!
It was not until the conclusion of the festivities that we discovered that they were, in fact, a breeding pair and had set up home with their remarkably sizeable litter in the third larder, which they had very nearly exhausted of supplies. Needless to say we could not let them remain and so we set about removing them. As the first to attempt to do so, I discovered that they became quite distressed when separated from their closest kin, reacting with a surprisingly vicious bite, and we consequently took care to only pick out nearby pairs to carry away together.

But such zoological observations are hardly a fitting topic of conversation for we noblemen! Instead, let me tell you the rules of our sport!

I shall start by removing a single draught from these five ranks and files, after which you may remove any adjacent pair of draughts, be they horizontal, vertical or diagonal neighbours. For the next round I shall also remove such a pair and in return so must you, and we shall proceed in this manner for every round thereafter until no such pairs remain. Whichsoever of us is the last to remove a pair shall be the victor and have a coin from the other as his prize!

When I told the rules of this game to that noxious student, of whom you must be as sick of hearing as I am of seeing, he spewed forth a string of expletives evoking the name of Crom, that savagely gloomy god worshipped by the barbarians who populate the province of Cimmerea. That he should hold the beliefs of such low-born folk came as no surprise to me whatsoever, but that he should dare to express them in civilised company was quite beyond the pale!

But let us talk no more of that uncouth wretch! Take another dram whilst you decide whether or not you shall play!

In memory of Quaddie (2000-2019)

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