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Day 01/29/2010

Handicaps

Handicaps are a regular feature of some games and sports, go and golf being two prime examples. Often among game players it is resisted, however, because if they play at an advantage and win – well – it isn’t really a victory. I used to be in that camp, but became a complete convert a long time ago playing squash.

My experience playing squash was that of being crushed repeatedly by my more advanced opponent, and while I enjoyed the game it was a bit depressing. We talked about handicaps, but I was resistant because I felt like that would take away the value of the win if I did win. Eventually we tried it though, and I immediately started having a much better time. I realized my resistance was founded on a false premise, that if I win without a handicap it was a glorious victory. In fact, if someone is much better at squash they will expend less energy beating you, and how glorious is it if your victory was based on your opponent slightly underestimating how much energy he had to expend? It was wonderful seeing that my opponent was working now as hard as I was every game, and that if they slacked I could take advantage of it.