Playing the Back Game To Win
Backgammon is an ancient board game in which two players move their pieces according to the roll of two dice with the winner being the first to remove all their pieces from the board. If you’re familiar with backgammon, you’re familiar with the back game. The back game is not an intentional backgammon strategy, but a way to win when you’re substantially behind in the race.
In this COVID-19 economy, most of us are either behind or concerned about falling behind and seeking ways to win. Good backgammon players are masters at the back game. They use it to win and we can too.
First, we must commit to the back game.
Backgammon masters recognize they’re losing, before they lose. They could be losing because of a bad roll of the dice or a good strategic move by their opponent. But at some point, they recognize, based on the circumstances of the game, they must block their opponent’s progress to improve their chance of winning. They don’t get angry, they get strategic. They commit to the back game.
The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting everyone, but disproportionally the Black community. Whether its unemployment, health care or small business development, we’re losing…but we haven’t fully lost yet. We must get strategic. We MUST commit to the back game.
Second, we must block.
With the back game, master backgammon players move to block their opponent from winning (by holding two points on their opponent’s home board). The block is critical. It’s not easy to do, but if successful, it gives the strategist time to make up for lost ground to win.
In a COVID-19 pandemic, the opponent is the Coronavirus and its impact on our health and financial well-being. We must block the opponent by practicing social distancing, washing our hands, wearing facial coverings and using online/mobile services as much as possible to protect our health. It’s not easy to do when our jobs are public facing. However, beyond work, we cannot listen to the media or give in to calls to get back to “normal.” We MUST commit to the back game. We MUST block the Coronavirus to win.
Third, we must pace ourselves.
Master backgammon players know that winning with the back game requires good timing. Ironically, they know when they begin the back game, their home board cannot be too far advanced, or they will lose the race. They must pace themselves to win.
The future impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is uncertain, but likely to be long-lasting. It took America years to adjust after 9/11 and the 2008 Great Recession. We need to have a long-term strategy and pace ourselves – our spending, savings, education, work, and health – to win.
Fourth, we must progress.
Master backgammon players not only block their opponent, they also strategically move their pieces forward to beat their opponent. Blocking alone is insufficient. They also need to progress to win the race.
The Black community has a long history of progressing in the face of adversity. According to the Brookings Institute, as an example, minority and women owned businesses added 1.8 million jobs from 2007 to 2012, while firms owned by white males lost 800,000 jobs, and firms equally owned by white men and women lost another 1.6 million jobs. Minority businesses led the job recovery after the Great Recession.
We will overcome the COVID-19 pandemic through creativity and perseverance. We will create new businesses, expand online businesses, develop alternative streams of income, adjust our educational strategies and help each other through tough times. We may even see a silver lining to this pandemic as gentrification in our community gets delayed and housing becomes more affordable.