Stress lines creased his forehead as he squinted over a shrinking tower of wooden blocks. The game was afoot. We sat wordlessly across a table from each other, surrounded by onlookers eager to see the outcome. Each wooden block, it seemed, held a fraction of fate. He deliberated on the pieces, half of which were revealed to him, half to me. A game of chance and strategy, all at once.
If he could see what I saw, he would know exactly which piece to choose. Slowly, as if restrained by some force, he reached a hand toward the pyramid to make his selection. A quiet gasp sounded from behind me as he grabbed a piece. He drew it toward himself, still not looking. His eyes betrayed his fear. If he looked at the piece, he might be disappointed.
My smile told him everything.
He turned the piece around and sighed at the face. Eight of clubs. The wrong move. He knew it. I knew it. Everyone in the room knew it. It had come down to one piece.
We finished the next few turns sharing a silent relief. A peace in knowing the outcome, one way or another.
Where it all began
Less than two hours earlier, a friend and I were walking through the main floor of a board game convention, because that’s a thing you do when you’re a board game developer in your free time.
A guy rushes up to us and asks if we want to play a game. We’re on our way to do something else, so we politely decline. He insists. It’s a game called Pyramid Poker, and they need 2 people to fill out a tournament. We tell him we’ve never even heard of that game, so we’d be a terrible addition to any tournament. Well, this guy is an opportunist and sees an easy way to at least finish better than last, so he convinces us to play, it’s just a short game, it’s fun, etc etc.
So we play.
And I win my first game.
Beginners luck, obviously. So we play again and I lose (to the guy who invited us). But it’s a round robin qualifier, apparently, so I get to play one more for chance to get into the actual tournament. At least, I think that’s how tournaments work. Well, I win that, and somehow that means I get to be in the with the big dogs. Of Pyramid Poker. A game I literally learned how to play minutes before.
So it begins.
And I win again.
Then I just go ahead and keep on winning, all the way down to the championship game with a guy whose name I don’t remember but it was probably Kevin.
We place the final piece. The audience cheers. Yes, I said audience. The next moments are a blur, mostly because they were so unexpected. Kevin and I shake hands and exchange a good game. I’m handed a game box and a trophy and told to stand against the wall for a picture.
I’m told this was an official tournament for the state championship of Pyramid Poker. I had just become the state champion of Oklahoma for 2018. That means I can go to regionals and compete later this summer.
Look for the chance encounter
Is this an absurd story? Absolutely. Is it 100% true? Also absolutely.
“What’s the moral?” you ask, wondering why you’ve read this far.
Your patience is rewarded. The moral is to look for the chance encounter. It’s easy to write off the unforeseen, but sometimes that’s where the coolest opportunities are found. And I’m talking about more significant stuff than winning the state championship at a board game convention.
I can think of 12 guys a long time ago who may very well have been tempted to write off a very chance encounter they had with a carpenter. How often do you drop what you’re doing to follow a guy you’ve never met after just two words? But they didn’t. And their lives were never the same. Fact of the matter is, because they didn’t overlook it, our lives aren’t the same.
How can you make an impact in the world around you by welcoming the unexpected? It just might be the thing that changes someone’s life.
Pick your head up, have a conversation with someone new, and see if something amazing doesn’t happen.
Meanwhile, I’ll see you in Kansas City this summer.