Friday, June 01, 2007

Fish Stories

Every man has them. Tall(ish) tales of fierce combat with unseen enemies, generally of the variety that "got away." I actually have two; one involving a halibut (we think) that was large enough to pull Grandpa's boat before we had to cut the line, and the other involving my having caught a fish large enough to have won the boat pool, had we bothered to join it.

But this is not about fish. This is about the Yahtzee Championship Score of the World That No One Will Ever See.

We have an electronic Yahtzee game. I got it for (I think) a Christmas present many years ago. I got it because Santa (and you know who she is) knows that I am basically just a kid in a nearly fifty-year old body and I love to play with toys. We also have an affinity for certain games that Mrs. Woody and I have played for most of our marriage. Yahtzee is one of them.

If you've ever played the electronic Yahtzee game, you know it has certain advantages over the physical dice game. Every time I play the physical dice game, I get summarily stomped by Mrs. Woody. I mean every stinkin' time. I have no idea what mystical powers she possesses over those dice, but she beats me in at least nine games out of ten. The one game in ten that I actually win is always a squeaker; I may win by five points or less.

But the electronic version rocks. If you have any programming knowledge at all, you know that building a truly random algorithm is nearly impossible. It's always based on some event — usually time — which means that in theory you can actually replicate a so-called "random" pattern that is generated by any computer, no matter how complex. Electronic Yahtzee is not a complex computer. It's one of those things you could probably put together with your average electronics project kits at Radio Shack.

In real Yahtzee, I rarely see scores of over 300. You must get at least one "Yahtzee" (worth 50 points), all of the lower section scores, plus the upper section bonus in order to break 300. In real Yahtzee, "Yahtzees" are hard to come by. Large straights also give me fits, although I can usually score a full house in any game. I run about 50% on upper section bonuses (worth an additional 35 points) for the most part.

Electronic Yahtzee, on the other hand, is much more generous than real life. My little hand-held game resides in our bathreading room, where it gets played several times every day. An average game takes only about as long as our average bathreading room visit, so you can imagine how many games it plays in the course of a year.

Most fun are the games where you score multiple "Yahtzees." Each "Yahtzee" you score after the first one is worth an additional 100 points. And the hand-held version is extremely generous about "Yahtzees." Games with two or even three "Yahtzees" are not uncommon.

The game also holds onto the top score played, although it doesn't tell you who that player happened to be. Not to brag (which is, after all, the whole purpose of a fish story), but I will have you know that for many months now, the high score (belonging, it goes without saying, to yours truly) has been 612. I believe I had no fewer than four "Yahtzees" to capture that score. But it also means something else: it means that Mrs. Woody's personal best of 607 was not enough to unseat me from the champion's podium! Yes! She can whip me all she wants in real Yahtzee, but until this morning I was the undisputed KING of Electronic Yahtzee!

I say "until this morning" because, sadly, Electronic Yahtzee is incredibly cheap and has no flash memory. Thus, when its AAA battery died this morning after more than five years' faithful service, my high score went with it.

So the unofficial battle of Yahtzee Titans will commence again. I've replaced the battery (go DuraCell!), and fully expect Mrs. Woody and I to rub scores in each other's faces for the next several months. It takes time, you know, to build up the high scores until they register in the 500s and 600s as they did before. But I'm confident that they will.

Electronic Yahtzee is like that. Fish-like, if you know what I mean.

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