He was a Player, a professional, one who earned his living through the game.

He was a Player, a professional, one who earned his living through the game. The Players are not a caste, nor a clan, but they tend to be a group apart, living their own lives. They are made up of men from various castes who often have little in common but the game, but that is more than enough. They are men who commonly have an extraordinary aptitude for the game but beyond this men who have become drunk on it, men lost in the subtle, abstract liquors of variation, pattern and victory, men who live for the game, who want it and need it as other men might want gold, or others power and women, or others the rolled, narcotic strings of toxic kanda.

There are competitions of Players, with purses provided by amateur organizations, and sometimes by the city itself, and these purses are, upon occasion, enough to enrich a man, but most Players earn a miserable living by hawking their wares, a contest with a master, in the street. The odds are usually one to forty, one copper tarn disk against a forty-piece, sometimes against an eighty-piece, and sometimes the amateur who would play the master insists on further limitations, such as the option to three consecutive moves at a point in the game of his choice, or that the master must remove from the board, before the game begins, his two Tarnsmen, or his Riders of the High Tharlarion.

Further, in order to gain Players, the master, if wise, occasionally loses a game, which is expensive at the normal odds; and the game must be lost subtly, that the amateur must believe he has won. I had once known a Warrior in Ko-ro-ba, a dull, watery- eyed fellow, who boasted of having beaten Quintus of Tor in a paga tavern in Thentis. Those who play the game for money have a hard lot, for the market is a buyer’s market, and commonly men will play with them only on terms much to their satisfaction.

Assassin of Gor, p. 41-42

player competition

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