Home Editorial The purpose of the game

The purpose of the game

by Yasser Akkaoui

There’s nothing quite like sitting down with friends on a sunny winter afternoon for rounds of backgammon. Anyone passing by tables of competitors would likely hear good-humored curses and raucous shouting. During one such Sunday afternoon, after watching a streak of wins and observing different playing strategies, I began to notice exactly what differentiated a winning tactic from a losing one.

In the game of backgammon, players maneuver their pieces across the board, each move carefully calculated to advance their position while simultaneously thwarting their opponents’ progress. The winner is able to advance their own pieces quickly while dodging their opponent’s attempts to slow their progress. Yet, there exists a subtle balance between strategic disruption and focused advancement.  A player fixated solely on disrupting their opponent’s strategy often loses sight of their own objectives, squandering valuable time and resources in a futile pursuit. While some of my friends tried to gain ground by impeding each other, the winners were too busy trying to win their game to waste time needlessly obstructing others’. This strategy works. 

I can’t help but apply the metaphor to our country. It’s clear: leaders embroiled in petty disputes and power struggles are derailing the collective agenda for the sake of short-term gains. Lebanon has no time for this. Just as in backgammon, where victory lies not in the destruction of the opponent’s pieces but in skillful navigation towards one’s goal, so too must our leaders prioritize the advancement of a secure and sovereign Lebanon. 

The essence of backgammon is strategic focus and adaptability, not brute force or coercion. In the playing field of Lebanon, which happens to be a country full of backgammon experts, anyone with vested interest in the country’s sovereign future should realize that success hinges not on the capacity to dominate or hinder others, but to navigate complex situations with integrity and a spirit of cooperation.

There are lessons to be learned –whether in backgammon or on the national playing field—about strategic balance and focused purpose. Both require transcending immediate and exclusive self-interest for the overarching purpose of achieving a more lasting and meaningful “win.”

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Yasser Akkaoui

Yasser Akkaoui is Executive's editor-in-chief.

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