by Jana Bohrer
Gaby Horowitz did approximately 4,096 bad things for backgammon. For example, he was rumored to be the real inventor of the magnetic dice and board set referenced here. A History of the Game – Part Four
I believe it worked rather well until one evening in Vegas when Gaby asked the magnets for one set of sixes too many. This resulted in a small conflagration. Fortunately, only Gaby’s wallet was injured in the blaze.
But before we consign Gaby to the inner circle of backgammon hell, we should, in fairness, remember the four good things he did for the game.
1. He taught Lucille Ball how to play. And Lucy said of him, “He is the finest gentleman I have ever known.” (Which really says a lot about where Desi set the bar.) Getting a celebrity to play gave backgammon a cachet and made it cool. And Gaby was heard to say that, “I never took a dime off Lucy.” From which this author infers that he took whole dollars instead.
2. In the ’90s, as backgammon languished in obscurity, Gaby connected it to the most important event of the 20th century – that’s right – The O.J. Simpson Trial.
Marcia Clark, the prosecutor … was once a dancer. After she divorced her first husband, Gaby Horowitz, a backgammon gambler who played for high stakes with such fanatics of the game as Lucille Ball and John Wayne, he was accidentally shot in the head by his best friend, Bruce Roman, who was represented by Robert Shapiro. (Shapiro got him off too.)
From the February 1995 issue of Vanity Fair– L.A. in the Age of O.J., by Dominick Dunne
Incidentally, in addition to being Gaby’s best friend and shooting him in the head with one of those ubiquitous unloaded guns; Bruce Roman also co-authored a backgammon book with Gaby, and he conducted the Scientologist ceremony that united Gaby in marriage to Marcia Clark. With friends like that…
3. Gaby (left) was not hard to look at. This at a time when that could not always be said of the backgammon set (right).
4. Lastly, Gaby gave the game a truly useful cube mnemonic presented in his book with the aforementioned Dr. Roman.
C – Consider Potential Gain vs. Potential Loss
U – Use the Cube as a Weapon, NOT as a Gift
B – Blend Checker Play and Cube Action
E – Eliminate Emotional Influence
Unfortunately, many players fail to remember Gaby’s sage advice with disastrous and sometimes humorous results. That’s a topic we will begin exploring tomorrow in:
C – See, I was winning. A minute ago.