Wednesday, February 10, 2010

One Giant Check for Mankind


Well, reader1, the Illinois Lottery doesn't just randomly hand out oversized novelty checks to any old chump2. This sucker was earned through grit, determination, and hours upon hours of competitive air hockey play over the last year.

What does this have to do with a wicked-sweet huge check? you ask.

Well, read on. I'll wait.

Finished? Great.

I won the "air hockey" tournament at 2nd Cousins in Rockford Friday, Feb. 5. For people who play air hockey competitively, this lottery promotion would loosely be called "air hockey." You see, a real air hockey competition consists of games to seven points, with the winner taking three of five games or four of seven games. This takes place on an eight-foot table with metal rails, real mallets, and a hard puck.

This little promotion is designed mow through 32 players to give out the $500 and authentic Blackhawks jersey3 in about an hour. As such, the rules are modified: winners need only score two points or be leading after the alotted two minutes. [This is modified for the final match, which is to five points or five minutes.] Also, the table is a short, rickety home model with a tiny puck and crappy pusher mallets with felt bottoms.

But I digress...

Thanks to a little scheme, some fellow air hockeyists and I pooled our chances to win all the tournaments we attend4. And this tournament happened to be the one where I mopped up.

A brief recap:

Round 1: I played a woman who was at the bar with a huge party. I possessed the puck for about 97% of the game. Playing slow and controlled proved unpopular, as the woman's friends booed me for the game's final 20 seconds or so. Final score: 1-0

Round 2: I drew a super-pumped fellow. With a 1-0 lead and the referee counting down the last 15 seconds, I ran out the clock by hitting the puck into the corner a few times so it came right back to me. My opponent responded by flinging his mallet at me after the game. Final score: 1-0.

Round 3: I played a tall, stringy fellow who scored a quick goal on me. I nabbed a coupleaquickones to beat him before time ran out. Final score: 2-1.

Round 4 (Semifinal): My opponent started with the puck and immediately scored on himself. On my first possession, I nailed the puck past him. Final score: 2-0.

At this point, it's worth mentioning that my brother-in-law was supposed to win his semifinal match. But he got beat on a couple of lucky goals. Sorry, Charlie5.

Round 5 (Final): In the tournaments we've competed in, people start to figure out that playing a slow, controlled game is the key to winning at air hockey. In this case, my opponent figured out that straight shots were his best chance to win. Though I had possession of the puck 3/4 of the time, I hit everywhere but the goal for most of the match. In contrast, my opponent hit some accurate straight shots. We traded points to 4-4 before I beat him with the one shot (the aptly named "Newbie Cut") that beats 95% of new players. Final score: 5-4

The Lottery representative handed me a huge check with my name on it and made me take a picture in a Blackhawks jersey. I then filled out some tax forms and was told to expect my check from the Lottery in 7-10 business days. We packed up my huge posterboard check and headed home.

Basically, the Lottery is in this to sell some crappy scratch-off tickets to suckers watching a hockey game at a bar. So the best part of the whole deal is that I'm winning money from the Lotto in a game of skill while they rip off everyone else in the bar on a game of [no] chance6.

And it feels damn good.

It also turns out that the radio station sponsoring the event was giving the winner two tickets to Tuesday's Blackhawks game. As I was unable to attend, I was told I might be able to score tickets to a later promotion, perhaps including REO Speedwagon/Styx tickets. So I guess that's cool?

Yeah, I didn't think so either.

1I'll speak in the singular, since I assume that I have one reader at most.
2 Yes, this is a joke.
3 Want to buy mine? It's a large.
4 We are 4-for-4.
5 His name isn't really Charlie.
6 See what I did there? I put the "no" in brackets, because scratchoffs games are a sure win for the Lotto. Get it?


  1. Wicked! I like it, Mr. Rood. I like the check, I like your story, I like the characters you faced off against. And your footnotes. Very nice.

    You do indeed have (at least) one reader. And I know about this blag of yours via Google Buzz, a new product from our Glorious Internet Overlords (tm); a product whose purpose I am uncertain of.

  2. Ah ha, I am reader the second! I laughed, I cried, then I laughed again, then I vomitted a little, then I fell asleep. Excellent stuff.

    Alan - Like all things on the internet, I presume the primary purpose of Google Buzz is pornography distribution. I dare someone to prove me wrong.

  3. Great post. Congrats on the win AND the giant check! Who hasn't wanted one of those in their lifetime.