Blog News

1. Comments are still disabled though I am thinking of enabling them again.

2. There are now several extra pages - Poetry Index, Travel, Education, Childish Things - accessible at the top of the page. They index entires before October 2013.

3. I will, in the next few weeks, be adding new pages with other indexes.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

China: Pool and Face

I'm sure you are all familiar with the Chinese concept of "face" which
is all about earning respect. After all we use the expression "loss of
face" sometimes in English. Face crops up in all sorts of
circumstances but who would have thought that it would crop up in a
game of pool? Well, it does, and it has twice now.
The circumstances are similar enough to just generalise.

You meet a new Chinese friend.
You talk and in the conversation mention that you pass some of your
time playing pool.
He says that he plays too and invites you to a game.
You go to the pool hall and start to play and it is immediately
obvious that he is a much better player than you are. Hell, his
girlfriend is a much better player than you are. Both of them can
control the cue ball with top-spin and back-spin and side and the
object balls slam into the pockets with the force of a steam-hammer.
Your own efforts look pathetic by comparison.
As you play you notice his game going off.
It becomes clear that he is throwing the game so that you can win.
He wants you to win because he sees you as the guest.
Of course you see him as the guest so that you start playing below
your skill level so that he can win. After all, when in Rome you do as
the Romans do.
The game proceeds at the slowest pace imaginable as everyone tries not
to make it obvious that those millimetre misses are intentional.
Half an hour after it should have ended the 8-ball finally drops into
a pocket and the game is over.
Face is earned by everyone because everyone has been so politely
trying to let the other guy win.

Of course next time out things are different. You have already
established that you are friends and so you can play properly. Face no
longer comes into it.
And you get soundly beaten.