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Rolling the dice behind closed doors

Every so often at The Kennel we introduce an activity that is part Roman empire, part jail riot. We know it as “The Dice”, which has evolved to become “Ricky Dyson”, and now simply “Ricky”.

A few years ago someone introduced “Ricky” as a way of policing minor disciplinary infractions (eg, leaving your towel on the floor), raising a few bucks for a trip away at the end of the year, and as a way of lifting morale. We do it every few weeks, but it’s greatest impact is usually after a loss.

It’s a players-only affair. There is a Boss, someone who reads out the charges and keeps a record of who’s paid their fines and who hasn’t. The Boss is overseen by the Grandpoobah, who is generally the oldest player in the room. His call is final when a verdict of guilt or innocence is needed.

Here’s a garden variety example of what takes place behind closed doors:

Players gather in the theatre with the Boss standing out front holding the custom-made dice, which is roughly the size of a small television set from the 1980s. A charge will be read out, and the mob will undoubtedly hoot and holler. A chant of “RICKY! RICKY!” can be heard for miles.

The accused is given a chance to plead his innocence to the Boss, who can hand it over to the Grandpoobah for a potential pardon. In all my time at “The Dice”, no one has ever been given a pardon.

Once guilt is established, the convicted party is asked to roll the mega-dice in front of the bloodthirsty crowd. When it comes to the actual roll of the dice, the mob is very particular. We like a high toss with plenty of spin. A poor roll – or a “disrespectful roll” – can result in a “double roll”. The mob will undoubtedly be in a frenzy from the start, eager to ping someone for a double roll and draw out the anticipation just that little bit longer.

Once “Ricky” has been successfully rolled and landed on a number from one to six, a silence swallows up the room and all eyes turn to The Boss, who has each potential punishment documented in his notes. These penalties can change from year to year and from Boss to Boss.

After a couple of tough losses and with a big game on the horizon, it doesn’t hurt to blow off a little steam.

My personal favourite is the table spoon of cinnamon in one go. There’s a brutality in its simplicity; as Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Cinnamon enhances everything”.

While this may all sound barbaric to the uninitiated, it is performed in a safe environment and no one is forced to do anything they don’t want to do. The unwilling can buy their way out with a cash donation to the coffers, but this is seen as a small price to pay for someone who really would rather not sing a song in front of their teammates.

As a hardened veteran of the mob, there is one thing we really covet – a six. If you happen to roll a six, the room turns into a casino.

Tough decisions have to be made now. With a six on the floor you have the option to cut your losses and pay your way out, or risk it all – double or nothing – on a single roll.

Somewhere in the evolution of “Ricky” this scenario was deemed “Risky”, which soon after evolved into “Rischitelli”. If you roll a six, the primal scream of “RISCHITELLI!” will engulf the room.

At this stage, if you roll a two, four or six you have to pay twice, sending the mob into raptures. If you roll a one, three or five you are home free. The mob will return to their seats in hushed tones, you will be revered for your courage.

“Ricky” is silliness turned up to 10. Like the cinnamon, it’s beauty is in it’s simplicity.  This week we enjoyed our first “Ricky” session of the year, and it didn’t disappoint. The young players continue to plead their innocence, to the disgust of the Grandpoobah, although one pup accepted guilt and the accompanying penalty for straightening his hair at his girlfriend’s request.

With his hair back to it’s more familiar curl, he accepted the donation over the “tell us a joke and make us laugh” option. It was a wise call – the mob makes for a tough crowd.

After a couple of tough losses and with a big game on the horizon, it doesn’t hurt to blow off a little steam. At the completion of this week’s gathering, we walked out of the room bouncing on our tippy-toes. In a recovery sense, “Ricky” is the equivalent of 10 ice baths.

One question is left hanging, though. How will the mob feel about “Ricky” getting a write up in The Age? That’s gotta be worth at least one roll, I’d reckon.

This article was originally published in The Age and can be accessed here.