by Satya Byock

Allie Furlotti playing Tamsk at TBA 2013

If Alex Mackin Dolan’s exhibit Cycle, Sun, Limit were open during The Works performances, I’d be in there every night, playing Tamsk in the center of the room. On Opening Night, Alex was there himself, providing helpful instruction.

Alex Mackin Dolan TBA 2013

Tamsk is an easy enough game to learn to play (especially if you have AMD there to help you). Find a friend. Choose a side. Black or red. You’ll each have three small hourglass timers (expert tip: they’re not all the same speed) and a set of cream-colored rings. The hexagonal board is filled with walled spaces for the timers and the rings. The timers go into the holes, the rings go around them.

The point is to place more of your rings on the board than your opponent and lose fewer hourglasses to the sands of time. Each turn, you flip over one timer into an adjacent hole and adding a ring to the wall when you do. But you can only add a ring when a wall has space for it (some are tall enough for one ring, some for two or three). If you find that one of your hourglasses is surrounded by walls that are filled-up with rings, that means there’s nowhere for it to move. It’s stuck there like quick sand, and its time will eventually run out. And you know what that means.

Alex Mackin Dolan 2 TBA 2013

“I’m dead all over the board,” my friend declared on game four. I cheered. We cleared the board and began again.

After hours of socializing in a crowd, I reveled in this opportunity for a different kind of focus. If board games became a new standard for TBA late-night activities, I would be the first to sign up. It turns out that sometimes, an interlude of strategic gaming is just what the weary art-goer needs for a pick-me-up.

Satya Byock is a Portland psychotherapist specializing in dream work and Jungian psychology for individuals in the first half of adulthood. She recently delivered a workshop at PICA on the Language of the Unconscious Mind as part of the C’mon Language series.