Twister Tournament - Iceland, July 19, 1998

   "I can't. I just can't do it." 
   "Yes you can! Don't you give up on me!" 
   "I........can't..........I'm not going to make it I can't hold on I'm sorry...."
   "No! I won't let you quit! We're in this together. Reach for it, damn it!" 
   Every muscle in my body screamed in agony. With one last gasp I lunged forward and...........didn't make it. As my right hand landed on the yellow circle I felt my left foot lift off of the blue circle that it had been firmly planted on. We lost the match and were out of the tournament. 

   Twister - the game that ties you up in knots - was developed in 1966 by Milton Bradley and every year since then, thousands have descended upon Reykjavik, Iceland for the annual Tournament of Champions. Unlike the countless other sanctioned tournaments, this one is by invitation only. In 1981, three friends and I finally received an invitation after successfully defending our title in the Baton Rouge Classic for the seventh consecutive year. We were going to have the opportunity to test our game against the best players in the world. You can imagine our excitement. 
   Did you notice that I used the term, "sanctioned" in the last paragraph? A brief explanation as to why this is so important may be informative to my faithful readers who are unaware of the seriousness of this issue. 
   First off, if you are ever attending a party and you hear someone say, "Hey everybody! Let's play Twister!", I would recommend leaving immediately. Run, do not walk to the nearest exit. These "unsanctioned games" are extremely dangerous and detrimental to the evolution of the sport for a number of reasons. 

   1) Too many people are under the impression that Twister is merely a game of random luck and proceed to play under that misguided notion. I can't count the number of times I've heard, "You never know what the next move will be. The spinner can land anywhere at anytime." Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a game of logic, timing and finesse. I've sat down with many of the Grand Champions for literally days at a time and listened to them explain how they honed their craft. They revealed to me, "When you become one-with-the-game you can anticipate the next move." 
The true masters have been known to predict twelve moves in advance and mount their offense and defense accordingly.
   2) Most Twister players pick up bad habits when they are young which are extremely difficult to rectify as they grow older. The most common fault is known as "the lazy game". Simply put, this is when you use the "random time between spins" method. If your child ever dreams of being a champion, you will have to put an end to this unstructured style immediately. All sanctioned tournaments use the "constant time between spins" method (every four seconds) which is crucial to the integrity of the game. 
   3) If you could witness the plethora of people with Twister injuries in hospital emergency rooms across the world you would be appalled. Studies have shown that 91.7 % of all Twister injuries occur at unsanctioned games (slumber parties, summer camp, etc.) At every sanctioned tournament a full medical team is always on hand to tend to the rash of injuries that inevitably occur. Pulled muscles, dehydration, and emotional trauma can have catastrophic results and sometimes be career ending if proper medical attention isn't received immediately. 

   My friends and I were disappointed with the loss and hoped to return the following year to continue our quest toward Twister immortality. The Grand Champions that year were an experienced team from Czechoslovakia. They fought through 140 rounds of play spanning eighteen days and emerged victorious. We watched in awe as they stood proudly on the victory stand and received their medals from the Assistant Vice-President of Milton Bradley. There were 813 teams in the tournament and we did not come home empty handed. We left Reykjavik with a lot more experience, a few new friends, and a trophy for 692nd place.