I have a chess tournament coming up and I want to psych out my opponents. How can I perfect the kind of steady implacable gaze that some of you do so well? Also, are there strategy games that you play, at all?
Wannabe Grand Master
Caleb is the flock’s largest sheep, and an expert in winning the dominance games that sheep play. He answers today’s question.
Dear Grand Master
I’m glad you have noticed this ability of ours – in fact, I think it is something of a super-power. We are really good at staring down opponents. There is a power in a good, steely stare which really puts your enemies in their places. To do it, you have to KNOW in your heart that you are the most powerful, the strongest, the fastest, and can butt the hardest. Just put all that into your gaze, and your opponent will quail before you! This is a thing that all sheep do, not just rams, but rams are particularly fierce and good at it. We are hierarchical animals, but we don’t really want to fight unless we have to. A good stare settles lots of quarrels before they get physical.
As for strategy games, we are, in our way, Grand Masters at these too, especially against humans. My favourite one is called You Move Your Feet, You Lose. In common with other grazing animals, we use this to work out who is subservient to whom. If I can make you move your feet, and thus concede ground to me, then I am the superior animal. Because I am the biggest sheep in the flock, I can do this by leaning really heavily against a human, and since I outweigh most humans by quite a bit, I naturally win. I can also move other sheep with my steely implacable stare (it’s definitely worth acquiring as a skill, Grand Master!) or I can run at them and biff them with my hard skull.
Other fun strategy games are to do with spatial awareness. Sheep are brilliant at this. We have great maps in our heads which detail all our knowledge of our homes, and we also have an uncanny ability to spot an open gateway or a gap in a fence. Humans are absolutely useless at herding us, most of the time, because we are always more aware of the ways out than they are – and we are much, much faster. That’s why some humans gave in a long time ago, and trained dogs to herd us instead. The steely implacable glare can work against sheepdogs too; it is a strong dog who can come up against our flock and make us move when we don’t want to. We pair the glare with a decisive front foot stamp – I don’t recommend you do this, as it would scare your opponents so much they might just run away without even engaging in your chess game. You want the opportunity to crush them so that they know they have been crushed. That way, they won’t come up against you again until next year.