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Subject: Do you let your kids win? rss

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Rob
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This question was brought up in a recent session report, and I wanted to throw it out for general discussion.

Do you ever let your kids win games you're playing against them? When and why?

Personally, I confess that I do. Usually, it's when we're both learning a game for the first time. There's usually a point in the game where I could execute a winning move. But I hold back, or play a less-optimal move. After a couple games, though, I try to win.

Other times, it's situational. If I know my daughter is having a bad day, and just wants to hang out with me and play a game, I'll pretend that I "forgot" that I had a winning card in my hand and didn't play it. She caught me doing it, one time, but didn't mind.

Overall, though, my philosophy is that if they learn to win on their own, they'll be better off.
 
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J Boyes
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There is one circumstance where I definately don't let the kid when. It is when I am playing with someones child who obviously is always given the easy victory. I consider that a civic duty .

Normally if I'm playing a game with a kid who seems to be trying I may allow myself some sloppy play to keep things close. But hopefully it is under the radar. Kids are pretty damn perceptive though.
 
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Richard Rutten
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When playing with my 4 year old son I usually play to win. However he get's very cranky if he doesn't win at all. So I tend to let him win if he hasn't won for 3 games in a row.

Most of the time it isn't necessary because almost every game you can play with a 4 year old is either totally luck based (of which he has an abundant quantity) or a memory clone in which case it is virtually impossible for me to win.cry
 
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Eddy Richards
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A qualified yes (or a qualified no, depending).
In general, I don't - they win often enough at some games (Kleine Fische, Franks Zoo, Whot, Junior Monopoly.... the list goes on) so I don't need to! But if we are playing several games in a row and one of them hasn't won anything I might play less than optimally so as to let them win once, anyhow (especially the younger one (age 4), who can't hold a hand of cards and keep them secret, so it's easier to manipulate things to his benefit).
However as a general rule I don't deliberately let them win, though I might not play in quite such a cut-throat a manner in games like Carcasonne or Ticket to Ride. I think it's important that children learn to play games for the pleasure of playing and that the result isn't that important. In a more complicated game they are happy if it's close, as long as they've had a good time. And if they do beat daddy or mummy, they know they really have done well. This stands them in good stead when it comes to competitive games with other children who definitely are trying to win - if they are used to not winning all the time they are more likely to be good sports about losing (and not crow about winning either).

Eddy
 
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Eric
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I admit, no I don't let them win, although, I give them chance. My older son, I don't leave him any chance (he's 8 YO) and his challenge is to try to beat me, while his little brother (6 YO), I won't play nasty with him, if I can avoid targetting him, I will (ex: Tikal, I won't touch his temples, and I'll even trade treasure to let him have an advantage).

However, Heroscape, I usually end up against him and his older brother, the younger brother (of the 6 YO) being on my side. Then I have to win for the younger kids once in a while.
 
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Melissa
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I don't let 'em win. (Well, technically Otto isn't really playing games yet - but I don't let Biggie win).

I do let her take moves back sometimes, or talk about why something might be a less good move than something else.

But I don't do that when she's winning
 
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Hammock Backpacker
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I usually play to win but I play primarily offensively and shy away from the harsh 'screw you' kind of defensive plays. I do make a point to tell them (10 & 12) that given my normal group I'd play here or there to block or whatever.

My daughter (12) beat me the other night in Samurai so I'm going to crank the defensive playing up a notch.

 
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David Fair
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My kids are 14 and 11, so they are past the "temper-tantrum-if-I-lose" stage. I do not let them win.

When i was growing up, my Dad taught me to play chess when i was around 8 or 9. He was a masterful player of the game. We played steadily for years, probably on the order of thousands of games, and he never let me win. I finally won a game against him when I was 13. I remember the day, the feeling, how I did it, everything. It was a great moment for me. I have always felt that my Dad did the right thing, and never allowed my victory to be cheapened or tainted by giving it to me.

 
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Billy McBoatface
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I never let my daughter win, but I don't always try my hardest.

If it's been a tough day for her, and she's lost every game so far, I may get really sloppy or push my luck farther than would be smart, but I never do something to out-and-out hand the win to her. I don't think that that would ever be a good thing.
 
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Brad Miller
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Nope.

Doesn't mean they still don't win though!
 
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Eddie B
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No, I don't. I might give them some advice, or allow them to take their last move back sometimes, but I am not giving them the victory. I feel that games represent a part of life in a way and nobody is going to give it to you. You have to work for it, pratice a lot and still many times you will fail, it's all part of the learning process. When I was I kid I would play Chess and Stratego with my dad and he would never let me win. But just like what David said, after many many years when you are about 13 or 14 you finally win a game, and then the victory is sooooo sweeeet.
 
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Cameron Iwan
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I generally do not let my three year old son win games. My wife generally does. I will, however, not win by much if I can help it.

Usually, the games we play he can win legitimately on his own (Gulo Gulo, memory games, Candyland) or we play by simplified rules that creates more of just a self-challenge (placing Carc tiles correctly, etc).

Also, second place to some three year olds is just as good. For example, just today the two of us played a game of TMNT Pizza Power. I won by the narrow margin that I had planned into the game, but he asked to keep playing and soon had met the winning requirements as well. Therefore, he let me know, that he had won also. We call it "winning second place"!

And when playing against other peoples' children, I echo Jpwoo's sentiments completely. . .
 
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Matthew Fischer
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Nope, but he's only five weeks old and not really aware that he's playing!
 
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Sue Hemberger

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We don't throw games -- never have. We do, however, use handicaps, offer advice, allow (even suggest) immediate reconsideration of a bad move, play in teams, and we pull out cooperative games (or games she's better at than we are) when our daughter is in a mood where she wants to play but would be demoralized by a defeat. And she routinely returns such favors, LOL! We've been playing games with her since she was 3; she's 8 now and she's a delight to play with -- stiff competition and gracious in both victory and defeat.

I've also played games with lots of other people's kids and the funniest/most eye-opening experience I had was a Kleine Fische game with a 4 year old who was about to quit after he'd lost a few games in a row. "Why do you think you'll keep losing?" I asked him. "Because you're better than I am," he replied. "Why do you think I'm better than you are?" I asked. "Because you've played it more than I have," he responded. "And so I've figured out things you haven't figured out yet, right?" I said. "Can you think of a way you could learn what I've learned?" "No," he said. "Try asking me what I know that you don't know." I suggested. "Really?!" he asked. "Try." "Ok. What do you know that I don't know?" "Well, here's one thing..." He took whatever bit of advice I gave him and won the next hand. [Now that's a game I didn't throw, but I might have been tempted to, LOL!] When he lost a couple more in a row, he was ready to quit again. I suggested that instead of quitting, he ask me to share another bit of advice. I did, and with similar results. What was amazing was that it just didn't occur to this kid that if someone was better at something than you are you can ask them to show you how they do it. I think he just thought that you had to find a new game or a new playmate so you'd have a better chance of winning.
 
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Jim Ginn
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No

I always play to win regardless of my opponent. I do adapt my style to those I am playing. I will play more casual and loose with family. I may try new strategies and tactics during games with my kids to see what would happen that I wouldn't normally explore in other gaming situations.

Sure, it's frustrating for them but they play as hard as they can because they know the most likely path to victory is by playing a great game. Success is sweet when it happens...you can see it in their eyes.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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No, but if they make a severe blunder, I will point it out. I mean severe. Then they have the option of taking the move back.
 
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Tim Deagan
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Usually no. If I do let him win, it's because I couldn't think up a decent handicap for the game and I'm willing to let him have the win as long as he made an effort within the bounds of what I'd have handicapped.

However, this has resulted in his unwillingness for the last three months to play anything but cooperative games (Lord of the Rings, Vanished Planet, Break the Safe, Minion Hunter.) He's 7 and in a phase where he just doesn't like the feeling of being in competition with me.

--t
 
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Jim Getzen
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Unless a game is completely luck based, I won't lose intentionally. However, I will give myself a handicap if at all possible.

For example, I am teaching my 6 year old to play chess. Tough game to learn at that age, but he's getting there. I started off playing with only my pawns and my king, while he has his whole army. After he beat me, I added a knight to my army, and so on. That way, I can always try as hard as I can which he, I think, likes. That doesn't mean I won't coach him a bit too though -- that helps the learning process.
 
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John Peterson
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I generally only play games my 4-year old has a chance at - Gulo Gulo, Hisss, Carabande, etc., and he does pretty well. If I felt his losing consistently would hurt his impression of playing games, I might let one slide now and again, but he seems to enjoy playing more than winning....
 
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Chris Shaffer
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My daughter is seven and plays games rated 10+. Some games, we play by simpler rules (e.g. no surrounding areas in Through the Desert). Some games, she gets a handicap (e.g. two extra option cards in Evo). Some games, we make hidden information public (e.g. cards in Robo Rally).

When she's just learning a game, or it's a bit over her head, we do a healthy dose of cooperative play -- everyone helping figure out what the best move is for each player. Once she's mastered the rules of a game, we will point out bad moves and allow take-backs. I also don't play as analytically and cut-throat at this point.

Once she's figured out the basic strategy, she's on her own.
 
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Richard Diosi
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My kids are 14 and 12. I have never let them win intentionally though when they were younger I did not always press an advantage. It has taught them good gaming skills. I also believe they have learned a good lesson about not always winning and to try harder next time. They do their fair share of beating me now let me tell you.

Hmmm maybe in hindsight I should have let them win, lulled them into a false sense of security and then...BAM...whacked them good...kind of like they do to me all to often nowadays.
 
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No way. My 10 year old beats me too often anyway. We often talk through optimal moves in the game which leads to more fun, then I end up losing. My seven year old hates to lose so we often play cooperative games but when we don't he will often lose. Crying ensues, then the game gets put away. We have had plenty of discussions about being a good sport.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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beauka wrote:
We call it "winning second place"!


LOL, my daughter has a girlfriend whose little brother is always eager to play and to win. We generally award him "first place in the men's division" which seems to satisfy all concerned.
 
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Gwen
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My 9 year old son likes gaming very much and doesn't mind if he can't win, but my 7 year old daughter only likes it if she doesn't lose. Which is no problem at all when playing memory (we can't beat her in that one blush ), but gives a lot of problems and tears playing other games.

I sometimes do let her finish before me, just to make sure she wants to play with us. Her brother and dad will never let her win intentionaly.
 
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nate ben-porat
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well my little brother (11 years old) hate games. few time i can barely convince him to play with me promising if he won't like it he won't have to play it again. i always let him win to hopefully he'll like the game better, but nothing i do will help he hate almost all games. he recently declared the except chess, clue and blokus no game will be played by him. cry
 
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