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Don't mess
with the bull.


Nothing can replicate the thrill of cheating. 

When I was a young boy, perhaps in the first or second grade, I knew this thrill all too well. I was a maestro, a connoisseur. I was the Mozart of cheating, so young and masterful; cheating was a work of art for me.  

This may as well be a portrait of me as a child.

The game I usually did my work at was Candy Land, a game designed for cheating. Instead of rolling dice or flicking a spinner your movements are determined by drawing a card. 

The world of sweets...and cheats!

The key to being a master at cheating is nobody ever suspects you of cheating. True I had seen many kids get sent to time out for being sore losers, for cheating, for throwing fits, but I was not those children. I was trustworthy; therefore I was always tasked with shuffling the cards. And it was in this very act that I would commit the deed of the cheat. 

I would simply slip the Ice Cream Queen card into my palm before the game started, and surreptitiously switch it when I chose my fourth or fifth card. Couldn't do it too soon or the game would be over and people would get suspicious. 

The Ice Cream Queen, true to her name, was but a couple dozen little colored squares from the King of Candy Castle.

I suppose King of Kandy Kastle, or KKK, is inappropriate for a kid's game.

The trick in the cheating then was a slight of hand, how could I make it seem like I was taking a card but really just using my own palmed card.

The solution came in that I would simply pick up the real card, study it, and with great care take up my left hand to grab the card, in so doing I would see who was looking and who wasn't. With the eyes of my classmates averted or distracted I'd slide the card into my hand, and slide out the Ice Cream Queen. 

This whole action would take all of three seconds, and had to be done casually, without faltering or wavering. I wasn't going to be sent to the time-out chair over a simple stumble!

"Oh, look, the Ice Cream Queen!" I'd express my surprise. They would look at my face, or at the card, and would completely miss the fluff card cupped in my other hand, waiting for the third phase of the cheat.

They trusted me, so why bother looking at the other hand? I was like a magician, and Candy Land was my stage and prop.  

"Aw man, now Kurt will win."
"Yes, I will." I would say to myself. Then, hiding the real card I took under the Ice Cream Queen I'd put it at the bottom of the deck, so anyone who went to look would see the Ice Cream Queen and, given the easily satiable nature of children, would be satisfied and not need to look any further.

My turn would be over, my victory assured.

I did this a few times, not every time, but almost every time. Still nobody caught on. Because I was trusted, I was just a little nerdy kid, I would never cheat.
For weeks and weeks I went unchallenged at the Jefferson Elementary After-School Club.

But there was one time where my skills were put to the test, where my Mozart encountered a Salieri!

Dies Irae! Dies Illa! 

This day had gone as normal, my Ice Cream Queen trick had been completed. I was confident and calm, I was several spaces ahead of my nearest rival, my neighbor.

Then it was my neighbors turn to go. He picked up his card and, peering slightly over his shoulder, I could see it was the Plumpy card.

Ha! That was at the very beginning of the board.

"Oh, sorry." He said, dropping the card on the floor. He went down to pick it up.
What was this? When he arose he produced a double purple. Now, with double cards you jump to the second closest space of that color. He passed a dozen squares in a single leap and was now 6 spaces ahead of me.

My neighbor had done a classic amateur cheat move, the drop and switch. It was the classic move of a man without the sleight of hand or courage of a master cheater. Now I knew why he was so eager to help set up the board.

But would I dare call him out? How could I without revealing I had spied on him earlier, that would be suspicious. Then he might accuse me right back, and I didn't need that.

Instead I let him savor in his victory, with my own victory but a fleeting memory. I wasn't willing to rely on luck or chance for the next elusive double color card, for all I knew that had been picked already! (I was only 7, card counting wasn't yet in my mind)

Unless I could out cheat him, and I could, if I played my cards right.
I scanned the floor, the fool had left the Plumpy card only inches from my foot!

Plumpy looked up at me with a slight grin. I looked over at my opponent; his grin was the same, the plumpness of both their faces was equal!

It was infuriating.

I had to do something.

I tried getting it with my foot, but my shoes, I knew, would scuff the card, revealing my ploy.
There were two other players before it would get to my turn, I needed to work fast. I removed my shoe, an easy feat as I never tied them, and with ape-like dexterity gripped the card with my toes, bringing it to my hand slowly and carefully.

Just like this.

Now I had the card, but how to put it atop the pile for my neighbor's turn?

It was my turn, I grabbed my card, a blue square, two spaces away from where I currently was, I was now ten spaces from the King, and the crown. But in getting my card I used sleight of hand again, sliding the Plumpy card under the card I took, ensuring my neighbor would grab it, and be sent back to the beginning of the game.

If I may go on a slight tangent. What is a plum tree doing in a game called Candy Land? Fruit is not candy. Candy is not fruit.

I believe that Plumpy is at the beginning of the game, but just beyond the rainbow bridge, to frustrate children. 

His sole purpose is to make kids hate fruit, and hate anyone who tried to associate fruit with candy!

I call it the Plumpy Candy Conspiracy

And is that a grassy knoll in the background...?

"Careful, I'm catching up!" I said with a laugh, giving an air of jocularity to this most serious game.
With a smirk he went to grab his card; he must have thought the game was his. I saw his face, in the span of a second, go from over-confidence to dread, and then there was a hint of angry confusion.
"What card is it?" I asked, not letting on my stroke of genius. 

"Plumpy." Was his voice shaking a bit? He looked at me, a quick glance of hatred. He knew what I had done, but more to the point he knew I knew what he had done. There was nothing he could do, he'd been bested. In fact, he would never cheat again, to my knowledge, after that game if I was playing; he apparently never learned more than the drop trick and I had put a stop to that.

"Oh man, that's hard, too bad." I picked up his piece, left the swamp and dropped him right by the smirking green monster. Now had the Plumpy smirk, too.

"That's not fair!" He said, pounding his tiny fist on the table.

"Well, I guess that means Kurt wins." the child across the table said.

"Unless you pick up Gramma Nutt, that card hasn't been picked yet." Announced my neighbor, still envious of my superior skills. 

"That is true, I might get Gramma Nutt." I gave a conciliatory nod.

But I knew I wouldn't.

Gramma Nutt was up my other sleeve.

Thank you for reading.
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Looking for more from kstrom22?

kstrom22 Posted on Aug 07, 2015 at 06:09 AM

This is a classic conundrum, while I can't in good conscience these days condone cheating, it does break the child's heart within me that our current crop of kids weren't raised on the classic cheat games like Candy Land. I heard they introduced a spinner!
Truly the end of a cheat-era.

Vaporman87 Posted on Aug 05, 2015 at 06:20 PM

For shame! LOL

Oh we've all been there, haven't we? Frustrated by losing when the game (any game) was firmly within our grasp. With board gaming, the opportunity to "gently swing things into your favor" was oh so enticing.

I KNOW I tried my hand at it more than once, usually failing. Sometimes you can invent a new rule to favor you, knowing that the instruction manual had been safely thrown away years ago. "But that's how WE always played..." was a common phrase. LOL

This reminded me of a recent visit with friends during which one of their daughters joined me and my daughter in a game of UNO. I had played UNO for decades, so when she began coming up with one rule after another to favor her hand, and she would play cards then take them back, I knew she was a compulsive cheater who was awful at actually executing the cheat. What is wrong with kids these days? They can't even cheat right!

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