I was officially good at games as a kid. Note, that is games with a lower case g. Which means, in hip-hop parlance, games which were less dangerous, less likely to get me killed and generally played on a board. Or at least had plenty of garish, brightly coloured plastic involved. Until I discovered the arcane (in so many ways) of role-playing games in my teens, games were simple affairs which whiled away an afternoon, where sibling rivalry could be put to proper use.

There are two kinds of kids games really, if we are going to talk about boxed up stuff. There are board games which take forever (monopoly, Risk, Swindle, Top Secret), and were generally made by Waddingtons. And there were games which were over in twenty minutes, and often involved noise and cheap plastic (Downfall, Connect Four, Ker-Plunk, Guess Who?), generally made by MB or Ideal.

It was the cheapo plastic games I was particularly good at because they tended to fall into areas of skill I was good at. Skill one was a steady hand: Ker-Plunk, Buckaroo, Operation. I still have to this day a remarkably steady hand. I assume it is looking for a tiller.

The second skill was logical thinking. Connect Four, Guess Who? Mastermind, Cluedo* all favoured the player who could make the logical deductions. I later procured a degree which had a large chunk of logic as its syllabus, that’s how much I liked logic.

The third skill, and the skill I liked using the best, was cheating. For some reason, the garish plastic games were surprisingly easy to cheat at. You could rig the tiles in Guess Who? (the opponent always knocked down their own card), palm a couple of the counters in Downfall. All basic stuff, but as the games did not take long to play, the risk of discovery did not spoil the experience for everyone.

The risk of discovery is the reason why I never cheated at Monopoly. My sister was once caught by my grandparent with a few ‘500 notes under the board (the classic cheat). She was sent instantly to bed and not spoken to for a couple of days. It meant she missed the cocoa with the horrible skin given to us before bed, but that is a story for another day. No, I was good at games, but that never turned up on my school report

*Despite being a Waddingtons game, and packaged like Monopoly, only a bunch of idiots could make a game of Cluedo last more that twenty minutes.