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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Player of Games, #34: Go to the Head of the Class

Everyone knows the real fun is at the back of the class

There have been many iterations of this classic board game since it was first introduced by Milton Bradley in 1936. This is the one I remember, from the 1970s, with its hybrid chair-desks in ruler-straight regimental rows and its quasi-enlightened effort to include a diverse student body, bused in from more urban games. And the fashion! Look at the vest on that teacher. And I'm pretty sure we all had that shirt on the middle kid at some point in the Carter-Reagan years.

Go to the Head of the Class is three things at once: pre-teen Trivial Pursuit, an institutional inculcation to strive for academic achievement, and a surprisingly realistic admission that intellect and good fortune are virtual equals in determining classroom outcomes. The inclusion of Luck cards to introduce that random element is the most lifelike thing I've ever seen in a board game.

There have been over thirty versions of GTTHOTC over the last nine decades. I'll admit I haven't checked it out since the 1980s. I honestly don't think I ever owned it; it was more one of those things I'd stumble across at a friend's house as a kid and rub my hands in wicked glee at the thought of imposing my mental will on the poor soul. Yes, I have a problem. More than one, as it turns out.

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