A Rattlesnake game on the theme of Gold (with a twist)​

To the goddess Dawn, radiating widely, proffer your well-twisted game with reverence. (after R​ig Veda​, III, 61.5)

Much have I travelled in the realms of gold. (On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer, John Keats)

​I can’t remember the exact occasion of playing this game, but it did involve waiting for food in a fish restaurant, which would go some way to explaining the secondary food theme which emerges after the first few moves. But the main interest of this game is its repeated use of a new type of move which made the game more playful. I call this move ‘The Twist.’ The same game also gave rise to ‘The Reverse Twist’ which creates a similar situation in reverse.

It was clear even before the first move that my 10 y.o. had only picked the theme of Gold and the context of Fish so he could link the two with the Midas Flopper fish from Fortnite. When your Fortnite character consumes it, your entire inventory is turned to gold. Well, not exactly — the effectiveness of the stuff in your inventory (guns &c) is boosted to a higher​ ​‘legendary’ ​status, but you have to actually have​ a​ Midas skin to turn things to gold, which is apparently a good thing​ in Fortnite​. Having successfully linked to the Fish context, he added​ Bread as a new context.​

​This workmanlike move showed competence but not inspiration. We’d quite recently been talking about Apollo and his associations with gold and lions, so big lion-like yawns all round for this connection. Music was added as a context.

​This is where The Twist comes in. Eyeing the available Bread context, a player decided to do an internet search for ‘golden loaf’ and discovered that there is a bakery of this name in the United Arab Emirates. All agreed in conversation that the move was about as weak as they come, and in a way that garnered much respect and approval, it wasn’t used by Player 3.

From the same search, however, emerged a story of Elvis Presley’s love of a certain Fool’s Gold Loaf sandwich from the Colorado Mine Company, in Denver, Colorado. According to Wikipedia, the sandwich ‘consists of a single warmed, hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with the contents of one jar of creamy peanut butter, one jar of grape jelly, and a pound of bacon… According to The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley, Presley and his friends took his private jet from Graceland, purchased 30 of the sandwiches, and spent two hours eating them and drinking Perrier and champagne before flying home.’ Well, this was a move of much more interest for the Bread context, but Player 3 decided to play it under Music instead.

This is The Twist: taking a move which could have fitted more obviously into another context, and instead playing it legitimately elsewhere, thereby removing a possible link for other players to the original context, which becomes a little more difficult to connect to as a result. Art was added as a context.

Now that the game was ‘internet on,’ it didn’t take long for Player 1 to find the story of Ukrainian President (2010–2014) Viktor Yanukovych’s golden loaf, which became a symbol of corruption in that nation’s upper crust, according to a 2015 Wall Street Journal article. According to the story, when Yanukovych fled his Presidential palace, he left behind many opulent objects which were captured on film by an activist, including a life-size, golden ornament in the shape of an ordinary, Soviet-style bread. At some later point, however, the loaf went missing.

But now, The Twist again. Instead of playing this move against Bread, it was played against Art, and linking Gold to Bread got a little bit harder again! Mountain was added as a context.

At least Player 2’s lacklustre next move was authentic, even if run-of-the-mill, Vacherin Mont D’Or being a family favourite. Mushrooms were added as a context.

By now the link to Bread had become taboo, so Player 3 felt pretty much compelled to link Gold to Mushrooms, using the beneficial Golden Mushroom from the Mario games.

But now Player 3 strikes again, this time with The Reverse Twist, by adding Video Games pre-2007 as the new context. Having established a certain link in another context (here a link of Gold to Mushrooms by means of an old video game), a different new context is added which the same move would have fulfilled very well, except for the fact that the link has already been used. By now, the next player was faced with two contexts (Bread, and Video Games pre-2007) both of which had been made more difficult by having some good potential links already used up in previous moves to other contexts.

Actually, since gold widely symbolises value in life, art and games alike, it wasn’t too difficult to find (with ‘internet on’) the Golden Bananas which appear as an important item to be collected in Donkey Kong 64 (1999). But now again, The Reverse Twist: Fruit was added as a context.

Well, since the game was now fully ‘internet on’ it was about time Player 2 rose to the challenge, finding a link to Unspeakable’s 2019 gag of only eating Minecraft food for 24 hours, including a Golden Apple! Well, our own food was now looking as though it was about to arrive, so no more contexts were added.

And by now, this link had long gone past being taboo and had gained the irresistable allure of the forbidden: The Golden Loaf Bakery in Sharjah, UAE, was heroically played by Player 3 against the Bread context.

It would be possible to combine The Twist and The Reverse Twist in a single tricksy move which would deprive an opponent of one possible link in each of the two remaining contexts available to them.

Next time maybe…

Glass Bead Game designer