My Father was pretty much Robert Duvall in "The Great Santini" (incredible movie those that have not seen a DVD must). As a very young child he would let me get close and encourage me on but he never gave me the win. He also let me know how sweet victory tasted. From a game of H-O-R-S-E to Monopoly there was no mercy.
When the extended family came together we would have 15-20 people play card games (31) for nickle/dime/quarter stakes and although the money made it fun it was the verbal abuse and bragging rights that made the game cut throat. My Grandfather had no problem crushing my croquet ball into the yard three houses away before my own age had even hit double digits.
I will never forget my Freshman year of High School playing make-it-take-it hoops in the driveway with the old man. I was up 14-13 (game was 15 had to win by 2) and had the ball. 97 degrees outside I had finally learned to make the old bastard chase me around the perimeter until he was out of gas. My body was now finally big enough (he was 6'6" 250 and I was 6'3" 225) to offer some resistance to the inside pounding he would deliver. So of course I had to do some talking to make up for a lifetime of losing and hearing about it. So I had been killing him from the top of the arc and as he came up just a shade too close I blew past him. Having a step I set up for the finger roll lay up when I felt two hands on my hips push me forward and I slammed into the metal garage door with a great crash and was almost disembowled by the garage door handle. As I lay on the ground I just looked up at the old man and he stared back and said, "get up you got the foul". The next play I sank the jumper from the top of the key and as I walked off neither of us said a word until we got to the house and the old man said, "good game son". It was the first of many victories in what became of me and my old man's personal ten year war until he just got too old to compete physichally.
So of course I have married a family and marital theraphist and God further cursed me with three girls. Of course I love the princesses however from the oldest to the youngest I have never let any of them win. My wife, although competitive is by no means cut throat. So my family has evolved to where if anyone other then myself wins they consider it a victory. Before a game is played I have made as part of the rules that there will be no tears of exasperation and we play to win the game. After victory there is some verbal mention of the sweet taste as I will sing "Hail To The Victor Daddy". I have yet to lose in my favorite game Monopoly to my family although that day will surely one day come.
So I ask if you let your children win and does your significant other object if you do not?