When Kyle Amirault threw one of his favorite cards, Barrel Dragon, onto the table, he knew he was nearing victory.
The 12-year-old from Lynnfield, Mass., had played dozens of Yu-Gi-Oh games over the past six months. Barrel Dragon, a rare card with high attack points, rarely let him down.
Kyle picked up a quarter on the table.
To win the game, the coin would need to land on heads two out of three times. Kyle spun the quarter like a silver top. First roll, heads. Second roll, tails. On the third roll, the coin broke its tight spiral and teetered left and right like a seesaw.
Finally, it stopped. Heads. Kyle had survived the first round. "The way you win is with good cards," says Kyle, a bright-looking boy with closely cropped hair.
Now all Kyle had to do was find the perfect card to play - for three more rounds after this.
Here in the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers, Mass., north of Boston, more than 100 children and teenagers had gathered to play in what is quickly becoming a major event in kid culture: Yu-Gi-Oh trading-card tournaments.
Each week, mostly on Saturdays, kids gather in malls like this one, or in stores that sell board games and magic tricks, to play Yu-Gi-Oh.
The cards, sold by Upper Deck (of baseball-card fame), first came to the United States about a year ago. The game has gotten hugely popular.
But trading cards are only part of Yu-Gi-Oh. A lot of you reading this already know about it because of the Saturday morning cartoon or the video game. You might also have seen a picture of Yu-Gi, the cartoon's main character, on T-shirts, key chains, and puzzles.
You may get the feeling that you've seen ideas like this before. Remember Pokémon? That also was a trading-card game, a cartoon, and a toy.
What about Star Wars? It started as a movie, but now it includes card games and merchandise. Even books, like the Harry Potter series, follow this pattern.
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