Chapter 49 – The Smart, Influential Game (2)

Inside the broadcast control room of ‘The Smart Game’ with dozens of monitors in place.

Producer Cheon admired Minho’s face, zoomed in for a close-up.

“Did you catch that just now? He bluffed without even checking the card he just got. He knows he’s got Jin Q psychologically cornered.”

The engineer spoke as he captured Minsoo’s and Habi’s faces.

“I think these two noticed it.”

“If they’ve realized Minho’s skills and decide he needs to be kept in check, this next turn should be interesting.” 

Producer Cheon, amused, checked the contestants’ number of coins. After two turns, Minsoo had seven, and Habi and Minho each had five

“We may have our first loser soon.”

【Round 1, current scores】

Seoyeon Jung (2), Dongmook Jang (2), Sangcheol Lee (1), Jin Q (1), Habi Park (2), Suwon Yoon (2), Hyejoo Cha (2), Minho Kang (2), Minsoo Baek (2), Heojun Choi (1)

The third turn of round one started.

“Mr. Minsoo Baek, please take action.”

At the dealer’s words Minsoo fidgeted with his seven coins. The players with only one influential point gulped.

Jin Q who was afflicted by Minho, Sangcheol who failed to suspect Habi and lost one point, Heojun who was the victim of Dongmook’s Rapper attack. Three people had one card revealed already.

“Baek sunsaengnim. Please. I went totally broke because I lost my money to Attorney Park and also lost a point.”

Sangcheol clasped his hands desperately. It seemed he had given up on the polls and spoke pitifully. Jin Q joined him.

“Save us, sunsaengnim!”

Heojun said nothing but looked as if he were also hoping Minsoo wouldn’t attack. Minsoo looked around the three people with a leisurely smile.

“This isn’t a single round match so I’ll take the long view. I will ‘strike’ Attorney Park who’s doing about as well as I am.”

Most of the contestants were unsettled by the new attack but Habi Park looked at Minsoo without changing expression.

“You still say that after seeing that I have five.”

He was implying that he would attack when he reached seven coins. Minsoo didn’t seem ruffled.

“Ah, yes? Well, it’s not seven yet.”

Soft gaze met keen glare. Minsoo paid his seven coins and the dealer spoke to Habi.

“Please reveal one influential card.”

Habi didn’t take his eyes off Minsoo and flipped over the card on the left. A Rapper card was revealed.

Minho’s turn was up next, and he weighed his possibilities in the current situation. 

Since Minsoo had decided not to kill the one-pointers, Minho decided there was no reason for him to force someone out by his own hand. It was only the first match out of five, and having Jin Q as an enemy was enough for now.

‘Right now the priority is to shake up the mood.’

Minho indicated his left card and spoke to the dealer.

“I will use the Rapper’s ‘Diss’ to….”

Jin Q, who only had one point, ducked his head.

“Attack Mr. Suwon.”

Minho handed over three out of the five coins he possessed. He targeted Suwon, who was probably the least likely to infer anything about the card Minho had exchanged in his previous turn.

Jin Q let out a sigh of relief, then his eyes flickered as he saw the card Minho pointed to.

“Hey! You said that card was a Gambler on your previous turn!”

“If you’re curious, you should try and suspect.”

“What?”

Jin Q slammed his first on the table at Minho’s grin.

“I’ll definitely get you.”

“Sorry, but you should wait till you survive this round to say that.”

Across the table, Dongmook snickered.

“Jin Q, you must’ve been a nerd since you said you studied your butt off. Your bluffing is weak.”

“I’m not!”

“The last card you have is a Gambler.”

Jin Q flinched. Dongmook clicked his tongue.

“Why don’t you have any sense? You’re so obvious. Ah, I shouldn’t talk like this. Just keep begging like Sangcheol hyungnim since you’re the worst off here.”

As Dongmook said, Jin Q was no threat to anyone. One of his cards was already revealed and the other one was obvious since he had tried to use the Gambler’s ability against Minho and failed. With both his cards found out, it was like having his hands and feet tied in the game. 

As this exchange ended the dealer spoke.

“Is there anyone who would like to suspect?”

Suwon considered, looking towards Minho’s cards. Jin Q getting burned by trying to suspect the Rapper card made him hesitate. Suwon pointed to his right hand card.

“I’ll block with the Lawyer. Is that okay?”

Minho decided that the information he’d heard during the opening was accurate, due to Suwon’s convincing performance of acting bewildered.  He believed that it was really a Lawyer card. 

“I won’t suspect as well.”

Minho saw Suwon use the ability of the Civilian card in his turn next, and inferred the two cards vaguely. This would be the decisive clue the situation called for when he needed to suspect.

“It’s my turn.”

Jin Q stared at Minho with his eyes filled with loathing.

“I’ll take two coins from Mr. Minho using the Gambler.”

Minho grinned because it was an attack he predicted.

“I….”

Minho looked at Jin Q with a gaze saying ‘I’m going to suspect you no matter what’ as he fidgeted with the card on the right. There was no reason for the right card to be revealed as long as he succeeded in making Jin Q believe the one on the left was a Rapper. He moved his hand off the card.

“There’s no help for it. I’ll have to return the coins I got earlier.”

Minho’s coins were passed over to Jin Q.

“I’ll rob you till the end of the game.”

“Anytime.”

The unmanned cameras on the wall moved in unison and captured Minho and Jin Q. Producer Cheon spoke as if surprised.

“The new ones Minho received, they’re not Gambler or Rapper cards, are they?”

He shook his head as he checked the monitor that showed the contestants’ cards.

“He robbed Jin Q completely. He’s not outright lying like Dongmook but he’s using the situation to back him into a corner. He’s definitely a gamer.”

“He’s good at the game but he doesn’t feel dislikeable.”

“Yeah. That’s the exact feeling. If he’s like this he’ll be the character that the viewers like.”

“Habi Park’s turn will be interesting too.”

In the scene the engineer captured, Habi Park was giving directions to Hyejoo in a low voice.

“Increase the volume on the mic.”

-Baek sunsaeng and then Minho. They both have zero coins so you can knock them out at once. Trust me.

-I’ll try, Attorney Park.

Round one, midway through the third turn.

Seoyeon reached seven coins through the Civilian’s ability, and Dongmook’s coins went from zero to three. Then it was Sangcheol’s turn.

“I’ll double obtain.”

“Since I have the Civilian card, I’ll block him.”

Sangchul frowned as Suwon interrupted him.

“Ey, Mr. Suwon. There’s nothing going on between us.”

Dongmook tapped Sangcheol’s shoulder as he spoke.

“Hyungnim. Don’t be like that every time the other person does something. It’s exhausting. Let’s play the game like gentlemen.”

“But still….”

“Suspect him if you’re angry. Mr. Suwon has six coins if you wanna die the next turn.”

Sangcheol grasped the situation with Suwon’s coins, and passed his turn.

Habi Park’s turn came. He fidgeted with the hidden right hand card as he looked at Minsoo.

“I will ‘Diss’ Mr. Minsoo with this Rapper.”

Dongmook and Sangcheol, watching right next to him, grew wide-eyed. Sangcheol was especially shocked as he looked at Habi’s first card that had already been revealed as a Rapper and asked,

“You had two Rapper cards?”

Habi just smiled strangely and grabbed the card. He couldn’t have had the guts to bluff against Minsoo since he had only one point left. Sangcheol had no thought of suspecting.

It seemed the victor of round one could be decided. The baton was passed to Minsoo.

“Is there anyone who will suspect?”

Minsoo observed Habi’s face as the dealer asked the question.

“You must be good at poker, Attorney Park.”

Minsoo pointed to his right hand card.

“I will ‘Defend’ with the Lawyer.”

Everyone’s eyes went to Habi Park. He was at a point where he could suspect Minsoo’s card was not the Lawyer. If Minsoo was caught bluffing then Habi could deduct two points at once with the Rapper card.

“Baek sunsaengnim, you have a very good Lawyer.”

Habi Park paid three coins and backed off.

The calm in the storm was for only a brief moment.  Hyejoo Cha spoke in the next turn.

“I will attack Minsoo sunsaengnim with Rapper.”

“I will block with Lawyer.”

Most of the contestants looked at Hyejoo as if to ask ‘Isn’t it useless to attack Minsoo with Rapper?’ but Hyejoo confidently spoke.

“I suspect.”

Minsoo turned over his card. Everyone’s faces said ‘of course’ as the Lawyer was revealed.

“Please reveal one card since you failed in suspecting. Mr. Minsoo, please hand in your card and take a new one from here.”

Hyejoo turned over an Actor card.

The alliance between Habi and Hyejoo was revealed to all because of their consecutive attack. Dongmook shook his head as he looked at the two of them.

“What is this, you’ve only lost, and gained nothing. You shouldn’t have teamed up if it was going to be like this. Right, Sangcheol hyung?”

“I suffered a loss after teaming up with you too, though.”

“Huh? We teamed up?”

“Hey, you said let’s go together till the end!”

Minho shook his head as he listened to their quarreling.

‘It’s not a loss.’

Minsoo’s problem was that he had lost his Lawyer card, which had been a shield, when it was changed out due to the suspicion, and his coins were at zero.

Habi and Hyejoo who both claimed they had the Rapper card were in alliance. And the power difference between the person who can deduct points with three coins and the person who has to gather seven coins to deduct was going to be huge.

Heojun was the last player of turn three. He pointed to Dongmook as he spoke.

“I’ll give you back what I got. I attack Mr. Dongmook with Rapper!”

Dongmook used Rapper and Civilian in the second and third turns so it was no different from revealing that he didn’t have the Lawyer card. Thus Heojun, who had playing it safe as his number one priority, attacked with confidence.

If Dongmook tried to block the Rapper with a Lawyer card but was found to be bluffing, he would lose two points at once. Dongmook nodded, unable to take the risk.

“Ugh. I reap what I sow. Let’s be in good terms next turn, Mr. Heojun.”

Dongmook revealed the Gambler card. Sangcheol’s eyes grew wide as it was neither a Rapper nor Civilian.

“Dongmook, you’re really good at lying.”

“It’s a skill, hyungnim.”

The fourth turn started.

Minsoo used the Civilian card to take three coins in his turn.

‘What shall I do?’

Minho slightly lifted his card to check.

On the left Actor, on the right Lawyer.

The first round was mostly for testing the waters, but there was nothing wrong with going for a high ranking. Minho thought it was about time for the player in last place to be decided. It would be difficult with the basic abilities of the cards he was holding.

There were ten cameras under the table and they were each fixed on the contestants to capture them on their turns. So it wouldn’t be easy to take out the pocket watch or the coin. Besides, there was no reason to use his secret weapons on the first round.

‘Shall I go fishing with the bait I put out?’

Minho pointed to the left card.

“I will use the ability of this Actor car……..”

Minho stopped speaking and looked at the dealer.

“Can I change one card with the Actor’s’ ‘Exchange’?”

“Yes, that is possible.”

Jin Q abruptly stood up at Minho’s words.

“You punk!”

Jin Q couldn’t say the harsh words he normally used because it was on broadcast, but his tone was furious.

“You said it was a Gambler before and a Rapper before that! And now it’s an Actor!?”

“You didn’t know?”

“What?!”

Minho tapped the left card with his finger as he spoke.

“The card changes every turn in this game. If you haven’t thought about that then you’ll get tricked. Like you did.”

“Damn it! Suspicion!”

Jin Q pointed to Minho even before the dealer asked. Minho smiled with a devil-may-care attitude and flipped the left card.

Everyone else looked on with interest as the Actor card appeared.

“It’s not my fault. You just suspected two times for no reason.”

“Ughhhh!”

Jin Q solidified his rank as the lowest with his second failed suspicion.

Minho handed over the Actor card that was revealed due to the suspicion and received a new one. It was a Civilian. Not bad.

Suwon, who had six coins, used the Civilian and got three more. Then it was Seoyeon’s turn.  She currently had seven coins.

“This time there are more people with only one influential point.”

Seoyeon had played quietly without checking the other players until now, and she fell into a quandary over who to attack. 

“Announcer Jung.”

Next to her Dongmook whispered loudly as if he wanted everyone to hear.

“I think Sangcheol hyung is tired. He said he’s had to pee for a while now.”

“Hey!”

Seoyeon gave a small smile and looked around at the three people who hadn’t lost any points. That was Suwon, Minsoo and Minho. If she wanted to prolong the game she should attack one of these three.  After all, this was a game with a big prize on the line. She decided it was right for her to find a way to increase her ranking since someone was ranked lowest already.

Seoyeon looked at Heojun apologetically.

“Sorry, Mr. Heojun.”

“It’s just a game.”

Heojun made an effort to look nonchalant. He ranked ninth after being attacked by Dongmook and then Seoyeon.

When Dongmook’s turn came, he pointed to a card and said,

“I’ll use the Actor card and exchange.”

Sangcheol’s eyes widened.

“Both your cards were bullshi…I mean, you lied?”

“Ah, this hyungnim. He’s so chit chatty.”

“Chit chatty? So rude, just because I said you’re good at bluffing?”

Sangcheol grumbled as he took his coin. The turn ended with Habi and Hyejoo both receiving one coin each.


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