I have been reading the Should you let a toddler win question and it appears to be a bad thing to let a child always win.
I have been playing the memory cards game (where you have to find two identical cards from a board of unknown ones) with my 3 years old nephew and his dad. I guess children have better visual memory and adults better associative one, but the thing is my nephew wins 95% of the time. We just can't possibly beat him at that game.
He has other games that are more based on luck and that we can play with equal chances, but sometimes he wants to play only the memory game as he is always winning.
It is not really a problem as his parents can attract his attention to other games but I was wondering if a situation like this is somewhat different to those described in the question I mentioned, as we don't cheat to let the kid win, he is just really good at it. Will it have the same consequences as letting a child win on purpose?
If the child really enjoys the game, what you need to do is not making him stop playing it. Teaching kids that they're not supposed to win at things, or play things they are good at, is just as bad as teaching them they can win anything they try. The problem with letting them win is that it skews their idea of how good they are, and how much opposition they will have when trying out new things.
In this case, the kid is just good at the game and winning fairly. What you should do is either practice the game yourself (so you become more of a match for him. That might even teach him about practice, except from the other end) or you need to find him better opposition.
(Also, you might want to try and find out why a 3 year old is better at Memory than you are. Either your nephew is very clever, or you have some kind of memory issue.)
I would suggest teaching the child the concept of handicapping. An approach I've found helpful with some other games is to say that every time someone wins, they have to start with one more card [or do something to make things more difficult] in the next game; if they lose, they get to start with one fewer card. After awhile, each player will be winning about half the time and losing about half the time; their relative skill can be judged by the amount of handicap needed to make that happen.
An important point about handicapping is that it's not designed to punish the winner, but is instead designed to allow both players to have more fun. Being able to win 50% of the time while starting with a major disadvantage may be much more noteworthy than being able to win 99% of the time with balanced starting conditions.
I have also noticed that young children are remarkably good at Memory games, although 95% of wins against adults is very impressive.
A small trick (beside concentration) can improve your results though: instead of displaying all the card in a messy way on the table, dispose them in regular rows and files. Your adult brain often works with tables and grids, your nephew's excellent spatial memory doesn't yet. When you will try to memorize where is the card you just turned, instead of "the rabbit is rather on the left, near the bottom", you will remember much better "the rabbit is on the third file, fifth row", or even "rabbit, C5".
That should make your chances much better. It may even help your nephew to start apprehending geometric patterns (lines and rows) as well... But of course, there is also a chance that he will insist to play again with cards in a mess, especially if his winning rate is much better that way !
He's good at it, so make the game more difficult to grow that part of his brain. He'll still beat you, but he'll like the challenge. Find a bigger set with more pairs, or different symbols, or both. Anything at your local car boot sale for that ?