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Off the cuff: Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly and Cluedo

Does anyone play Snakes and Ladders anymore? I don’t think I’ve seen a box of the game in decades. Yes, I’ve seen the occasional Monopoly game tucked away under coffee tables or precariously balanced on the top of bookshelves gathering dust in the hope that it will someday be taken down and played once more. I have fond memories of playing Monopoly, and my favourite token was the top hat. It just seemed to speak of Wall Street, wealth and the upper crust. Of course, the whole secret to winning was to be able to hang on in the game long enough to be able to beg, borrow or steal enough property and money to be able to amass the two most expensive squares, right before you’re about to turn the corner at Go and collect your £200 (Dh904). Once there were hotels erected on Park Lane and Mayfair, forget it — the game was as good as over. Park Lane cost £350, Mayfair was £400 and the little plastic houses cost £175 and £200 respectively. A quick check now on the interweb tells me that the average prices of a home on Park Lane is £2 million in real money, £3.5 million in Mayfair. I don’t think there’s anything plastic in the houses there now at those prices. When I was a child, the Monopoly board was taken out at Christmas, and there were long games that seemed to always end up in tears. My big brother always won, and he was always the banker too. Maybe there was a lesson there for us all then. More by the writer The dog days of the English summer Hazzaa Al Mansoori: High above the world Catalonia still looms large over Spain There were other games too that came and went. Ker Plonk was one, and the name is the only thing about the game I remember now. There was also a strategic board game called Diplomacy, which involved moving your armies and navies around Europe into various regions, all with the intent of building your empire. That always ended in a row too, much like the real-life version of building empires and invading different regions. Draughts was a favourite pastime. And once you had the art of that mastered, you moved onto Chess. I once joined a Chess Club when I was a spotty teen. It wasn’t because I was interested in gambits and Spanish openings, I just wanted an opening with a girl called Emer Peacock who I took quite the adolescent shine to. She broke my heart, checkmating me after one game in very few moves. I never went back to Chess club after that. Years later — and I want to say in the early 1980s — I did buy a very rudimentary electronic chess game. As crude as the computing ability was back then, it still checkmated me every time. I guess I was a sucker for punishment even after being toppled by Emer Peacock.
There was also a strategic board game called Diplomacy, which involved moving your armies and navies around Europe into various regions, all with the intent of building your empire Mick O'Reilly Jigsaws always came out of the boxes then. We had a whole series of jigsaws that made up each of the continents, India and Australia and the like. Looking back, it certainly wasn’t what we would say today was politically correct, reinforcing stereotypes and the like. Cluedo was a game where you had to figure out who committed a murder. You’d eliminate suspects, locations and murder weapons one by one, coming up with a solution like “It was Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Candelabra”. Years later, I once took part in a dinner murder mystery, where you had to dress up in character, eat-themed menu, then try and solve which guest had committed the foul deed. I can put my hand up and honestly say it wasn’t me. But the dessert was to die for …

Does anyone play Snakes and Ladders anymore? I don’t think I’ve seen a box of the game in decades.

Yes, I’ve seen the occasional Monopoly game tucked away under coffee tables or precariously balanced on the top of bookshelves gathering dust in the hope that it will someday be taken down and played once more.

I have fond memories of playing Monopoly, and my favourite token was the top hat. It just seemed to speak of Wall Street, wealth and the upper crust. Of course, the whole secret to winning was to be able to hang on in the game long enough to be able to beg, borrow or steal enough property and money to be able to amass the two most expensive squares, right before you’re about to turn the corner at Go and collect your £200 (Dh904). Once there were hotels erected on Park Lane and Mayfair, forget it — the game was as good as over.

Park Lane cost £350, Mayfair was £400 and the little plastic houses cost £175 and £200 respectively. A quick check now on the interweb tells me that the average prices of a home on Park Lane is £2 million in real money, £3.5 million in Mayfair. I don’t think there’s anything plastic in the houses there now at those prices.

When I was a child, the Monopoly board was taken out at Christmas, and there were long games that seemed to always end up in tears. My big brother always won, and he was always the banker too. Maybe there was a lesson there for us all then.

More by the writer

There were other games too that came and went. Ker Plonk was one, and the name is the only thing about the game I remember now. There was also a strategic board game called Diplomacy, which involved moving your armies and navies around Europe into various regions, all with the intent of building your empire. That always ended in a row too, much like the real-life version of building empires and invading different regions.

Draughts was a favourite pastime. And once you had the art of that mastered, you moved onto Chess. I once joined a Chess Club when I was a spotty teen. It wasn’t because I was interested in gambits and Spanish openings, I just wanted an opening with a girl called Emer Peacock who I took quite the adolescent shine to. She broke my heart, checkmating me after one game in very few moves. I never went back to Chess club after that.

Years later — and I want to say in the early 1980s — I did buy a very rudimentary electronic chess game. As crude as the computing ability was back then, it still checkmated me every time. I guess I was a sucker for punishment even after being toppled by Emer Peacock.

There was also a strategic board game called Diplomacy, which involved moving your armies and navies around Europe into various regions, all with the intent of building your empire

Mick O’Reilly

Jigsaws always came out of the boxes then. We had a whole series of jigsaws that made up each of the continents, India and Australia and the like. Looking back, it certainly wasn’t what we would say today was politically correct, reinforcing stereotypes and the like.

Cluedo was a game where you had to figure out who committed a murder. You’d eliminate suspects, locations and murder weapons one by one, coming up with a solution like “It was Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Candelabra”.

Years later, I once took part in a dinner murder mystery, where you had to dress up in character, eat-themed menu, then try and solve which guest had committed the foul deed. I can put my hand up and honestly say it wasn’t me. But the dessert was to die for …

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