World Monopoly Champion

Posted by DMC on 15 September 2009 in Anecdotes |

I will recount how became the first joint world Monopoly champion in 1977.

Messrs. Waddington – the producers of Monopoly – and the Financial Times got together and  threw out a challenge to find the world Monopoly champion. In fact it was the first joint world champions as one of the rules laid down was that only pairs should enter.  Thus, it was that my partner, Trevor Burfield and I, found ourselves entertaining another hopeful pair in his offices to play the first round. The rules was simple enough.  Competitors were to play, according to the rules of Monopoly, for a maximum of three hours, after which the richest pair would be  declared the winners.

We had little trouble seeing off opponents in the first three or four rounds. Possibly because Trevor had provided an ample supply of alcohol served by leggy mini-skirted lovlies. We also employed a very pretty ex-croupier as banker so that  the speed of transactions was dizzying. Our coup de grace however, was to produce Lord Attlee – the ex-Prime Minister’s son – as our referee. Of course, all of this was gamesmanship designed to intimidate the opposition and, on the whole, it worked, until the fourth round that was.

We set up the stage with the usual cast and props but we were thrown momentarily when the opposition produced Queen Counsel’s Opinion on the rules. It was to do with some obscure point about owning all four railway stations when three of them were mortgaged. The question that Earl Attlee had to answer was ‘Could the owner of the  stations claim the full rent if the opposition landed on the one un-mortgaged station.’

I’m not sure that I can recall what the correct answer was to this particular question but, in any event, the good Earl, considered the matter for a moment and then  said that he would deal with the problem should it arise in reality during the game. It didn’t, so he was let off the hook. However due credit to the opposition.  It certainly threw us off our stride at the commencement of the game but we soon recovered and, with the help of our lovely girls, swept them aside in just over two hours.

The final was held, some 12 months or so after the first round, at the Savoy in London. It was played in front of a phalanx of journalists and photographers and presided over by two referees and an umpire, who, in the event, were essential to the outcome of the match.

Liberally plied with gin and tonic the game commenced. Some time into the action, four of our opponents – there were two other pairs in the final – called timeout and disappears together. They returned some 10 minutes or so later and the game recommenced. It swiftly became obvious that the two other pairs had done some sort of deal whereby they were to see us off and then, presumably, to battle it at between themselves.  When this tactic became obvious to the umpire he stopped the clock and consulted with his fellow referees. He then addressed the opposition to the effect that although what they were doing was not strictly against the rules of Monopoly but it was ‘not cricket’ and  pleaded  with them to desist. They did and we swept them aside well within the time limit.

After a short break came the presentation of our trophy and our prize. The prize was £1000 each, which, in 1977 was a substantial sum and one that I could well have done with.  However, we will obviously expected to donate it to charity which, in our cups, we happily did to the delighted applause of the audience.

I sent Trevor up to receive the trophy which was a five bowled clay pipe which had been found in the temple of Mithras on the site of a new office block when excavations had taken place some years earlier in Cannon Street.

Of course, it was unique and therefore priceless. Imagine the gasp that went up when Trevor, receiving it from ‘Mr. Waddington’, managed to let it slip out  of his hand. But for the lightning reaction of one of the Waddington aides, this 700-year-old relic would have been smashed to smithereens. The lad dived and caught the pipe 4 inches above the ground. A catch worthy of the great English fielder, Derek Randall. Boys Own stuff. A great cheer rang out and calm was restored.

We were also presented with a  handmade Monopoly set – now left to my one of my grandsons  -  and a set of every other game made by Messrs. Waddington. In travelling home that evening by train, in a slight alcoholic haze, clutching  my prizes, I felt like Cinderella and Miss World all rolled into one.

A happy day.

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