Sunday, April 17, 2011


So, at the end of last term, someone suggested a game of Monopoly and I agreed because I thought it would be a nice and relaxing thing to do to wind down at the end of term. Civilised, even. Perhaps at home yes, with my gentle Asian brethren, but here in Cambridge?! How naïve.

I knew I’d lost when I realised that the rules I’d been playing for life turned out to be not quite correct: that if you land on something you have to buy it otherwise it goes out for auction to everyone else, whereas I’d grown up playing a rule where only you can choose to buy or not if you land. Oh dear. So my whole strategy (or lack thereof) turned out to be a grade A fail in Management Operations.

My one and only property for a looong time. Time to turn on the Waterworks... *sniff*

After a stroke of luck, the scene was dominated by a civil partnership between Belgium and Australia, who proved to be merciless and were absolutely barbaric when bankrupting the other players ~ i.e. the shoe and the horse. If only there had been more of the customary cheating that comes with every game, but being Cambridge students, you can imagine that it was a pretty straight-laced affair...although many many glares were exchanged in the crossfire.

Anyway, long introductory ramble over. So, whilst almost everyone has heard of Monopoly, I wonder how many of you have heard of the board game: Anti-Monopoly. Which is exactly what it claims to be.

And how might one go about playing this game? Well, for a start, there are two sets of rules and you get to choose which set you wish to play for the duration of the game ~ as a competitor or as a monopolist. Competitors are allowed to build houses as soon as they own a single street and charge low prices for rent, whilst monopolists have to wait until they own a whole street before building houses which come to extortionate prices for rent. Basically, here the good guys are the competitors, whilst the bad guys are the monopolists. In the real world, monopolists would crush competitors, so a system has been implemented to ensure that the game is more or less fair.

Now this gem has been out since 1974, and with its successful release came a storm of controversy, including legal threats and a decade long court battle between General Mills (the owners of Monopoly) and Anti-Monopoly. According to the Anti-Monopoly website:

It informed Anti-Monopoly that it had exclusive rights to the dictionary word monopoly and any title remotely close to it, including its opposite, the dictionary word “anti-monopoly.” General Mills went on rather bluntly that if we didn't take our game off the market at once, it would crush us. And they were serious. For example, they had already stopped Catholic laymen from marketing a game called Theopoly and a famous black comedian, Geoffrey Chambers, from marketing Black Monopoly.

After seeing this on sale in a niche alternative store ~ you know, those ones that are springing up everywhere now ~ I remembered being intrigued but thought no more of it, and it was only when I was watching myself get destroyed on the Monopoly game board that I remembered the existence of Anti-Monopoly. And that no one had believed me whenever I’d tried to rave about it. So maybe you will now after reading this blog post and seeing the evidence before your eyes!! Upon realising that I don’t have what it takes to be a monopolist, perhaps it’s time to check out this game and see if I fare any better as a competitor...!! I think not, will be the case.

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