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Mornington Crescent


I could've sworn that I'd written about the classic game of Mornington Crescent at some point, perhaps in a column, but it appears that I never did. Odd.

I'm never sure how much to say about the game. I guess I could start by quoting one Mornington Crescent site:

Mornington Crescent is a strategy game played on the London Underground map, the aim being to move to Mornington Crescent.

On each move, a player moves to a station. Whoever moves to Mornington Crescent first wins. Players and commentators often provide commentary on how a move was achieved or how that move has been used historically or what prevented a better move, or whatever. You may find it useful to refer to an Underground map.

The game was popularized on the BBC comedy/game radio show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. The unofficial (?) ISIHaC website provides a transcript of a novice game. Here's the opening move from that game, with explanation, just to give you a sense of how it's played:

The traditional opener, like the King’s pawn really—Oxford Circus, well in the zone, and gives you limited access to Northern parallels. But I suppose it is technically laying an off-side trap there.

That site also provides information about a great many Mornington Crescent variants. You can also learn more about the variants and terminology from the York Encyclopaedia Morningtonia, which is rather reminiscent in some ways of a game of Lexicon.

Here's another transcript, a quick eleven-move game. And a somewhat longer game, not recommended for beginners. (The latter uses Nackington Road rules: triple shunting is banned.)


I think that looks like tremendous fun, actually. I'd play, and I don't usually do strategy games. I suppose we could try it during IRC on the 8s as an alternative to Botticelli? Or the next time there's a reunion.

Having been traumatized at a very young age by the organizer of a snipe hunt, I feel compelled to point out, to anyone who hasn't figured it out, that the real objective of Mornington Crescent isn't so much as to move to Mornington Crescent as to convince onlookers that there is such a game as Mornington Crescent.

Which is not to say that it can't be highly amusing.

Well, I think the real objective is to entertain onlookers with the silly commentary and to come up with ever-more-baroque arguments about obscure rules variations. But yeah, David's essentially right.

It used to be that most MC web pages had links to rules pages, only the links all happened to be broken, or went to pages that were closed for maintenance, etc. These days most of the MC pages tend to just say that the rules are too long to post but everyone's familiar with them anyway.

Btw, I think everything I said in this entry is technically accurate, albeit misleading. Whoever moves to Mornington Crescent first really does win; hence the traditional short game usually played to launch (and test) a new MC server.

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