SI Vault
Arnold Schechter
May 05, 1980
Through the years the same sort of people who swallow goldfish and cram into Volkswagens have played Monopoly games in the oddest places: on a ceiling, on a moving elevator, on a fire truck, in a bathtub. Parker Brothers, the game's manufacturer, cheerfully cooperated in these stunts, but in 1973 the company decided to institute a more orthodox competition of its own: normal people playing normal Monopoly games under normal conditions to determine a world champion.
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May 05, 1980

An Italian Scientist Had A Capital Time At The Monopoly Tournament

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Bernabei explained his sang-froid thusly: "I don't have to worry about making a mistake, because the game is 95% luck. It must be, because in my last two practice games before the Italian championships, my sister and my girl friend each beat me."

Such banter tended to obscure the fact that Bernabei has a very able mind. And he had no intention of conceding a thing. When he won the advantage of rolling first in the final game and Terman offered him $200 to exchange positions, Bernabei replied. "Sure, for 200 real dollars."

Once the game began, Terman quickly picked up both Boardwalk and Park Place, the two best rent-producing properties. In short order, Jacobs and Lutz each hit Boardwalk, went bankrupt, and the game seemed over—a Bermuda Pentangle in which everyone but Terman was doomed to disappear.

But Terman was playing too close to the vest. He acquired the green monopoly (Pacific, North Carolina and Pennsylvania Aves.) but didn't mortgage and build on it; and when the purple monopoly (St. Charles Place, States and Virginia Aves.) became available, he let it go to Bernabei for a mere $400.

After an hour, Terman began to slip, and things turned Bernabei's way. He hop-scotched safely through the minefield of opponents' properties, while they paid rent to him with depressing regularity. At the two-hour mark, Krebs and Terman were eliminated.

When the new champion was asked if he still thought Monopoly was 95% luck, he replied as modestly as before, "Certainly not—the percentage should be 99.99%."

Bernabei won't defend his title until 1983, but local playoffs have already begun. The weeding-out process is democratic: anyone over the age of eight may play, and any group of at least 24 can conduct a playoff. For instructions and registration forms, write to Monopoly Tournament Director, Parker Brothers, 50 Dunham Road, Beverly, Mass. 01915. Each winner and runner-up advances to regional competition. All one needs is a little skill, lots of luck—and greed.

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Greg Jacobs 1 0 0
Bermuda 145 0 1
Bernard Lutz 0 0 0
Urs Krebs 0 0 0