Friday, February 5, 2010

Monopoly and Moncton

Ever notice how certain words just belong together?

Bacon and Eggs.

Ham and Cheese.

Beer and Pizza.

Batman and Robin

Hall and Oates.

Are you ready to add another to the list?

Monopoly and Moncton.

The most commercially-successful board game in U.S. history, with 485 million players worldwide is about to be Canadianized. And the final vote to get Moncton, NB included on the new Canadian Monopoly game board wraps up this Sunday, February 7th. Only the Top 20 cities will be included, and despite its deep historical connection to the game, Moncton is currently 35th in the rankings.

Often drawing comparisons to the Leafs Cup win in '67 or the Canada-Russia Summit Series in '72, many Monctonians still talk fondly to this day about the climatic finale to the 1975 Greater Moncton Monopoly Championships. With over 100 competitors waging board game warfare at Highfield Square, this elimination event progressed to the point where only four individuals were left standing.

Ready to claim Monopoly glory.


Going into that Final Four match, Vegas oddsmakers were giving a 13-year old Gair Maxwell a better than even chance, not realizing the intellectual and future political juggernaut he was about to run into. Early in that game of destiny it became clear to the young Sunny Brae resident he was being stymied by an unseen, unspoken and most unexpected opponent; a silent cartel formed by the two brothers and cousin who were also at the Final Four Table.

A ruthless gang led by eventual champion Francis Lord and his younger brother, a savvy 9-year old named Bernard, who in 1999 would become the 30th Premier of the Province of New Brunswick.

As you can see, the French press at the time had a field day reporting the news of that fateful Final Four match with coverage in the now defunct L'Evangeline newspaper. While sitting as Premier, Lord took time out of his schedule one day to forward a digital copy of the clipping saved by his grandmother to ensure his family's championship legacy.

Although the emotional scars of that setback have long since healed on my end, the 1975 Greater Moncton Monopoly Championships played a key role in helping a 13-year old boy understand that sometimes life isn't fair, that sometimes the dice just won't roll your way, and that sometimes you are going to run into not one, but two politically wise brothers and a cousin from Dieppe who can stonewall your attempts to get the most prized possessions on the Monopoly board.

Since Charles Darrow patented the game in 1935, approximately 750 million people have played the game of Monopoly, learning to Pass "GO", collect 200-dollars and hopefully be the first person to build houses and hotels that can put the other players out of business.

Interestingly, Darrow himself only invented the game after losing his job at a sales company following the Stock Market Crash of 1929. By 1934, he was selling copies in long white boxes to Wanamaker's Department Store in Philadelphia. Later that year, Darrow showed the game to Parker Brothers who rejected the game for 52 "fundamental errors", which included the game's length and complexity.

Eventually Parker Brothers said "yes" to Monopoly.

And now you need to say "yes" to Monopoly and Moncton.

"The first Monopoly game I played with my brothers, I hated losing so much, I just had to beat them"

p.s. ...Want some inside info on "How to Win at Monopoly"?

1 comment:

ElderGEEK said...

Great Post Gair but.... where's the link?