Last week, the UK Monopoly champion revealed her winning strategy. Apparently, if you want to win at Monopoly, you need no more than four houses, and you need to spend as much time as possible in jail.
This is fair enough, but it's the sort of advice that'll only really help you when you're playing Monopoly. And who wants to play Monopoly? It's a game that's responsible for more family arguments than divorce, adultery, and alcoholism combined.
Do you know what game I like better? Scrabble. Not just because it's less stressful, but also because it rewards knowledge and strategy over ruthlessness. And in doing so, it gives you the sort of skills that can be used beyond the board.
A good Monopoly strategy can help you to win at Monopoly. But get good at Scrabble, and you can get good at life.
1. Language Will Get You Everywhere
I grew up in Greece, and while it is possible to buy Greek Scrabble sets, I found the English language version of the game proved invaluable in helping me to get to grips with a new language.
You'd be amazed by how much you can learn about a language through developing an encyclopaedic knowledge of its two letter words. Also, when you're trying to learn a new vocabulary, once you've mastered the words that begin with letters like "X" and "Z", you'll find that the everyday stuff comes much easier.
Apparently, the French-language Scrabble champion cannot speak French, but I bet he could if he tried. Through playing Scrabble, I honed my English abilities. And through learning English, I've managed to get a very good job in England.
2. Fortune Favours the Bold, but Slow & Steady Wins the Race
To win at Scrabble, not only do you need a broad vocabulary with impeccable spelling skills, you also need a lot of luck.
But the better you get, the easier it is to make your own luck.
Experienced players can glance at boards that may appear hopeless, only to spot a killer two-word opportunity that leaves your opponents reeling. Similarly, expert players can identify incredibly obscure words in almost any jumble of vowels and consonants.
To win, then, becomes a process of knowing when to act. Do you pepper your opponents with word after word over the course of a game, or do you bide your time until you can use all your letters at once, guaranteeing victory in a single devastating move?
Good Scrabble players know when to act - not just on the board, but also in the boardroom.
3. Build on Past Successes
In Scrabble, a "Benjamin" is a move in which you add a three letter prefix to a word, creating a super seven letter word.
It's a move that's only possible when you've got the right letters plus the prerequisite understanding of how words are formed, but the underlying principle is a lesson for life.
Your past successes do not exist in a vacuum, nor do the successes of your opponents prevent you from growing. Both can act as essential steps on your path to victory.
4. Innovation is Everything, and Can Come From Anywhere
Finally, if we look beyond the bloody battlefield of the Scrabble board and delve a little into the game's history, we find plenty of stirring lessons for life.
Did you know, for example, that Scrabble was invented not by a linguist or a games expert, but by an architect? And that the game did not spring fully-formed into the world, but was instead developed slowly over the course of months and years? And that, were it not for extensive collaboration between a dedicated group of friends, there would be no Scrabble as we know it today?
This is genuinely inspirational stuff - if you want to succeed at life, the story of Scrabble teaches us the importance of lateral thinking, of letting ideas breathe and evolve, and of drawing from the expertise of others.
Whereas Monopoly teaches you to be a ruthless, autonomous criminal, a wider understanding of Scrabble infuses you with the sort of attitudes and ideas that lie behind all success stories. I think that's a game that's worth playing.Suggest a correction