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Mornington Crescent

Important note regarding the copying of games

How the game is played:
Thank you for taking an interest in the beautiful game- I hope that this guide will help those new to the game to develop the subtle skills required to become a proof Brooke-Taylor standards. As they say, MC is an impossible game to learn but, with the right instincts, it is possible to master.

Setting Up
First check to see if anyone wants to play with you. If so, then you do not need to play MC and can go and do something more fun with them instead. If not, then arrange yourselves into order. It is usually accepted that the oldest player goes first, and this will always end up being you because anyone willing to play MC will also be unwilling to reveal how old they really are. It is usually considered impolite to actually have a Tube map to hand during a game, but for beginners it is permissible and a 6’x 4’, wipe-clean plastic version is available at all good retailers.

Starting a Game
You will want to deliberate for some time before your first move, especially if your opponents are waiting for you. Here are some points you might like to consider before making choosing your first station:
1. What rules are being played? A number of MC variations exist and it is important to know what subtleties may be present in your version. Be afraid to ask- it is a sign of weakness and other players will pounce on you.
2. Are you using the right dice? Remember, you use the 3 red dice when attacking and the 2 blue ones when defending.
3. Which stations are wild? It would be foolish to attack a wild station on your first move- you may need it later when you are in thrip.
4. Does the station you have played actually exist? Though this is not a problem with more experienced players, it is usual to remain in just one network during the basic game- the London Tube network. Extensions are available at later stages. Remember- there is no such station as “Tower of London”.
If an opponent starts first you may have no time to think, especially if The Ancient Ceramic League Ruling is in place. If in doubt, say “Shoreditch” and the next man will pass you by without comment. Use the break to plan your next move. Do not try and be clever and Dollis Hill someone at this early stage. I once saw a man get confused and say MC straight away out of desperation- he was either very stupid or a genius with a ridiculously clever disguise- he went on to win by 16 laterals to 6 after a restart, but do not try such exploitative measures yet, try and learn more about the opposition first.

Playing the Game
This is only a beginners guide, and to explain the full rules would take a long time and ultimately be a fruitless exercise- the best MC players always pick up the game themselves from watching others. Also, bear in mind that there are so many MC variations that to describe one of them without the others would only lead to confusion. A partial list of common variations follows.

Ending the Game
The game ends when a player reaches MC (duh…). Although MC has been known to be successfully reached in only 17 moves, it should be remembered that the average is closer to 30, and games have been known to enter the hundreds and even thousands when particularly skilled MCers are playing! Try and secure as many laterals as possible, especially in competitions as they will be useful in a tiebreak situation. NEVER try to prise open your opponents laterals without first making sure that yours are properly defended- I usually consider laterals to be sufficiently defended if you can keep a whole zone for two moves. As with playing, finishing does depend on the variation in play, in reverse MC you actually start at the Crescent and have to find your way back to the start, actually breaking down your own laterals!

1. The game will not start- see above.
2. The game will not stop- just say MC and run, most players will be too relieved to double-check your laterals.
3. No one wants to play- yeah, right, like that is ever going to happen.
4. You suspect that a player may be a woman- this is obviously very irregular, take their name, age and vital statistics and send them immediately to the Chair of the KCS MC society. Due to shortness of cash the chair has had to be doubled with the Bed.
5. A player is not wearing a bow tie, even though it is Wednesday- Declare yourself the victor and expel them from the KCS MCS.

You should now be able to hold your own in an MC match- now all you need is experience- get out there and get MCing!

Game type:
Trust games
Age group:
Number of participants:
5 to 10
Number of leaders:
Time required:
4+ hours

Tube maps can be provided for inexperienced players, but true masters should go without. The most up to date edition of Stovold's Mornington Cresecent Almanac is the 2002 edition.

MC Conventions, Amendments and New Versions (2003)

ancient ceramic league ruling
A version possibly played by Josiah Wedgwood himself. Nowadays referred to as Speed Mornington Crescent, this variation has become chiefly the preserve of the showman due both to the strict time limit imposed between moves as well as the suspension of all blind side boundaries. As you can imagine, in the hands of experienced players it can be breath-taking to watch.

bethlehem rules
All Shepherd, King, and Ass related connections count double.

brighton handicap
With skilful use of the lateral shift, a player can box their opponents in or out of the game. However, it should be noted that once Tooting Bec has been declared, this move is not allowed unless two or more players are in Knip.

burlington original rules
As defined in Stovold’s. All WC postcodes count double, but cannot be followed by a consecutive WC code. Crescents are wild as rule 42 is of course suspended.

central standard rules
The area of game play is restricted to original LCC boroughs as defined by the Local Metropolitan Government Act of 1927. Anyone not sure what these are is recommended to refer to The Little Book of Mornington Crescent. Of particular note, if a woman is playing in a team entirely consisting of men, if they are not wearing bow ties, they forfeit their first goes.

coventry ruling
Played in Coventry. [This is best picked up by listening to it being played - Editor.]

crockfords’ official gambling version
This version is played with cards. The suits are Central, Circle, Northern, and Bakerloo. Mainline stations are trumps, Mornington Crescent beats everything including a Royal Flush, and the person to the left of the dealer starts the bidding.

hooper’s mainline variation
A rather spiteful version with a passing resemblance to Association Croquet. Should one player manage an identical call to that of the previous player, he or she becomes entitled to an extra move. The better the extra move, the further they can force (or Welly) their unfortunate opponent outside the Central Metropolitan Area.

hugo’s 2nd stratagem
Moves across consecutive rows are prohibited unless you’re in Knip.

mainline stations are wild
This needs no expanding upon.

millennium variation
A variation popular at the last millennium. Surprisingly, the game in the time of King Ethelred the Unready was little different from today’s Ancient Standard Rules, so as you would imagine the Reverse Diagonal was seldom applied in consecutive play. However locations East of Shoreditch were liable to incur the infamous Danegeld Penalty.

moreton’s convention
Horizontal play is only permissible when a pursuant has been Huffed, and main line stations are wild.

moreton’s 2nd parallel
If two parallel moves follow consecutively, the order of play is automatically reversed. Rule 7 is also reinstated.

morningside crescent
A more refined Scottish version of the game. Apart from certain important differences this version follows our own Standard Rules, though as you would expect Shunting and Straddling are generally considered unacceptable.

mornington royal crescent
The often clever variation fell out of fashion with amateur players, who found the emphasis on cyclical play could cause the game to drag on interminably. However, the recent introduction of the Looped Move certainly seems to have speeded things up.

mortimer’s 2nd amendment
This is a highly specialised version of the game, which once Parsons Green has been declared forces play along the Great Western axis, obliging players to sacrifice Seven Sisters in order to prise open their opponent’s laterals.

nautical version
This version was developed in England by French sailors captured during the Napoleonic wars, which they knew as Mornington Croissant. According to the Martello Convention of 1807 the broadside term, whereby a player can repeat his opponent’s declaration and thereby reverse the order of play, though usually frowned upon by the standard game is positively encouraged here. Otherwise sudden diagonal play to starboard is referred to as Tacking, and once a player is blocked there are in Poop and should miss a turn.

new standard livingston rules
Pedestrianised squares are out of bounds, and any locations subject to a congestion charge incurs a forfeit.

north circular open & general rules
All avenues are straight functioning, and as Mortimer’s Bakerloo Gambit is allowed Elephant & Castle counts treble.

north london rules
Contraflows are inverted, and to avoid Triangulation, Dollis Hill will be wild.

northern league version
A fluent form of play made popular by the monks of Kirkstall Abbey. There are several obvious variations from the standard game - Cloistering is only allowed after Kensall Rise has been played, and a slow player may be declared Trappist by the player to his left resulting in the handicap of remaining silent for two moves while writing his instructions to his partner to play.

official american rules
Under the original regulations this meant that half the players only joined in two years late. But these have been recently modified in that the winner, who is actually decided before the game, can start anytime he pleases. Remember tourist sites count double, Grosvenor Square is wild, and any Bush related move will trump. You are permitted to ask directions.

old boardgame version
A pale imitation of the real thing as it is dictated by the roll of the dice rather than any proper strategy, but it might be instructive for new players if they are still unfamiliar with the rules.

old devonshire version
As enjoyed by Sir Francis Drake himself. It basically follows the rules of Standard Mornington Crescent but differs in that players can knock their opponents out of position with a Strike Move. Players are traditionally over the age of 70 and wear white jackets.

old etonian rules
All suburban areas are out of bounds, and if any two individuals become Boxed, it’s the senior player who’s granted right of way. Also, if a player makes a move that his fellows, or in this case the audience, see fit to applaud, then he’s officially In Pop, and is entitled to wear a silly floral waistcoat and to make his next move out of turn.

original modern rules
No Squaring Off on the blind side. Euston Road can only be approached from the West, and Soho is out of bounds.

original standard rules
Considered by many to be the purest form of the game. The teams start at Aldgate East and moving sequentially and in order. Remember Rule 12 no longer applies, although 12a is still in force (‘Rule 12 no longer applies’).

parker’s 1st principle
A late 19th century variation on the traditional game which has often been cited as a precursor to Monopoly. Although it is hard to see why.

playstation 2 version
Specially developed to make the game more user friendly for today’s generation of players. Any foul moves made during the course of play are signalled by the computer with a an error sound.

regency rules
This means the Nash Convention allows superseding after parallel moves, and all Terraces and Crescents are wild, unless of course you are in Spoon.

reverse mornington crescent
Play starts at Mornington Crescent and continues backwards until someone reaches the starting position.

royal & ancient rules
There are several hazards worth mentioning. Anyone forced Out of Bounds is required to take the nearest playable station, usually Charing Cross. Water hazards are a danger and will incur a dropped turn, so look out when you’re passing water, and remember that you can still Stymie an opponent by blocking his passage.

simplified version
Stovold’s Defence is still allowable during Forward Triangulation, but Back Doubling may only be attempted after a Northern Approach.

special children’s junior version
To make things extra easy Waterloo Mainline is irreversible if approached on the diagonal during a lateral pass.

street level rules
Popular after the reopening of Mornington Crescent when the Faulty Elevators are Wild rule was revoked.

stovold’s 2nd amendment to the standard convention (1972)
This, of course, predates the Jubilee Line extensions in both directions.

thornton’s controversial 3rd amendment
Teams should be alert to the obvious trap when Crosshatching. All stations can be Trumped - even out of Kilter.

tobermory’s stratagem
Players can rush the opponent by calling the same destination immediately after them - the Cross Blocker - and then sending them to the nearest free base, usually Ongar, from where
they cannot expect to make a winning strike in less than four moves. King’s Cross is wild.

toksvig’s protocol
Deceptive play is of the essence. Listen out for the Reverse Dummy and the Blocker’s Feint. The emphasis is on team play, and discrete non-verbal signals are allowable between members of the same team.

trumpington’s variation
This is a refined, highly cerebral, variation preferred by intellectuals but played none the less. It results in a defensive game where players must take care not to become Blocked, Boxed, or Cornered.

tudor court rules
As many will know this was the version of the game formally adopted by Henry VIII, and one which Shakespeare himself is likely to have played. Obviously the playing area was considerably smaller than today and many streets were out of bounds due to the plague, but it is basically the same as the modern game. According to the popular Arden edition of the

Tudor Court Rulebook - “At the passing of the cod piece, ‘tis the holder who may nominate, except when out of Croop.”

watling street variation
Players may only take the direct route between any two given points. Thus, looped moves are disallowed, and the Circle Line is out of bounds. And you may Huff.

windsor rules
Only the senior player in a straight line may inherit possession, unless of course the Hapsburg Convention has been invoked, in which case, Grimaldi’s Protocol takes precedence.

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Oh dear, I've heard about these problems.

Essentially The Northern line is now running on a Mac to avoid conflicts with the Jubilee line which is now entirely on XP rules

Unfortunately the satanic possession is a side effect of using any microsoft product. Being a Jewish youth movement site, I can't advocate the use of exorcism rules but maybe outside of this context it might be a good way to avoid these problems ... let me know if you have any luck
by galahan on 12/07/2004 20:56:37

Robbie has taken over my body and is forcing me to write this. This is one of the unfortunate side-effects of using the imfamous SATANIC GRASSHOPPER RULES:

In essence, Saul Galgut's muffin causes Robbie to inhabit your mind and forces the different lines of the northern line to swap over unless you pretend to be Robbie.
by Si on 17/08/2006 20:42:20

Saul, I tried to play the XP version but the trains kept crashing. Does anyone know how to fix this?
by Si on 11/07/2004 22:03:13

Would you personally advocate the new Microsoft windows XP version of the game where rhe rules are reset completely randomly every 1.5 hours? I believe it is proving quite controversial as people have been using it to switch from jubilee line rules to the goodge street subset
by galahan on 11/07/2004 02:24:06
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