QUIRKY WORLD ... Winning tips: Mortgage the lot, get locked up

ENGLAND: Mortgage everything, get locked up in jail, and avoid Park Lane if you want to win Monopoly, according to the UK and Ireland champion.

QUIRKY WORLD ... Winning tips: Mortgage the lot, get locked up

Natalie Fitzsimons, 24, from Saintfield, Co Down, beat her husband in the heats before winning in a 90-minute final against three opponents.

The Monopoly champion bankrupted her opponent — Oli Martin from Bristol, who finished second — after he landed on two of her yellow properties in a row.

But the winner’s tips for success go against the grain.

Instead of splashing out on hotels and lavish addresses, Natalie recommends avoiding Park Lane as it is the least landed-on square, and sticking to just three or four houses.

She said: “Once you’ve reached three houses, the amount that the rent increases each house maxes out. If you want to use your money wisely, stick to just three houses. If you want to be extra sneaky — stay on four houses and prevent people from buying houses later in the game once you’ve used them all up.”

Natalie also recommended mortgaging everything to buy more property, and landing yourself in jail.

“This always feels a little like cheating, but I never know why other people don’t do it,” she said. “As soon as you get a monopoly yourself, mortgage everything else and spend every penny on houses. A monopoly with three houses on each square is far more valuable than lots of low-rent single property squares. You can always unmortgage them later in the game.

“In the early game, you want to get out of jail as soon as possible. But once all the property squares have been bought sometimes the best thing is to wait patiently in jail, avoiding expensive rents while still collecting rent on your properties.

“I’m ecstatic to have won, and so surprised. I didn’t think I’d even beat my husband in the heats, let alone win the whole thing. This was the first time I’ve ever played Monopoly in a competitive environment and it was certainly pretty tense at times.”

Natalie will now go on to represent the UK and Ireland at the Monopoly World Championships in Macau, China this September.

Magna Carta on trial

ENGLAND: A mock trial of barons and bishops will be held in the Palace of Westminster to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

TV presenter and comedy writer Clive Anderson will play a leading role alongside a number of top legal figures.

The “trial” will be held in front of Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, Justice Stephen Breyer of the US Supreme Court, and Sian Elias, Chief Justice of New Zealand.

Lord Neuberger said: “Judges never usually comment before a case, but in this instance I think I can safely make an exception. We will be deciding whether, setting aside the global impact of some of the ideas embedded in Magna Carta, the barons’ actions in 1215 could be justified in law.”

Pot contest

USA: A state fair in the District of Columbia is to include a marijuana-growing contest for the first time.

Possession of small amounts of marijuana was legalised in the district this year and people are permitted to grow their own plants at home.

Participants in the pot-growing contest at September’s fair will be judged on appearance, odour, and touch as part of contests intended to showcase the culinary, artistic, and agricultural talents of the district.

Quickfire opera

USA: A New Orleans group has created and performed two opera scenes after being given just two days to get from page to stage.

New Fangled Opera co-founder Chris Burton said the two composers and two writers only learned on Thursday who was working with whom. They had the day to come up with a scene and songs to show it.

Seven singers and two directors got their scores by 9am on Friday, and then staged rapid-fire rehearsals to learn the songs and devise the staging ahead of performance time at 7.30pm on Saturday at the University of New Orleans.

Not kidding around

USA: A retired Arizona State University professor is taking his pursuit of a death certificate for Billy the Kid to New Mexico’s highest court.

Historian Robert Stahl filed a petition with the New Mexico Supreme Court to order the state’s medical examiner to create the document for the legendary outlaw.

Stahl says he hopes the court will order the Office of the Medical Investigator to consider the evidence and determine whether William H Bonney’s death can be certified.

According to most accounts, the Kid was fatally shot by Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner in 1881. However, some claim Garrett shot someone else and the Kid took up ranching or escaped to Texas under an alias.

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