COLIN DRURY - The future is orange in perfect endgame

MY plan, my dastardly, capitalist, pig-in-the-trough plan, is always to try and acquire the orange streets.

If you buy those bad boys, victory is virtually guaranteed.

Your opponent might be sitting smugly with 200 houses on Park Lane and Mayfair but no sucker ever lands there.

Nope, in Monopoly, it's all about Bow Street, Marlborough Street and Vine Street. They crush all-comers. They're money making machines.

You don't believe me? You prefer the - ugh - greens?

Look it up on line, my friend.

There's thousands and thousands of sites where tacticians, mathematicians and statisticians with too much time on their hands have calculated the probabilities, analysed the data, researched the whole kit and caboodle, and they always say orange is golden.

And that means people like me - with too much time on their hands - can read their strategies, copy their tactics, casually suggest a game with friends, boast a bit about opening a can of whoop-ass, then watch it all fall apart when some shyster buys the Bow first time round.

The mathematicians don't have an answer for that. Those useless number-crunchers.

But it doesn't matter.

Playing a board game - even when you're consigned to eeking an existence from the Old Kent Road - is never a waste of time.

This is my new year resolution, I've decided.

I'm not going to join a gym, I'm not going to stop drinking, I'm not going to learn a new language - everyone speaks English anyway.

I'm just going to play more board games.

I've got the bug after an Outburst session at Christmas reminded me that competing with others over a dice, some counters and tatty old piece of card has all the ingredients for something approaching contentment: interaction, laughter and the chance to humiliate your friends.

If a couple reckon they can have a better time together than playing Hungry Hippos I don't believe them.

And it seems this puts me bang in line to becoming a rounded, more happy person.

That's according to Relate, the relationship counselling charity.

They reckon families, friends and couples who switch off the TV, shut down the console and sit around a Scrabble board debating whether UFO is an acceptable word are the families, friends and couples who are happiest. Play together, stay together.

Clearly the advisors who came up with the theory have never been round my gaff when a particularly competitive session of empire-building game Risk is taking place.

"The only things you have in common with Napoleon" I once got told by a particularly sore loser, "is that you've got little man complex and not many people like you."

"That's a bit uncalled for, Nana," was all I could reply.

It's healthy to debate, so they say, which must make board games the equivalent of a home gym in a box.

But this year I'll be braving the arguments to get the Connect Four out on unsuspecting victims whenever the chance - post-pub, pre-pub, down the pub, weekends, week nights, my house, their house, your house - presents itself.

And I'll always be trying to make sure I get them oranges.

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