Pembroke: Collect venture capital funds if you pass Go

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The Independent Online
Readers who like to stretch their grey matter will be able to put their minds through some rigorous intellectual hoops next month when a new games magazine hits the news-stands. Games and Puzzles is the brainchild of Paul Lamford, the UK backgammon champion and top bridge and chess player. Mr Lamford was until recently managing director of Maxwell Macmillan Chess and Bridge, Robert Maxwell's former plaything.

Now setting up on his own, I notice he is looking for funds through the pages of Venture Capital Report, the Henley-based business introduction agency.

The magazine promises to be the stuff of dreams for the games enthusiast, including tips on Scrabble strategy and Monopoly deal making. Scrabble advice includes unusual short words such as zho, the well-known Himalayan yak, and xi, the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet.

And Mr Lamford's game plan for Monopoly buffs? The orange properties are the best bet, he says. You can build houses on them cheaply and they yield a steady income stream. So there we are. Sell The Strand. Buy Vine Street.

Officers of the Institute of Taxation may not be known for their sparkling wit, but the IOT's president, Malcolm Gammie, was turning on some style yesterday. Speaking at a conference in London, he lambasted the Government for tax legislation that was over-long and over-complex. Rich, you might think, coming from a tax specialist.

The recent Finance Bill, he said, had been kept down to 'only' 750 pages because the page size was larger than normal. Under the old size it would have prattled on for 1,000 pages. 'I recognise the words as I turn the pages,' he said. 'But in many parts these words are barely comprehensible when read one after another.'

The tax institute's pronouncements, are, I'm sure, a model of clarity.

Edward Cowan, the former Lloyd's underwriter, must have a sense of humour. After defending himself in his own lengthy disciplinary case brought by the market's authorities against him for infringements of club rules, he has emerged with a slap on the wrist.

But during the epic five-year case, estimated to have cost Lloyd's pounds 5m, Mr Cowan obviously developed a taste for matters legal. He plans to study for a law degree.

'No one in a similar position has the same amount of skill in advocacy,' said one admiring lawyer.

Bigwigs at Emap, the publisher, must have been hopping mad when they opened the latest issue of Media Week. In the City column, news editor Richard Cook savaged the company, saying it was over-valued, could not launch new titles successfully and had a penny-pinching attitude to management that included things like outlawing the use of Post-it notes. A bold move, given that the magazine is owned by Emap.

Was Mr Cook carpeted by his parsimonious bosses? 'Not yet,' he said. He may not care, of course. He leaves in April to pursue a freelance career.

Anyone with a birthday next week is being tempted to hotfoot it down to the new Corney & Barrow wine bar at Monument. A free jeroboam of Louis Roederer champagne (normal cost, pounds 110) will be served to the first birthday boy or girl arriving at the bar after midday. Proof of date of birth will be required, of course.