The Independent Management Game 1994: Win pounds 10,000 in our European game: Roger Trapp explains how to test your skills in a sophisticated business simulation

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MANAGEMENT games have long been used by training and development organisations as a way of introducing new employees to the way a company works or enabling more experienced ones to try out ideas or strategies without risk.

But as well as fulfilling this useful role, they are increasingly popular with schools and colleges and even individuals, such as retired people looking for brain-teasing pastimes. Now readers of the Independent and Independent on Sunday have the opportunity to take part in a game that seeks to go further than the norm and replicate a manufacturing company operating in the European Union. As in real business, the stakes are high, with a pounds 10,000 prize and pounds 5,000 for the runners-up.

The game, which is being sponsored by National Westminster Bank, has been steadily developed by Bill Robertson and his team at Edit 515 since it was introduced as a training model at Strathclyde University in the late 1960s.

The competition will involve teams of five or six 'directors' taking part in a knock-out. The teams will be allocated on a random basis to competitive groups. The winners of each group will then progress to the semi-final and from there to the final, in a leading London hotel. The winner of that will go on to the international final in Lisbon next year.

Unlike model games, which are almost exclusively played against computer programmes, the Independent version is highly interactive, with the teams competing against each other for a share of the market and of the labour force.

Mr Robertson sees this last aspect as particularly appealing. 'It is quite unusual,' he said. 'If people are not happy working for you - because of pay, overtime, the quality of the product, whatever - they will be attracted away.' But we believe that the game's simulation of the operation of a small to medium-size enterprise in the European Union - a sector increasingly recognised as an important source of wealth and jobs - also makes it attractive. this was an important factor in NatWest's decision to back it.

Kevin Jennings, director of commercial banking services at NatWest, said: 'In 1994 the 'home market' has to include all of the European Union. UK businesses face an unprecedented choice of markets which are booming, markets which are bottoming out and markets which seem all but bust.

'In this maelstrom, there are some of the greatest opportunities and greatest dangers that UK managers have faced in a generation. It is hoped that managers from a wide range of businesses will take the opportunity of the Independent Management Game to develop and enhance their skills - and to prepare themselves for the real market.'

If you want to take part, or to obtain further information, please call 081-671 7733 or fax 081-671 4552. Application forms must be returned by 29 April. Those returned by 1 April will be eligible for a discount on the entry fee.