Why jail can be the key to acquiring a Monopoly

Going to jail can be the key to success. At least, that's the way to win the board game Monopoly, according to Tom Friddell, a US computer expert.

Mr Friddell, an engineer for the aerospace company Boeing, has used probability theory to work out which squares a player is most likely to land on after throwing his or her dice.

By his calculations, going to and landing in jail can make or break the game because the chances of doing so skew the probabilities for the following squares, beginning with Marylebone Station, the most visited and profitable station on the board.

Trafalgar Square is the single most landed-on site, making it a major money-spinner for anyone who claims it and its two companion red properties, Fleet Street and Strand.

The orange addresses of Vine Street, Marlborough Street and Bow Street are also oft-visited, confirming the view of William Hartston, The Independent's resident games expert, who suggested nine months ago, that orange was a much better bet than Mayfair and Park Lane. The site to avoid is Whitechapel Road, the least visited address on the board.

Mr Friddell's figures suggest concentrating on achieving three houses per address before going on to build more homes or hotels. This allows players to recoup their outlay from rents faster, thereby staving off bankruptcy. The results of his analysis confirm some of the strategies which fans have advocated for years. Last month, at Monopoly's 25th anniversary championship of champions, the winner James Broomfield, 16, whose father, John, won the first championship in 1972, based his success on full use of the red and orange squares.

If you find complicated calculations baffling, however, you can always revert to another of the most popular strategies - cheating.

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