Game newcomer fails to last the distance

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The Independent Online
Remember Newmarket? It's the kiddies card game where you race the aces by turning over cards from the rest of the pack. If you get a club, you move the ace of clubs one space, and so on until somebody wins, writes Greg Wood. A slightly more glamorous version of the same game - £25 more glamorous, to be precise - will be available in all good toy shops from June: "And They're Off!", so the PRs assure us, "is the great new horse racing board game designed by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber." However, brief acquaintance would suggest that if all of its originator's productions were of a similar standard, Cats would not have made it further than his local village hall.

"It's not like Totopoly," one guest at yesterday's launch reminisced. "In that it took you two hours to get a horse to the post, and then the race itself was another hour and a half. It would have been easier to get a runner in the Derby."

The designers of "And They're Off!", however, have a quick-fix Nineties attention span in mind. Deal the cards, place your bets and away you go. The claim that "it can be played by anyone from the age of seven" surprisingly overlooks the potential of the infant-school market.

Play it with the family at Christmas, meanwhile, and there can be little doubt that your techno-nerd second cousin will quickly discover a flaw in the betting system, and clean everyone out in a matter of minutes.

It is all harmless fun, of course. Unless, that is, anyone should swallow the notion that "it is just like the real thing". If it were, we would all find something better to do on Gold Cup day, and the terraces at Cheltenham would stand silent.

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