I was in the charity shop yesterday, trying to retrive my son's favourite joke book which I had cast out because it was too big and awkwardly shaped for my newly organised post-Christmas bookshelves, and I was lucky enough to spot Junior Monopoly. Monopoly has been growing as a family favourite since the summer and, as well as keeping us entertained, has provided many lessons in fair play and gracious losing. However, it is a long game. On Sunday we played for two hours and called it to a halt at the first bankruptcy rather than prolonging it to the bitter end. Once again we were comprehensively beaten by my six-year-old daughter who has uncanny fortune with the dice and ruthless instincts in the property arena.
The Junior version could just as easily be named 'Monopoly Lite'. Based on a fun-fair, you buy any 'amusement' you land on and immediately set up a ticket booth to charge the other players entrance fees. There is a cafe to which you can be sent back, like jail, stations which earn you an extra roll, and Chance cards bringing both blessings or loss. A whole game with three of us took just less than half-an-hour and my youngest two were well able to play a second game without adult help. While it wouldn't fit the bill for a serious afternoon's gladitorial game-playing, for a low time commitment option or for the children to play with their friends it was perfect.