The World of the Strange

A lot of people ask me "So, what's the Mornington Crescent thing then?"

Rather tragically, I've never been able to come up with a succinct or even remotely accurate answer.

I can only offer that Mornington Crescent is like philosophy in that it is something to be done rather than discussed. At least, that's what Bertrand Russell said before he executed a perfectly awful Gaberdene straddle across a quadrant diagonal - he never played again.


A Short History Lesson

I do not concern myself here with the origin of the game of Mornington Crescent. This has been eloquently documented elsewhere (and more technical information). However, it is worth noting that the game's popularity (notoriety, even) in latter years stems mainly from its promotion on the BBC Radio 4 show I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. I am more concerned here with MC on the web.

Up until recently, the two main web sites for playing Mornington Crescent were York and Delphi, and these two sites fostered very different styles of play and distinct communities of players. That's not to say that these two communities did not intermix, just that there was a certain amount of good natured rivalry between them.

Then Delphi died.

The reasons for this death were never adequately discerned: rumours circulated that a Podume of Infinite Darkness had been played and had caused havoc, or that the Croxley potential had been exceeded one too many times. It was even suggested that the originator of the site had left and the site had simply atrophied through neglect, although this seems infeasible.

Suffice it to say that there was a sudden influx of dispossessed Delphi refugees playing at York. Tensions mounted, there was the occasional unnecessary flame war, but the games did continue. Hardly any blood was spilt.

Thus was established the need for two web servers for Mornington Crescent, through the apparent immiscibility of York and Delphi personalities. Mr Wild Pants stands as a heroic figure in championing the Delphi style of play.

There is also an ongoing effort to establish a permanent York-like presence. The first fruits of this is Mornington Crescent in Outer Space, but a distributed MC server is being constructed also.

Mornington Nomic

With all the glory surrounding the Great Game, it still has to be conceded that the rules (253 volumes, 12 appendices, and innumerable emendments following the last IMCS convocation) can be a little daunting for the neophyte player. Fortunately, a rigorous effort is underway to contruct a more compact ruleset. This effort is known as Mornington Nomic.

I shan't explain the mechanisms of a Nomic here (Kevan's site does a great deal better at that than I ever could), but there are a couple of reports I maintain:


Places to play are:


There was a recent seismic event within the Mornington Crescent community as the Great Place itself reopened after six years of closure. This obviously has profound effect on the game as tactics such as diagonal furbelows and Juniper's variation suddenly become relevant once more, and manoeuvres which have been devastatingly effective in recent games are rendered toothless, if not entirely invalid.

As someone who has come to the game during the period of closure, I myself am a victim of this effect: double pegging of Euston has been one of the mainstays of my play for some time, but if I try that now there will be a rather muffled titter from my opponents before they shred my token potentials and revranch through Kentish Town. Ah well, who said change wasn't interesting?
For a preliminary analysis of the effects of the reopening, look at the April 27th Celebration Game on York.

Of course, this celebratory atmosphere has been slightly marred by the almost immediate (and hopefully short term) closure of Mornington Crescent station within two weeks of its reopening. Apparently there was a problem with the lifts. Since a fault in the lifts is what prompted the closure six years ago, this seemed ominous... but the Station reopened once more only a couple of weeks later.


To play MC well, you need maps:

Official Stuff

I am the self-appointed archivist of the Mornington Crescent Pilgrims.

Unofficial Stuff

When I were nobbut a lad, I bought myself an I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue book. I hadn't a clue what it was about, but I enjoyed it tremendously. It looked like this (at about 168k).

And I truly was fascinated by the weird game called Mornington Crescent played by the panellists - I spent literally minutes trying to work out the token progressions, desperately seeking some sense in the straddling ratios other paraphernalia of the hardened player. But to no avail - I never did find a tube map, and I forgot all about it.

One day I shall publish all the MC games in that slim tome, but here is at least a taster.

Last updated 16-October-1998

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