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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Player of Games, #47: Clue

I'll admit that I was never a huge fan of the board game Clue when I was a youngster. It might simply boil down to the fact that most of the time it was just my brother and me, and Clue is not a game effectively played with two people. I have this memory of playing it a few times with people who misrepresented the truth, which of course renders the game unplayable. Maybe the liar was me, I don't know. Memory is a tricky thing...

At any rate, I did enjoy the endlessly silly cult-classic 1985 film version, with Tim Curry's frenetic butler and the goofy cast of eighties character actors bringing the familiar suspects to life. Little did I think then that thirty-eight years later I'd be sitting in a theater audience cheering on our eldest son as he inhabited the repressed, heroic Mr. Green in a high school production of Clue. After his casting, we dug out my old version of the board game, a 1972 edition, and played as a family. Holy buckets! It was fun! Who knew?

The game itself was invented Anthony Pratt in 1943 in Birmingham, England during long blackout hours while Nazi bombers circled overhead. He called it Murder!, though the British game distributor that released it renamed it Cluedo. The game closely resembles the version we all know, though there were more suspects (including Mr. Brown, Mr. Gold, Miss Grey, and Mrs. Silver). And while we're all familiar with the murderous lead pipe, revolver, candlestick, and other potential weapons, there were several more in Pratt's initial design: bomb, syringe, shillelagh, and fireplace poker (I have to wonder what the collateral damage of the bomb would have been). There was also a gun room and a cellar to add to the possible criminal locales.

I'm not sure I would go so far as to call myself a Clue devotee now. But I will always be a fan of Mr. Green.

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