Forget the Olympics - Monopoly contest exposes HK's real passion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 May, 2009, 12:00am

It's the perfect microcosm of capitalism in Hong Kong, so it's no wonder the board game Monopoly is so popular here. On Sunday, Kowloon Bay's Emax mall hosted the city's 2009 Monopoly championship. About 150 contestants took part. However, more than 3,000 people registered to play. The would-be tycoons played from 9am until 6pm, regularly passing Go and collecting $200. In the end, the winner was 22-year-old Polytechnic University student Lucan Lee Luet-kan, who, in the fourth round of one-hour matches, bankrupted all his competitors to claim the title. For his ruthless acumen, Lee's prizes include a trip to compete in the world championships in October in Las Vegas, where he stands a chance of winning some real cash, not just Monopoly money.

'I started to get hooked on the game after a friend got me a special edition ... from England,' Lee said, adding that he's been a serious player for about five years. 'Learning all the rules is essential. For example, many people think they can build a house when they return to the property they own, but you need to own all the property in the same coloured area in order to build your first house.'

The game isn't just fun for the second-year marketing student; he says it has complemented his studies. 'It actually helped me to develop better negotiating and communication skills with people.' Especially when you have to force your tenants to go broke with exorbitant rent.