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Solo Looks Back

3 Remembering Cluedo

We couldn’t not pay homage to Cluedo in Solo Looks Back this month – for the simple reason that we’ve just heard some of its stars have been killed off. Yes, killed off. Is that irony? Or just plain cruelty? We’re not sure. But it’s the truth in any case. Yes, our favourite classic murder-solving board game has been given a facelift, which involves annihilating some of its most famous heads. Old characters like Colonel Mustard and Professor Plum have been replaced by football pundit Jack Mustard and video game billionaire Victor Plum. Miss Scarlet is now movie star Kasandra Scarlet, the cook Mrs White is now child star Diane White and Reverend Green is now Jacob Green – ‘the man on the scene with all the ins’. Talk about moving with the time. It’s now sounding like a bad episode of Footballer’s Wives.
Meanwhile, the original house has been renovated from a stately home into a modern mansion complete with a theatre and spa instead of a library and ballroom. There are also new murder weapons, including a dumbbell and baseball bat.
“We wanted to bring the game bang up to date,” said a company spokesperson. “The new characters are more in tune with modern society, and with the added touch of a first name, more human.”
Cluedo has been around for longer than you’d imagine. Originally published in the UK in 1949, it was devised by Anthony E Pratt, a solicitor’s clerk and part-time clown from Birmingham. So what’s it all about? Or, at least, what was it all about – before football pundits and dumbbells got involved? Think Miss Marple, Jessica Fletcher and the Midsomer Murders – all rolled into one. The game is set in a mansion, with the board divided into different rooms. The players each represent a character who is a guest staying at this house, whose owner, Dr. Black has been found murdered. Players attempt to solve the murder and the solution to the murder requires the three components of suspect, weapon, and room.
It starts with these three cards in fact — one suspect, one weapon and one room card — being chosen at random and put into a special envelope, so that no one can see them. These cards represent the true facts of the case and the rest are distributed among the players. The aim of the game is to then deduce the details of the murder that took place among six different characters, six possible murder weapons and nine different rooms, which used to be the hall, lounge, dining room, kitchen, ballroom, conservatory, billiard room, library and study. In the course of determining the details of the murder, players announce suggestions to the other players. Do we all remember saying ‘I suggest it was Mrs. White, in the lounge, with the rope’? The fun and the thrill were almost too much to take!
The other players must then disprove the suggestion, if they can, by showing a card containing one of the suggestion components to the player making the suggestion – as this proves that the card cannot be in the envelope. ‘Tis all a bit complex really for a board game! Showing the card to the suggesting player is done in secret so the other players may not see which card is being used to disprove the suggestion. Once a suggestion has been disproved, the player’s turn ends and moves onto the next player. And on it goes.
Cluedo is one of those timeless masterpieces and it’s a shame it’s being interfered with – sure its quaintness was half the charm! Its also so iconic that its popped up many times in modern culture, making an appearance on The Golden Girls and Fr Ted, to name a few. Indeed its Craggy Island guest spot saw Fr Dougal, Fr Ted and a Hispanic priest happily playing a game until, after four hours, Dougal notices that no cards have been put into the envelope – making the game unwinnable. A double whammy of classics!


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