The Encyclopaedia Morningtonia

Entries are now being accepted for the compilation of the Encyclopaedia. Submissions should be sent in via e-mail to They will be edited and compiled here for the delight of the world at large. Editors decision will be final, but can be swayed by persuasion, threats, and offers of beer. [Specially the last --jim]

Ah, fame! This very page has been mentioned in the Little Book of Mornington Crescent which you should all go and buy. If you came here from there, you might be interested in the online game itself, where you can play various games and meet other loonies enthusiasts. Enjoy!

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z


Aldgate East

Despite Alison 'Crusher' Hall's predeliction to play Aldgate East whenever caught against a mildly difficult shunt, the station may not appear to be very important. Sitting in quadrant 4, sector 3 and zone 2, it does not readily appear to align or diagonalise with other stations. Its colour (grey) and left-handedness may be seen to be disadvantageous when faced with typical level increments across defensive blocks. But there are a number of surprising things about Aldgate East which make it quite a powerful station.

It is the closest station to the zone, quadrant and sector boundaries, by the usual weighted average. Therefore, if faced with boundary problems and forced to use extra faresaver points, it can be very useful to reduce these effects. Likewise, being a neutral colour, it is not affected by line reflection, colour variance or cross-hatching. Being in the upper third of zone 2, its left-handedness gives a neat spin into zone 1 which can be used to double-shunt off most stations inside the Circle line. And, of course, its interchange properties lend it a triple pegging bonus when in Spoon or Knip. [PW]


A popular form of the game, usually played as the final event at the World Championships: as its name suggests, all comers can take part, and there is no set restriction on the order of moving other than that the same player may not make two consecutive moves. This type of game requires an entirely different strategy from the standard one-on-one MC which is considered the most important event of the annual World Championship: often, the winner is the player who can cause the maximum inconvenience to the greatest number of players in the shortest possible space of time. As such, Ruttsborough was recognised as the greatest master of All-In MC, with 18 wins: surprisingly perhaps, Mrs Trellis is next with 12, each of hers coinciding with one of her Grand Slams. [JLE]

Amersham / Aldwych Loop

Not strictly a loop by the standard definition, but its behaviour is so similar to a standard single-station loop that it can be safely treated as one for ruling purposes. Initiated when two separate players enter Amersham and Aldwych within the same turn, a Token Race is immediately established, and all non-blocked players are required to contribute to the loop until it is broken. The curiously freeform nature of this loop (players can play either Amersham or Aldwych during the loop - sequence is irrelevant) gives the phenomena a standard-single behaviour for all rulings. [KD]

Arball Ruleset (2001)

The Arball Ruleset has been eagerly awaited by technical players, with a penchant for complexity. Traditionalists are less likely to be impressed with Arball 2001 as they will be prevented from some of the moves and manoeuvres which have been a part of the game for a long time.

Having said that, many players of the 'new generation' are awaiting a ruleset which will see a break from the traditional line which many believe has made Mornington Crescent stale over recent years, as the general concensus seemed to be that Holland Park 2000 was a disappointment, given all the hype and build up there had been for it.

CAMREC have yet to release official comment on Arball 2001, but no comments they make are liable to be complimentary, given their stand for the traditional styled game. [DF]


Archbold never participated in a MC game above club level for two reasons. Firstly there was his seminal legal tome Archbold's Criminal Law; and secondly his ground breaking work Archbold's Alphabetical Station Guide. The latter is, as the title suggests, a guide to the London Underground stations as used in MC. Each entry detailed the location, history lines and other notable features of all the underground stations that were then in existence. This meant a player could find out when British Museum closed or when the Hammersmith & City line arrived at Great Portland Street. As well as those vital facts advice was given on some good moves to follow up say Chesham or Ickenham, along with ideas on which stage of the game to use them. Archbold spent WW2 in a concrete bunker composing the first edition which came out in 1946. Editions followed yearly, often with only slight changes until Archbold died in 1974. The first editions are valuable collectors' items and were eagerly purchased by novice and advanced players alike. It is rumoured, though not proved, that even Ruttsborough himself had a copy. [AB]


Back-pass trump manouver

A tactic employed by Catherine Howard against Henry VIII which won her the game, but.... [NA]


In the team game, the defensive players. Most four-man teams operate with two backs, whose job is to sabotage the opposing team's attacks with simple tactics such as the huff, or more intricately worked combinations. Defensive backs are also occasionally involved in attacks, often arriving suddenly to win the game. Backs account for about 10% of MC team victories, although the famous Earl's Court MCC and England back of the 50's, Ian Hoile, played the winning move in an incredible 31% of his team's victories, while holding a fearsome defensive record. [JH]

Baker Street

Not to be confused with the appalling Ramsay Street, the game of Baker Street is a simplified version of Mornington Crescent. While aimed primarily at beginners, Baker Street is much appreciated by players of all levels for its speed and playability. The game is played on a simple two-intersection layout incorporating the four magenta stations, West Ham, Hammersmith, Covent Garden and Baker Street. A full diagonal restriction applies to two-level shunts, so these stations are obviously the only legal moves. The winning player is the first to get to Baker Street. This variant of the game can in fact be very challenging, especially with a large number of players, but is also very simple indeed for beginners to understand.

Since the construction of the Jubilee Line Extension and the release of the new Holland Park 2000 ruleset, there is now a fifth magenta station in the game: North Greenwich. Following heated discussions, weighting and Spin coefficients of the other stations were altered to fit this in. [JH]/[JLE]

Bargain Basement

Euphemism for straddling the river with low LV. (Usually in the context "s/he's visiting the Bargain Basement!") [MWP]

Baryshnikov, Boris Antonovich (1960- )

One of the modern masters of MC, but rather underrated in this country. Also a keen chess-player who might have been a Chess Grandmaster had he not chosen MC as his career, and had he not been narrowly beaten by Kasparov twice in the late 70s youth championships. His career has been dogged by the politics of the Cold War until recently, and by a distinct lack of charisma outside of the MC arena.

He first came to public notice in 1978, winning the Russian MC championship and gaining the title of International Master at the age of 18. And then came the World Championship of 1980 - held in Moscow to promote the cause of MC behind the Iron Curtain, and boycotted by most leading Western players in sympathy with the Olympics that year: only Stannard defied the boycott, and the aging Ruttsborough who came out of retirement for the second and final time to "beat the Ruskies in their own back yard", and reached the final with some flashes of his old genius, only to lose heavily to Baryshnikov (who thus gained his Grandmaster title.)

That championship was largely ignored by press and public alike, denuded as it was of the entire top twenty in the rankings, so Baryshnikov was dismissed as a weak winner of a weak tournament. The world had to sit up and take notice, however, when three years later he defeated Mrs Trellis for the first (and so far only) time in an epic battle at Chalk Farm, overcoming a 43-podume deficit with an incredible 26 consecutive Forcing Passes with Mrs Trellis, herself debarred from passing, forced to move into a weaker position each time (the situation in which she found herself having been since nicknamed "Boris" in recognition of that feat, and the nickname has gained official status) to allow an unimpeded straddle to MC to win the '83 World Championship Final.

He defected to the West in order to defend his title the following year, when the USSR ordered a boycott - again in sympathy with the Olympics - but on this occasion he lost in the final as Mrs Trellis had her revenge. He was to be welcomed back to his home country in 1989 (when the Iron Curtain fell) in triumph as he won the third of his three World Championships so far, and was seen sitting on a tank alongside such people as Yeltsin, Kasparov and the cellist Rostropovich to defy the attempted hardline coup against Gorbachev. His form has slumped since then, but there are signs of a revival and he is making his way up the rankings again (currently ranked 19th in the world.) [JLE]

Basingstoke MCC

While most clubs consider BasingMCC to be somewhat parochial, even by the standards of MC, the club has a number of surprising distinctions. In 1967 the players made headlines by barricading themselves into the basinghall, demanding that a proposed ringroad be re-routed to avoid the club grounds. In the event they were able to have their 1825 original Steinclout board listed as a Grade 1 artefact by the IMCS, and the club was saved. Despite its small size, BasingMCC nonetheless contributes over 5% of the national team players, and has dominated the mideast division of the Trellis National League for years. The club mascot, Barney, is a venerable and overweight persian cat, well known for his habit of sleeping on Fenchurch Street. [TUA]

Beck's Coefficient

Invented by the German mathematician Ernst Beck in 1956, Beck's Coefficient is a calculated reference number which gives a rough indication of the probability of there being a possible route to Endgame within a set number of moves. The constant can only be used as a guideline, since the coefficient works on the assumption that line velocities are constant (Chalfont's Hypothesis suggests a coefficient that accounts for line velocities, but is incalculable on standard equipment within any reasonable amount of time), and unless stated otherwise is calculated for a twenty five move limit. Of course, when MC has been played, Beck's reaches 1. The formula for the coefficient is rather too complex and cumbersome to explain here, but is available in any modern book on the game. [JH]

Beck's Rule

Not to be confused with Beck's Coefficient, and named in honour of the Underground Map's creator H. C. Beck, this rule allows for the utilisation of old station names, and is only applicable to players holding tokens of each colour.

Rarely is any advantage offered by the playing of Beck's Rule, save in the case of the Embankment - Charing Cross Jump. Briefly, this allows the player to move directly from District/Circle to Jubilee without incurring any token forfeit or going into Knip.

Nevertheless, this rule is normally only practised by extremely experienced MC players due to its impacts on LV, which are unfortunately too complex fully to explain here. For the last recorded instance of Beck's Rule, see Sharma vs. Abrecht - 1979.

Worthy of note are Beck's Rule's implications towards the playing of the North End Rule (q.v.). Since North End was never opened, it is not possible to determine whether North End or Bull & Bush was the station's original name. Thus, if a player fulfilling the Beck's Rule qualifying conditions plays North End then, subject to the conditions of the North End Rule, a vortex will be formed sucking all players to North End, from whence they will be spat out in the order detailed in IMCS rules 15973-15988. [CTRL]

Berlin Wall Game

See Eton Wall Game, Potsdamer Platz Variation. [JD]


It is possible for the game to bifurcate. When this happens, the game splits into two strands and players must move in both. In this situation, the game can only be won by playing MC in both strands simultaneously. Recombination occurs when more than twelve tokens (of any colour) are in the same quadrant and on the same line. Bifurcation can be triggered in three ways: when the number of red tokens on the District line is at least three more than the number of blue ones on the Central line, if Beck's is multiplied by exactly 2.6, or optionally if the two stations are the same colour. Bifurcation is worth considering if you want to add confusion to the game or destroy an opponent's plans. [TCM]


If a move causes more than one token to be shunted around the board, then the two may of course crash into each other. If this is likely to occur, the onomatopaeic declaration of blonk! is made. This warns other players and the referee to check that all tokens end up in their correct place. This convention was instituted after chaos resulting from such a move in the notorious Frobisher v Fisher second round 1979 world championship match. Following a perfectly innocent shunt by Frobisher, several of Fisher's well placed green tokens were dislodged. The game rapidly degenerated into shove ha'penny and was abandoned shortly afterwards when the police had to be called. A blonking manoeuvre can force other players to readjust their tokens as well leading to a round of blonking. [TCM]

Boardman's Combined Stations

A situation in a game of MC, now a popular variant in its own right, in which the names of two or more stations must be combined. To give an idea for the general feel of the game, moves range from the comparatively simple "Tufnell Bec", "Arselico" and "Great Barking Elephant" to the rather more complex "Seven Kings' Tooting Victorias" or, on one extreme occasion, "James's Wapping Great Canary on the Parson's Horn".

If played within a conventional game of MC, the traditional way of ending a Boardman's round is by playing a station that is valid both under standard MC and Boardman's conditions: for instance, "West Acton", with the West from West Ham and the Acton from East Acton. If the game is being played as a variant in its own right, the most usual winning move is "Mornington-on-the-Hill", though others have been used on occasion. [JLE]


Boardo is a board game with its origins a tangled fusion of snakes and ladders, monopoly, trivial pursuit and scrabble. Players take it in turns to roll the dice (although not always) and make a move, in the logical direction, to their destination. Once there, they have to obey the rules that pertain to that location. Play must not go against the grain, nor can anyone farkle three times in a row without immediate suspension from the game. [PW]


The state of Bock usually affects the whole game, although variants which affect only single quadrants have been seen. Bock is a Coloured state, acting as a filter on same-coloured stations, moves and manouevres; and also affecting Spin through escalator links and Main line stations. Cross-hatched Bock is possible although rarely used as the effects are very slight and the maintenance cost high. [HR]


In fact, the correct term should be "Baryshnikov" after the Russian master who used it to such great effect in the '83 world championship final, but his first name was easier to spell and pronounce and thus this term was adopted by everybody except CAMREC. The condition is somewhat similar to what in chess is known as "zugzwang", or colloquially as "up sh*t creek without a paddle" - the player, though he may be in a strong position, has no good move and is forbidden from passing or farkling and must thus move and weaken his position. Boris Baryshnikov managed to overcome a 43-podume deficit against Mrs Trellis this way in the aforementioned '83 final and thus, from an apparently lost position, won an improbable victory against her for what was to be the only time he ever beat her in match play. [JLE]

Branson, Richard

A rich power-crazed egotistical entrepreneur who founded the Virgin empire and annoyingly turns up in unexpected places. [TCM]


Unit of helical stress (qv). Origin obscure. [Dx]

British Rail

The name of the Nationalised company that ran the national rail network in England, Scotland and Wales from 1948 to 1996. The privatised companies now running the trains are now described as "National Railways"(qv) on the LU map. The track and signalling are owned by another privatised company called Railtrack(qv). [TCM]

Brooke-Taylor, Tim

Tim Brooke-Taylor, to spare you any form of biographical detail, is the other half of the late great Willie Rushton's team. Although often confused with play above third level, he is still very good at exploiting the other team's weaknesses. [PW]


Three Underground stations are in Buckinghamshire:Chalfont and Latimer, Amersham and Chesham. Because they are not in any of the zones, moves between the three stations are normally unrestricted. Because of this and their distance from central London, they can be used to retreat to while a player reasses the situation and rethinks strategy. The stations are of course in quadrant 1. [TCM]


An imaginative variant on the basic station block, the act of bulkheading a station renders it unenterable from any direction and impossible to pass through as part of a move. Obviously a powerful maneouvre, bulkheading is typically limited to a predetermined set of stations. It is not possible to bulkhead an occupied or home station. [KD]

Bull & Bush

See North End Rule, The. [CTRL]

Button's Opening

Without passing water, the most direct route between Hollaway Road and Mornington Crescent under Curfew Conditions is : Holloway Road, Mile End Road, Tower of London, Mornington Crescent. [NA]


The monumental Byplays is the most well-known work of E.A. Favisham. (Favisham's own title for the work was the idiosyncratically vague Some characteristics of sequences.) Favisham's play was characterised by long-range tactical sequences of twenty moves or more which appeared to disregard his opponent's moves and yet somehow prevented the opponent from ever reaching the winning station. Favisham left it to other masters of the game to explain the underlying principles of this method (which took at least thirty years to become well understood.)

Byplays assumes familiarity with this style, and concentrates on "byplays": plays made during such a sequence which initiate a new threat while maintaining the coherence of the current sequence. Like most of Favisham's tactical innovations, the concept is somewhat abstract and difficult to grasp. The standard expository example -- too well-known now to surprise modern players -- is the use of Croxley during a second-level encirclement of Zone 3 as soon as the torsion coefficient has been raised above 1, which initiates a co-rotating knid field in Zone 6.

Favisham exhausts simple byplays in the first three chapters (often published separately as a self-contained work, and there is a whole cottage industry of commentaries), and then proceeds to simultaneous sequences, where each move plays a role in two or more entirely independent strategic plans simultaneously, braided sequences, knotted sequences, and tangles. The diagrams therein are remarkably similar to those used by Richard Feynman (himself a distinguished amateur player) for analysing the interactions of fundamental physical particles. It is likely that more connections with modern physics remain to be discovered. [Rk]


Cairo Arena

The mid eighties saw a rapid rise in the international standing of several African and Middle Eastern nations. Egypt was a particular example, especially in the team games, winning the 1988 8-player event in Maine, USA, and achieving numerous top-5 placings in every 4-player tournament since 1984. Aware of the potential of its teams, the Egyptian Mornington Crescent Federation (FCE) successfully lobbied the government for funding to produce the definitive Mornington Crescent arena. The result was stunning. In 1988 work started on the Cairo Arena, and it was finally completed late in 1989. The all-seater arena holds up to 16,000 people, and features the largest playing board in the world. It was the deserving venue for the last world championships, won (as usual) by England. However, it is more commonly occupied by the devoted supporters of the Egyptian champions Cairo Storm MCC, ranked no. 11 in the world by the IMCS. [JH]


The use of Balham to produce LV magnetism on any station with a bakery within a 100m radius of any entrance. [MWP]


When not in Charm, call represents the strength of a station's pull on a player. Call is affected by Beck's, Spin, Token Loading and LV amongst other, smaller considerations. Once a stations enters charm, Call is not negated but stops mattering. [TUA]

Camden MCC

Since the start of team-based Mornington Crescent in England in 1854, Camden MCC, one of the four original teams (along with Bristol, Preston and Canterbury) has almost dominated the game. Originally named simply London MCC (the name changed in 1957 as more clubs formed), the team has always played within half a mile of the hallowed crescent. Now playing in its brand new 900 seater arena, the club has won the English league 99 times, and is expected to make that figure 100 this year. A remarkable club, the English team is regularly more than one third comprised of its members. [JH]

Campaign for Real Crescent (CAMREC)

The increasingly liberal policies of the IMCS have, in recent decades, given rise to a number of alternative, "modern" versions of Mornington Crescent, with little basis in tradition or, for that matter, the actual rules of the game. While some players see this as a good thing,attracting more people into the game, the majority of serious players do not. As the popularity of these versions grows, so does the campaign against them. CAMREC was officially formed in 1976, and despite recent falls in its membership, is still going strong. At first, they favoured peaceful, non-interfering protest, taking the form of demonstrations and leaflet campaigns at offending venues and tournaments. Towards the end of the eighties, however, things became more serious. In Peckham, London, in December 1987, a MC official who had spoken frequently in favour of radical reform of rules was severely beaten by a group of masked men. Occasional attacks have continued to this day, and while CAMREC publicly and repeatedly denies their involvement, Police have linked many of the attacks to a few groups of CAMREC members, often supporters of small league clubs. Recently, the IMCS has announced a meeting to consider banning its members from associating with CAMREC. Their decision may take some time. [JH]


A version of the game popular in the 12th-14th Centuries. Chaucer wrote of it in his "Canterbury Tales", the object being to reach Canterbury. The game was played in this form as there was no underground station at Mornington Crescent in the 14th Century, Blackfriars being the closest. Of course, London was much smaller then so Blackfriars was much closer to Mornington Crescent than it is today. [AxS]


Item of clothing invented, as the legend would have it, when the Earl of Cardigan found himself playing Mornington Crescent against an untrustworthy frenchman in a chilly arena. Refusing for a second to take his eyes off the dastardly garlic muncher, he had his butler cut the front of a sweater open and hastily attach buttons, allowing him to don the vestment without giving the malodorous gallic drunkard a chance to swindle a win. [TUA]

Cascade (Station cascade)

Playing certain stations can initiate a cascade of various sorts. The commonest by far of these cascades is the Parks & Greens (P & G) whereby a station with either "Park" or "Green" in its name initiates the cascade. Note however that such play will not always cause a cascade - it is usually obvious from the L.V. and Becks as to whether a P & G will ensue, but if there is any doubt then the player should declare the P & G rather than leaving it as an implicit result. Some cascades simply run their course - others are terminated by certain specific moves. Garden stations (Island or Kew) will terminate a P & G for example, as will Framilode's bung. Another form of termination is deflection to a different cascade (see those listed below). In a P & G cascade, Green Park naturally counts double.

Some other cascades, with a few example stations for each are listed below :

Regal : King's Cross; Victoria; Royal Victoria; Prince Regent etc.
Holy : St. John's Wood; All Saints; Blackfriars; Temple etc.
Tree : Burnt Oak; Elm Park; Limehouse; Royal Oak etc. (a variant is the Tree & Wood where Woods, Bois etc. are available)
Colourful : Redbridge; Blackfriars; White City & all the Greens etc.
Town : Acton; Canning; Kentish etc.
Aquatic : Crossharbour; Waterloo; Canary Wharf; Surrey Quays etc.

There are of course various others. [B]

Chalk Farm '84

(The last "official" ruleset, although another is expected soon.)

In its day, the set of rules drawn up by the IMCS and Mrs Trellis in a meeting at Chalk Farm, in 1984, was regarded as the greatest of its type. It was intended to be the standard ruleset for all MC everywhere, and was very nearly totally successful in this aim. Indeed, even now there are many who hold to these as being the most consistent, straightforward and fair rules ever written down, and many MC tournaments and clubs still regard this as standard. It is also the only ruleset of recent vintage to have been accepted by both CAMREC and the IMCS.

However, in recent years there has been a tendency away from Chalk Farm '84 on the grounds that it no longer reflects the reality on the Underground, as several changes have happened to the network since then. The creation of the Hammersmith & City line as a separate line (it was formerly part of the Metropolitan) did not unduly affect things, nor did the changes to the various peak-hour schedules (Metropolitan between Baker Street and Aldgate, H&C up to Barking now being all-hours times). The closure of several stations has affected things a little more - in particular there are far fewer Amersham-Aldwych loops now Aldwych is a ghost, and the Ongar Denial is no longer as easy a way out of a Dollis Hill loop for the same reason: but, with ghost station rules applied, these did not require a rewrite.

Of greater concern was the long extension to the Jubilee Line, and the admission of the Docklands Light Railway to full Underground status. This seriously unbalanced Quadrant 4, and the ruleset proved too inflexible to cope. The general answer from the IMCS has been to consider the Docklands an honorary, rather than actual part of the Underground, somewhat like the North London line (under Chalk Farm rules anyway), and bring the Jubilee extension under foetal station rules. However, many have not accepted this and have proposed amendments to bring both the Docklands and North London lines into the fold, some of which have been accepted by the IMCS (but none by CAMREC). But none of the amendments has been completely bug-free - the latest 1997 set had a notorious Leicester Square loop. Perhaps the most successful amendment was the Finsbury Option amendment, which brought in the theory of Quadrant 5 to hold the Jubilee extension and Docklands (and is used on the York MC server.) [JLE]


A little-used strategy involving the attraction and direction of a station. Its use was developed by Maurice Berners-Lee who first used it to counter-act knip. When a station is played and Charmdeclared, that station is rendered attractive to all token-holding players, within the same quadrant, who are forced to move towards it in the most direct route possible until Charm is negated. The secondary effect is to reverse rotational influences currently affecting all stations in the same zone. When played in conjunction with a bi-lateral straddle, Charm can have devastating effects on interzonal movements (see Berners-Lee vs. Rubia - 1989). Care must be taken to avoid leaving oneself exposed to Charm for more than three moves subsequent to initiating it. [PJ]

Chateau d'Eau

Mornington Crescent played on the Paris Metro. Chateau d'Eau is the goal: Miromesnil is the equivalent station for Dollis Hill Loops. [JLE]

Chaucer, Geoffery

In his Canterbury Tales, Dr. Graeme Garden sees Chaucer's pilgrims use the identical route which would be taken under modern rules on a journey from Oxford Circus to Mornington Crescent from the prologue. [NA]

Circle Line Inversions

Originally an unforeseen consequence of the complexities of the Crescent '31 ruleset, but later adopted as a standard (if rare) play, a Circle Line Inversion occurs when a player successfully completes a circuit of the Circle Line, stoppping at each station, without being shunted, placed in knip or spoon or making a pass (forced or otherwise).

When this happens, a mass pickering sets in as an automatic consequence (though, as mentioned, no one realised this when Crescent '31 was drawn up). All stations inside the Circle Line are mapped to locations outside it, and vice versa. This has a very destabilising effect on the game, since farflung token stacks in the outer zones are brought close together, with unpredictable results, and Beck's coefficient tends asymptotically to infinity. In the 1970's Trellis National League Long Game, a Circle Line Inversion lasted so long that real versions of foetal ghost stations quantum tunnelled in from parallel universes, and there was no play for the whole of 1976 while an extremely hazardous exorcism was carried out by a special team from the Vatican.

The first player to recognise that such an event could occur was the great Hugo, who famously used it to win victory in the final of the World Championships in 1935. Ruttsborough, in the audience for that amazing game, immediately began using this tactic in games against opponents who had not yet heard of it and its provenance was, for a time, falsely attributed to him; a mistake he made no attempt to rectify in his 1937 classic "Invert This, You Piccadilly Piccanilly!"

Debates raged for many years over whether the Circle Line Inversion was a dazzlingly bold manouevre that should be celebrated or a hideous anomaly that the rules should be altered to avoid. These went unresolved throughout the '40s, with the various rulesets drawn up at that time alternating between one and the other (Praed Street '41 in particular is notable for its drastic policy of putting all termini in permanent spoon to prevent such an occurrence). After various incidents of chair throwing at meetings by Ruttsborough supporters, Circle Line Inversions eventually became a permanent feature of the game starting with Marble Arch '54.

The only safe place to be during a Circle Line Inversion is at a non-interchange Circle Line station. The effect can be reversed by a circuit of the Circle Line in the opposite sense to that which caused the inversion in the first place. In general, all players cooperate in such an effort, though the more aggressive may welcome the chaos unleashed. [BtTS]


Comprehensive rulesets have not been around for ever. In the earlier years of IMCS, no one meeting was used to decide on the rules, as at Chalk Farm in 1984. Indeed, with the Underground system developing at the speed it was, this would have been wholly impractical. Instead, IMCS would publish regular updates and amendments in codices. There could be many of these codices current at one particular time, each giving information on a particular area of the rules and values. In 1910 there were 13 codices in concurrent use, the largest number ever. IMCS would have probably continued with this method had it not been for the 1930 crisis which spawned the first comprehensive ruleset: The IMCS/CAMREC Treaty at Mornington Crescent, 1931 (or Crescent '31).

The Comprehensive Ruleset has now become the way things are done, but the use of the Codex is not obsolete, indeed the longevity of modern rulesets depend on them, as they are used to provide values, variables and constants used in conjunction with the rulset. For example, a Chalk Farm 1984 game played on the Podume and Cascade Values Codex 1981 will be a lot different from one played on the later 1988 Codex. The Codex is read avidly by the technical player keen on causing all sorts of mischief to their opponent, but it is important that any player knows his values. In International Competitions, a codex is prohibited from being taken into the play arena.

The Codices in current use are as follows:

All games are played with these values unless they are declared otherwise (which requires permission of IMCS if it a rankings competition)


The most colourful codex ever to be pulished is the Network Values Codex of 1555 as amended 1956. It has been nicknamed the "Snood Codex", as it brought Snood Play for it's short-lived life (4 years) to the cutting edge of Mornington Crescent play. Some of its values and recommendations are still residual today, but it is a far cry from the 1957 final of the World Championships where Trellis twisted the Snoods by 265 degrees and used the centrifugal gravity caused to suck her opponent from his winning position on the District Line and forced him to pre-empt an Ongar denial, thus allowing Trellis a cross-diagonal under-strile, drawing up to Mornington Crescent with a magnificently tidy +1.0 LV. [Si]

Corner & Side

In business since 1927, Corner and Side are the best known manufacturers of IMCS approved tokens. While the bulk of their business is dealt with in the creation of plastic tokens for general use, which are brought into being at their factory in Basingstoke, they still keep a special outlet in Hatton Garden which deals with the design and construction of bespoke tokens for the discerning player. The business is currently under the control of Matthew Side, grandson of the original Cuthbert Side, co-founder of the shop. The Corner family no longer have a stake in the business after a mutually agreed buyout by the Sides in 1972.

It is possible to know exactly how many tokens of different designs have been created by the company since its inception, as the masters of every single design are kept in a climate controlled vault at the factory. A study of the ledgers shows that tokens have been created for such eminent players as Ruttsborough (who ordered them armoured and with spikes), Xavier (who favoured a fluted design with a small tail so that he could move stacks more easily) and of course several hundred sets for Mrs Trellis.

Corner & Side are probably the leading bespoke token manufacturers in the world. While rivalled for size by the MC division of Tiffany's in New York and Murgatroyd's of South Africa, no other token manufacturer can claim the double whammy of being both in the heart of London and the choice of 90% of the world class players. Without wishing to sound like an advert, they have an on-line shop at Corner & Side OnLine. [Don't seem to be having much luck with that address. Ed] [TUA]

Coventry Block

An artificial restriction on valid moves. Examples include: Northern line only, two words only, interchanges barred, Central Line excluded, etc. [TCM]

Crabbit's Rule

Under this, King's Cross must be followed by Baker St. because of the diagonals. [NA]

Crescent '31 (aka Mornington Crescent 1931, IMCS/CAMREC Crescent Treaty 1931)

The first 'classic' ruleset endorsed by both CAMREC and IMCS at the great MC negotiations. The rulest came into being on June 4th 1931 and is the basis for most modern rulesets (Chalk Farm 83, 84, Finsbury Option and Holland Park 2000 included).

It was innovative in recognising moves which had previously been only defined in terms of their exponents: the Chudley-Smith progression was recognised as the first "cross-hatch", and the word 'pickering' was used for the first time in a ruleset.

Crescent '31 was also the first ruleset to be used uniformly across the grand-slam tournaments, and was finally recognised as the World-Standard in 1934, when the "All-England Mornington Crescent Club" was amalgamated from the central London clubs. Edward Cholmondley-Davis won the World Championship that year, the first chamption under Crescent '31.

Despite many new rulesets that came in the late-30s-40s (Crescent '38, Praed Street '41, Mark Lane '46) Crescent '31 continued as the ruleset of choice for many tournaments, including the World Championship (although Praed Street '41 was used for the 42-43 tournament) until it was superseded by Marble Arch '54. Aficionados still like to resurrect Crescent '31, although in recent years it has fallen into increasing obscurity. [Si]


Cress is a challenging and often controversial that involves its players in the mechanics of the game far more than is usual, customary or, at times, safe. All moves are in the form <B>[action]</B> <I>declaration</I> and replace action and declaration respectively. For instance, [Salt shaker diagonally over soup bowl, inverted] Curlew doubled and billed would be a useful move if, for instance, your opponent was threatening with a nasty pincer movement from the coffee-cups.

Play usually starts out sedately, often in the manner that the players actually started their day. Gradually, the involvement and intensity builds until the players either resign, die or are forced to win. Winning is often not a particularly attractive option, especially as it may require some sort of bodily sacrifice. However, this does not deter the more dedicated players remaining; nor should this be taken as a sign that Cress necessarily has to resolve into physical violence. [PW]

Cripplehead, Arthur

Arthur Cripplehead was Britain's foremost MC theoretician, working for the IMCS from the 1960's until his death in 1982. However, for all his prowess and his undeniable skill, he only played once in the world championships, and that unwillingly, to become world champion in 1957. He did not defend his title in 1958. His most notable game was against Mrs Trellis in 1964, which he won by the narrowest of narrow margins. Cripplehead's biography has recently been completed, and an edited version is available here. [TUA]

Crossmead Spiral

Crossmead Spirals come in two major forms; the 'regular' or 'spinwards' Crossmead Spiral and the 'outward' or 'widdershins' Crossmead. The regular Crossmead is a bit dated - it has even been described as 'cumbersome' - and nowadays several tactics that successfully stall such a manoeuvre are known. On the other hand, successfully getting a Widdershins Crossmead above the third spin in a stable formation gives access to full cross-planar tunneling. If well-executed, this may even occur at quantum level. It grants many more tactical options than the Pettengale Sweep and is almost impossible to block.

A particularly devastating use of a Crossmeads Spiral was when Graeme Garden got from South London to North Africa in a single move. That was a near-perfect example of a Whiddershins Crossmead - made all the more interesting because it was disguised as a series of shunts right up until the final leap.

Safety note: Some readers may recall the horrendous 'Crossmead' disaster of 1987 where four MC players were seriously injured as their (Outward) Crossmead Spiral got dangerously out of control, spinning wildly and bringing everything to a premature end. This tactic is not recommended for use below club level unless all participants have been properly trained and have taken suitable safety precautions. Note that a Spiral must be executed with military precision, but once it builds up some momentum, trying to stop it is like throwing a baked bean at a charging rhinoceros. (Which also explains why it can be dangerous when attempted by inexperienced players.) By comparison a Pettengale Sweep is an ephemeral creature, trivial to deflect. [SM]

Cryer, Barry

Barry Cryer, to spare you any form of biographical detail, is the other half of Graeme Garden's team. Well known for playing Quex Road, for good or ill, and is very dangerous when straddling the District. [PW]

Czukay Manipulation

This is a very complicated move pioneered by the great but enigmatic Czukay. At the 1965 World Championship he unveiled his masterpiece, the Czukay Manipulation. The details are too involved to go into here. Basically, all sorts of things are done to a chosen and specified line, including recolouring, reflecting, changing all sorts of coefficients, but in such a way that the line emerges from the move unchanged. The result is a move to an otherwise unreachable station. [TCM]


Davies' Block

The Davies' Block is a sequential interchange block on Bow Road, played with a black token. This blocks all movements West through Bow Road, but not all movements East. The token cannot be shunted or switched until an equivalent number of black tokens have been removed from anywhere on the board excluding Bow Road. This often causes an uncomfortable situation, as the usual way to do this is to sacrifice valuable tokens they have built up for a rebound on the Northern line.

Traditionally, the black token should be as dishevelled as possible, and, if space permits, be placed skew on the Bow Road marker. [PW]

Davies' Reverse

A reverse played from west to east with a black token is known as a Davies' Reverse. This reverse requires the sacrifice of the black token, but removes the token or tokens it is played on, and nullifies any tokens played by the player following the Davies' Reverse. [PW]

DeHaile Notation

A symbol-based game-annotation system developed in 1983, relying on an easy-to-read sequence of colours and geometric shapes to document the game moves. Most MC players will probably remember it as being the driving force of Treadgold's 1985 campaign to introduce Mornington Crescent to schools. However, despite being IMCS standard for three years (alongside Venbacker Notation, which many still insisted on using), DeHaile Notation is no longer in common usage outside Cardiff. [KD]


Proper understanding of the diagonal is fundamental to proper understanding of the Game. [AxS]

Docklands Light Railway

The DLR technically isn't part of the Underground but is considered to be for all practical purposes. [TCM]

Docklands Triangle, The

The Construction of the Docklands Light Railway and the East London Line Extension caused a number of weighting problems in Quadrant 3, where they are geographically located. The effects were negated by creating Quadrant 5, however the new quadrant seems plagued by new and inexplicable phenomena. Test games early in 1996 indicated that in Quadrant 5, tokens change colour, value and sex and even disappear when not watched closely. Spin on stations in Quadrant 5 decays, and LV exhibits unusual degrees of curvature. More worrying is that the nature of Nesaden is changed, to such a degree that a player entering it from Quadrant 5 with LV above 6 causes the station to exhibit charm and initiates a loop, causing cataclsymic tactical problems for all players. These and other observed phenomena have led to the entire quadrant becoming known on occasion as the Docklands Triangle. There have even been reports of trains without drivers (!) [TUA]

Dollis Hill Loop

Dollis Hill is unique in that, under standard rules, the station is aligned so that any simple reverse will reflect via the Baker Street interchange, back to Dollis Hill, thus dealigning the routes of any other players' reverses, and will cause a generalised shunt to Dollis Hill. So, in the simple situation that a player forces another to reverse from Dollis Hill (e.g by shunting them to the station and blocking or offsiding straddles), a self-reverse loop ensues. Of course, any player declining to play the reverse must choose a far more attacking course of action to break the loop, and will inevitably cause their own defense to be weakened.

While considered the bane of the modern game by many players, the Dollis Hill loop is actively encouraged by others, particularly those of a more attacking nature who can take full advantage of another player's break of the loop. [JH] [Who else? Ed.]


This is usually thought of as a particularly violent sort of shunt, in which the shunting player follows through and drives the shunted player back by several stations (instead of the usual stipulation about moving to the nearest free station.) This manoeuvre was much favoured by Ruttsborough, who gave it its name during a move where he shunted through Green Park on the Piccadilly all the way to Earls Court, and sent his opponent (Arthur Cripplehead) spinning off as far as Osterley. [JLE]



The sequence of events carried out after a player has successfully moved to Mornington Crescent. Players with temporal blocks pending are permitted to resolve them, and floating tokens are claimed by the nearest free players. Numerous rule variants (although this excludes Regency and Brighton) permit token bombardment by any players adjacent to MC. If the active player is still at Mornington Crescent after endgame, he or she claims victory.

(Note: Since 99% of endgames do lead to victory, the York Server automatically assumes that the claim will stand, and the game terminates once MC has been played - in the case of endgame events, these should be announced post-termination; if the active player is dislodged, play is then resumed by the server maintainer.) [KD]


Described by Mrs Trellis as "The best of friends and the most cunning of coaches," Engelbert is in fact a large English Blue cat with whom she shares her house. Engelbert often joins her at away matches and has a special carrier constructed in the image of Mornington Crescent in which he travels. Its innards are lined in velvet and he has a set of bowls shaped after the London Underground roundel from which he eats and drinks whatever he chooses. Detractors of Engelbert (usually people whose tactics have gone to hell after astute use of the Engelbert Manoeuvre suggest that such a pampered existence has led him to become somewhat overweight, and it is true that he carries on his frame more than an ounce of lard. However, he cannot be faulted on his lazy and easy-going nature, and anyway it is really rather petty of people to hold grudges against a cat. [TUA]

Engelbert Maneouvre

Increasing evidence of Mrs Trellis' dominance of the game comes in the shape of this move, named after her cat. First recognised in 1995, the move came about after Engelbert leapt upon one of her many boards in use in postal play, this particular one between herself and Shaw (Camden). Engelbert caused one of her tokens to roll down the Northern line until it hit the small machined elevators at Bank. Immediately Mrs Trellis realised that this could be a way to initiate a secondary token ring intesecting the Circle. The implications of this are wide ranging and have been discussed in great detail in recent editions of MC Player. [TUA]

Escalator Rule

Although Monument/Bank is now considered one station for gameplay purposes and should properly be played as "Monument/Bank", on boards up to at least 1987 it was shown as two stations, Monument and Bank (not going too fast for you am I?). The two were shown with an escalator link between them, usually represented as a zig-zag line. Consequently, under Chalk Farm '84 rules a move from Monument to Bank is legal, provided the player is not in spoon, and increases spin and token loadings accordingly, but leaves LV unaltered. The fusion into one station means that, under later rulesets, if one player plays "Monument" or "Bank" rather than the combined name, his opponent may declare "Escalator" and then move as if at the other part of the combined station, eg to Green Park, with consequent advantages.

Similar maneouvres are, of course, possible at Tower Hill/Tower Gateway and Bow Road/Bow Church but these are more recent innovations, Monument/Bank is considered traditional.

This sort of frivolous anomaly is part of what makes the Game what it is. [AxS]


Eight underground stations are in Essex: Roding Valley, Chigwell, Grange Hill, Buckhurst Hill, Loughton, Debden, Theydon Bois and Epping. Despite this, Roding Valley, Chigwell, Grange Hill and Buckhurst Hill are in zone 5 and Loughton is in zone 6. They are therefore treated as if they were in Greater London except for their lower token limits and the LV restriction of 6.2 on moves starting from them. Debden, Theydon Bois and Epping are outside the zonal area so moves between them are normally unrestricted. The presence of the three ghost stations beyond them however prevents them being as useful for retreating to rethink strategy as Buckinghamshire stations due to the danger of being impeded by coefficient tweaking around the ghosts. The stations are of couse in quadrant 3. [TCM]

Eton Wall Game

It is widely believed that the basic idea for the game of Mornington Crescent first occurred to a player of the Eton Wall Game, while his head was being repeatedly banged against the wall by an opponent. Certainly the spirit of the Eton game, which for the last 113 years has always ended in a goalless draw, has much in common with that of MC. (See also Berlin Wall Game. [JD]



A player choosing to sacrifice their turn (usually in afrivolous manner) instead of playing a valid and beneficial move is said to be "farkling". The derivation of this word is unknown, and the word itself is rarely heard these days. [KD]

However, in recent years the term 'farkle' has come to mean a specialised kind of pass, where the player does not move, but performs actions which affect the state of the game. [JLE]

Farkle Paradox

Sometimes, a player is placed in a situation where he has no legal move for one or more turns, and must thus pass or, more usually, farkle. This situation is commonly known as a Farkle Paradox.

In some rare cases, it is possible for every single player in the game to have no legal move (the situation is usually the result of a combined Spoon and Knid, with a demand that the next move be to a station which happens to be on the other side of the river and a prohibition on non-linear moves.) This is known as a General Farkle Paradox. If this is combined with the condition of Boris, which debars players from passing, there is no choice but to resign from the game (as the player can neither play nor pass) and rejoin at a later stage, at a consequent severe disadvantage. One of the few defences against this is to ensure access to the up escalators, as there are fewer restrictions on movement above ground and use of the ferry is permitted. [JLE]

Favisham, Earnest Arthur

Earnest Arthur Favisham (1920-1957) has been the subject of conflicting assessments ever since he came to attention with a string of astounding games in the international tournaments in his twenties, shortly followed by the work with which his name is permanently associated, Favisham's Byplays. He single- handedly established the method of playing extremely long tactical sequences of moves, which contrasted markedly with what he derisively called "ping-pong", where the players merely respond to the position of the moment. His great weakness was over-extending himself with elaborations which taxed even his ability to analyse. He saw it differently, saying, "Winning tells me nothing. Losing is the only way to learn from my opponent." Understanding the game was always more important to him than pot-hunting.

After Byplays, he recorded his increasingly complex explorations in irregularly appearing monographs and articles in the IJMC, with simple yet obscure titles such as Hop-striles and Pegging out of place. Even the most senior masters of the tactical game admit to being beyond their depth reading them. Strozza commented that if he had understood Favisham earlier, he would have mastered the game in half the time, but until he became a master, he could not have understood Favisham. The last few years have seen several of his earlier articles yielding their secrets to a more sophisticated generation, and Favisham studies have become an established field. In this writer's opinion, Favisham was a genius before his time, perpetually frustrated by the absence of the analytical tools to develop his theories on a sound basis, an Einstein in the age of Ptolemy. Despite the difficulty of his major work, every player who has ever thought more than six moves ahead owes him an indirect debt.

Born in Britain, in his teens his family moved to Germany, where he first came in contact with the game. Within a few months he had, in his view, exhausted the possibilities of club play, and thereafter played only on the international scene. He ignored the English MC community entirely, regarding them (with some justice, at that time) as hidebound traditionalists more concerned with polite breeding than serious play. He played his last game in the final of the Monte Carlo tournament of 1957, losing to the brilliant Gabriela Scarlatti. He died the following morning of an aneurysm while analysing the game, at the age of 37. He is variously remembered: "Playing against Favisham was like having my brains sucked out through a drinking straw. It was wonderful." (Gabriela Scarlatti) "Not really one of us." (Mrs. Trellis) "The finest genius never to have won a major tournament." (Rutherford) "A delusional monomaniac whose scribblings would better adorn the walls of Bedlam." (Ruttsborough) [Rk]

fF Notation, The

In 1843, Ernest Gower had spent nine years as captain of the London MC Club's A team. He was a very respected player and had already developed the Lateral Gower Straddle, but his sense of fun sought an outlet. Unfortunately, as he well realised, he could not very well produce any work that would be branded as frivolous without himself being scorned as someone who "didn't take the game seriously". This had already happened to two players in the London MC Club, and Gower was definitely not wanting to be a third.

And so he published a small volume of humourous game transcripts under a pseudonym, fFredrick fFrobisher. In a diary note, Gower explains that the preceding small 'f' indicates that this was a frivolous work, and that Frobisher seemed to be a relatively silly moniker (compared to the names of some of the learned players at the time). He ends the note with a hope that this defacto standard would be used by other players to continue the work of keep the game of MC as something that was, above all, a game.

It is not known whether he actually talked of his thoughts to anyone in the LMCC or elsewhere. However, fFrobisher's book sold quite well and Gower's standard seems to have been quickly adopted by other members of the LMCC and other clubs for naming manoeuvres that did strange, unexpected and quirky things in the game. Other people, perhaps capitalising on the success but certainly adding to the accepted standard, published under other pseudonyms such as fFeatherstonehaugh and fFrazier.

Of particular note is the fFrobisher fFlourish. This basically pools everyone's tokens and distributes (flourishes) them back at random. The 'Share the Wealth' principle has a complete novelty and, used skilfully, has resulted in several wins. [PW]

Fifth Quadranters, The

One of the more extremist factions within CAMREC, formed after the release of the Finsbury Amendments of 1988, and with the explicitmanifesto of rejecting these amendments. Their name stems from the creation, postulated as part of Finsbury, of Quadrant 5 as a symbol for all that CAMREC despised about the ruleset. When the Holland Park 2000 ruleset was released, the 5th Quadranters were officially disbanded on the grounds that the said feature had been removed from the game (along with about a third of the rest of the Finsbury Amendments: though the actual Finsbury Option itself, which gave the Amendments their name but formed only a minor part of them, was kept.)

Rumours that a few of the former Quadranters have banded together and infiltrated the IMCS to sabotage the discussions of revisions and updates to HP2000, and thus the credibility of the IMCS (widely perceived as the victors in the disputes), by introducing errors into the final typesetting have been explicitly denied. Nor can any credence be attached to the claim that these people are now known as the "Nosey Parkers" for their tactic of infiltration rather than confrontation, and the name of the ruleset they're explicitly NOT trying to sabotage... [JLE]

Finsbury Option '88

The most succesful and widely accepted of the amendments to the Chalk Farm '84 ruleset, bringing in (among other things) the existence of Quadrant 5 to hold the Jubilee extension and Docklands lines. There has been talk of making this amendment part of the official rules, (the IMCS are still debating) and the main argument against it is the semantic problem of having 5 Quadrants (of course we all know what "quadrant" means.) For that reason alone, it is likely to be superseded eventually when a new ruleset comes out as the Jubilee extension opens properly (current speculation is that the Quadrant boundaries will move, and there will be only 4 as there should be.) [JLE]

Foetal Stations

Stations that are planned or under construction. They are treated in a similar way to ghost stations except that coefficients are 1.4 times the values they would be on a ghost station. At present the new stations on the Jubilee Line extension are in this category. [TCM]

Foetal Ghosts

A phenomenon that affects play very rarely. As a result, they are not discussed in elementary textbooks and even highly advanced discourses usually mention them only briefly. They are stations that were planned but never actually built, for example the Northern Line extension from Edgware to Bushey Heath, or the originally intended continuation of the Jubilee Line from Charing Cross to Docklands via Aldwych. The tunnels for this were actually built as far as Aldwych. [TCM]

The most celebrated Foetal Ghost station is North End, otherwise known as Bull & Bush; this station was actually partly built at track level but never opened to the public - nor linked to the surface. Had it been fully built it would have been the deepest station on the entire network. This remarkable non-station has had many interesting uses over the years however. [B]

Forced Pass

Numerous game conditions are said to effect a Forced Pass on a player or players - this pass is usually effected at the start of a player's turn, or midway through it if self-initiated. In a midway pass, any imminent game events for that player are delayed until the next round. [KD]

Forcing Pass

A non-forced pass, made in circumstances where the opponent is debarred from passing and forced to make a move. Often used in conjunction with the condition of Boris, where every legal move is disadvantageous. [JLE]

Fosdyke, Amos (1863-1907)

Amos Fosdyke was born in the Yorkshire mining village of Paithwaite (pronounced pow-it, but that's Yorkshire) in 1863. The mine owner (Lord Potheridge) was an enlightened individual and insisted that his workers' children should attend school until the age of eleven before starting work underground, and so it was with Amos - a significant part of the curriculum consisted of learning how to play Mornington Crescent.

Amos did not shine at the Game.

In a village where the MC team was noted throughout the West Riding for its aggressiveness, Amos was too cerebral a player, his reactions too considered to be a part of the team. So, when he reached the age of eleven, he went down the mine.

The long periods of darkness underground gave him time to think, and think he did - about Mornington Crescent. He visualised the map, developed theories of movement, plans of attack, and strategies to cripple his opponents.

No one would ever have known about this, had Amos Fosdyke not taken advantage of the Paithwaite Mining Company Sudden Weight Loss Programme and lost a leg in the doors of the pit head lift in April 1880 (19th century lift doors not being big on safety).

While he was convalescing, he had an opportunity to play MC against Lord Potheridge (a remarkable coincedence indeed that the infirmary was hosting an MC exhibition tournament that month). Rather to the astonishment of the onlookers, Fosdyke won. Very, very quickly.

In recognition of this, Amos was given a scholarship to the MC team and a terrifying Crescent competitor was born.

After a time captaining the Paithwaite team (incidentally learning to read in the process), Amos became a noted theorist. His writing on proximity theory were the framework upon which later theorists (including both Grossman and the redoubtable Mrs Trellis) constructed boundary analyses and quantum token dynamic processes. Without Fosdyke's pioneering work on proximity and the formalism of behavioural permissivity these theorems would have been merely wordy discussions.

Sadly, Amos did not live to see the flowering of his contribution to MC theory. He died in a back street podume fight in Shoreditch in January 1907. Never able to resist a challenge, he'd been goaded into a wager by a gang of street players. When he handily beat them, they turned upon him and forced him to eat the pdumes he had won. Colonic irrigation having failed to revive him, he quickly slipped into a coma and died. [Dx]

Fosdyke Notation

Fosdyke Notation is used to define the proximity between two game objects, in particular between the subject and object of an action or effect. A Fosdyke Code describes the relative location of subject and object at a particular point in time; a Fosdyke Requirement specifies the proximity necessary for a particular action or effect to occur.

Invented by Amos Fosdyke in the late 19th century, this notation brought a rigour to the measurement of interactions between game entities which enabled Grossman and Trellis to formulate their zone boundary interaction diagrams. Extension of the Fosdyke principals to more abstract concepts such as Becks, and even to Fosdyke Codes themselves, permitted the advanced quantum token dynamic theories to be constructed. The impact of these breakthroughs still has to be fully assessed, but they would have been impossible without Fosdyke's contribution. [Dx]

Framilode, Hector

Hector Framilode was born in 1899 in Newent, Glos. the son of an itinerant preacher and knife-grinder, whereas his father was an unemployed music-hall singer.

Little is known about Hector's early career - but he burst upon the scene in 1922 with a dramatic win in the "Three Choirs MC Festival" held that year in Hereford. A great theoretician, he was also the perfect gentleman. This latter trait was probably the reason that he did not achieve the recognition or success that his undoubted genius should have generated. Being such a gentlemanly player he often sacrificed a winning position in order to help his opponent out of a tricky spot. His was a game full of charm and delicacy. It was at the Worcester Intercounty Championships in 1931 that he first created his famed bung. Realising that any form of cascade (the most famous of which is undoubtedly the Parks & Greens) created at its inception a Travis Field of 3.2 +/- 0.6 Onds this field could be polarized and cancelled by a transverse shunt of at least 1.8 strats, and he further realised that any ghost station within a lateral radius of 8.4 glimes of the initiating cascade station would supply a sufficient shunt potential provided it was played within two (or in certain cicumstances 3) moves of the cascader.

This meant that any form of cascade could be halted in its tracks so to speak very rapidly. The reason, perhaps, that the bung is not more widely used, is (as Framilode himself pointed out) that P&G cascades are not normally injurious in any way, and therefore there is little need for them to be aborted. However other cascades such as "The Regal" (i.e. Kings Cross, Park Royal etc.) can be a little more difficault to maintain and thus the bung can be very useful.

Framilode invented (or discovered) several other more-or-less famous moves including the cubic side straddle, the inverse mined glide (3rd order) and the glorious Diametric parallellogramatic glib which earned him the Prix d'Involution at Reims in 1935.

Everything seemed rosy in the world of Hector Framilode; However, sadly, Tragedy (with a capital T) was about to strike. The source of this tragedy (with a little t) was the deamon known as Ruttsborough.

Somehow the two men had never met in competition until the fateful day in 1936 when they were drawn against each other in the semi-finals of the Eastbourne Challenge Cup. Framilode's gentlemanly play so unnerved Ruttsborough that he crucially lost his concentration at Victoria having straddled from Ongar. Framilode was just one move from victory, when from his armoury of offensive play Ruttsborough produced a dreadful combination of acid-striles that rendered Framilode unconscious and he was rushed to hospital with two broken legs. Ruttsborough was awarded the match by default.

Framilode recovered quite quickly, but he was a changed man. He was determined to have his revenge upon the dreaded Ruttsborough. So he researched the dark side of the game - those moves that Ruttsborough himself was so brilliant at, in his evil way, but that few other players dared to even contemplate. The application of Framilode's genius in this way had dramatic results. Two years later - Framilode having played very few matches in the mean time - the two men met again. Ruttsborough was heard to sneer something to Framilode about needing crutches, but Framilode just smiled. The game went along convention lines at first, and Ruttsborough built a steady bulwark of highly effective and unpleasant craters and traps. It was as the game was moving towards what looked like a foregone conclusion of a Ruttsborough victory, that Framilode ventured upon the move which has become legendary ... Framilode's Self-replicating Spike. The move exploded upon the board. The audience gasped. Young ladies screamed. Old ladies fainted. War-bitten generals were seen to tremble - and what of Ruttsborough himself? He emitted an ear-piercing screech, and fell to the floor with second degree burns to his arms and buttocks. Vengeance was sweet for Framilode - but it had taken its toll. Within a day or two of the victory, Framilode had a nervous breakdown, his dallying with the dark side having affected his brain's beta waves. Fortunately a short spell convalescing in a rest home in Cinderford led to a full recovery - but soon afterwards he announced his retirement from challenge matches, saying that he wanted to spend more time with his wife and children.

And so Hector Framilode slipped back into the obscurity from whence he had come. He was last seen, just a few years ago, pottering around The Forest of Dean, where he had decided to settle. It is quite possible that he is still alive, though now over a hundred years old.

Of course Framilode's Self-replicating Spike was immediately banned by every authority, and is proscribed to this very day. [B]

Frobisher, Frederick (1891-1948)

In another era, Frederick Frobisher would perhaps have been recognised as one of the all-time greats. However, he was unfortunate enough to begin his career only shortly before Tibor Hugo and Sidney Hall reached their prime, and inevitably suffered in comparison: and then, barely a few years later, the (then) young Mrs Trellis arrived on the scene, which she has mostly dominated ever since.

Frobisher suffered, too, from his unfortunate name: since Ernest Gower had invented the pseudonym of "fFrederick fFrobisher" for his more frivolous articles in MC journals, he was unfortunately seldom taken seriously as a theorist himself (especially as he himself steadfastly refused to publish under a different name). Ironically, it was he who first realised that the "fFrobisher fFlourish" actually had a practical application in championship MC play, and from then on the confFusion was inevitable. His first and only World Championship win came in 1938, the year after Hugo's retirement, and the fact that people still refused to take him seriously can only have shortened his life as he turned to drink, perhaps as a way of escaping the ever-present mockery. He died in 1948, a penniless alcoholic. [JLE]

Fronsky Diagram

Developed by Californian Carl Fronksy, the Fronksy Diagram is an attempt to represent the state of a game of MC at any time in graphical form. Previous attempts at doing so had relied very heavily on the use of slide rules, drawing pins, and pieces of string and had not caught on due to the enormous length of time and paper required to draw them. Fronsky's genius was to develop a method which used only a sheet of graph paper and, optionally, a ruler. Fronsky's work was heavily influenced by the mathematical treatments of Silas Vern, and the Vern Angle is the basis of every Fronsky Diagram.

Without going into too much detail, a Fronsky diagram can be used to either evaluate the current state of play, or to predict the most likely course of events over the next few moves. Fronsky himself proved the worth of his work when he used it famously to beat Ruttsborough in the face of a massive Token Cascade and a quadruple knid. [FG]


Garden, Dr. Graeme

Graeme Garden, to spare you any form of biographical detail, is the other half of Barry Cryer's team. He is actually a Doctor, although of what is not known, and plays a very cutting and refined game, particularly within the Circle Line. [PW]

Ghost Stations

Stations that have closed. They can be used in play quite freely and are difficult to block although you would rarely want to do so anyway. Their coefficients are much lower than they would be if they were still in use and tokens placed on them may not always have the usual (or indeed any) effect. The most common ones are Aldwych (on a Piccadilly Line peak hours shuttle from Holborn, closed 1994), Ongar and North Weald which were served by a Central Line peak hours only shuttle from Epping until 1994, Blake Hall (between North Weald and Ongar, closed 1983), British Museum (Central Line) and Brompton Road (beteen Knightsbridge and South Kensington on the Piccadilly Line). [TCM]


Brompton Road (Piccadilly line) was closed in 1934. British Museum (Central Line) between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn, closed 1933. White City (Metropolitan line) between Latimer Road and Shepherd's Bush (MP), closed 1959. Uxbridge Road, on a Metropolitan line spur connecting Latimer Road and Kensington Olympia; both the station and spur closed in 1947. Two stations existed between Baker Street and Finchley Road on the Metropolitan line: Lords and Marlborough Road. Both closed in 1939. St Mary's (Whitechapel Road) on the Metropolitan Line between Whitechapel and Aldgate East, closed 1938. South Kentish Town (Northern Line) between Kentish Town and Camden Town, closed 1924. City Road (Northern line) between Angel and Old Street (NT), closed 1922. York Road (Piccadilly line) between Kings Cross (PD) and Caledonian Road, closed 1932. Down Street (Piccadilly line) between Green Park (PD) and Hyde Park Corner, closed 1932. South Acton, on a District line spur from Acton Town (the spur was closed in 1959 but the station still serves the North London line). Not included here are re-sited stations, or stations on abandoned routes (such as the Metropolitan line extension beyond Amersham and the District line extensions from Acton Town to Hounslow West, and Ealing Broadway to Windsor).

(This information gleaned from Douglas Rose's "The London Underground - A Diagrammatic History", a superb historical map but now sadly out of print. This is a vital research tool - especially for information on abandoned routes, station re-sites and name-changes). [TK]

Further addendum

My circa-1970 Tube map shows the now-closed Strand Station on the Northern Line, between Leicester Square and Charing Cross, which can, in fact, be seen from Northern Line Trains as they pass through, just as can The Gazeteer - a ghost located under/near Monument/Bank, still dimly visible from Northern Line trains if sufficient sparks are generated in passing, which never, as far as I know, resulted in a passenger entrance or appeared on any Tube Map. The Gazeteer's deserted platform is used as a storage facility for pallets of the slightly concave (top to bottom) white tiles once used to line stations. Nowadays, they just don't bother, and use conventional flat tiles for station linings. [GW]

Further Further Addendum

I am happy to report that Douglas Rose's "The London Underground - A Diagrammatic History" is back in print in a seventh edition, priced very reasonably at £7.95, ISBN 1-8541-42194.

Incidentally, perusal of the 1933 tube map versus the 1938 tube map shows a station Post Office between Chancery Lane and Bank on the Central London Line in 1933. This appears to have been renamed St Paul's by the next map. It retains this name today. Under Original Name Rules this is a useful technicality. Also, the version of the 1933 Beck map on the LU museum website shows British Museum in place as an interchange station (with Holborn?) despite assertions elsewhere that it never appeared on any modern tube maps. In interchange only rules this is another useful technicality.

(It is true that both of these stations are also shown on pre-Beck maps but most players tend only to use Beck-design boards. For those interested in such things there is an excellent webpage with a collection of maps from 1908 (interesting but unusable) to 1999 (twice), including a 1933 map, though without British Musem, a gorgeous 1921 map and the 1970-era map referred to above showing Strand and also Trafalgar Square, both of which were later amalgamated into Charing Cross. There is also another, slightly more bizarre webpage that has plans of several stations from various times, most taken from times when the stations in question were being remodelled. My favourite is the photo of a model of the King's Cross deep tubes.) [AxS]

Gower, Ernest George 1809-1897

Ernest Gower was born in Cambridge and moved to London with his parents in 1817. He found the London MC Club almost by accident, confusing their offices with a bar he was looking for. However, and to the game's eternal fortune, he found the game highly entertaining and noted in his diary that it appealed to his logical mind. He became captain of the B grade team in 1831 and captained the A team to victory against the Oxford MC Society in 1834.

Gower retired from competition in 1867 and devoted his remaining years in the club to research on forms of Straddle and Shuffle, developing important theories of optimal usage patterns based on token colour sequence. He was a gentlemanly player who was noted for his occasional humourous play (see the fF Notation) and quick wit. He died at the age of 88. [PW]

Grange Hill Loop

A confusing name, since the Grange Hill Loop is actually a circle, rather than a loop (in the sense of the Dollis Hill or Hainault loops). And then only during peak hours.

The Grange Hill "loop" is the circle of line at the east end of the Central Line, doubles back on itself east of Leytonstone. Even simple moves such as shunts and straddles will have different effects to the same moves on a standard line. In fact, it is possible here to straddle to the same line. Successful players almost always require a good knowledge of Grange Hill loop workings. [JH]

Green Line Bus Interchange Check (GLBIC)

A rather strange coefficient introduced in 1976 and considered by some to be out of date. It is an indicator of the availability of Green Line Buses to the players and if it gets above a threshold value (24 in standard games), the next player must catch a Green Line Bus to Victoria Coach Station to reduce it to a sensible level. GLBIC does also have some strategic value in laying down blue tokens and opening diagonals but these are not used very much. The 1993 ICMS AGM considered abolishing it but instead set up a GLBIC Working Committee which is due to produce its report in November 1997. [TCM]

Greens and Parks rules

Using a station with 'Green' or 'Park' in its name can be used as an invocation of the Greens and Parks rules. Playing similar stations without going into Knip or Spoon and without breaking a line diagonal scores twice the number of token collections for each station. Interchanges and pegged stations do not count in this increase. Colour and Direction should be watched closely during invoking the Greens and Parks rules, as hasty usage can leave the player open to attack from non-aligned or left-handed stations. [PW]

Groenback's Adjustment Variant

An entertaing form of MC in which players have the alternative of replacing the previous move. Obviously a winning move of MC cannot be replaced. Frowned upon at grandmaster level because obviously outstanding moves will be replaced. Such encouragement of mediocrity and subtelty is detested by some aficonados and in 1989 caused IMCS to flirt briefly with the idea of banning it. [TCM]

Groenback, Otto (1949-1977)

A German MC player, born in Saarbrucken in 1949. He rose rapidly thorugh the Junior ranks, first in Germany and then on the World Stage, winning the German Junior Championship from 1960-1966 and becoming World Junior Champion in 1965. However, he was unable to make the transition to Senior MC. He arrived at the 1967 World Championship full of hope and arrogance. Unfortunately he was defeated 10-0 in the first round. He never recovered from this severe blow to his pride and ego and never got beyond the second round until his retirement in 1972 in a blaze of sour grapes directed towards the MC glory his arrogance led him to believe would automatically be his. The five years betwen then and his tragic suicide are a sad tale of a man destroyed by over-optimism and unrealistic expectation. In 1976 in a final insult to the MC authorities, he invented Groenback's Adjustment Variant to show the game as the absurd scam he had convinced himself it was. In a final blow, it rapidly beame a popular and widely accepted variant. [TCM]

Grossman, Philippe (1938-)

It has been said of Grossman (he rarely uses his first name, having been mercilessly teased as a child) that if he could play Mornington Crescent as well as he could argue, then he would have been World Champion several times. But as it is he is a middling player at best, a fact which he tacitly acknowledged when he retired from competition in the late 60's.

However, Grossman is an outstanding theoretician. He has a profound and instinctive understanding of the kind of fluid multi-dimensional topologies in which token generators and zone passes operate, and which other workers in this field such as Kielder have barely an inkling of.

Despite this insight, Grossman's work went largely ignored until he was approached by another noted worker in the field named Mrs Trellis. She had intuited that many of the entities within the Game could be described in terms of more fundamental elements, and that the interactions between these entities could thus be analysed and predicted with considerably more accuracy if these fundamental elements were defined. However, she lacked the mathematical and, above all, topological background to work through these ideas in detail.

After a frenzied summer of bouncing ideas back and forth across a hotel lobby in Bognor Regis, occasionally at high volume, the theoretical basis for quantum token dynamics was established. These ideas were first published in MC Player in the Winter 1982 edition, and have gone on to raise as many problems as they solved disputes. But then that's progress.

Grossman himself continues to work in the theoretical arena, although he has left the intricacies of QTD to younger and more nimble minds than his own.



Hainault Loop

A forced loop of the Hainault station, usually induced by high token levels at Fairlop and Grange Hill. A fairly common occurrence in token-switched Derby Rules, but less common in standard variants since the introduction of the Loop Amendments in 1973. [KD]


Although similar to a standard strile, the half-strile is notably different in two regards. (1) It can only be used to cross one zone boundary per turn. (2) Tokens and modifiers remain unchanged, irrespective of destination. See also quarter-strile. [KD]

Hall, Sydney Ernest (b. 18 July, 1870)

By reputation alone the finest English player to have lived, Sydney Hall was born in Norfolk into an upper-class family already full of excellent Mornington Crescent Players, such as his cousin James, the 1905 British Champion, and his father, the team game specialist Alistair Hall, who played 18 seasons with Camden MCC. However, of all the Halls, it was only Sydney who made a real impact on the international circuit.

Having coasted to victory in the English Schoolboy Leagues for four consecutive years, Hall was picked for the England Junior squad, and won his first open Masters tournament in 1897 in London. From here he went from strength to strength, finally going on to win the World Championship 7 times, including five consecutive victories between 1920 and 1924. However, in 1925 the emerging Hungarian prodigy, Tibor Hugo shocked the world by destroying him in that year's championships, a defeat from which his confidence never really recovered. He said of Hugo at the time, "He is unbeatable", and for the next twelve years, he was proved right.

In his career, Sydney Hall played an astonishing 2,155 internationals, winning 1,821. He died in 1950, never having received the knighthood that most felt he deserved. [JH]


The principle of "Handicapping" is accepted in many modern games, including Golf, Croquet and Polo, the object being to even up the contest between teams and/or individuals, so that a reasonably competitive game may ensue. The game of Mornington Crescent has also seen the attempted application of handicapping systems, although, due to the somewhat factional nature of the governance of the international game, to this day there is no single system that has gained universal acceptance.

The handicapping systems with some degree of recognition may be briefly described as follows:

  1. The "Lyttelton Index" - a system recognised by the IMCS, with the exception of the Australasian and South American regions. Under this system, superficially comparable to that of Polo, each player gains a "Lyttelton Rating" of between 0.1 and 25 based on results over the previous 3 yrs and 9 mths (a curiously arbitrary time frame, the reasons for which are unknown). In one-on-one play, the lower-rated play is entitled to a number of free shunts equal to the square root (unrounded) of the difference between their ratings. However, this system has a tendency to break down in multi-player and team games, despite the publication of the comprehensive "Aldwych" tables, designed to calculate the differentials and the applicable advantages in up to 5 dimensions (these were allegedly compiled by Favisham during a long wait for a train at Aldwych - since they were published in 1944 and Aldwych had closed in 1940, not to reopen until after war had ended in 1946, this may well be true).
  2. The "Token Weighting Adjustment" method - largely accepted (although not officially) by CAMREC.
    This takes account of age, sex, and medal tournament results (only). Simple in application, players may at any point in the game call for a redistribution of tokens based on their own (or their team's combined) score. This frequently causes complete reversal of the direction of a game, and since there is no restriction on the number of times during a game that this can happen, some games played under this system have lasted several years of swinging fortunes.
  3. The "Zonal Block" system - commonly recognised by the UK Universities' MC Federation, and hence the favourite among the academic community. Under this system, players fall into three categories - "Freshmen" (red badge), "Finalists" (puce badge) and "Graduates" (vermillion badge). "Graduates" are prevented from hop-str iling for the first 30 moves of a game, while "Finalists" must restrict their movements to adjacent zones for 40 moves and avoid shunts, although huffing remains legal. "Freshmen" are allowed free play for the first 60 moves, but thereafter are not permitted to farkle.

Repeated attempts to develop a universal system have come to nothing, with each scheduled conference of all the world bodies being postponed on one pretext or another. A further meeting has been pencilled in for May 2005. Whether this will actually happen is open to a great deal of doubt. [HB]

Hardy, Jeremy

Following the sad demise of Willie Rushton, Jeremy Hardy has now become the fourth member of the ISIHAC panel. Whilst his MC style is not perhaps as developed as his older colleagues, he shows a firm grasp of the basics and maintains a good balance between attack and defence. [BtTS]

Harris Three Wild Blocking Shunt

Named after its inventor, Francis Harris (b. 1955). A triple-wild shunt of an unblocked player into a blocked intersection (often Green Park). This is a very difficult, but extremely effective, manouvre. [JH]


Hartramp, author of Vocabularies, a seminal work on the English language, was also an accomplished MC player in the 20s-40s. He is best known for his Variations, on all of which later entries will be forthcoming.

Hartramp had a slightly unorthodox style of play; he often had no qualms about twisting and combining well-known rulesets to his own advantage, leaving his opponents high and dry as he confused them with his superior knowledge. His inspired combination of the Tudor system with the little-known changes made in 1678 totally flummoxed Briggs in the 1941 World final. By forcing the diagonals (Briggs had failed to notice Hartramp's token stack) he walked into MC after only three moves. Briggs protested, but the referee let the victory stand.

Wartime austerity measures meant that his Variations weren't published until 1947, and he went out fashion in the Sixties, when his dry, merciless style of play was rejected as being 'too much like the Man'. He is, however, enjoying somewhat of a renaissance, and rightly so.

Some Hartramp Variations of Note:

Interesting Variations: Hartramp was the first player to contest that if a move was Interesting, it was certainly valid. He created a standard list of Interesting moves that were outside standard rulesets, and when these moves became standard, he immediately started work on a new set of Interesting moves, which he refused to publish, claiming that if he revealed them they would no longer be Interesting. A move he pioneered that has become standard is the exploitation of high LV and good token stacks to go from Embankment to Kentish Town in one move, thus opening up an easy entrance to MC. This move is, of course, not available should you be on the Metropolitan line in the previous move, in which case, of course, you would find yourself in spoon.

Deviations: In the 1930s Hartramp dabbled in S&M [Stratford & Moorgate? The dirty bugger -Ed], and created a special set of moves for those who enjoy deviating from the norm. The most well-known move in this deviation is the unique Dollis Hill escape clause, which is only useable with a leather podume and creates a Zone 4 Vortex. [Z]

Helical Stress

A quantity which describes the degree of curvature of the map manifold, measured in Brians. High levels of helical stress in a Mornington Crescent game indicate that token vortices may form spontaneously, and at critical degrees the entire map manifold may splinter. In other variants with limited movement options (particularly Baker Street) such splintering is often a good option for breaking multi-level block stalemates.

Helical stress has many causes, from complex token gradients to gravitic influence on quadrant boundaries. It is being increasingly recognised with the extension of Fronsky diagrams to include torsional components. [Dx]


Four Underground stations are in Hertfordshire: Rickmansworth, Chorleywood, Croxley and Watford. Because they are not in any of the Greater London zones, moves between them are normally unrestricted. The coefficients on them do however make them useful for token shunting. [TCM]


According to Barry Cunliffe, Professor of Archeology at Oxford University, there is evidence from Fishbourne that the game was brought to Britain by the Romans, confirmed by a mosaic there with wall painted scenes to assist novice players. The game probably was known as Manadolius Luminatus from the 1st. century ad. A few oblique Domesday references exist, but nothing substantial until the time of Chaucer in the 14th. Century. [NA]

However, it is clear even from those times that there was something of a schism between the "real" game as played by the nobility, and the "popular" game as played by the peasants: evidence from that survives even into some of today's game terminology, such as "croupe", "revanche" and "podume" (French having been the language of choice among the nobility in the 1100-1200s, and much of the French terminology has passed into the game largely unchanged - especially in gambling casinos, where French terminology is also used for gambling at cards and roulette.) Catherine Howard is known to have scored a three-move victory over Henry VIII shortly before her demise (which this may have helped to cause: Henry was a notoriously bad loser.) [JLE]

Holding Station

The London Underground has three Holding Stations - Mornington Crescent, Seven Sisters and Euston. These are the only stations which have no upper token limit (although MC and Euston do have limits on how many tokens can be carried or shunted in per turn). [KD]

Holfstedter Gamble

Named after Darvin Holfstedter, well known revolutionary 20 century artist and part time nihilist. Most people take account of their opponents position when playing Mornington Crescent, and often attempt to use it to their advantage. The difference Holfstedter began was to play a station which would only be beneficial if an opponent played a specific move. In Darvins case, this was normally a station on the British Rail based on the assumption an opponent would be forced to move to West Hampstead. Often the opponent would be forced to move to the desired station or destroy his entire strategy. Nevertheless, it is a risky way to play since an accomplished opponent can often play an alternative move without compromising their own position. See also Tucker Block. [JP]

Holland Park 2000

Originally conceived as a short-term meeting in 1994 to discuss the Quadrant 5 problem, negotiations between the political wing of CAMREC and the conservative faction of the IMCS soon became so protracted - and heated - that eventually nearly all aspects of the rules came up for discussion. The fact that Mrs Trellis's memory is not what it used to be rendered her little more than a figurehead in these discussions, with the result that the two sides were forced to actually talk to each other more than they were used to. The very thought of amending Chalk Farm '84 in any way caused several wildcat strikes by more militant members of CAMREC, leading to seven critical token shortages, four serious derailments, nineteen incidents of leaves on the line and even, in one case, a proposal to move the site of the talks to Dollis Hill. Happily, this terrible prospect came to nothing, and six years later the new ruleset was finally released. Typically, it immediately came under fire from the less contented members on both sides, but so far there has been no actual violence (although a couple of Suspect Packages left by dissidents have been seized and defused, and on one occasion, no less a man than Ould had to be forcibly restrained from ramming his five-pronged fFlanger up the nose of a particularly recalcitrant IMCS backbencher, who prefers to remain anonymous.)

Among the new features in the game are a new concept of how LV and positioning works in the realms of quantum physics, which has led to several important discoveries in the field of stable pickerings. The addition of the Jubilee and Docklands extensions as full parts of the London Underground *without* needing to be placed in a special temporary Quadrant 5 necessitated a major rebalancing and reweighting of stations, although things became much easier once the condition, that none of the new stations be magenta, was dropped - requiring corresponding adjustments in the game of Baker Street (something which both parties were reluctant to do): adjustments which in their turn affected conditions particularly on the Piccadilly and District lines. Aldgate East and Aldgate were swapped in colour (they are now respectively green and puce), the Spin differential between Dollis Hill and Neasden was increased by 3 degrees per second, and bridges are wild if the freem count is high (which, thanks to the snood-freem quasi-equivalence concept, is liable to be more frequent if the LV is also high - but, of course, less relevant for exactly the same reason) and various other adjustments of a generally small nature were made in similar vein.

Bookmakers are currently taking bets on when the first erratum slip will be published - Ladbrokes has August at 3/1, October at 7/1, July at evens and December at 100/1, while William Hill seems to make September the odds-on favourite at 1/2 and the BBC Office Sweepstake has stopped taking bets after their MC analyst was revealed to be, erm, "involved" with Mrs Trellis's cat Engelbert... [JLE]

Hollinshead's Chronicle

The authorative reference work on the game from the time of Henry VIII, in which is recorded a game between Henry, Catherine Howard and Thomas Cramner. [NA]

Home Station

Any player may (and usually does, early in the game) declare a Home Station. This must be a pure station, i.e. one which is not classed as an interchange (stations on two lines lying alongside each other do not count as interchanges unless (1) another line bisects the station, or (2) the station is at the beginning or end of the parallel sequence, or (3) is used as a terminus of only one of the lines. Thus, for instance, Rayners Lane is barred but the rest of the Uxbridge branch is available. Camden Town counts as an interchange. Closed stations are also not allowed (including MC, which in any case is specifically barred even when it is open.)

The benefits of declaring a Home Station are several: a player without a Home can conceivably be forced out of the game completely if he runs out of LV and tokens and has no legal move. This cannot happen to a player with a Home, as a move there is always legal. (For this reason, Homes with restricted service are risky, as when there is no service the player is effectively Homeless.) Players passing or landing on it must pay the owner one silver token or equivalent at the first possible opportunity, and no player except the owner may remove the last route of access to a Home Station and render it out of the game (mere blocking is not counted as doing this, as blocks may be removed). For instance, if a player declares Home at Upton Park and it is not peak hour, then no other player may declare a power failure on the District that extends eastwards of the North London connection at West Ham, or the Docklands connection at Bow Road/Bow Church if the North London is out of action.

As against that, token bonuses for creative shunting and straddling are doubled for a Homeless player. Loops have a greater gravitational pull, player LV is more vulnerable to greater swings up and down, and the effects of knip, knid and spoon are also correspondingly greater when happening either (1) to a Homeless player, or (2) when forced on another player by a Homeless player. This has led to a recent fashion of deferring the declaration of Home for the first few moves, coming out fighting, grabbing as many tokens as possible, getting a high LV and trying to throw opponents into trouble while remaining out of it, only then declaring Home when the attack breaks down. [JLE]


A hop-strile is a strile played across two lines that do not intersect in any of the zones which it covers. The daring may consult Favisham's article on the subject. As far as the average player is concerned, a hop-strile is of particular significance when LV is high enough to permit zone-jumping, as the pegging limit then extends one zone further than normal. [Rk]


A favourite technique of defensive players, particularly those from Eastern Europe, huffing is simply the tactic of reversing the direction of play of a player. In more detail, the player shunts the victim into an adjacent but blocked station, causing the recipient of the shunt to an adjacent but blocked station, causing the recipient of the shunt to "bounce" back to his previous location, but to be facing in the opposite direction. Whilst sounding very minor, this can completely ruin a well built-up combination of moves, and is as such a very effective form of defense against many attacking tactics. See also: Toff. [JH]

Hughes Difficulty Rating

Invented by great theoretician but mediocre player Ernest Mipplington, this is the standard way of measuring move difficulty. A simple move has HDR 0.2, a typical shunt around 1.2, a Czukay Manipulation in the range 3.7 to 4.9. The hardest move ever played occurred in the semi-final of the 1976 World Championship. It took the Andorran Champion whose name has sadly been lost from Amersham to Chalk Farm with all the diagonals closed, six lines quartered, fifty-two stations bulkheaded and sixteen more blocked. It took him almost two hours to work out. The HDR was later found to be 396.5 [TCM]

Hugo, Tibor (b. 2 November, 1909)

One of the most brilliant Mornington Crescent players ever, particularly at individual grandmaster level, Hungarian Tibor Vladimir Hugo dominated the Mornington Crescent world for much of the first half of the century, winning the world title twelve times in thirteen years, including an unprecedented (and unbeaten) ten in succession (1925-34, 1936-7 - missing 1935 due to poor health.)

Hugo was born in the rural north of Hungary, to a poor family who knew little of the game. It was Tibor's uncle, Pataki, who first realised the youngster's talents in 1916 when he saw him play in a school tournament. Pataki, a local government official, immediately started to contact coaches of Hungarian League sides, insisting that they see the boy play. However, most refused outright, few were interested.

It was a small local town side who finally realised the potential of the boy, signing him for a meager wage to play in their team. However, Tibor's individual skills soon drew the attention of the Ministry of Sport, who took him out of league MC and began to coach him behind closed doors.

In 1925, at the age of just fifteen, Hugo exploded onto the international scene at the Paris Open. Having coasted through his first match 4-0, he was unlucky to draw the then world champion, and world number one, England's Sidney Hall, the man who is even today widely regarded as the best English player of all time. In a shock result, the young Hugo tore Hall to pieces, winning 6-1 and sending the Englishman crashing out of a major tournament at his earliest ever stage. Hugo reached the final without losing another game in any match, before being finally beaten by the German, Joachim Jaeger, by a margin of just one game. Any disappointment was short lived, however, as Hugo went on to become the youngest ever world champion, in Stockholm, four months later.

In 1937 Hugo, just 27 years old, announced his retirement from the international arena, citing a worldwide fall in sporting standards as his main reason. He went out in style, walking away from a 10,000 Brussels crowd having just won his twelfth title. A grand era in the sport was over.

Hugo will probably be best remembered for his impact on Mornington Crescent style. His wonderful, flowing technique has been described by some commentators as the finest ever, and has been emulated by many players ever since. His record of 322 wins from 351 international matches will never be matched.

Hugo died peacefully in 1960, aged 51. [JH]

Huguenot's Gamble

A response move, somewhat dangerous, to the use of Junkin's Progession. [NA]


Illegal moves

Mornington Crescent is still, technically, a gentleman's game. Therefore, it is automatically assumed that all moves are legal unless an opposing player takes the trouble to question the legality of the move, in which case the rules are consulted. No tournament referee can declare any move in any game illegal without a complaint (usually by pressing a buzzer) from one of the players in that game - the only exception being a victory claim.

The result of this is often, especially in the case of some players who habitually play on the very edge of legality, that some moves in a game are later found to have been technically illegal (the current record is 34 by Vic Stannard.) However, no penalty is ever applied to a player who has "got away with it" by playing an illegal move that was not buzzed: if the other players in a game accept the move, it is considered to have been as legal as, for instance, bluffing your opponent into conceding in a game of poker when his hand was better than yours. (This attitude almost certainly springs from the long history of MC in gambling casinos.) [JLE]

I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue

The name of a highly popular and successful radio comedy show hosted by Sir Humphrey Lyttleton and played by Graeme Garden and Barry Cryer in one team, and Tim Brooke-Taylor and the late Willie Rushton in the other. The show is somewhat mistitled, since its participants have razor wits and can reduce the audience to howling baboons with an apt phrase.

Most of the games played on ISIHAC (as it is affectionately known) are played here, and vice versa. The one which everyone concentrates on, and to which this encyclopaedia is dedicated, is Mornington Crescent, known and loved by millions of devoted fans (according to recent Gallop Polls). Other games, like Cheddar Gorge and Limericks, are also well-participated. [PW]


Jespersen Maneouvre

The Jespersen Maneouvre was a legal move for approximately three hours on the 1st of September 1993; without doubt the shortest life of any rule or amendment, in the history of the game. Aleric Jespersen was one of the team responsible for transferring the IMCS Rulebook to computer format in the summer of '93, and somehow managed to sneak in Rule 38743(iii)/f - "Any player named Aleric Jespersen may move from any station to Mornington Crescent, at any time." The Jespersen Maneouvre was declared void shortly after the rulebooks had been printed, but since Jespersen lost his IMCS membership and was immediately banned from all official games, there seemed little danger in waiting until the October update sheets before officially revoking it. [KD]

Junkin's Progression

This opens the game to suburban bidding and permits a lateral shift in two. [NA]



A move which deflects an opponent's attack, rather than blocking it completely, so that the new direction of the attack is advantageous to the knerdler. A way of using the opponent's strength against him. (Thus, most knerdles are "sideways", "diagonal" or "reverse", the latter meaning that the attack bounces back the way it came. A "forwards" knerdle, which is rare, forces the opponent's attack to overshoot.)

The term derives, in fact, not originally from MC but from the game of cricket, where it was coined by the great commentator Brian Johnston to describe the deliberate shot where the ball comes off the edge of the bat and, instead of hitting the stumps (for clean bowled) or going to a fielder (for a catch), goes past both stumps and fielders and down to the boundary for four runs (hence, using the opponent's pace against him.) Johnston was a keen MC player, and it was on his suggestion (in a reader's letter to "MC Monthly") that the term was adopted by the game of MC. [JLE]


When all of a player's holdings have been trumped by other players and the player has no longer a secure base to play from, he is said to be "knidded". This can have serious effects - it is not possible to play the move of MC, nor to strile across more than two zones or use ghost stations as an escape route. Fortunately, it is usually possible to escape quickly by (1) taking posession of a vacant holding (this is rare except early in the game), or (2) overtrumping by expenditure of tokens, if enough can be found. "Double knid" means that all the holdings are trumped twice and must be similarly overtrumped to escape (and is thus correspondingly more serious later in the game, but not so much [JLE]


A state caused by non-level incidence onto an interchange, excess line velocity when crossing a zone or quadrant boundary, or an inappropriate use of a parallel or diagonal when holding certain colours of token. When a player is in knip, river crossings are penalised inversely, toffing, beaking, juicing and badgering are not allowed, and all token inversions and redeclarations have to be done before moving. Players can get out of knip by appropriate shunting or renormalising the level interchange vectors on at least two subsequent inter-quadrant or inter-zone shunts. (IMCS Ref: Concepts and Definitions Vol 2 Pg 149 - 155; Rules 1042, 1774, 1968 and 2095.) [PW]


Lea Hall 2000

A Mornington-Crescent style game based on the West Midlands Centro network, culminating in the winning move of Stourbridge Junction. Lea Hall 2000 was released on the 17th June in the Millennial year and is the result of meetings over a seven month period between Dudley and District MCC (that's Si's club) and CresFed Birmingham (The Central Birmingham representative at IMCS). The joint consortium felt that it was high-time that the Second City had its own game, to celebrate the new Millennium and also the opening of the Metro between Wolverhampton and Birmingham.

The Ruleset and Network of the new Lea Hall ruleset are interesting and varied from Mornington Crescent. The situation of the stations, and the slightly larger scale means that it is a perfect network i.e there are no permanent loops and pitfalls. Although this sounds boring at first, play can become more competitive as a rule was added to make the creation of temporary vortices easier. Thus, if you wanted to really drop your opponents in it in an All-in game, a temporary vortex could be created anywhere on the network via the Anderton Vortex Law. It would be difficult to explain the entire ruleset here, but there are many little intricacies that should make the game quite different than the traditional Chalk Farm '84 played on a different network that we see so often these days. I suggest you all take a read, available from IMCS, your local MCC or a good bookshop! [Si]

Line Velocity

This term is applied in several different ways:
  1. A player's speed (and direction) on a particular line.
  2. The prevailing strength and direction of flow on a line.
  3. The "overall" LV, calculated by adding together the total LV on all lines (direction again included: thus westward and eastward cancel out.)
Usually, the direction is not mentioned as it is fairly obvious which direction a player is travelling, and along which line. Technically, when (3) is mentioned, a direction MUST be specified.

The three different definitions of LV all interact. For instance, it is possible for a player to gain LV and reduce that on the line correspondingly, or vice versa, provided that both LVs remain positive and in the same direction. An LV in the wrong direction is considered as negative, and therefore requires a reverse and consequent token expenditure.

LV is also gained in some variants of the game by moving away from "Hill" stations, or toward "Vale" or "Valley" stations (and lost in the converse way.) LV may be gained or lost during loop procedures due to the natural gravitational effect of stations and token stacks (which of course add to the weight of the station.)

If the overall LV (3) is altered, then that alteration is passed on in strict proportion to all the Underground lines. (Thus, if the overall LV is halved, that on all lines is halved.) [JLE]

Liverpool Rules

A more refined variation of the game brought to the area from the south by stokers of the great steam cargo ships of the industrial revolution. Obvious differences from the standard game are when a player is stymied by his immediate opponent this in known as mating, when a player's route is blocked this is docking. If a player is both mated and docked then he is said to be in Heseltine and forced to miss a turn. [NA]


A process that is caused by three consecutive moves with Hughes Difficulty Rating greater than 2.9 or by four consecutive moves involving the redeployment of more than five tokens or five consecutive moves that have altered GLBIC or six consecutive moves that have increased Beck's or seven consecutive passes. It is basically a redistributive process that opens up the game to more aggressive play. [TCM]

Longest Game

See Shortest Game [AxS]


  1. If the gravitational attraction of a station exactly counterbalances the velocity needed to escape, then the game is said to be placed into a Holding Loop. Escape may not be effected by a standard move or strile unless the player's LV is increased by other means, and straddles provide greater risk to a player's position. If one player breaks the Holding Loop, then others may follow without hindrance (hence the risk involved in being the first out.)
  2. If the available velocity is less than for (1) above, then the player (and others) are drawn closer to the station. In this case, LV increases the greater number of times through the loop, but the longer one stays the harder it is to escape, eventually forcing extremes of token expenditure. This is particularly noticeable on the stations at Ongar, Morden and the two two-station loops at Amersham/Aldwych and Heathrow 1,2,3/4. This kind of loop is known as a Spiralling Loop.
  3. The Dollis Hill Loop is a special case, being as it is the only Hill station among those stations capable of having a Spiralling Loop. While it is the strongest gravitational attractor of all the stations (hence the number of DH loops, and the difficulty in escaping), it alone also has that capability to force people away by the tendency to run downhill. As a result, if play passes just close enough that the downhill tendency is marginally greater than the holding tendency, then incredibly high LVs can be attained very quickly with no problem of escaping. However, this is very risky as getting too close will result in spiralling inwards rather than outwards, resulting in (2) above, and with DH this can be incredibly hard to get out of. Ruttsborough was one of the first exponents of this manoeuvre, which greatly aided his high-LV strategy (and thus facilitated play outside the Circle, rather than inside where high LV can be a handicap in the confined spaces.)

Loop Amendments (1973)

This IMCS ruling was passed in November 1973, decreasing the basic loop-break criteria to six red tokens, rather than ten. Although obviously having minimal effect on the legendary Dollis Hill Loop (in which tokens cannot be employed), it reduced the severity of the Hainault and Amersham / Aldwych Loops, toned down the Hammersmith Harmonic, and was perhaps most notable for eradicating the embarrassing Mornington Crescent Loop. [KD]

Lyttleton, Humphrey, Sir.

Sir Humphrey Lyttleton, or Humph to his close confederates, is the adjudicator and organiser of the famous radio programme I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. He announces games, supplies the two teams with first lines and ideas for their activities, and often has to sort out the mess when Tim Brooke-Taylor does an inexplicable reverse-Lexington to Mornington Crescent without loading all bases. Whilst not an actual player in recognised competitions, many manoeuvres have been named in honour of his unassailable control of the game as we know it. [PW]


McKintyre, James Henry Simeon (1919-1989)

McKintyre, James Henry Simeon (1919-1989) J.H.S McKintyre is one of the most well-known names in Mornington Crescent of the 20th century. Unlike his contemporaries, however (Ruttsborough, Trellis, Ould, Favisham) his repute does not lie in his genius or tactics, nor in his outrageous character. McKintyre was a quiet, modest man, whose playing career, covering some forty-five years, was one of little consequence. Indeed he frequently failed to even qualify for major tournaments, and was seldom seen past the third round. He did, however possess an amazing ability to defy the laws of Network Physics and pull off ridiculously complex moves.

Born in Bracknell, Berkshire, on the 4th August 1919, McKintyre always gravitated towards London, and became interested in MC at the age of fifteen, when he accidentally stumbled across IMCS HQ while lost in London one day. Young McKintyre entered many competitions but was freuently outplayed by the straight-network type of play that had yielded so many champions. He began to study value-based play and used his mathematical strengths to try to outmanoeuvre his opponents.

McKintyre soon realised that the theories which surrounded value-play were not entirely comprehansive, as it had always been thought. There were, he discovered, anomalies in values which appeared when certain game conditions were satisfied, or, in some cases, seemingly randomly. He began to study these anomalies and came up with a theory of 'pits'. At first, he submitted the theory as a suggestion that value theory should be looked at again and that his 'pit' calculations could help formulate a new values Codex to iron out the problems that many value-players were having. As he looked closer, however, he found that he could use these 'pits' in his play, to extraordinary effect. He first tested this in a World Championship Match in 1952. Martha Jameson had McKintyre on his knees: knipped at Amersham with only 3 puce podumes and falling LV meant that MC was imminent. McKintyre had spent 15 minutes with his fronsky and was running out of ideas when he saw that something strange had happened in Quadrant 3. The line faultered, seemingly leaving an LV pocket from which he could start a cascade on Jamesons podume stack. Recognising a 'pit' he probed further and returned to the table to deliver a crushing blow to Jameson: Straddling at Euston, he reversed Jameson's driveback of 3 moves earlier and shot down the district line to Richmond, catapaulting Jameson to East Ham. Any analyst will tell you that this is not possible without inducing 3rd level strick on the entire network, yet McKintyre managed to exempt Quadrant 2, leaving him free to romp home. The victory was sensational, and although McKintyre did not defeat Hans Thomas Grenz in the next round, he ensured his place in MC history. MC Player the following month ran the article "James McKintyre and his Incredibly Flashy Moves", which MC players now use as a title for a game to celebrate his style. Throughout the rest of his career, McKintyre made many of these ridiculous moves, although unfortunately the 'pits' which precipitated them did not occur often enough for him to win a tournament. He died, on 6th February 1989, aged 69. A note on his bedside table in hospital read "Tried to counter the snoods and half-twist to Lancaster Gate - one flashy move too many" [SG]

Maelberg, Ernst (b. 13 Aug 1943)

Born in Iceland, moved to England in 1959 and became one of the leading lights of IMCS in the mid-sixties. Published a paper on the "Maelberg Variance" in 1968; a station reference state which became well established in the early seventies and is in common use today. Maelberg has been a member of the Iceland World Championship Team since 1976. Current world ranking: 33. [KD]

Maelberg Variance

Named after its creator Ernst Maelberg, a Maelberg Variance is said to take effect around a station when its line velocity is in a dual state. This frequently occurs when a stacked velocity change takes place just as another place affects the station, where the resulting velocities are in opposite directions. Prior to 1971, the latter state always got preference, but the introduction of Maelberging saw the emergence of the two-state condition as legal. Players must be able to ride both velocities to enter the station - rarely is this the case, and a carefully planned Maelberg Variance can often be more effective than any standard Block. [KD]

Main line stations

Under certain circumstances these can be wild, even when below the diagonal. [NA]


While one should never allow the base urge to calculate to interfere with the higher arts of the Noble Crescent, history shows that MC and Mathematics are inextricably linked at all levels.

Take, for instance, that most fundamental tenet of all mathematics; Pythagoras' theorem concerning right-angled triangles. Pythagoras, working at this time to a very rudimentary early ruleset, discovered that it was possible to invoke a move which not only crossed a zone boundary but also changed lines, using less LV than the two separate moves would entail. He discovered that the ratios of the LVs x to change zone, y to change line, and z to do both, could be expressed as follows:

x² + y² = z²

In making this discovery, Pythagoras had discovered the earliest and most primitive version of the strile. However this formula is central to any strile, all the way up to the theoretical quintic strile. Later developments also had something to do with triangles, with special cases for straddling from the Circle to the District around Aldgate and Tower Hill. Sadly, most of the original ruleset was lost in the fall of Alexandria, and only the first 37 books of the Greek's bare-bones ruleset were saved from the sacking. Mathematics, and more importantly MC, entered a dark age.

Thankfully science proves irrepressible, and it was by a fortunate chance that Sir Isaac Newton was inspired by an apple. Playing MC in his garden with his favourite nephew, Newton was trapped in strick on the Central, and vexed as to his next move. As he pondered his predicament, he was suddenly struck by a half-ripe apple falling from the windward side of his apple tree. Newton was inspired by the fruit, which was red on one side and green on the other, Newton realised he could quarter-strile to Monument on the District and collect a considerable token stack. Later in that same game, he found himself trapped at the far end of the Northern (for, while Newton was a scientific genius, his tactical play was abysmal) and was able to quickly prove, with the use of some small steel balls and twine, the formula:

Ft = mv - mu

Where t represents Token Expenditure, m the mass of the train, podume or other object to be shifted, u its velocity before the inertial change and v its velocity afterwards. F of course, represents the force of the shifting body. Proving from first principles, Newton was able to rationalise the shunt and used it to escape his nephew's trap. F was later simplified with token revisions to be 1, with F now referred to as Standard Shunting Force. However, the game ended with Newton in spoon, south of the river and bankrupt as his nephew claimed MC.

Even's Fermat's Last Theorem, frequently referred to before its eventual solution in 1995, was formulated in the heat of postal play. The theorem postulates an equation much in the style of Pythagoras' fundamental tool, viz:

xn + yn = zn, n > 2

Fermat then stated that there were no integer solutions for any values of n greater than 2. Fermat disputed his opponent's method of calculating LV due to gradient, arguing that his position on the ziggurat gave bearing to his speed. Fermat argued that for this to be true, the ziggaurat must have an exact physical relationship with the topography of the gameboard. Were this to be true, he postulated (in French), x3 + y3 = z3 where x, y and z are all whole numbers. Fermat claimed to have a proof that no such solution existed, and, as was his wont, challenged his opponent to find it. His opponent was never able to, and the game was considered suspended until Fermat's death in 1665, when it was officially abandoned.

Fermat's Last Theorem was eventually proved true for all values of n in 1995, and the acceptance of this proof is fundamental to modern MC. As the formula x3 + y3 = z3 relates to the ziggurat, x4 + y4 = z4 ties tokens in to prove the random nature of token rain, and xpi + ypi = zpi adds spin, allowing the fundamentals of Beck's formula to be proven as shown in MC Player, November 1995, "Implications of Fermat for modern theory". Whilst some of the more outré experimental numerology behind what should be more correctly termed Beck's Conjectural Formula has yet to be confirmed, the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem shores up an important cornerstone behind this near-fundmental aspect of Mornington Crescent.

Sorry it's so long, I got a bit carried away... [TUA]
[Oh, sorry, was I meant to edit that? Ed.]

MC Player

Mornington Crescent Player was first published in 1854 after the sad demise of The Crescent Oracle, which had run for only five years. Now widely accepted as the popular voice of MC, MC Player is published monthly by Northern & Central, a board of trustees who took over its publication after the demise of Robert Maxwell. MC Player had not been a Mirror Group Production at the time, but it seemed as good a chance as any so they took it. Furtler & Frott, who had been its publishers prior, still appear not to have realised, which is arguably proof that it was the right thing to do.

A typical issue of MC Player has a balance of MC-related news, gossip and digest as well as theoretical assessments, game fixture listings, celebrity profiles, token longevity tests and technical bulletins. The November issue each year contains a sneak preview of the forthcoming Ruleset Revisions from IMCS. MC Player is also renowned for its small ads, which cover both MC related gubbins and Personal ads, most of which take a form similar to the following:

Neasden (M) seeks Dollis (F) to go loopy over.

These pages can be rather sickening at times. [TUA]


The central point of the map. The canonical meridian on an arbitrary map is the station closest to the physical centre of the map, but many networks have particular stations which suggest themselves because of the underlying structure. For instance, the usual meridian on the London map is Tottenham Court Road. [Dx]

Mipplington Convention

Named after Ernest Mipplington, a 1960s MC player who had an undistinguished playing career but possessed the best theoretical understanding of the game this century. Certain complicated moves involve complicated calculations of coefficients and tokens. Sometimes they are so complicated that a player is unable to make the move or simply can't be bothered to. To get round this, Ernest Mipplington studied such calculations very closely over a five year period and published the results in his masterpiece "Maths for MC Players" (1966). In it, he sets out certain rules which enormously simplify the calculations. For 97.4% of moves they give the correct answer. Despite giving the wrong answer in 2.6% of cases, they proved to be of enormous benefit and improved many games in which they were used. The Mipplington Convention is now an accepted part of MC. Players are only allowed to use it for moves with a Hughes Difficulty rating greater than 3.5 and must explicitly state that they are doing so. The results are taken to be correct but the convention is not allowed in moves to Mornington Crescent. [TCM]

Mompesson's Ploy

The famous Derbyshire vicar, renowned worldwide for assisting the village of Eyam to resist the plague, also developed a technique for shunting below the diagonal whilst still in Spoon. Closely related to the Plague variation - Old Swan, Aldgate East, Finchley and Puddle Dock - Mompesson spotted the incongruity between Smith's Rule and the cunning Vicar's Slice. Developing the theme implied by this incongruity, the ploy is usually presented as a fait accompli via Rotten Row, Green Park, Chalfont and Latimer with Canada Water as the final coup de grâce.

Reference: Mompesson CT (Rev.). 101 entertainments during ye plague. Eyam Press, Derbyshire 1666.

Morden Paradox

Said to occur when two black tokens are placed simultaneously at Morden, usually as a result of player-shunts around the Circle Line. Players cannot enter Morden until the black tokens are removed, and can only (it being at the end of Northern Line) remove the block by entering Morden and dropping white tokens. A Morden Paradox usually blocks the station for the entire game, although careful token shunting from South Wimbledon can cancel it. [KD]

Morningside Crescent

A more refined, Scottish version of the game which nonetheless follows standard rules quite closely. Shunting and straddling generally are considered unacceptable. [NA]

Mornington Covenanters, The

Little is known about this mysterious Scottish clan of players other than they took violent exception to any opposing teams (or "temes") or players (or "Guttlies") who failed to observe their somewhat esoteric approach to the rules. In the late 17th Century, religious upheaval was well under way in Scotland with many families being forced to pledge allegiance to sets of beliefs against their will. This enforced action affected many areas of their lives, but none more so than the traditional games (or "gamies") played around the burning peat fires during the long, cold summer evenings.

Mornington Crescent had long been established in the Land of the Rising Kilt and had produced many local variations (too many to go into here, but all detailed in my book "Mornington McCrescent: A History of Shunting in The Trossachs"). One varient was particularly feared and, after many attempts, was finally outlawed by the Kirk, Parliament and the Gentleman's Clubs Society of Peterhead, a most influential body of the time. The precise rules have been lost in time, but there are a few remaining contemporary reports of the weekly bare-knuckle games held in the woods near Aberdeen. We can assume that the basic game was identical to that set as the yardstick during the Manchestere Yardestick Confference For All Ye Goodliemen's Gammes of Chance of 1592. Obviously straddling was encouraged, and double-looping on the third spin was seen as the move of a grand-master. However, the real quirk which set the MC world ablaze was the first legalised use of violence to overcome an opposing players defensive maneouvre. Although direct killing was frowned upon, gouging, hacking and inserting were permissable - in fact they were actively encouraged by true professionals in the region.

With the criminalisation of this bloody conflict came the inevitable underground movements, the most fearsome being the Mornington Covenanters. Legend has it they lived in a cave in the middle of Edinburgh, leaping upon hapless travellers with full-blooded cries of "Ealing Broadway" before cudgelling them with what one parson from Arbroath described as "a cudgel". The Covenanters were strict in their following of the rules as they saw them: spurtling was only to be carried out on the second transverse, March was forbidden as a month, and - most contraversially - women could only play dressed as the Pope.It was this final rule that was to lead to their demise when Flora McFlax of Invershookie became Pious XVI and issued a papal bull stating Hawkwind of Thebes' opening must start each game. The bitter infighting destroyed the Covenanters, although some did later go on to form the Conservative Party.

The Mornington Covenanters are now vaguely remembered, and are discussed mainly through the oral tradition of travelling dentists. The serious player wishing to learn more should consult one of the two pamphlets on the subject,both of which are held at a secret address in the Phillipines. [?]

Mornington Crescent Anonymous (MoCaS)

A body set up to help addicts of the game overcome their problems. Originally their offices were in Mornington Crescent itself, but had to be moved to Wimpole St. as addicts from south of the river could not get there if playing under Lipman's Rules. [NA]

Mornington Crescent Loop

Due to an alleged "miscalculation" in the 1973 IMCS Rulebook Tables, an entirely new form of loop emerged - the now-legendary Mornington Crescent Loop. 1973 saw a complete overhaul of the token interchange system, and amendments now made it possible to enter Mornington Crescent carrying twelve red tokens (or equivalent). Being a green clockwise station in most variants, this meant that any player claiming MC with at least ten tokens was immediately subject to a Forced Pass - play thus proceeded to the next player before endgame could be initiated. This Forced Pass would obviously remain in effect until the player's token level dropped below eleven, and since tokens are cumulative on open stations, any other player landing there would also be working with a token level above ten. The opening weeks of the 1973 season saw numerous games where every player became trapped at MC with no way to end the game. The problem was solved two months later in the Loop Amendments (1973). [KD]

Mornington Crescenters, The

A group from the late 1920's who recorded a song in 1929 called Lord Mornington Crescent. [NA]

Mornington Crescent Station

A London Underground station on the Northern Line, and the effective goal in a game of Mornington Crescent. The station itself is situated at the North end of Camden High Street, about ten to fifteen minutes walk from Camden Town station.

The station was closed several years ago, allegedly for refurbishment, and crossed off tube maps. However, as the government cut funds to London Underground, the station and its predicament became a political pawn, after LU suspended all work.

London Underground claimed that its lack of funds was preventing it from refurbishing a perfectly useful station. Local residents asked why LU couldn't rebuild a less used station (MC was, prior to its closure, rather busier than the average station), or one with closer alternative stations. This led to the formation of the Mornington Crescent Community Action Group (MCCAG), which campaigned for the resumption of rebuilding work. The government cheerfully ignored both. During this period, trains slowed down through the station as a mark of respect, allowing passengers to stare sorrowfully at the dilapidated platforms and abandoned ladders and tools.

Recently, however, work seems to have restarted in earnest, the station is expected to be returned to its former glory within a matter of years. A spokesman for Camden Mornington Crescent Club, which traditionally never playes more that a few hundred yards away from the station, was said recently to be "delighted". [JH]

[Addendum] The station finally reopened in April 1998, in a private ceremony attended by the entire ISIHAC team (apart from Willie Rushton, who had died shortly before). A Pilgrimage was held by devoted fans of the game to mark the occasion. [JLE]

Unfortunately, on this occasion the pilgrims never saw the interior of the station as it immediately re-closed for a short time due to problems with the lifts. However these troubles now seem to be behind us and Mornington Crescent is genuinely open again. [JC]

Mornington Croissant

The French version of the game invented in 1540 and called Mornington Croissant because the game was played usually over breakfast. [NA]

This is not to be confused with Chateau d'Eau, which is Mornington Crescent played on the Paris Metro. [JLE]

Mornington Royal Crescent

A variant of the game from the city of Bath, with an emphasis on cyclical play which caused the game to drag on interminably, thus causing it to lose favour with amateur players. However, with the recent introduction of the Looped move the game has speeded up. [NA]

Mortimer's Conversion

In this case, straddling is optional. [NA]

Morton's Convention

This permits horizontal play only after a pursuant player has been huffed. Also, it makes all main line stations wild. [NA]

Morton's Second Parallel

In this version, if two parallel moves follow consecutively, then play automatically is reversed. Rule 7 is applicable when playing in Richmond. [NA]


A move is the movement of a player from one station to another. When moving, the player's, other player's, and the game's, state (or any combination) will change. There are various types of moves (e.g. reverses or shunts) that have a standard effect. A player can either move or pass when asked for a move. [PW]


Always treated as a zone 3 station for gameplay purposes. Nobody knows why. [AxS]


Mulching is a process of inbred fertilization which employs certain decomposed organic materials-- including, but not limited to animal sediment-- to blanket an area in which vegetation is desired. The procedure enriches the soil for stimulated plant development while at the same time preventing erosion and decreasing the evaporation of moisture from the ground. [SM (who else? -ed)]


National Railways

LU's collective term for the privatised train operators running the national rail network. The North London Line from Richmond to North woolwich and Thameslink from Kentish Town to Barbican/Elephant and Castle/London Bridge appear on the standard LU map and are considered as extra LU lines. The rest of the network can be and is brought into the game occasionally. The purpose of doing this is often to destroy opponents' cunning plans. [TCM]

Nativity Mornington Crescent

A special Christmas version of the game, where the winner is the first person to reach Bethlehem. Taking a taxi to Bethlehem is acceptable in this form of the game only. [NA]


Knip when used in a Knaresborough rules game, derived from the River Nidd which flows through the town. [TCM]

North End Rule, The

Although superficially similar to the Ghost, Foetal and Foetal Ghost Station rules, North End (or Bull & Bush) station necessitates special treatment. As all half-decent MC players will be aware, North End was a station on the Northern Line (Edgware branch), between Hampstead and Golders Green, which was built at platform level only, and never opened. This rule is so complex that only the barest bones of its details can be given here, although it can, of course, be found in the latest edition of the IMCS rulebook as rules 15236-16458 inclusive. In essence, it is treated as a foetal station, as it is arguably still in the process of being built (albeit about 90 years since work was last done). However, there are numerous other effects of the North End Rule that only the most expert of MC players fully grasp. Nevertheless, particularly when used in conjunction with Beck's Rule, it is a valuable implement.

Incidentally, there have been suggestions made that Highgate (High Level) station should fall under the same rule, since although LT 'roundels' were erected, the station was never used by Underground trains. An IMCS North End Working Party was set up in 1962 to consider the North End rule, its future and its possible application to Highgate (High Level). It is believed that they have so far managed to redraft about 500 rules. [CTRL]

Northern League Version

This fluent and free form of the game was made popular by the monks of Kirstall Abbey. Variations from the standard game include Cloistering, which is only allowed after Kensil Rise has been played and a slow player may be declared Trappist by the player to his left, leading to the handicap of being silent for two moves whilst writing his instructions to his partner to play. [NA]

North Rule, The (783f)

Rule 783f of the Standard IMCS Rulebook has been present since the first edition, and is generally regarded as having no meaning whatsoever. It is unclear if the rule was a printing error, a mistake in transcription, an obscure reference or simply the compilers' idea of a joke - over the years, there have been various suggestions as to its meaning and origin, but none of them sufficiently convincing for IMCS to annotate Rule 783f, or to remove it from the rulebook. Under IMCS regulations laid down in 1900, rules cannot be revoked unless they are having an adverse effect on the general state of play. As this is hardly the case with 783f, it has remained present and valid all this time. It is generally regarded with gentle amusement by players, and is occasionally invoked if the game is thought to be getting a little over-serious.

Rule 783f states, quite simply, that "North is always North". [KD]

North Wales Chapter of the Mornington Crescent Psychic Insomniacs Trust

The Secretary of this chapter is the renowned Mrs. Trellis, whose personal letter to Humph reads:

"Dear Mr. Lyttleton, I know what you're thinking....

Many heartfelt thanks to you and the teams for all the help you've given in finding a sure fire cure for our members, some of whom hadn't slept a wink in years until discovering your programme.....

It was so nice to hear you again next year...."



Oblique aka Oblique Shunt, Oblique Straddle

A straddle or shunt is said to be oblique when it is neither diagonal nor parallel. [AxS]

Offside Rule, the

The Offside rule is one of the most basic rules of Mornington Crescent, and one of the first most people learn. As such, there seems little point in repeating it here; anyone interested in the official wording is directed to the standard literature.

Offside was introduced to the Game in the early 18th Century and has never been repealed. However, subsequent refinements to the rules meant that by the time of the famous Chalk Farm meetings of the early 80's it was virtually impossible to encounter an Offside situation once play had started so long as everybody plays by the rules (the situation where one uses Manor House to escape from a Beckerage loop is an obvious exception, although the Beckerage technique is disfavoured these days). The realignment of the zone boundaries in Holland Park 2000 meant that Offside once again became a consideration; although it can still be avoided with careful play.

The true reason that the Offside Rule has been kept in the ruleset all this time - indeed, the major reason for its introduction - is to limit the choice of opening moves. Without it, it would in many situations be legal to declare MC as the *very first* move of the game - which, as one commentator famously said, would sort of miss the point. [Dv]


The Official International Society of Mornington Crescent Stewards was formed in 1980 by the highly regarded French referee Robert Xavier. It's approach to the game is a very traditional one, a fact which many players appreciate greatly. [JH]

Ondyszeki, Sheila (b. 8 Jun 1967)

Daughter of Rob Ondyszeki, born in Cape Town, South Africa. Despite her father's status as a 'renegade' MC player of some standing, she was not taught MC by him, but instead by _________ (note: looking it up) who had retired to Cape Town in 1953. She emigrated to England in 1984 and started playing for the ELMCC as an independent, single player. Current world ranking: 27. [PW]

Ongar Denial, the

Any Beckerage, Thrush or Dollis Hill Loop may be countered with an Ongar Denial between 10 PM and 1:30 AM. Doing this, however, places the entire game into immediate Strick, and allows a free shunt to Golders Green. The reasons for this are lost in time. [ATC]

Original Modern Rules

This is played when located in the Islington area, located as it is between Gibson's Parallel and Mildmay's Opening (1984, not 1985), and forbids pairing off on the blind side, Euston Road can be approached only from the west and Soho is out of bounds. [NA]

Original Name Rules

Seldom-played version of the game where original names only are allowed. Obviously this is complicated for stations such as North End/Bull & Bush which never opened under either name. [AxS]

Oswald Heslop Manoeuvre

A frivolous move to a provincial rail network or a foreign metro system. Oswald Heslop was an annoying character who appeared in a cartoon strip in MCPlayer from 1960 to 1975. [TCM]

Ould, Francis Xavier (1947-)

The current chairman of the IMCS, it was something of a surprise when he was nominated for the job in 1997, notwithstanding the precedent set by Mrs Trellis: for, Trellis apart, the general tendency of the IMCS is to have its senior positions filled mainly by political time-servers, with famous former players usually only in honorary roles as "goodwill ambassadors" for the game. As a player, Ould was considered a very fine player in his day: although with only one World Championship to his credit (in 1990, shortly before his retirement from tournament play), he has won many lesser tournaments, with match victories over all the top players of the past half-century to his credit. He is the first player to calculate the true purpose in the game of what is now called Ould's Inclination, and invented the principle of diagonal shunts that depend on it, which are now known as Ould's Diagonal Shunt. He is also regarded as the leading expert in use of the five-pronged fFlanger - a matter in which he still retains his formidable expertise and is not afraid to put it to use, even outside the game itself.

During all that time, he seldom gave any indication that he was interested in the politics of MC - if anything, he was believed to have sympathies with CAMREC rather than the IMCS: all of which made it much more of a surprise when he was nominated for the top job, and yet more when he was elected. Nevertheless, in the years since he became chairman, things have actually started to happen in the world of MC: a new rapprochement with the leaders of CAMREC's political wing seems to have begun, culminating in the release of the Holland Park 2000 ruleset, the first truly official and accepted one since Chalk Farm '84, and more importantly he seems to have managed the negotiations without alienating too many of his own backbenchers, and is genuinely liked by both sides.

It would be churlish in the extreme to suggest that his former alleged CAMREC sympathies were not, in fact, an early attempt to bridge the political divide, but as a member of the IMCS's alleged secret "fifth column" of infiltrators, whose existence nobody has yet proved: it would be positively insulting to suggest that the surprising last-minute CAMREC climbdown that made HP2000 possible (made by an organisation not known for backing down) came about as a result of blackmail, from knowledge gained as a "fifth column" member, rather than being purely due to Ould's superb diplomatic skills and ability to persuade people to find an acceptable compromise: and it would be downright libellous to suggest that the total silence of CAMREC's militant wing since MC Station reopened in 1998 might be because Ould knows where the real Ruttsborough is buried. [JLE]

Ould's Diagonal Shunt

A diagonal shunt is one which is not purely linear, but takes place on the diagonals instead. Naturally, the strength of this particular type of diagonal shunt (as opposed to other types) depends on the value of Ould's Inclination. (If the said Inclination is at exactly 0 or 90 degrees, or any multiple thereof, the shunt should technically be referred to as an Orthogonal Shunt: however, this is not generally enforced.) Diagonal Drivebacks and Blonks are also theoretically possible, but seldom attempted even under standard Diagonal Shunt conditions - and under Ould's conditions of depending on his Inclination, they remain no more than a theory. [JLE]

Ould's Inclination

Ould's inclination may be approximated by subtracting the arctangent of Line Velocity divided by Beck's Coefficient from 90 degrees, although as token usage increases this will gradually tend to underestimate the true value of Ould's Inclination. Ould's gives a good indicator of the 'stability' of a particular MC game and the level of attacking play that has gone on during it. During a game, Line Velocity tends to creep inexorably upwards, and Beck's Coefficient rises towards 1. Ould's Inclination tends to start at under 30 degrees and gradually tends towards 90 degrees as the game progresses. It is important to note that negative line Velocities are possible, and under these circumstances the above formula will tend to overestimate the true value. Values of Ould's of over 90 degrees are also possible. Note that there are a few slight differences in the value of Ould's Inclination under some of the internationally-agreed rules conventions. For example, under the Sebastopol agreement, Ould's is considered to be zero until the first move of the game, while under the Ostend variation its value is considered to be undefined in this circumstance. [SM]


Pairs MC

An often neglected form of the game: the only important international championship of this kind happens during the annual World Championships, where it is considered part of the "Grand Slam" four events. Two kinds of pairs game are recognised: the "standard" form, where members of each pair play alternately, and the "block-and-smash" form, where both members of a pair play in succession. The former is the one used for the World Championships: the latter is generally limited to informal games. Normally the worst of enemies, perhaps the greatest pairs team of all time was formed in 1965 when Mrs Trellis and Eamon Ruttsborough agreed to bury their differences for the course of the championship: her defensive abilities combined with his attacking ingenuity swept all challengers aside and won the championship without conceding a single token holding in any of their games. [JLE]


Proper understanding of the parallels is fundamental to proper understanding of the Game. [AxS]

The controversial analytical practice of applying formulae from one part of the ruleset to another, and even from entirely unrelated fields, substituting compound algebraic expressions for the arguments of the original formula where the mapping is not obvious. The intention is to generate fresh insight into a problem by placing an alternative structure on the data, harnessing serendipity and juxtaposition.

This approach to analysis is too bleeding edge even for the normally progressive IMCS, having been denounced as mere charlatanism at every committee meeting at every level where it has been discussed. Any player found to be using parameterisation in match play is likely to be expelled from their club and banned from county level for at least three years.

It is best not to repeat CAMREC's official position on the matter.

Despite this controversy there have been some striking successes for parameterised analysis at the international level, with rogue players using this technique having beaten highly experienced players with apparently inspired manoeuvres which they have later attributed to parameterisation. [Dx]


A normalised unit of distance on a map. It is defined as 1/1000th of the distance between the meridian and the most far flung station.

Note that the common US spelling of "metre" as "meter" has caused no end of confusion both for and around American players visiting Britain, because of the common appearance that the visitor is talking about inputs to parameterisation, with all the political difficulties that this entails. This misunderstanding is often cited as a reason for the Game not being popular in the US, since it is viewed coolly when an American is not only not welcomed in British clubs, but is also (in certain high profile cases) subject to death threats. [Dx]


A pass is more than a move to the station previously occupied by the player passing. It assumes that nothing has been changed since the previous player. It is also an implicit recognition that the passing player's situation prevents them from playing a move. [PW]

Patience MC

Mornington Crescent for one player; which comes in a bewildering number of variations - literally, the same number as there are legal initial board setups. The object of them all is to get from one of the canonical starting stations to Mornington Crescent in the smallest number of moves; thus Allbright's Patience MC has Totteridge and Whetstone as its starting point, and so on. A variant which has recently gained a modicum of popularity on the [!]York server and elsewhere is "Quickfire Patience MC". This variant is played without the Offside Rule in effect, thus often enabling Mornington Crescent to be declared instantly. While many fail to see the point of this, it nevertheless has its aficionados. [Dv]


MC attracts Pedants in droves.

*NB Entry Suspended pending clarification of exactly what number a "drove" represents and precisely how many are mentioned herein. [TUA]

Pettengale Sweep

The Pettengale Sweep is a modernised version of the regular Crossmeads Spiral. While it is still defeated by strong blocking moves, it is a useful tactic in a modern player's armoury. It raises Line Velocity by between 10% and 50%, and reduces Beck's Coefficient by approximately half of this amount. This causes a tactically significant skew to the value of Ould's Inclination, which is a key benefit of performing this manoeuvre. It also provides an excellent way of collecting a large token bonus, although Pettengale Sweeps that cross more than one fare boundary usually consume almost as many tokens as they produce. [SM]

Pevsner Shunt

Due to looped interconnection lines and the close proximity of Dollis Hill, any player performing a stationary shunt to Neasden will automatically lose a token. This phenomena, first observed in 1983 after the interconnection reforms, was named "The Pevsner Shunt", for reasons which may or may not be obvious. [KD]


Pickering is a manoeuvre that should not be undertaken without realisation of the consequences of play along the diagonal. Since most pickerings attempt to swap line attributes between two lines along their points of convergence, or at least induct a series of point-equivalences from one line to another, pickering on wild stations, unplaced Ould straddles, and non-aligned green stations should only be done by the very brave, the very foolish, the suicidal and the supremely confident.

According to legend, there are at least two groups who are working on non-subprebendary (i.e. divisional along the relevant axis) Pickerings, most of which are colour-based. The Angstrom Institute, which had early success holding a Blue-and-white Gingham Pickering stable for about two second, have most recently held a double-chocolate leopard-spotted Pickering on the Circle and Northern lines for over forty seconds. Naturally, the whole thing tends to immediately annihilate the immediate zones, and thus may not be very useful.

A group working in Russia had, at last count, got a two-headed red-green Euston Road Pickering with switching inversions at intersections for around sixteen seconds, which could prove very useful when performing colour-variant shunts across sector boundaries. Its handedness was proved indeterminate, and diagonal straddles were dangerous to say the least, but there is real hope. Rumours of a completely working Reverse Pickering that was stable for around five minutes (!) have been hotly denied by IMCS and CAMREC sources. [PW]


Since the game of Mornington Crescent takes its name from one particular station, it is only right and proper that this station should be the subject of some care and attention. In the normal way of things, this takes the form of a respectful nod from those in the know when using the station. It seems that only in times of real trouble, such as the Great Closure of the late 1990s, did the more active form of tribute of the Pilgrimage take place. Such trips are often taken in small bands of players, in order to form the basis of a small player-cell after the actual visit. The story of an ancient visit to the station is recorded in text, while a pictographic record of one such visitation is said to exist on the WWW. [RJB]


A pipe is an abstract move often utilising z-space. A pipe invariably takes the form of an arc between two stations (current and destination), centred upon a third (the pivot). The effective distance between current station and pivot is found by dividing the current overall Line Velocity by the player's token weighting; the destination point may be extended, retracted and distorted depending on the proximity to high gravitational attractors and sinkholes. Piping between stations is expensive, but allows much greater scope in a move; and it is almost always cheaper than the same move involving above-ground transport. The major drawback is that it often leaves the player exposed to aggresive Drivebacks and power failure; caution is advised. [HR]


The unit of currency in the game of Mornington Crescent. The term comes from the days when French was the language of choice among the nobility: the general populace used the English term of "token" - which is largely, but not exclusively, preferred these days (outside of gambling halls, which refer exclusively to "podumes".) [JLE]

For those finding themselves in some confusion over the number of available podumes and their characteristics, Blob has provided this handy table for quick reference. -ed

Podume Of Ultimate Evil, The

This was created by John Dee, and vanished after he used it on Sir Walter Raleigh in a 'friendly' match (it was said that Raleigh made his decision to travel after this event; he was convinced it was following him). Aleister Crowley claimed to have rediscovered in, and in a match with Gerald Gardner in 1940 used it. Accounts of this are patchy and contradictory, but it is fairly clear that Crowley won, and Gardner never played MC again. Many MC players have claimed to have rediscovered it, the most recent being me, and to be honest I'm too frightened to use it just in case. It is jet black, with faded inscriptions on the obverse and an inverted pentagram on the transverse. It does have a disturbing tendency to try and get itself played when it feels threatened. When the player holding it is in knip, knid or when the Spin ratio drops below 30%, it glows blacker. [Z]

Post Office Railway

The Post Office has its own railway under London to carry mail between sorting offices but because it carries mail only it is not used in MC. [TCM]

Potsdamer Platz Variation

The official name for what was informally known as the Berlin Wall Game. Prior to 1990 this variation was regarded by most international players as the most challenging version of the game ever devised: it was actually impossible to win without breaking the rules, and anyone discovered cheating was shot. The variation became, to the regret of some, trivially easy after the re-unification of Germany.

The part played by Mornington Crescent in the negotiations leading up to German re-unification has until now been unknown to all but a small circle of statesmen and senior diplomats. There was a top-secret cell of fanatical adherents of the Potsdamer Platz variation in the highest echelons of the British Foreign Office, and they realised all too well what would happen to their favourite pastime if the Berlin Wall came down. They very nearly succeeded in sabotaging the whole process (indeed, only two weeks before re-unification was agreed the British Ambassador in Bonn said it would take ten years to achieve). Fortunately, Maggie Thatcher's detestation of anything to do with railways exceeded even her hatred of foreigners, and as soon as she got wind of the diplomats' plot she gave Chancellor Kohl the go-ahead. The rest is history.

And the errant diplomats? We are not at liberty to name them, but can reveal that one of the ring-leaders met with a still-unexplained "accident" on the Northern Line shortly afterwards, while most of the rest were allowed to take early retirement. The most horrible fate of all was suffered by one brilliant individual, the acknowledged champion of the Potsdamer Platz variation, who was forcibly transferred to the Department of Transport, where, his reason by then completely gone, he supervised the privatisation of British Rail. [JD]

Pre-1908 Tottenham Court Road Rules

Goodge Street opened on 22nd June 1907 as Tottenham Court Road, renamed on 9th March 1908. On the same day Oxford Street station was renamed Tottenham Court Road. This gives rise to an interesting convention, which can rescue a seemly lost game. If an opponent plays Goodge Street, which can often be a penultimate move to Mornington Crescent, one can play Tottenham Court Road and invoke pre-1908 rules. This has the effect of relocating both stations and thus both players. Your opponent is now blocked northbound on the Northern Line and thus direct access to Mornington Crescent is cut-off; whereas you are placed in a very advantageous position. [DJC]


(sin'koG) Of the many creatures which inhabit the LU, the Psynchkogge is by far the most bizzarre. Varying in size from a few centimetres to a few more centimetres, Psynchkogges live on excess tokens, which they grub after games finish, during token rain or when stacks collapse. Indeed, many unexpected Token Stack collapses can be directly attrivuted to hungry Psynchkogges. Aside from this, they pose very little threat to the average MC Player, and the IMCS proposals really are unnecessarily cruel. [TUA]



There are four quadrants in the standard LU map, corresponding to North-West, South-West, North-East, and South-East, numbered 1 to 4 respectively. The boundarys are worked out on the standard London Transport map, rather than on the actual ground, so these may not appear to relate to physical compass points. Crossing quadrants must always use one interchange/level additional to any interchange levels you are already adding for your journey. Quadrants can also be affected by the usual and unusual modifiers. [IMCS Ref: Concepts and Definitions P 899-904] [PW]

Quadrant 5

The Jubilee line extension would have overloaded Quadrant 4 if it had been placed there. All sorts of paradoxes would have arisen. For example, if a red token was placed at Shadwell or Heron Quays, all players south of the river would have been permanently toffed which does not seem fair. The solution was to put the Jubilee line between London Bridge and Stratford, the DLR excluding Bank and Stratford and the East London line excluding Shoreditch and Whitechapel into a new fifth quadrant. [TCM]

Quantum Token Dynamics (QTD)

The work of a frenzied summer of theorising from those great minds of Trellis and Grossman, QTD is the theory which thus far most accurately describes the zone boundary interactions within the Great Game. It utilises the (as yet) theoretical entities zonons to precisely define how proximity, token weightings, and other factors interact to produce the visible effects we know so well in the Great Game. Zonon interactions are described using zone boundary interaction diagrams, which would have been a good deal harder to draw without Fosdyke Notation.

While the original paper on QTD was published in 1982, the full implications of the theory on competitive play have only recently been realised. Indeed, the first truly QTD-led game has yet to be played, although it seems likely to happen next year when Riemann and Garuda meet at Helsinki. It promises to be fascinating, if incomprehensible.



Quartering is simply the act of dividing a line into four roughly equal segments by use of token loadings in such a way that the LV has a discontinuity in three places (or four on the Circle Line and possibly on the Northern or Central). The result is simply that the line must be treated as four separate entities until it is rejoined. The reason for doing this is usually to prevent an imminent victory. [TCM]


Effectively a very weak cut-down half-strile, the quarter-strile is really only useful for hopping over zone boundaries to adjacent stations, without paying the usual boundary penalties. It cannot be used for distance moves, and is cancelled by any coloured token. [KD]



The privatised company that owns the national rail network. LU trains run over its lines from Moor Park to Amersham and Gunnersbury to Richmond and stop at its stations from Gunnersbury to Richmond and Queens Park to Harrow and Wealdstone. This fact places some restriction on shunting to and from these stations and prevents blue tokens on them from turning puce. [TCM]

Ramsay Street

Regarded by many as the greatest crime against true Mornington Crescent, this board game was to be peddled to British schoolchildren after an evil dealing between John Treadgold and Waddingtons. Nothing more than a bastardised version of Baker Street, with gaudy plastic counters and photographs of Australian soap stars, Ramsay Street survived for little more than a fortnight. As soon as they realised what had happened, IMCS hastily withdrew the copyrights that Treadgold had signed away, and fifty thousand shoddy plastic board games were recalled for destruction. [KD]

Regency Rules

These invoke the Nash Convention which permits superceding after parallel moves as well as making all terraces and crescents wild unless in Spoon. [NA]


A reverse is a manouevre which reverses the Line Velocity of the line on which it is played. A simple reverse takes no tokens and only changes the sign of the LV. More complex reverses will require token expenditure, but can scale the LV, zero it, and even perform two-coordinate transforms upon it depending on a variety of factors. For instance, a Trellis Bouncing Reverse scales the line's LV by the player's LV only for outward-facing vectors; inward-facing vectors are square-rooted and reversed to face outward - at the cost of two brown and one white token. [PW]


Host city to one of the amateur world finals, in this case between Achmed Kazhir of Eygpt and the defending champion from Finland, Stig Snorgernbord. BBC Radio 3 broadcast full street by street coverage of the final which began with Angel Islington, a move which put Kazhir in Knip - a tactic not used since the Karachi final of 1972. [NA]

River Thames

The second longest river in the UK. It rises in the Cotswolds and flows through Oxford, Reading, Slough, Windsor and London to the sea at Southend. Its crossing points are of great strategic importance in MC. There are no rules preventing boats on the Thames being used in the game but players trying it almost always find themselves in deep water. The IMCS Passenger Carrying River Vessels Working Party was set up in 1994 to consider ways to change this but noone has heard from it since. [TCM]

Rossi, Francis

Few people, when they hear the name Francis Rossi will immediately think of Mornington Crescent, but it is a matter of record (or was, the files having been destroyed by fire under suspicious circumstances in 1987) that Rossi was one of the "Bright Young Things" in the Streatham and Mitcham (S&M) MCC in the mid-1960s. Indeed, from 1946-66 he was club champion for three years running, and was accorded the honour of being profiled as "The Player To Watch" in the Spring 1966 issue of MC Player magazine.

He styled himself a disciple of the demon Ruttsborough, and often used gambits derived from the play of his master to destroy his opponents' carefully-laid strategems. Streatham Mental Hospital is thought to have experienced, around this time, an unusual number of admissions where the single word uttered by the stricken patient was a faint "Ongar", a clearly-recognisable consequence of a Ruttsborough-style ambush. This daring, indeed dashing play brought Rossi to the notice of Mrs Trellis, with whom he struck up a regular correspondence, alas not at the time of writing published. It is to be expected that, if it were to be brought into the public domain, that it would shed a great deal of light on the future career of Rossi, and also on the past career of Mrs Trellis.

Sadly, Rossi was led away from a glittering career in MC by a fellow club member, one Richard (Rick) Parfitt, who joined in 1967 and immediately formed a succesful pairs team with Rossi. This prospered from the combination of Rossi's instinctive attacking approach and Parfitt's more analytical style, as part of which he developed a diagrammatic representation of the game state around which he would idly doodle pictures of matchstick men. Rossi was much impressed by this, and was moved to compose a song on the theme, which became a staple in the repertoire of the Saturday night band that Rossi and Parfitt had formed together. Had a talent scout not wandered in on a gig by the band (not then called Status Quo), the future, both of rock and roll, and of Mornington Crescent, might have been very different.

Many websites chart the history of Rossi, Parfitt and Status Quo, but none have as yet documented the above history, surely an unaccountable omission. Whether one reckons the role of MC an honourable one or not is for the reader alone to judge. [HB]

Rotherington, Imelda (1938-1985)

Imelda Rotherington was unusual in being a noted feminist activist as well as a keen Mornington Crescent Player. By applying her post-structuralist anti-patriarchal feminism to the (at the time) entirely male-orientated Finsbury Park ruleset, she pioneered a non-linear approach to competive play. Her most notable publications included "The phallic symbolism of the Northen Line Shunt"(1968), "Male domination fantasies in Mornington Crescent endplay"(1970) and "Men can't make proper use of the Bakerloo line" (also 1970). All these, and her many other works are out of print, with the exception of "You Sexist Scumbag"(1977) her account of the now ledgendary Rotherington vs Ruttsborough game in Ealing in the February of that year. (An account purporting to be by Ruttsborough, entitled "Put the kettle on luv, leave the serious play to us men, my dear" - now believed to be a forgery, as sexism was not generally believed to be among Ruttsborough's faults - was sadly banned by Mrs. Trellis) [SC]


The roundhouse was introduced into the standard ruleset at the turn of the century to overcome the degeneracy problem on the Metropolitain Line.

A roundhouse is completed when all stations in a category or class have been played in consecutive moves by a player. Each roundhouse has its own particular effect - these are listed in Appendix (viii) of the annual rule update, as the effects are modified from time to time. It is vital that the ruleset governing each game is specified so the correct effects can be used. Default effects tend to be the 1963 set which have some unusual characteristics to catch the unwary. The strongest roundhouse is the South, in which all stations South of the river are played. Any player who completes one is virtually certain to win the game.

The roundhouse was a domain of the more defensive players until the famous 1968 World MC championships. In the quarter-final (Trellis vs. Sandage) the inimitable Trellis opened up a whole new array of possibilities by applying field theory to the roundhouse.

Trellis was able to constrain the Purple stations and in effect play them simultaneously. As order is irrelevent in a roundhouse, as long as the stations are constrained, one can play any one station and claim the roundhouse's effect. Trellis again confirmed her mastery of the game, and such a maneouvre is now called the Trellis Roundhouse. [m]

Royal Shunt (and Royal Privilege)

Henry VIII, as de facto head of the Mornington Crescent-playing world, had certain privileges not open to other players. These stemmed from early playing of the game by the nobility and made it easier for the Royal players to win. Although the rulebooks survive from this period in the IMCS museum, it remains unclear what privileges were allowed Royalty except in the case of the Royal Shunt. This is best seen in the now-famous Rex-Cranmer-Howard game. Although it seems to be a two-move game, it can be seen that Henry is using his Royal Privilege to shunt Cranmer away from what he (Henry) regarded as over-advantageous positions. This places Cranmer under a Shunt Obligation and so he is forced to move out of turn. Consequently the game has four moves, as follows :

Henry VIII : Bear Gardens

T Cranmer : Holy Trinity Aldgate then Royal Shunt to St Bartholomew, Smithfield then Royal Shunt to Houndsditch

K Howard : Mornington Crescent (Good play but unfortunately Henry wasn't chuffed...)

Only through the intervening two moves did Katharine Howard build enough spin to employ her victorious Back-Pass Trump Maneouver. [AxS]


In the team game, a completely attacking player. The runner relies entirely on his team mates to set up an attack before bludgeoning his way to Mornington Crescent, forgoing virtually all defensive tactics whatsoever. The best runners are usually ruthless, bold, and useless at high-level individual Mornington Crescent. Not all four-man teams play an out-and-out runner, preferring to operate instead with a pair of attacking setters, one playing slightly forward of the other. Probably the most famous runner of all time was the Australian, Eric Stewart, who between 1971 and 1977 was the player reaching MC in 95% of Australia's victories. Most runners hit MC in about 60% of their teams' wins. [JH]

Rushton, Willie

Willie Rushton, the late other half of Tim Brooke-Taylor's team, sadly passed away recently. He was renowned for his divisionary play across the river and could use sub-shunting to his advantage if necessary. Sadly missed. [PW]/[RB]

Ruttsborough, Eamon (1910-??)

A tactical genius, dazzling innovator, world champion -- and the most ruthless, vicious and unprincipled rat bastard ever to play Mornington Crescent. Ruttsborough first served notice to the MC world at age 19 when, in a non-title game with the great Puttbadger, he smashed to victory with a dazzling combination which concluded Upminster, Croxley, Mornington Crescent. The uncompromising fury of his play was fired by a lifelong hatred of everybody and everything. He is, of course, famous for mooning Mrs. Trellis in mid-game, but he was also the author of over four million pages of MC theory and one internationally banned book of childrens' verse. While nowadays his serious innovations are becoming recognised more (such as "Defence into Attack: Aldgate East as a vortex focus"), other works, though fully deserving of the title "underground (no pun intended) classics", such as "MC as a Cudgel," "Mind Your Own Gap," "Hell Starts at Hainault" and "Filthy MC Tricks Wot You Shouldn't Use on your Mum" are heavily suppressed by the Trellis establishment. Ruttsborough invented the driveback, (a term which he himself invented) favoured dazzling cross-striles and hideously elevated LVs, and was clearly the strongest suburban player who ever lived - he once completed an entire undefeated season without playing a single move on or inside the Circle Line. He also discovered the Barons Court manouvre, which he used to escape Dollis Hill loops, turning them into inescapable vortex traps for everyone else in the game (and was not afraid to enter DH loops himself either, having studied their effects and learned to use them as an attacking strategy). After decades of terrifying all comers, Ruttsborough's competitive career ended one horrid afternoon in 1975, when he had both his arms torn off during a particularly virulent match vs. The Rest of the World at Croydon.

He is known to have made two public appearances since then: in February 1977, in an exhibition match against Rotherington (billed as the "Battle of the Sexes" - play was notably scrappy in quality and the match is more renowned for the off-stage events) and in the 1980 World Championships in Moscow: - these were boycotted by most players from west of the Iron Curtain, in sympathy with the Olympic boycott that year, but Ruttsborough defied the boycott to "beat the bloody Ruskies on their home ground" and, after a poor start, improved with every game and eventually reached the final (in the process, turning public opinion in the UK from violently against his actions to heavily in favour.) His eventual defeat in that final caused yet more controversy amid claims of official bias by the Russian referees.

For several years, he was rumoured to be still alive, earning a subsistence wage as a tabloid photographer in the washrooms of St Pancras station. However, the last confirmed sighting was over a decade ago, and increasingly sinister theories about his disappearance are beginning to circulate. These theories were given a new twist when Cannon Street station was closed for a while - the story was hushed up in all the papers except the Daily Sport (on the grounds that nobody believed them anyway), but it is alleged that the remains of a person of approximately the right height and build were found during the renovations. (His arms were a couple of inches shorter than Ruttsborough's own original measurements, but this would be consistent with them having been removed by some means and then surgically re-attached - as is known to have happened, as mentioned above.) Forensic scientists attached to the IMCS eventually pronounced it to indeed be the body of Ruttsborough, on the basis of DNA sampling: for a few weeks, this was believed to be true, but then one of the scientists was revealed as a secret CAMREC infiltrator, and all the "evidence" discredited by later analysis. This has only served to throw the entire issue into confusion again. Meanwhile, there is growing speculation about how and why a CAMREC infiltrator might have had a sample of Ruttsborough's DNA in the first place, so he could tamper with the tests: and about the real reason for Mornington Crescent Station itself having been closed for so long...

In recent years, there has naturally been a resurgence of interest in Ruttsborough. Some players have taken to heart some of the innovations he brought to the game - such as the deliberate use of Dollis Hill Loops as an offensive strategy, how to handle extra-high LVs in games where high velocity is not matched by an equally high podume count, and emphasis on suburban rather than central play. Others admire, either grudgingly or whole-heartedly, his more violent style. And so his brilliance - nasty and brutish as it was - continues to inspire many modern-day players, especially those who find the Trellis-dominated establishment a bit "twee", and yearn for the thrill and outrage of the Great Game's darker side. [DL]/[JLE]


Schuster's Punctuation Loop

This weird phenomenon is only legal in two known variants, only one of which (Reykjavik '92) is currently licensed by the IMCS - and that despite the objections of several senior members.

The first known incidence of its occurrence came in the 1980 World Championships in Moscow, in the first-round match between Vic Stannard and the rebel American, Harrison Schuster. In the days before Chalk Farm '84, when there was no accepted standard game, the winner of the toss could take either the choice of variant or the first move: and in the crucial third game of the match Stannard chose the little-known Quetta '78 variant. (As the championships were not held under the auspices of the IMCS, official recognition was not needed for the variant.) Stannard had intended to use the conditions of the ruleset to create a very complex web of bifurcations, and had reached an octifurcation - eight separate strands of play (then a record, though since beaten) when Schuster simultaneously managed to close down all eight strands of play at once (!!!) The result looks, to outsiders, similar to a Farkle Paradox in that neither player could move to a station: however, the reason was different - it was not that every move was blocked, it was that no active threads of the game were available to move in.

Stannard was clearly shaken by this unexpected turn of events - all other variants require at least one thread to remain open - and, when a single thread was finally reopened he lost the game, and shortly afterwards the match, and it was Schuster who went forward to meet Baryshnikov in the next round. The official scorers of the game, in making their record of the moves, faithfully recorded all the requisite punctuation as if only the names of the stations had been deleted (the first move of the situation looked like this: " , , , , , , , and !"), giving the zero-furcation phenomenon its alternate title: Schuster's Punctuation Loop. [JLE]

Semi-ghost stations

Stations which once were served by London Underground trains, but now exist solely on the mainline. In particular, the former Metropolitan stations between Amersham and Aylesbury, and the Bakerloo stops between Harrow & Wealdstone and Watford Junction.

Semi-ghosts occupy a controversial position in the game. Unlike full Ghosts, their status has never been expressly clarified, and many rulesets simply omit them altogether. Where declared in a game, they can lead to instability (particularly in pre-2000, 5 quadrant, rulesets) and often resolve into a particularly tight DH loop. Semi-ghosts also share the unusual feature that a winning move is impossible directly from one. [Wy]

Septimus Divergence

Rumoured to have its origins in the arcane playing style of Aleister Crowley, the Septimus Divergence is a seven-way line bifurcation centred upon Seven Sisters, with underlinks made automatically to the next seven moves made by any of the players. Initialised at the right time, this can prove devastating - the underlinks effectively put Seven Sisters a level below the other stations, and with careful choice of targets this can lead to an almost incredible token buildup. Being one of the Underground's three Holding Stations, it is possible to gather every game token at Seven Sisters, and strile unimpeded to Mornington Crescent with several dozen bonus points (ref. Halfman v Murchison, 1984; Maelberg v Amberly, 1989). [KD]


In the team game, an attacking player operating just behind the runner, or in an attacking combination with another setter. The setter's job is to provide the ideal conditions for an attack, using a wide varieties of tactics to outwit the defence. Setters account, on average, for roughly 30% of their teams victories. [JH]

Shakespeare, William

In several of his plays Shakespeare alludes to the game; for example in Richard III Act 3 scene 4 "My lord of Ely, when I was last in Holburn..." and in Act 4 scene 2 "High reaching Buckingam, the Marquis Dorset is fled I hear to Richmond...."

In Henry V the French King refers to "You dukes of Orleans..." a passing reference to the French version of the game invented in 1540 and called Mornington Croissant because the game was played usually over breakfast.

The first folio edition of Henry V contains the clearest evidence for the game from Shakespeare's time where it reads,

"Once more unto the Bank, dear friend, once more,
and close Blackwall up with the Bridge of Red.
In Heyes there's nothing so becomes East Ham as Morden, Shearness and good Beckentree,
but when Plasto blows in our ears, and imitate the Acton and the Ongar,
St. Stephen to New Cross summon up St. John's Wood,
disguise fair Leyton with St. Saviour's stage,
for Hanger Lane and City, this confounded Heyes, South Fields with severn dials and Weighbride Station,
now set Blackheath and stretch the Vauxhall wide and teach them Kensington
Gore and you, good Honiton, South Mimms, Crick Lane, King's Land,
Forest Mere for St. Mary's and Kew, East Cheam and Walton on the Naize that hath not Holburn, Leicester Square and Guys,
I see on Strand like Hondsditch, Pinner and Whipps Cross, [Not Clear], Upham and St. Barts
the game's afoot, follow your spirit and be not rankerous,
cry God for Hurlingham, Dingwall and St. Pankerous!!!"

(transliteration uncertain) [NA]


A quantum mechanical move, first played by Heisenberg in 1936. During a bifurcation, the Hermitian Quantum Mornington operator C is applied to the last pair of stations played. If these stations form a conjugate pair, the operator will result in the same pair of stations being found as eigenvalues of the game. This leads to the same pair of stations being played twice in a row. Experienced players will often point this out to team mates:

1: Mudchute.
2: Bifurcate for Moorgate/Bank.
3: Aldgate East/Liverpool Street.
4: Aldgate East/Liverpool Street.
1: Sheen! [MJC]

Shortest (and Longest) Game

There are numerous rule amendments (eg Curfew Conditions) which can produce very short games but this entry is concerned only with unaltered rulesets. The bulk of this discussion applies to rulesets derived from the 1931 rules.

It is of course well known that there are four stations from which Mornington Crescent can be immediately declared if they are used as an opening move. These are Temple, Great Portland Street, Pimlico and Wembley Central. Opening with any of these would obviously lead to a one move game. The next shortest game is the so-called "Fool's Game" which is a three move sequence requiring very poor (or stupid) play from the first player (it is an interesting curiosity that all attempts to find a two move game have so far failed and it is believed to be impossible). The canonical example, though there other, more abstruse, examples of the "Fool's Game" is

Highgate - Paddington - Regent's Park - Mornington Crescent

but this has never arisen in "live" play since Highgate is a very poor opening and the Paddington - Regent's Park move in this situation is obviously suicidal. Button's Opening, often used in illustrative discussions of the rules is not valid in Tournament Play. Tutorial games aside, the shortest conventional games tend to be four to six moves and there are large numbers of such illustrative games available in basic textbooks or at the many "Teach Yourself Mornington Crescent" websites.

Hollinshead's Chronicles' famous game between Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer and Katharine Howard appears to be a two move game but see the entry on Royal Shunts for an explanation.

The longest recorded game is the 474-move round II qualifying match between WH McKenzie and G Eddy early in the 1983 season. McKenzie won but was easily beaten in the next game by E Wallace.

The question of the longest possible game is more interesting since it is not yet provable whether the Game must terminate (that is, whether a win is inevitable from the rules of the Game), although Game Theory shows that as the game is finite and played with perfect information it must have either a win for one or other player or a pair of winning strategies which must lead to a draw. Informal results suggest that the game will always terminate with a win by one player but a rigorous proof is liable to require several years of computing time. Simpson's results put a probable upper bound of 276,550 moves on any game but this is a less than helpful finding. The Game's fluid structure and huge field mean that even decision trees to decide on longest games by computer are ferociously complex and tend to swamp systems fairly fast. Nonetheless, within the limits of recent research it has been shown that openings at Euston, Camden Town and Shepherd's Bush provide games of 500+ moves each. The first two are obvious, of course, due to Halmeyer's Indeterminacy Theorem but the Shepherd's Bush finding was a surprise. In retrospect, it does seem Shepherd's Bush openings do generally lead to complex games won by exploiting errors. [AxS]


A shunt is one of the three basic move types in MC. At a basic level, a shunt is identical to a move, except that any players currently resting in the target station are shunted to the nearest empty station. Blocked players cannot be shunted. See also Move, Stationary Shunt. [KD]

Shunt Obligation

An obligation to shunt. [AxS]


This phenomenon is caused when one player repeatedly moves back and forth along a line to increase LV. It can be quite dangerous if practiced on the Circle line as the result can mean that a player is performing a whole circuit or more in a single move, making it impossible for any other players to break out of zone one, or any area boundaried by the circle. This often ends in stalemate as to change lines, the circling player must slow down enough to change lines, thus allowing other players to escape from the boundaried area. [MWP]

Snerge Cofficient

Ersnt Snerge, a student of Beck at the Copenhagen Institute, was a practical theoretician specialising in move success probability. The development of the Snerge Coefficient in 1980 led, indirectly, to the Chalk Farm '83 revisional ruleset. In its simplest form, Snerge may be thought of as a complement to a move's Hughes Difficulty Rating. However, the Snerge of a move refers to its inherent stupidity. Taking ranges between 0 and 1, a move with a high Snerge Coefficient (0.8 or above) is usually suicidal in terms of that player executing a winning endgame. The '83 revisions came about after it was discovered that, due to grid alignments, all moves to and from Chalk Farm had a Snerge Coefficient of exactly 1. [TUA]

Snorgernbord, Stig

A three time Wold Champion from Finland. [NA]


All stations are considered to possess rotational inertia, which is affected by the movement of players through that station. Spin is notated Clockwise (or Right) as C' and Anticlockwise (or Left) as aC', and is calculated using the following formula:

S'=S + (LV)*pi*Z²

Where S is the station's existing spin, LV is the player's LV, and Z is the zone in which the station is located. If the LV of the player causes spin in the direction opposed to S, the LV is considered to be negative. Spin is also affected by Beck's, Token Loading, Spoon and Knip secondary effects, and handedness of the station as discussed in the IMCS 1992 ruleset, points 1003.ii,ii and v, 2127.i and ix, and 5006.xix. Recent Studies indicate that Spin does not decay, except in Quadrant 5. [TUA]


A state caused by illegal interchange entry angle, overuse of one hand in crossing the river, or by another player using a non-reversed straddle on an adjacent triple-interchangeable line. Colours of all stations when in knip are replaced by their diagonal's opposite, and peg distances are reversed as if the player was performing a reverse manoeuvre. In Spoon, players cannot cross the river at all without use of at least two substantive rebounds, which must be declared beforehand. Spoon can be exited by a triple return or a triple rebound without crossing the Circle Line. (IMCS Ref: Concepts and Definitions Vol 3 Pg 391 - 394; Rules 899, 1984 and 2331.) [PW]


The ability to stay in exactly the same place whilst sub nominal events are taking place elsewhere e.g. the Dollis Hill / Warren Street Loop and Bifurcation. Squonk reduces a players LV to zero, and locks their wheels thus preventing movement.

Squonk costs Podumes. The exact calculation being a second order divination of the number of podumes a player possesses, the LV they actually possessed at the time they declared Squonk and the Quadrant they are in.

* Sq.Root(Total Podume) = Delta Podume

As an example of this calculation, if you have LV of over 14 in Quadrant 2 with Podume levels above 8 and below 13 and declare Squonk you can remain at your current position inside Quadrant 2 for 3 moves but lose 8.7 podumes. Obviously you can't lose 0.7 of a podume so the true value is 9 podumes.

If you don't have enough Podumes to pay you can run a negative balance for two moves but should you remain with an overdraft you will be placed in Strick.

It is very important to note however that "Squonking" is risky as it can lead to an unpleasant inversion i.e. LV INcreasing to unmanageable levels. LV at ~99% of the speed of light is theoretically possible if a little unlikely. [Pkp]

Standard Shunting Force


Standard Deviation

The purest form of the game for many. In this form, the nib holder may play advantage after a looped move, meaning that it is best to avoid Fairlop altogether. [NA]

Stannard, Vic (1967-)

Known as the "hard man" of competitive Mornington Crescent, Vic Stannard of England has attracted a large cult following in recent years, not so much through success (his world ranking was just 85 at the time of writing, very low for an English Grandmaster), but for his controversial style. Despite, or maybe because of, his huge band of supporters, Stannard is hated, and publically criticised by, the majority of Mornington Crescent players.

Stannard started as a team player at Brighton and Hove MCC at the age of 17. In his first three seasons, he accumulated an incredible five red cautions, as well as 66 yellow and 105 blue cautions. Using blatantly offside moves, illegal straddles and particularly horrific foul shunts, Stannard quickly became a Brighton terrace hero, often distracting opponents so much that the other Brighton players could stroll to Mornington Crescent with minimal effort. Three years later, he defied the official boycott to represent England in the World Championships - one of only two to do so (he was not technically eligible, but any competitor from Britain was a propaganda coup for the organisers. He lost in the first round.)

Brighton and Hove finally released Stannard after his fifth season, during which he missed forty of the fifty-one competitive matches due to suspension. As he pointed out after his dismissal, the eleven matches in which he played produced ten of Brighton's fifteen victories of the season. Despite this record, no other first division team would take Stannard on, and he joined the Grandmaster tour in 1991. Many Brighton supporters followed him, and the club was relegated to the second division of the Trellis National League the following season. In recent years, he has enjoyed a modicum of success, winning the German Open last year to take his first Grandmaster title, playing no less than 34 illegal moves in the 201-move final. [JH]


A state is a condition or circumstance that affects an object or objects in the game. A state can be applied to one player, one station, one line, multiples of the aforementioned, or the game as a whole. When in a state, play is affected by the rules of that state. Transitions to and from that state are made by player moves. (IMCS Ref: Concepts and Definitions Vol 3 Pg 742 - 744.) [PW]

Stationary Shunt

Where two players have precisely equal line velocities, they are permitted to play the same station consecutively. This can be used (according to the situation) either to reinforce the previous move, or to claim the benefits of it. Obviously Stationary Shunts are only available if the active player is eligible to shunt. See also Shunt. [KD]

Stepdown Move

The Stepdown Move was introduced in 1942, as a way for players to claim tokens at Mornington Crescent without initiating endgame - the move takes place as normal, except that the player is moved to Euston before endgame occurs. At first glance this may seem pointless, but it has proven useful against crippling endgame blocks (ref. Ondyzseki v Niais, 1978) and is frequently used to claim excessive token bonuses without sacrificing them during endgame (ref. Maelberg v Kluggman, 1982 - although Kluggman gave up a safe claim on MC and subsequently lost the game, the considerable token bonuses saved him from an otherwise imminent relegation). [KD]

Stora Mossen

This is MC played in the Stockholm underground. The winning move is Stora Mossen. The game has a considerably more humble following than its London counterpart, and there have never been any major championships outside Sweden. There are only three lines, which makes for some very tight play, and they are designated by colour rather than by name. Some interesting rule variants allow colour-mixing, and in the standard ruleset it's usually illegal to play matching colours for more than five consecutive turns. [N]


A Straddle is always played across at least two lines, and always at interchanges (which does include interchange-equivalents). If only one line is stated, then the last non-aligned station's line is taken to be the other (known as the implicit) line. Straddling allows token shifts and reverses across zone, quadrant and sector boundaries without loss. It also increases the pegging distances across the same boundaries, by a factor based on the number of boundaries crossed, the number of lines straddled, and the players' current peg modifiers (if any). [PW]

Street Level Rules

In this version, faulty elevators are no longer wild. [NA]


Once only famous as a service area on the M5, Strensham became an essential part of Mornington Cresccent when the forst part of the Jubilee Line Extension was opened. The juxtapositioned forces now pulling against Barbican were enough to require marshalling along all electrified LT lines alongside mainline ones. The result became known as the Strensham Effect or Strensham Magnet. [MWP]


The game is in Strick when a player has used the Ongar Denial to get out of a Dollis Hill Loop. When in Strick, the game cannot be put into Spoon or Knip - useful on the face of it, but leads to potential problems if blocking an attack across the river. Fortunately, Strick only lasts two turns. [PW]


A strile is in essence the same as a move, with the notable exception of zone modifiers. An inter-zone strile can be made without impediment, and it is perfectly legal to strile across multiple zones with no adverse effects to line velocity or rotation. It is not possible to shunt and strile at the same time. See also half-strile, quarter-strile. [KD]

Super-Line Bonus Shift

A valid diagnal shift from terminus to terminus then allows the player a valid Long-Lateral OR Game-Lateral shift as an augmentation to the move - can be played provided that you are not in Knip, or cornered, and have sufficient podumes for the zonal crossings. [DA]

Supernal Loop, The

A loop of three or more conventions which can be played one after the other as they have common stations, ending in a station that can only be moved from using a convention previously played in a loop. Ending a supernal loop means that the first player in the loop gains one token, the second two and so on - but no person may receive more tokens than corresponds to the last move that they played in the loop, and the final player scores as if they had played their move in the place where the convention they force to be played was last played in the loop. [DA]

Suspect Package Bombs

A regrettable yet inevitable aspect of modern play is the use of Suspect Packages. Favoured by new players who see the immediate destructive effect as a major advantage, use of Suspect Package bombing is generally frowned upon by purists. Mass-dropping of Suspect Packages around Home stations - known as 'sponging' the Station - led to such a problem that IMCS were forced to take direct action, forbidding the use of any more than three Packages in a game at any time, and reducing the destructive effects to a mere block on the station with a penalty to players in the vicinity. Nevertheless, use of chain-reactions with Suspect Packages has become increasingly common. The usual counter-play here is to invoke controlled detonation. [HR]


Team Mornington Crescent

An increasingly popular form of the game, particularly in spectator events, the team game is a slight variation on standard Grandmaster Mornington Crescent. Its usual form is thus - two teams generally consisting of four members (although sixes and eights also play) - compete using alternate moves. Any member of a team can play the team's particular move, provided that team only plays one move per turn. When a single player gets to Mornington Crescent and completes the endgame, his or her team has immediately won.

The team game is very different tactically to the individual game, and it is rare that an international Grandmaster will play for his or her national side, or vice versa. Most teams designate players for attack (those who try to achieve the win) and defence (who prevent the opposing team from winning), although in the context of the game this system is flexible. The best teams dominate through expert teamwork rather than individual flair, to the extent that many teams, such as the English side of the 1962 World Championships, won comfortably despite its members average individual world ranking of just 162. In the same event the Germans, a side including the World Grandmaster champion, number two and number four, went out in the first round to Bolivia.

The English, in fact, have been a dominating force throughout the history of the game, winning the bi-annual World Championships 42 times out of 59 (including the last 11 events). However, many other nations, particularly several African nations such as Egypt and the Sudan, are rapidly emerging as a powerful force. There are also many thriving domestic leagues, the most high-profile of which is the English National Championship. This features the famous Camden Mornington Crescent Club, without doubt the finest team in the world.

See also: Backs, Setter, Runner. [JH]


A popular move in the Park Royal (1977) ruleset is to put a player into Tess, resulting in their inability to farkle until Morden is declared as a Home Station. [MWP]

The Hague

A move permitted under the conditions set out in Trumpington's Variations. [NA]

Thornton's Third Amendment

This is a controversial form of the game, which has an obvious trap when cross hatching and all stations can be trumped even when out of kilter. [NA]


An action mentioned in the Chalk Farm rules of 1984 (Appendix 2A, note 7) but rarely used, as it requires the Thraping Coefficient and the LV of the circle line to be exactly 3*pi apart. This has only occured twice in tournament play, both times being played by Mrs Trellis in All-In games. The Thraper must have silver tokens on Embankment and Baker Street, and then Huff a player towards the circle line. The non-parity between the player and line LVs cause all tokens on the Circle Line to move three stations anticlockwise. When the opportunity is spotted, this can severely hamper attempts to change lines in zones 1 and 2. [MJC]

Thraping Coefficient

A quantity calculated by summing the moments of the East London and Bakerloo lines about Tottenham Court Road. As well as being essential in Thraping attempts, the Thraping Coefficient gives the minimum number of moves required to reach Mornington Crescent. [MJC]

Throgmorton's Hydra

The Trellis Abridged Morning Crescent Primer has a number of helpful suggestions for coping with moves of high technical precision, viz:

"Do not be alarmed by the apparently astonishing precision of an opponent's moves. In many cases this can be little more than a psychological bluff, designed to cause you to question whether your own moves are accurate enough to carry you through. Remain steadfast, continue your own game plan, and see whether your opponent can retain his accuracy over several moves. If not, his resolve will falter as his maneouvres gang askew, and very soon the advantage will be yours.
"However, some opponents do fully intend to retain their initial high level of precision, and there are only two or three truly successful ways of countering them. These techniques (The Precision Game, The Art of the Feint, and of course Throgmorton's Hydra) are described in Chapters 12, 14 and 20..." (Mrs Trellis)

Throgmorton's Hydra is a term describing an advanced method for dealing with opponents who make moves of extremely high technical precision. The essence of the tactic is to play a series of junction stations so that the opponent becomes swamped under an exponentially increasing - and self-inflicted - computational workload. The method is particularly useful against the more sophisticated MC-playing computer programs. [SM]

Tobamory's Strategem

A Wimbledon variation in which a player can rush an opponent by calling the same destination immediately after them, the cross blocker, and then sending them to the nearest free base, usually Ongar, from where they cannot expect to make a winning strike in less than four moves. King's Cross is wild. [NA]


An attacking block, similar in principle to the huff, used to fend off players attempting to defend an attacking move. Whilst on the same line as the defender, and with the latter on an interchange, the attacking player shunts to the interchange and switches lines, then blocks the station immediately after the interchange. The defender can not pass the attacker to prevent any combination up the newly held line, and must resort to straddling. On interchanges near the end of lines, this can be horribly effective. [JH]


Tokens come in a wide variety of colours and are used to denote various factors of play. They are picked up by players for performing certain actions (e.g. river crossings or number of interchanges passed through). Players then put their tokens on the board either on stations (by placing them on the station 'mark' or 'circle'), on a line (by placing them on the line between two stations), or in a zone or other 'area' (by placing them on the area's name). These tokens then affect play depending on the colour and number, with relation to the players and the other tokens and properties of the stations.

The earliest surviving tokens, a set with only five colours, can be seen in the British Museum MC exhibit. They are hand-carved wooden discs the size of draughts counters that are worn by use and faded with age. The board which goes with them was London at the time, and, as such, extends out only as far as the Zone 2 boundary. The deep pitting at MC, Bank and Oxford Circus reflects their popularity; a popularity still felt today.

The standard IMCS game uses twelve token colours (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, Purple, Puce, Brown, White, Grey and Black). All tokens are one inch across by one quarter of an inch high and have milled edges and the IMCS logo embossed on the top. They are most often standard PVC plastic, but the more sophisticated players will have a personalised set made of wood, iron, alloy, rubber or even bone. Some more daring have square or other shapes, holes drilled in them, or even special stacking configurations (e.g. cupped or conic). However, since tokens of different players can often be stacked on the same station, uniformity of shape is generally preferred.

The IMCS Standard Twelve Colours are not the limit of colouring systems and, indeed, some variants have had up to thirty-seven different colours available for tokens. Tokens have also been utilised in modern systems of play, such as the variant of DeHaile Notation known as DeHaile Token Syntax (DTS) to represent the effects of a move. Certain traditions about tokens, such as placing the token on its edge when playing a white token on Angel (the 'Head of a Pin' Signal), or the habit of rearranging token stacks in the IMCS token ranking (a sure sign of an inexperienced player), are observable throughout the game's gamut of play.

Tokens remain, however, the basic unit of meaning in games. When calculating token gains or losses, rounding is always carried down; 2.5 becomes 2, -3.5 becomes -3. In the electronic media, tokens are often underused due to the difficulty of representing large token stacks or complex token movements. Most players, however, can grasp the essence of token play enough to not need them when playing at York. Players that do use small boards beside their computers for calculations are worthy of respect. [PW]

Token Cascade

The effect of a properly executed Token Cascade is to channel spent, lost or destroyed tokens towards a location: most often to the originator of the cascade, but also to strategically important token stacks, and to Holding Stations with the intention of raising the token threshold on adjacent line sections. Token Cascades may be initiated by moving to a significantly 'lower' station than nearby players, and the effect may be increased by skilfully opposing the gravitational pull of relevant Hill Stations, Dollis Hill in particular.

The most significant drawback to badly-planned Cascades is the ease with which they can be thwarted by a fast acting opponent; usually by shunting a low-value token stack into the player thus satiating their Cascade Drainage levels and rending the Cascade over.

Ruttsborough is generally remembered to be the most inventive user (or, according to some, abuser) of Token Cascading tactics; indeed an early transcript (Ruttsborough vs. Frobisher from 1934) shows him clearly overwhelming the more traditional player with a dazzling combination of Cascades, looped Striles and mean high-LV Shunting. [HR]

Token Force

A Token Force is a common strategy for pinning players at the end of lines. By triggering a token cascade, it is possible to pile up to a dozen red tokens (or equivalent) on a buffer station - if that carries the station above its maximum, the excess tokens are destroyed and (most importantly) the station becomes blocked. Short of direct cancellation, it can be very difficult for a blocked player to free themselves. [KD]

Token Race

A Token Race is said to occur when two stations are mutually waiting for the other's token level to reach a specified value. Token Races are generally broken when the token values level out, when they reach a difference of ten or more, or when either of the stations becomes blocked. [KD]

Token Representation, 1963

The token representation instigated by the Paris Convention Committee of 1963 was widely regarded as an excellent and revolutionary model of MC move behaviour. The notation allows instant inductive proof of the legality of Mornington Crescent moves. This allows very complicated manouvres and plays to be executed with a minimum of fuss.

The token system is simply the closest model of MC move behaviour that has ever been discovered, and token rules are so accurate that they can be assumed to be correct in at least 70% of gameplay circumstances. While too complicated to explain here, the methods are relatively simple compared to the various mathematical models produced over the years by scientists. For this reason, a full scale token model is generally used for computer MC simulators.

The token notation can be very confusing in its basis - the object of a game of Mornington Crescent is not actually to win tokens, and while the tokens are generally used on the board, they have no points value at the end of the game. The tokens held both by players and stations are simply representations of the status (lateral, on or offside, line velocity, holding targets etc.) of the player/station and the potential moves and plays applicable to them. Again, this is too complicated to explain here, but the entire subject is dealt with in all post-1963 books on the game. [JH]

Token Ring

Not to be confused with the network transmission protocol of the same name, a Token Ring is any loop of stations in which a token is being passed - the standard is the Circle Line Token Ring, but others can exist. When a Token Ring is in effect, a single high-value token (typically gold or silver) is passed uni-directionally around the ring, at a rate of one station per round. Players can only cross the ring's boundary at a station which carries the token - all other stations on the ring are blocked. Players are not permitted to claim the token, even if they are carrying replacement tokens of sufficient value. [KD]


The finals were held here in 1981. [NA]

Toqvist's Protocol

A lively, Viking based form of the game from the North East of England, in which deceptive play is of the essence through the use of the reverse dummy and blocker's feint. The emphasis is on team play, allowing for the use of discreet non-verbal signalling between members of the same team. Starting with a reverse dummy is permitted only under these rules. [NA]

Treadgold, John (1948-1987?)

IMCS committee member from 1983-87. His well-intentioned but sadly underfunded attempts to get Mornington Crescent curriculum-taught in secondary schools back in 1985 are generally forgotten by most MC players. Treadgold was more famously hounded from office in 1987 after his second failed bid to introduce Mornington Crescent to the teenage market (the heinous Ramsay Street), and has not been seen since. He is now believed to be either living a life of exile in Portugal, or buried under the platform at Aldwych, depending on how much veracity you attach to CAMREC propaganda. [KD]

Trellis, Mrs.

Mrs. Trellis is a dear, frail, somewhat doddery old woman from North Wales who writes incessantly to Sir Humphrey Lyttleton on the I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue program. It would surprise anyone who does not know the history of the game to realise that she has also been perhaps the greatest MC player in history (the only other players of whom this could be said are Cripplehead and Hugo: she never met Hugo in competition, and Cripplehead only once, in an exhibition match - which she lost by a very narrow margin, but given Cripplehead's dislike of tournament play it is possible to speculate that the result might have been different had they met in a championship match.) Since her victory in the first post-WWII championship, she has won the World Championship a record 17 times (most recently in 1984), on twelve occasions winning a complete Grand Slam of the Singles, Pairs, Team and All-In titles. She has also won countless other international and national championships: all this despite the fact that, every so often, she would take a year or two away from competition play, to take up a role in administration of the game. Until recently, she has made comebacks to competitive play every time: but her most recent retirement seems to be permanent. She is now highly active in the IMCS, and is believed to have largely co-written the legendary Chalk Farm '84 rules - the only known ruleset to have been accepted by both CAMREC and the IMCS in recent history, they were published shortly after her last championship win. [JLE]

She is a great proponent of Mornington Crescent, said by many to be one of the forces behind modern play. She contributes to countless funds, schemes and rule revision committees to further the Mornington Crescent cause. Also the inventor of countless manoeuvres and gambits, including the Trellis Power Shunt, the Trellis Quadrating Strile and the Trellis Neasden Pincer, she is a formidable player in her own right. Her current ranking of Number 1 in the Grandmaster tables is, to a certain extent, indicative of the awe in which most players hold her, at least on the field. [PW]

Mrs Trellis has also made a profound contribution to the theory of Mornington Crescent, having collaborated with Grossman on quantum token dynamics amongst other work. Truly, she is a titan of the Game.


Trellis National League

The English Mornington Crescent League, widely regarded as the definitive team MC forum. The League is divided into four divisions. Each season runs between January and September (after which the frequency of international championships is at a peak). The first division features such famous names as Camden MCC, MCC Bristol, Canterbury City MCC, Preston United MCC and Biggs Market MCC (of Newcastle), and attracts many of the finest team players from around the world. However, there is a wealth of talent in many of the lower division teams. The league operates a ruthless promotion and relegation system, so competition in matches is always very fierce.

Currently, the UKMCC is negotiating a large television contract with several cable and satellite operators, and televised first division matches are expected to be screened on almost a daily basis with the arrival of digital television. [JH]

Triple Helsinki

Used in conjunction with Junkin's Progession this can lead to a foreclosure of the Circle line with a reverse loop back to Mornington Crescent. [NA]


There are many trophies and awards in the world of Mornington Crescent, as with any game with such a long and distinguished history. This entry only discusses the main trophies other than the World Championships themselves, although two secondary awards of note at the World Championships are the Wooden Spoon, a prize given to the player who gets out of Spoon in the most imaginative way, and the Glass Hammer, awarded to the player who manages to throw away a sitting victory by sheer bone-headedness.

The main historical trophies and awards, then, are as follows :

Note that most of these are international contests between the UK and other nations. There are, of course, other prizes for international contests between non-UK nations such as the Prix de Paris between Germany and Holland but these are more recent innovations. [AxS]

Trumpington's Variation

A variation from the Cambridge area which is a refined and highy cerebral version generally preferred by intellectuals but still played by the teams nonetheless....

A defensive game in which positional play is off the essence whith care needed not to become blocked, boxed or cornered. Often this game begins with Allbright's Opening of Totterige and Whetstone, usually followed by Regent's Street. [NA]

Tucker Block

The Holfstedter Gamble was modified by Sam Tucker, who realised the play could be used specifically to prevent the opponent playing a station without accruing a cost. The Tucker Block is simply discouraging an opponent from moving to a station that is beneficial to them by making it beneficial to you. This tactic has been used quite extensively, but is rarely accredited to its creator. [JP]

Tudor Court Rules

A version of the game formally adopted by Henry VIII and played by Shakespeare. At this time, the underground was far smaller than present and so the playing area also was more restricted, primarily due to plague.

The standard companion to this game is the Arden Edition of the Tudor Court Rule Book, which states that "At the passing of the cod piece, it is the holder who may nominate, except when out of Croop." [NA]

Turner's Declension

A manouevre attributed to Herbert Turner (1880-1945), this involves creating as many token stacks of ascending weight as you possibly can, and then striling between all of them with minimum Line Velocity. In properly planned cases, the bottommost stack in the Strile will collapse, creating a harsh rift at the source station. In recent years, Turner's Declension has been employed to devastating effect on the DLR, leading to IMCS considering a withdrawal in mid-1996; however, their 1997 ruleset revisions contains no measures against the use of Turner's Declension and it is widely believed they accept it's use in this way. Officially, though, the true verdict remains undecided. [HR]



If all the connecting nodes of a given station are blocked, that station is said to be in a condition of unattainability. If all of these connecting nodes are permanently blocked, the station is in a state of permanent unattainability, and is unlikely to feature in the game again. If Mornington Crescent should ever reach this state, one of the connecting nodes (whichever has the lowest token threshold, or - in the result of equal thresholds - the lowest Venbacker Number) is automatically unblocked, without condition. [KD]

Undergound Game, The

Details of this are hazy, based as they are on childhood memories and woefully incomplete information. It is not even known whether the title given here is the official one, or merely a colloquialism employed by this researcher's family. With hindsight, it seems almost certain that this was an attempt made by the IMCS at some point to introduce a vastly simplified version of the game to a much broader audience, for motives that are now lost in the mists of time.

The game was played on a board displaying the central section of the Underground map, each player controlling a counter, moved around the board at the roll of a dice. Before play commenced, around six cards from a set naming Underground stations on the board (and giving details of places of interest nearby, in keeping with the overall theme of a tourist's visit to London) were dealt out to each player. The object of the game was then to begin (from their "home station", which had to be a BR interchange, again maintaing the "tourist" theme), visit each of the stations listed on their cards, and return to their home station, the winner being the first player to do so.

The major barrier to achieving this goal was that whenever a player changed lines, they had to take a "Change" card (remarkably similar in both name and format to "Chance" cards in Monopoly), which would be either beneficial (eg, roll again) or detrimental (eg, forced to go to Paddington to pick up lost property). Whilst a somewhat diverting entertainment, this game had none of the subtlety and depth of MC itself, and recent research in Hamley's shows that it does not appear to still be generally available. [BtTS]


Wombling free. [AxS]


Venbacker, Henri (1928-1984)

Born in Luxembourg in 1928, Henri Venbacker has perhaps done more than anyone else to make Mornington Crescent the game it is today. Although never a very prominent player of the game, Venbacker was a keen follower of the IMCS International League, and was solely responsible for the official game transcripts between 1947 and 1983. Although perhaps most famous for establishing the Venbacker Ratio, Venbacker Notation and Venbacker Numbers, he had a hand in virtually all IMCS rule amendments during the 1950s (including notable work with Ernst Maelberg), and was an active member of the ruling committee right up until his death in 1984. [KD]

Venbacker Notation

Originally formulated in 1953 by Henri Venbacker, Venbacker Notation is the system used to annotate transcripts of Mornington Crescent games, and is the most widely used among today's MC playing community (see also DeHaile Notation). Station names are printed in a bold typeface for standard moves, italics for player-shifts, and are underlined for cross-line straddles. Any pertinent changes to the state of play are signified by symbols after the move (eg. "Tower Hill *&P+10F" for a standard shunt-and-claim at Tower Hill). Full details of Venbacker Notation (including the numerous alternate forms) are far too lengthy to go into here, but can be found in the appendices of most of MC rulebooks. [KD]


An arbitrary sequence of positive integers assigned to the stations of the London Underground (each station allotted a different number), primarily used for shorthand notation, random games, and the translation of non-Tube maps for use in the game. [KD]

Venbacker Ratio

The Venbacker Ratio is typically applied to a station or player, being the proportion of token values to (line) velocity - its primary use is for determining claim eligibility or resolving player conflicts. This measurement system superseded the simple token count that was widely used prior to 1957. [KD]

Venbacker-Maelberg Score

A victory-calculation system proposed by Venbacker and Maelberg in 1961, its main feature being that tokens count against the final score of a player (-1 per red, -2 for yellow, and so forth). Although it never really caught on, and IMCS only hesitantly gave it mention in print, a game being played for the highest V-M Score is invariably a challenging and interesting one. [KD]

Vern Angle

Silas Vern's one and only contribution to the great game is the Vern Angle. Vern was actually investigating the problem of how to separate rhubarb from its leaves in the most efficient way, when he realised that his work could be used to form the basis of a predicition line along which the game of MC could be mapped. The Vern Angle is the basis for the Fronsky Diagram, but its calculation relies very heavily on an accurate calculation of Beck's and the Freem count and it is notoriously difficult to get right. [FG]

Vertigo Block

In most level variants (with the notable exception of Malefon's Fractal Sloping), any player resting at a playing level more than five above the average "ground" is said to be under a "vertigo block", and is forced to move randomly. This cannot be countered by velocity factors, and can be only cancelled - not overridden - by token expenditure. [KD]


Waterloo & City Restrictions

The once thriving Waterloo and City line was built by infuriated fools as an attempt to debase the entire game by connecting every station with every other. This was put to an end in 1887, when Messrs Onslow, Grumley and Thorp (all Mc playing MPs) banned the Waterloo and City company, and demolished all lines they had built. Hence there is just one part of this line left (from Bank to Waterloo, or vice versa). As further punishment, it is always printed in a sickly green colour on tube maps. [Tuj]

Watling Street variation

Under these, players may take only the direct route between any two points, looped moves are disallowed and the Circle Line is out of bounds but huffing is permitted. [NA]

Watson's Strategy

To play Baker Street from an outlying station, intending to impeach the complete Token Stack from all the odd-parity lines bounded by the River and the Diagonal. Can be thwarted by a forced-spoon play if seen in time. [AxS]

Whittaker, Charles Horace

Author of the 1927 Morningron Crescent made easy which sold over 100,000 copies and was translated into 15 languages in spite of a hopelessly indadequate chapter on the adult version of the game which involved Soho Square. [NA]

Williamson, Bartlett (1844-1903)

Bartlett Williamson was the chairman of IMCS between 1876 and 1880, and is perhaps best known for the "Mornington Crescent Strategy" column in Strand Magazine, which he continued to write up until his death in 1903. A compilation of Williamson's articles is due to be published by IMCS in early 1997. [KD]

World Mornington Crescent Championships

The World Mornington Crescent Championships have technically been held annually since 1836, although only since 1910 have they been truly open to all comers on the basis of world ranking and qualifying tournaments: Mornington Crescent was one of the first competitive games to stop recognising the difference between amateurs (who could compete in the World Championships) and professionals (who previously could not, as playing for money was frowned upon.) The first World Champion in the Open era was Sydney Hall, who was to win seven times. Mrs Trellis holds the record number of victories (17), and Tibor Hugo the record number of consecutive victories (10).

Since 1929, the World Championships have consisted of more than one event: the All-In championship was added that year, and the championships were expanded to include Team (4-player) and Pairs events following the Second World War. To win (or be on the winning team in) all four events in a single year is referred to as a Grand Slam: Mrs Trellis has done this 12 times - her nearest challenger in this regard, Ruttsborough, only three (mainly due to the fact that he seldom played in team events.) Arthur Cripplehead's only World Championship victory was as part of a Grand Slam.

It should be noted that the Team event in the World Championships is not considered the premier event in Team Mornington Crescent, owing to the fact that only players from the Singles section of the draw are allowed to compete (thus debarring players who are great team players but not so great at one-on-one play.) Nevertheless, victory is still considered extremely prestigious in any event of the World Championships.

In 1977 they were expanded yet again, to include Under-18 sections for Singles and Teams (although this is not so highly rated, owing to the fact that players who compete in the main championships cannot also compete in the U18 section, thus removing all real prodigies from the U-18 section.) [JLE]

World Team Mornington Crescent Championships

These, generally regarded as the greatest Team MC event in the world, have been held every two years since 1870 with breaks only in 1914-18 and 1940-44, though only since 1910 have they been fully open. England have dominated, with 42 victories out of the 59 championships played to date (1999), but several African and South American countries are showing increasing promise - most notably Egypt, Sudan and Bolivia.

Not to be confused with the Team event in the World Championships, although that happens twice as often. [JLE]


Xavier, Robert (1925- )

French founder of the Official International Society of Mornington Crescent Stewards (OISMCS). Xavier actually started his career as a Grandmaster player, achieving a highest ranking of 56 in 1964. After a car crash tragically ended his playing career in 1971, Xavier joined the IMCS umpires list and quickly rose through the ranks to international level.

After the radical changes that took place in tournament structures in the late 1970s, a disillusioned Xavier left the IMCS in 1980 to form an independent referee's association, the OISMCS. To this day, the OISMCS is the approved officiating body for many national leagues. However, the IMCS refuses to recognise it as an international body. It is claimed that many high-ranking players actually prefer the traditional basis of the OISMCS to the modern approach of the IMCS. [JH]


Yale School of Excellence

Not affiliated with the University College of the same name, Yale School of Mornington Crescent Excellence is the United States' official youth development centre for Mornington Crescent. It has produced several top-5 ranked players in the last few years, most notably the current world U21 champion, Mark Dicks. Students are admitted at 14 years old, and competition is fierce for the twenty places on the gruelling four year course. The school has been considered a great success, and MC players in Britain were recently dismayed when John Major's proposed national sports centre of excellence did not feature Mornington Crescent as one of its chosen study fields. [JH]


Zone Boundaries

The three common zone boundaries correspond to the LU zones on tickets. Play intra-zone is allowed to not conform to rules affecting another zone. Moving from one zone to another (inter-zone) must be allowed by all rules affecting all zones passed through. Faulting a line cannot be done outside a Zone Boundary. [PW]

Sources: Credits: