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Monday, April 27, 1998 Published at 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK


Mornington Crescent - the legend is reborn

One of London's most famous Underground stations has finally re-opened after a mammoth refit which has turned it into a "ghost station" for nearly six years.

[ image:  ]
Northern Line trains have trundled through Mornington Crescent station without stopping. The name has been systematically crossed out on Tube maps. Shoppers hoping to use the station have been turned away.

The Station Masters in Action (1'00")
But the station has lived on over the airwaves, thanks to a game played on the Radio Four cult comedy I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.

The programme's regulars helped London Underground mark the re-opening by joining the celebrations at the station.

"Mornington Crescent" - the game - is considered by its fans to be one of the world's most complex pastimes. It puzzles the uninitiated as much as it delights afficionados.

[ image:  ]
Audiences at recordings of the show, which started in 1971, routinely cheer when chairman Humphrey Lyttelton announces a round.

Get a grip

Few fans can match the professional grasp of the game held by the show's stars, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Barry Cryer. Willie Rushton who died in 1996 was for many years a stalwart.

Last year, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue won the British Broadcaster's Guild award for Best Radio Programme.

[ image: Former Goodie Graeme Garden]
Former Goodie Graeme Garden
Producer, Jon Naismith, said it had become a phenomenon. "It's a huge cult. In the last five years it has come back into fashion in the way things sometimes do. Humphrey Lyttelton is brilliant, certainly one of the best panel game hosts ever, I should imagine."

At last, some rules for the game

To assist anyone confused by the game, Graeme Garden provided the following basic guide.

  • Boxing out the F, J, O and W placings draws the partner into an elliptical progression north to south
  • In weak positional play, it is vital to consolidate an already strong outer square, eg Pentonville Road
  • In a straight rules game, it's inadmissible to transfer inversely, which is otherwise a powerful tactic
  • Opening the triangle will block any of the three possible reverse draws and is usually played early in the game (before the Central Line has been quartered) so that the risk of a diagonal move is negligible, as is the possibility of quartering
  • The lateral shift decisively breaks opponents' horizontal and vertical approaches.
  • The A40 northbound used as a counter-play offers rear access to suburban bidding


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