Mornington Crescent is one of the most beloved segments on BBC Radio 4 game show I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. If you're unfamiliar with it, it's is an improvisational skit in which panellists announce different stations and roads with the apparent aim of reaching the eponymous Northern line station. What are the rules exactly? Err...
There aren't really any, apart from that whoever announces Mornington Crescent wins. The panellists pretend that there are rules throughout, much to the glee of the audience, but these are complete nonsense. The real aim is entertaining the audience, before someone decides the time is right to wrap up the segment and say the two fateful words.
Listen to an example beneath:
However, did you know that Mornington Crescent is not the original game? Instead that honour goes to a game named after a different station just a little further up on the Northern line. Allow us to introduce you to Finchley Central.
Unlike Mornington Crescent it isn't done for show, instead this is purely about winning. It is in essence a mind game, where two players attempt to hold off saying Finchley Central at the latest possible moment.
The game is first mentioned by mathematicians Anatole Beck and David Fowler in 1969:
It is clear that the 'best' time to say Finchley Central is exactly before your opponent does. Failing that it is good that he should be considering it. You could, of course, say 'Finchley Central' on your second turn. In that case, your opponent puffs on his cigarette and says, 'Well...' Shame on you.
We enjoy the image of a disgruntled opponent puffing their cigarette in disgust at a lack of manners. So next time you listen to I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue, and someone ends the game prematurely, think of that.
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