Friday, July 10, 2009


Some of you may remember that just under a year ago we did a sketch discussing how chess is a bizarre board game that makes absolutely no sense when you really thinking about it. But it’s not the weirdest board game of all time, because the weirdest board game of all time is probably the only board game where the central premise is brutal, bloody murder. That game is, of course, Cluedo, or Clue if you’re American.

Nothing about Cluedo really makes any sense at all. The basis behind the game is that a man named Dr. Black has been murdered at a country mansion, and it’s up to the only six people in the house to find out which one of them did it, because heaven forbid that any of them should ring the police and get them to solve the case.

Although really, Cluedo contains some of the slyest police work ever seen. What the local police have quite smartly done is taken anyone who could’ve possibly had the chance to kill Dr. Black, locked them all away at the scene of the murder, and told them that either they work out which one of them did it, or else they’re all gonna be arrested. Clever.

Now that I think about it, the version of Cluedo that we’ve got actually does contain a police officer, by the name of Inspector Grey, but his only purpose in the game is to block everyone else, and just generally get in the way while they try to do his job. He’s basically the equivalent of a badly-placed bookcase, but even less helpful – at least a bookcase could contain the book ‘How to Catch a Murderer by Hugh Dunnit’, or something like that.

It's kind of weird how you're required to work out what the murder weapon was. I’d have thought that the easiest way to do it would be to look at the body itself – if he’s got a bullet wound in the centre of his chest, then he probably wasn’t bludgeoned to death by a candlestick.

And speaking of the murder weapons, they’re kind of odd too. I mean, I get how you’d kill someone with a revolver or a dagger, and I guess you could beat someone over the head with a candlestick or a spanner or some lead piping, but how on earth do you kill someone using a piece of rope?? The only way that I can think that you’d do that is to set up the rope as a noose, hanging from the ceiling over a stool, then politely ask your victim to stick his head through it while you kick the stool out from underneath him.

Also, why is necessary to find out where the murder took place? And why is it so difficult to do? I’d have thought that the murder would have taken place wherever the body had been found, or, if it had been moved, then to wherever the trail of blood led.
(...And You Will Know the Murder Scene by the Trail of Blood, etc.)

In fact, why do you need to work out the weapon and the location at all? If you know who the murderer is, then that’s all that should really matter, unless you’re planning on arresting the room as well.

Anyway, when you’ve got an idea about who the killer is, you have to make a "suggestion". Now, in some versions of the game that I’ve played, to make a suggestion you have to put your player and the player that you’re accusing in the room where you think the murder took place. Now, if this were real life, that’d be the worst thing that you could do!! If you think that someone you know has killed somebody else, the last place that you want to accuse them is where you think that they might have done the deed, because, if you're right, they'll simply bump you off too. What’s next, hand the murder weapon that you think they used, and they say "Why don’t you demonstrate on me the way in which you killed him?"

So after you’ve made enough suggestions, you should be able to definitively discern who the murderer is, and it’s at this point that you call the police. Of course, then comes the possibility that YOU are the killer, and you need to turn yourself in:

"Hello, Crimestoppers? I’d just like to say that I know who the perpetrator is in the Dr. Black case. ... It’s, errm, me, apparently. ... Yes, it seems that I somehow killed him with a rope in the ballroom. ... The ballroom. ... No, this is not a wind-up. ... Colonel Mustard. ... Yes, that’s my real name! ... Hello?"

Congratulations, you’ve won the game, but since you were the murderer all along, you can look forward to a lifetime in prison. Seems that everyone else has got the last laugh.

Maybe a more sensible version of Cluedo would be if everyone knew from the start whether or not they were the murderer. If you’re not, it’s your job to find out who is. If you are, it’s your job to sabotage everyone else's attempts. But that might be a bit complicated.

Anyway, this concludes the dissection of why Cluedo makes absolutely no sense. Next time: Monopoly! How can a dog own property??