Everyone forgets that the original rules were based on the idea that stations that had k=3 shared nearest neighbours couldn't be used, and that adjacency was measured by DBSCAN clustering, instead of Leiden partitions that the kids use now.
The game has gotten lazy since I were a lad.
The problem is now computer software like Stockwell exists that can tell you in real time what the ‘correct’ move is, kids have learned a sort of mechanical version of the game with no creativity or flair. The meta has just become always straddle, and progress southwards on odd traversals. If you watch random Crescent games streaming on Twitch you’ll wind up watching two anime avatars circling round Kensington until one of them’s able to take swabbage and expand the domain. So dull.
Sure granddad, that's all very well if you're playing the classical time limit - but with the rise of fast-paced online play, the old way just isn't scalable. The big providers just can't afford it, so long as everyone expects their games to be hosted for free.
And so what if kids these days are playing a slightly different game - can't we celebrate the fact they're playing at all, instead of engaging in this elitist gatekeeping?
I wonder what old school international grandmasters like Theydon Bois (France), Pim Li Ko (China) and Will Esden-Green (UK) would think of the modern game... We've lost the creativity, bravery and elegance of such players, from a time when taking part was more important than winning.
I think that only came in once the signalling went metric? Earl's Court (last time I looked) still had some originals. It's always been shades of grey.
Is that actually true? I thought it was originally played with the Havershorm criteria, and graph theory wasn't a big thing until the Oxford Five got involved in formalizing rules?
Have I been misled?
Yeah, the Djikstra Gambit put a stop to that line of play long ago.
Not a total Moorgate, but certainly rare these days.
According to the 1993 annex to the Washburn codification of the rules, the site isihac.net is no longer considered a valid reference, and anybody consulting this site during a game automatically forfeits their turn.
> anybody consulting this site during a game automatically forfeits their turn.
If a Perridale Variation has been invoked and one or more players are in Nid then the forfeiture rule does not apply.
You can play this game in it's simplest form with children, to teach them about anticipation and social cues and hidden rules.
The base game is super simple. You go around taking turns, each player saying a London underground station - or pick a similar, familiar, enumerable set - and the first one who says Mornington Crescent wins the game. When someone does, you quickly announce the winner and immediately start a new round.
If you play it with children, see how long it takes them to realize that the fun lies in not saying the winning station. And how much fun you can have by anticipating what the others are going to say.
Anyone got other good social-games for kids?
I’ll contribute: Questions, in which one attempts to carry on a “conversation” consisting entirely of questions that may not be nonsensical or non-sequiturs. First person to ask a garbage/illegal question or to make a statement, loses. Traditionally initiated with “would you like to play questions?”
And: some of the imagination games from Impro can be good. Collaborative automatic writing (though the adult will need to self-censor a bit); tricking a kid who “can’t think of stories” into writing a story by asking you questions about a “secret story” you wrote (you did no such thing—of course you eventually clue them in that they’re far more imaginative than they believed), that kind of stuff.
My wife and I are convinced that Pokemon is a giant secret extended game of Mornington Crescent played by the younger generation. Which is a comfort.
I don't understand this. Why wouldn't I just immediately say Mornington Crescent? And why would I anticipate what the next person says? Why don't they just say Mornington Crescent? This is baffling.
I know there are a lot of ISIHAC fans here, and they love seeing parlour games like Mornington Crescent played with skill, panache and verve, especially when expertly compered by a sexy and stunning host.
I'll just link to a recent game that everyone will get a kick out of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwerGS2x5xc
With no disrespect to the players or the moves played, that does feel - to me, at least - like deviation.
> compered by a sexy and stunning host.
Are you referring to the Magnificent Sven?
Always nice to see one's national parlour sport on the HN front page. It may seem completely impenetrable on initial and deeper inspection, but I'm sure us Brits will be happy to try to answer any questions.
non-brits may wish to refer to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mornington_Crescent_(game)
It's like a cross between Double Fanucci and Go Johnny Go Go Go Go (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtSvaSZ-xLU), if you're familiar with those games.
> A "type-in" computer version of the game for the BBC Micro was included in the April 1985 edition of The Micro User.
Ah, so it’s a bit like the traditional Dutch game stiften: https://youtube.com/watch?v=hZBHkJFcYII?t=394
Telling people defeats the purpose of it.
It's years since I've played this, so forgive me if I miss some of the intricacies of the recent St Hillary changes, I'm more familiar with the XVI edition rulebook.
(St Hillary Changes have roundly been seen as whitewash, and rarely affect game-play)
I know that there's probably a lot of people who feel this, but as a lifelong fan of ISIHAC it gave me immense pleasure to go to the station a few years ago on a trip to London. There was an odd look from a person on the platform when I said "Mornington Crescent" aloud to myself and asked them to take my picture with the sign!
ISIHACs blend of silliness underwritten with high intelligence is unmatched contrast contemporary comedy, in my eyes.
There is an esolang based on this: https://esolangs.org/wiki/Mornington_Crescent
A bit tedious if you have to provide the line.
Teaching an LLM to play Mornington Crescent https://vm.tiktok.com/ZGejrSJfE/
GPT-4 can play, it will actually pick up on what you're doing and follow along. It's a bit stilted if it's got its history of explaining what places are, though does pick up on inventing move names and similar. It'll follow your lead if you start invoking random rules & history.
> Given your astute deployment of the reverse-polish maneuver to Angel, it's clear I must think creatively to maintain a competitive stance in our game. Angel's position on the Northern Line presents an intriguing array of tactical responses.
> In light of this, and adhering to the spirit of our pre-98 rule set, I will execute a move that's both unexpected and steeped in the lore of our game. I navigate to Stratford, invoking the East London Shuffle.
With the renaming of the overground lines, we’ll need to rename some of the more obscure openings and rewrite sections of the rules 
A couple of good games for those who want to study some of the lesser-known variations of the rules:
I remember around 1996 people telling me about "Mornington Crescent", what I thought was an inside joke at the time as it was supposed to be a station that could never be reached! I had no idea that it was an actual game!
Funnily enough I also passed it recently and the train stopped there, and I was left really confused!
If you like this, you may also enjoy 43-Man Squamish, from Mad Magazine:
Novices might need this:
There is a video showing what playing the game looks like in practice .
When I moved to London in my 40s I was gobsmacked to find that Mornington Crescent was a real Tube station. I had always assumed it was just invented for the purpose of the game! :-o
(For another nonsense tv game show, see https://thatmitchellandwebb.fandom.com/wiki/Numberwang! )
I thought you couldn't take swabbage on the Circle and District lines, so that excludes South Kensington and Kensington High Street. Kensington Olympia is on the Overground, which is out of bounds, and is only accessible on the District line on the weekends and SOME public holidays.
So if you're seeing people on Twitch taking swabbage on Kensington Olympia in tournament play (and we know tournaments are on Saturdays only) then you know they're deepfakes.
Stay safe out there.
See, this here is the -real- problem: prescriptivist tendencies in those players of a certain age who insist that, say, the Coltonshire Maneuver’s success must be determined by the application of what is rightfully analogous to the reading of chicken entrails. Read the room! The shift is towards rightbottom. LET IT SHIFT. You can always deploy cannons at High Barnet to prevent map-bleed.
Map-bleed has only become worse since Devon Etiquette became fashionable, and so now we all end up racing towards Monument to prevent swabbage, reverse swabbage and District Line Flush. It's ruined the game at the higher level IMO.
I think if as a playing community we took inspiration from the Wessex Variant, accepted the Waterloo & City amendment therein, and perhaps - and I know this is brave - moved with the times and allowed Overground at Peak, we could stop this nonsense.
The social media influencers will never allow it though. They've built their moat.. smh
Without that “gatekeeping” the game would have descended into confused chaos, with no clear rules long ago. Maybe it’s time for change, but we should be grateful that there is still a game to play.
I love that you're so passionate, and I hope the game continues for future generations, flying-car based addons, or not!
I've got a lot of hope for the Google DeepMind attempt to solve Mornington Crescent to add creativity back into the game, like they did for Go.
The problem is that Google seem to be struggling to get the computing power and algos together to deploy nib effectively and to square out the down flows when dealing with Lancashire Pushback - which you must have in a modern game playing against a top player. It's one of those things that seems still out of grasp of ML...
It was rumoured that an early form of the game was played and researched by AM Turing in the 1930’s. Work had been nearly completed to show that good play was undecidable, but it was abandoned to focus on the much easier ENGIMA problem. This was before the modern rules and the addition of the Elizabeth line, leading to much expanded game space.
> It's always been shades of grey.
For home games, and perhaps for even local leagues, sure. But the IMCF (the International Mornington Crescent Federation, not the International Mornington Crescent Foundation) has been clear on this since the '86 upset.
Pardon the snark. But international games always start from St Pancras (and Waterloo once upon a time). If “home games” had that luxury we probably wouldn’t even be discussing this.
Check Mordent and Ravensworth.
I think that given the HN audience, we should really be playing the Atlantic version. Not only is the spelling partially reversed, but the Perridale Variation is reduced to a single direction. Forfeiture rules are therefore irrelevant. It's significantly simpler, but it's more engaging for a beginner audience.
Forfeiture may be technically irrelevant in the so-called "classic Atlantic" game, but there are several West Coast extensions that make the situation hazier. They allow a limited influence of bi-directional Perridale (some go further still, completely eliminating rulings aroung trackage limits, though at this point they remain quite fringe).
The Seattle extension, in particular, is seen as the current favorite. This years's NACMCC saw more past champions registering in the Seattle division than any other.
For this reason, I highly recommend players brush up on their awareness of forfeiture rules. All of the top British strategy guides include a relevant appendix in their latest editions, I'm particularly partial to Banks, et. al.
No soap, radio!
Did you know that Whose Line Is It Anyway has some great examples of that first game?
I'm convinced that corporate Agile is a Mornington Crescent-like game in which a team pretends to be an effective team that responds to vague, changing requirements with adaptable solutions... but they're really engaged in appeasing upper management, who have already set a budget and a deadline, with burndown charts and good JIRA velocity numbers.
If so, there is at least hope of it being brought to a sudden, swift conclusion.
Perhaps listening to a game would help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lziCsPmlbZI
I was looking for that, thank you!
No, I'm still confused. What is going on? Is the whole point that it's gibberish?
One tease is to mention stations nearly adjacent to Mornington Crescent, and see if the other contestants take the bait. Of course, a 9-dan player will acknowledge the potential move, but then give a preposterous, but perfectly valid, reason why it cannot be accomplished.
It’s not the winning, it’s the taking part
> Why wouldn't I just immediately say Mornington Crescent?
Congratulations, you win! Let's play another round. I'll start.
Tottenham Court Road. Your turn.
(Also, thank you for illustrating why this is a good exercise that a lot of people - including you - would benefit greatly from!)
This game is great.
(Seriously, though, I get the joke now)
You can if you're playing the 1972 West Kensington Consortium rules but most players consider this rather poor form.
While both the tree-trunk in trunks himself, and the ever-delightful Samantha bring glamour to the proceedings, it's the sunny disposition and cheerful optimism of the Chairman that gets audiences in the mood.
There is an esoteric programming language inspired by this: https://esolangs.org/wiki/Mornington_Crescent
(It can sometimes be seen at codegolf.stackexchange.com)
I've been teaching myself Rust by writing a Lisp interpreter (I've successfully achieved recursive function calls) but I may have to put this on pause and write an interpreter for Mornington Crescent, in Rust, and then see if I can use that to build a Lisp interpreter.
I may skip Tail Call Optimisation, though.
Also available here under c:games
I'll risk High Street Kensington...
You're neglecting the extensive theory which has developed around the "Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, and 3" opener. Go west, young competitor!
London City Airport is the safer first move with the international rules. Heathrow risks the opponent using the Lord's Gambit to bisect the home team's quarter.
I find that people west of the Atlantic have a rather unsentimental way of playing. Brits may nitpick and selectively enforce rules but you know at the end of the day it’s just a bit of fun.
Banks et al. was historical curiosity. But over the duckpond it seems to be canon! Meanwhile Carruthers vol 6 is openly disregarded.
A clash of cultures for sure.
Carruthers is a nice overview, sure, though I've always felt it to be far too imprecise where it really matters. I guess I see what you're saying about the cultural differences!
> But over the duckpond it seems to be canon!
"But how is a duck pond a duck pond if there aren't any ducks."
> some go further still, completely eliminating rulings aroung trackage limits, though at this point they remain quite fringe.
The elimination of trackage limits when influenced by bi-directional Perridale has been pretty mainstream now for a couple of years. I’d hardly call them “fringe” anymore.
Agree on the need for sufficient awareness of forfeiture rules in general though.
Personally I’m warming towards the proposed Eton’s Lisp amendment which does seem to improve some of the issues with deadlocked rounds, especially with larger numbers of players.
And be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
This is another good one where the taking part is the fun bit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqLIvLCwxLo
It’s not actually a game about saying “Mornington Crescent.” It’s a game where you pretend to play a game which is about saying Mornington Crescent, and pretend there’s all these rules and clever moves to make and clever things to say, and the more satisfyingly similar to that imaginary game that you get, the more clever / nonsense your “moves” sound, the more you have won.
Oh. I see. An Elizabeth Line reverse swing strategy here, I see. What has this come to?
Look tomoyoirl, I'm as upset as you are about you being barred from the AMCC (Amateur Mornington Crescent Committee), and you running off in protest to join the ACMC (Amateur Mornington Crescent Club), but there's really no need to spread these absurd stories!
Is this about that time you were Clapham Junctioned on that West flank? I agree it shouldn't have happened and you were right to argue you weren't in nib, but c'mon... no need for this, it's just a game...
It's kind of like a more cerebral party game. The object of the game is not to win; the object of the game is to use it as a framework for a social interaction.
The closest analogue is probably something like Apples to Apples, but with debate permitted. You're trying to make the most amusing (and therefore strongest) play every turn, but nobody really cares who wins.
Gibberish was actually a station near Baker Street that closed in 1937. Are you making a joke?
Congratulations, you win! Let's play another round, I'll go first.
Hyde Park Corner. Your turn!
No, I'm sorry we've already stated in this thread we're playing the Atlantic variant for our American cousins - you therefore can't do the Piccadilly Stretch from Northfields, and you therefore lose the game.
I'm Greek, which means I can capture High Barnet under the Her Majesty variant and win the game.
that's okay, i think Rust skipped that part, too
That's rather unfriendly for a social game.
With the St. Hillary changes, I believe that puts you in Nid, though really it was unsporting of bmsleight_ to play Morden knowing that you weren't familiar with them.
As far as I’m aware this is all still untested theory? Much less chance of challenge if you stay within Zone 6. There’s still a lot of creativity to be had.
I just like being helpful to people who are confused and afraid. Sorry if that’s a problem to you, or anyone else.
Anyway. Aldgate East. Your move.
You know full well that you can't start play with any station on the Hammersmith & City line in a leap year February outside of sanctioned L4+ tournament play.
Oh I am sorry, you might not be aware that Greeks explicitly lost the ability to play Monarchial Variants when Prince Philip passed away. It's stipulated in Volume XIIV of the Windsor Appendix. To be fair to you, it is in itself in Appendix IV, Section 41, so it's easily missed by casual players.
This early? The Sherbourne double-pincer has been frowned upon since its unsporting use in the 1999 final, I wasn't expecting it in front of this audience.
It's left you open to a reverse loop:
Tottenham Court Road.
Controversial move there.
Well, ordinarily no, but as it happens I am qualified to use the Orthodox rules for the calculation of the date of Easter, which you will find bypasses the 40-day window entirely and renders the restriction moot. Have a pleasant pancake day, and remember you are dust; to dust you shall return.
I am so happy that at least a few people here knows how the game works, and it's made even funnier by the smattering of commenters who don't get it! :-D
Like I said, it's a great exercise for teaching kids about interpersonal communication. And apparently a couple of adults as well.
Oooh, very tricky. I think we might have to try...Upminster? Yeah, that should work here.
I’m invoking Oxford Reversal - a bit sneaky I know.