Our friend Ben Reierson in Melbourne, Australia asked what kind of board games rich people play?
He went on to suggest that when the super rich play Monopoly perhaps they should start with the railroads and hotels they already own in real life, and add a few zero's to the money values to bring the game up to date!
After that hearty laugh, I don't even know where to start. Do roulette tables in Monte Carlo and poker variants aboard a luxury yacht count as board games, Ben? I know for sure my employers participate in those particular activities.
In this house, at the far end of the library, there's an antique wooden card table, with a leather top of course and two comfortable wing-back chairs. Sitting there on the table is a deck of gold-edged Louis Vuitton playing cards, which as far as I can tell have never been touched or shuffled. But there's also an antique mahogany chess board with carved ivory chessmen, exquisitely intricate in detail at God knows what price.
Ever since I've worked here there seems to be an on-going game at this table between my employer and one of his old cronies. These two old buzzards will take their gin and tonics to the table and sit there for awhile, sometimes actually making a move on the board, sometimes just picking up one of the chessmen as though to examine the artwork, then sitting it back down in the same place. Except to touch it up with a feather duster now and then, we in the house staff are extremely careful not to ever disturb the board or the chessmen's positions.
Unfortunately to say, considering the topic, that's about it as far as parlor games around here. However, while you might not often see the rich clustered around a board game, that certainly doesn't mean they don't own them as investments. Take a look at this awesome webpage. You can find a cheap Trivial Pursuit for about $6,000; a Backgammon for $1.5 million, a Monopoly game for $2 million, and a chess set encrusted with gold, diamonds, rubies and pearls for a whopping $10 million dollars!
It seems to me that all the fun and challenging new games that Ben's talking about requires a kind of intimacy among friends that allows for mistakes, laughter, disappointment, loss and failure all in one game, and it's not within my experience to see the stuffy old-guard rich open up like this. A slow never-ending chess games is about the best they can come up with, at least around here.
Anyhow, sorry for the disappointing answer, Ben. It's entirely possible that the younger rich might actually be able to sit down and concentrate on a board game. But somewhere in the back of my mind I kinda doubt it. They're all so busy running around the world in their jets and helicopters, from one high society event to another, where is there time for such idle-time fillers? "You wanna go to Rome and grab a pizza?"
Going out on a limb here, I'm inclined to think that board games are designed for us non-rich poor folk who can't afford to jump on our jets and run around the world in a moment's notice. And I'm aware of how horrible and crappy that must sound. Anyone with more upbeat or enlightened information can hit me right back in the comments below. But these are my observations, from my perch among the old guard.
As always, thanks for stopping by tonight,