Ng Cheng-yin: Hong Kong's second generation master of Monopoly

Ng Cheng-yin: Hong Kong's second generation master of Monopoly

While most teens can't get enough screentime,one young gamer thinks a pair of dice is paradise

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Ng Cheng-yin learns from the best - his father, Christopher, a former world Monopoly champion.
Ng Cheng-yin learns from the best - his father, Christopher, a former world Monopoly champion.
Photo: May Tse/SCMP

Meet Ng Cheng-yin, the Hong Kong kid who has zero interest in video games.

Cheng-yin's still hooked on games, but he's not into anything on a screen. Instead he's crazy about board games, especially the all-time classic, Monopoly.

"I invited my friends from school to play Monopoly at my home, and after playing it, they said to me: 'Now I understand why you don't play video games at all'," says Cheng-yin, a Secondary One student at Queen's College.

His friends' attitude is typical for Hong Kong, a city where many children have no family or friends to play with, so they turn to machines instead. "My friends made me realise how lucky I am to have my family spending time with me on games. I will ask my parents to organise more play dates in the future," he says.

Cheng-yin, 12, explains the game of Monopoly like a military expert. "Most people think that owning the most expensive areas will help them win. But that is not how I play. I always look to occupy the orange zones and the red zones first because they are closest to the jail," he says. "In one game, there is a pretty high chance that a player will be sent to jail a number of times, so I try to take advantage of that by taking the locations near the jail instead of the expensive zones that are harder to reach."

Another one of his tactics is hiding in jail to avoid being fined for landing on an opponent's property. "At the earlier stages, it is frustrating to be in jail and not able to buy properties," he explains. "But as the game proceeds and most of the land is occupied, every move can result in a heavy fine, so I am better off in jail."

It's no surprise that Cheng-yin is so passionate about the game - his whole family are board game fanatics. His uncle is a game collector and his father, Christopher Ng Hon-yuen, won the Monopoly World Championship in Monte Carlo in 1996 - the only Hongkonger to have ever claimed the title.

Ng will be judging the Hong Kong Monopoly Championship, which will be held on April 26 at Maritime Square in Tsing Yi. The winner will go on to represent the city at the 14th Monopoly World Championship in Macau in September.

"I am happy to see more championships being hosted in Asia where Monopoly is gaining popularity," says Ng, a Chinese teacher at a local secondary school. "Hong Kong was actually chosen to host the 12th Monopoly World Championship in 2004, but due to concerns over Sars, the tournament was moved to Tokyo."

Visitors to Maritime Square can also see an exhibition on Monopoly's 80th anniversary from now until May 3

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Cheng-yin's a Master of Monopoly

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