Birmingham whodunnit board game marks 80 years - can you guess which one?

World famous whodunnit board game created in Birmingham is 80 years old
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This year marks the 80th anniversary of Cluedo – the Brummie whodunnit board game that swept the world.

Who invented it? Well, it wasn’t Colonel Mustard in the study with a candlestick. It was Anthony Pratt, with the help of wife Eva, in his Stanley Road, Kings Heath, home during the blitz. The tank factory worker had the murder mystery game patented in 1944.

Back then his invention was simply called “Murder” and Waddingtons bought the overseas rights for £5,000 nine years later. That now seems a bargain, with the game selling in its millions. Since then, a computer version has been made and Cluedo has even been turned into a play.

Pratt, also a talented musician, devised Cluedo at Number 9, Stanley Road, with Eva designing the board and artwork. It was to be his only board game winner. Both “Battleships” and “Treasure Hunt” failed to catch the public’s imagination.

Pratt died in Bromsgrove, where the couple relocated, in 1994, aged 90. In 2013, Jonathan Foster, who has written a book, The Cluedo Story: How Anthony Pratt Invented The Game of Murder Mystery, paid for a blue plaque to be placed at Number 9, a neat semi.

“He didn’t get the recognition he deserved,” said Jonathan. “People know the invention, but not the man behind the invention.” The game has strayed some way from Pratt’s original format. His invention had 10 characters, there are now only six. The shillelagh – an Irish walking stick – has been ditched as a weapon.

Nicholas Ricketts, curator of board games at the Strong Museum of Play, New York, said: “The first version would look very old fashioned now. You might get away with saying it’s the fourth or fifth most popular game.”

Birmingham has produced many inventions that changed the world. Cluedo can’t claim that, but it can claim to be among the city’s best loved “firsts”. And it was spawned by wartime blackout boredom.

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