Monte-Carlo, September 16 - In the last move of the 1996 World Monopoly Game Championship, Juan Antonio Navarro, the 15-year-old student from Spain, rolled the dice and advanced his top hat token to B and O Railroad. Navarro's down-turned mouth and quiet gasp said it all: he would turn in his top hat and surrender his properties to the 35-year-old teacher from Hong Kong, Christopher Woo - the 1996 World Monopoly Game Champion.
Woo triumphed over champions from 33 countries, advancing through two days of preliminary rounds and a tension-filled final round that lasted two hours and 20 minutes. His final round opponents included: Manfred Werlein, a 34-year-old coffee house proprietor representing Austria, Roger Craig, a 35-year-old commercial tire sales man for the United States, Michael Grabsky, 37, a software designer from the United Kingdom, and, Juan Antonio Navarro of Spain, at 15, one of the Championship's youngest competitors. Austria was the first player to be bankrupted, followed by the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain, which yielded a total US 8,423 dollars in cash and property assets to the new World Champion.
"Ironically, Woo ranked last out of the five finalists heading into the final round. However, the final round gives each player a c1ean slate and, thus, an equal chance to take home the World Championship Title," explained World Championship Executive Director Carol Steinkrauss of Parker Brothers in the United States. Woo also takes home 15,140 dollars, the amount of money in a Monopoly game.
His Serene Highness, Prince Albert of Monaco, awarded Woo the World Champion silver trophy, which will be engraved with Woo's name, alongside the past nine World Champions. In turn, Parker Brothers presented the Prince of Monaco with a customised Monaco edition Monopoly game, representing the local streets and landmarks of the Principality of Monaco.
In the preliminary rounds, Woo faced Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Slovenia. After being crowned World Monopoly Game Champion, Woo was whisked away in a 1930s-sty1e roadster, with Rich Uncle Pennybags at his side for a "winner's circle" drive around picturesque Monte-Carlo. Then, Woo was congratulated by Hasbro, Inc. Chairman Alan Hassenfeld, who participated in an internet Monopoly game and online "chat" with the World Champion from Hasbro's headquarters in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
The next World Monopoly Game Championship will be held in the year 2000, and you can bet Woo will be there. Parker Brothers has hosted the World Championship since 1973. The Monopoly game is available in 75 countries and 26 languages, making it the world's most popular board game.
Parker Brothers is based in Beverly, Massachusetts and is a division of Hasbro Inc. (AMEX: HAS). Monopoly is a registered trademark of Hasbro, Inc.