New Monopoly champion Natalie gives her winning tips
A property hunter from Northern Ireland has emerged victorious after a board meeting with a difference in London... as a Monopoly champion.
Natalie Fitzsimons, who had taken on and beat her husband in an earlier heat, won the UK and Irish title after a tense hour-and-a-half final against three opponents last night.
The 24-year-old software designer from Crossgar said she had not played competitively before, but that she had picked up some useful tips from taking on family and friends.
These included "mortgaging everything".
"It always feels a little like cheating, but I never know why other people don't do it," she said.
"As soon as you get a monopoly yourself, mortgage everything else and spend every penny on houses.
"A monopoly with three houses on each square is far more valuable with lots of low-rent single property squares. You can always un-mortgage them later in the game."
Another recommendation from Natalie is to stick with three or four houses and leave Park Lane - the least landed-on Monopoly square - well alone.
But competitors should avoid buying too many houses, she added.
"Once you've reached three houses, the amount that the rent increases by for each house maxes out. If you want to use your money wisely, stick to just three houses.
"If you want to be extra sneaky, stay on four houses and prevent people from buying houses later in the game once you've used them all up."
In the later stages of the game, it's worth trying to stay in jail for as long as possible to avoid expensive rents, she said.
Natalie will now go on to represent the UK and Ireland, facing 24 other nations at the Monopoly World Championships in Macau in the Far East in September.
The winner will take home a prize pool of £13,190 - the amount of play money included in a set of Monopoly.
Her final piece of advice was to sometimes treat opponents kindly. "Leave them favourable when the going gets tough."
And she admitted: "At the end of the day, you've got to hope the dice are on your side."
Previously, Natalie revealed she started playing Monopoly as a child.
"Last year for Christmas I bought my husband the Marvel Comic Monopoly edition which we really enjoyed playing," she said .
"Something which may help you win one game could be absolutely useless in the next, so I don't have any particular strategy. It's about keeping your wits about you and a close eye on what your opponent is doing.
"Playing Monopoly in a competition is much quicker than it is at home when you play for fun. It's more intense, but the basis of the game remains the same."