Most Monopoly players identify with a particular token more than the others: the car, the dog, the ship…the cat (seriously, wtf?! lol).

But whatever your favorite piece may be, this post is geared toward helping you move it WITHOUT having to count out each space on the way to its destination. I always find it slightly amusing when I see an opponent slowly tap each space of the board as he/she counts up to the amount rolled on the dice…that is, until I realize how long playing with this person will be! It’s yet another reason so many Monopoly games take longer than necessary.

Even for those of you who hate math, I promise that it is not very difficult to do. In fact, from an early age my brother and I have been able to utilize a critical aspect of the Monopoly board…

Every side has exactly 10 spaces! The railroads are exactly 5 spaces in, which works well to further break down the spaces in a systematic and geometrically pleasing way.

Let’s go through a few examples:

- You are on GO and roll a 7. I’m sure that many of you have all of the first rolls memorized, but this is how confident you should feel FROM ANY SPACE. So here’s the way to do this quickly, using the geometry mentioned above:

– The distance between GO (a corner space) and Reading Railroad (a middle space) is 5.

– This leaves 2 left from the 7 that was rolled. Visually, you find the space two ahead of RR, which is…drum roll everyone…Chance! - You are on Free Parking and roll an 11.

– You are on a corner space, and you have rolled a 10 or higher. This means that you find the next corner space (10 away) and visually find the space 1 ahead of it (11 – 10 = 1). Pacific!

Here are some general guidelines to help optimize your thought process while determining the destination space for your token:

- Rolling a 2, 3, or 4

These are best handled by simply counting the spaces ahead of your token, but by all means please do it in your head. 🙂 - Rolling a 5

If you’re on a corner space, then let’s call the next railroad the next “marker”. Like a ruler, think of the corner spaces as the inch lines and the railroads as the half-inch lines. Rolling a five will always push you past (or up to) the next marker on the board. So, if you’re on a corner space, the next marker is a railroad…and vice versa. If you’re in-between markers, then your destination will always be the same distance ahead of the next marker as you currently share with your nearest marker.Example: Mediterranean is one ahead of GO, so rolling a five will move you to one ahead of Reading Railroad…Oriental.

- Rolling a 6, 7, 8, or 9

Always be aware of your spot on the side of the board! This, of course, is good advice for strategic reasons, but it is also important if you want to be able to move your token effortlessly. More specifically, always know your distance from the next corner space…and remember that the railroad space is there to help you count!The reason I have waited until now to emphasize knowing the distance to the next corner is because it is crucial to determining your destination square when rolling a 6 through 9:

– If your roll is equal to the distance to the next corner, then that’s your destination

– If your roll is less than the distance to the next corner, then combine [1] and [2] above to find your destination on the same side of the board.

– If your roll is greater then the distance to the next corner, then visually count ahead of the next corner the difference between your roll and the current distance to the next corner. - Rolling a 10

This is handled just like the last note of [3]. Subtract the distance to the next corner and visually count the remainder spaces ahead of that corner. Visually, I like to think of rolling a 10 as bending a string around the edge of the board.

When a game is started, the string extends from GO to Jail. All 10 slots that the string covers are on one side of the board. But now imagine that string shifted over one. Now there are 9 slots on the first side of the board and 1 on the second. Then 2 and 8, 3 and 7, 4 and 6, 5 and 5, etc… The distances always add up to 10, but try to visually picture what the distances look like: envision the string’s length of 1, 2, 3, etc as your token moves from spot to spot. - Rolling an 11 or 12

This is handled just like a 10, except either 1 or 2 extra spaces need to be tacked on at the end. Combine [1] and [4] for a more detailed explanation.

All in all, moving the tokens around a Monopoly board is not very difficult. In fact, there are many times when I don’t even think about it at all. We humans are very visual creatures, and pattern recognition is something that drives us. After enough practice (and hopefully thanks to the confidence/guidelines that this post has given you), you can save your brain cells for more interesting tasks…like figuring out who to pay for that hotel you just landed on! 😛

Remember to keep the visual of a string in mind as you look at the board, and try imagining it for all possible rolls. What does a string that is two spaces long look like? How about eight spaces long? Soon, you will instinctively know where to move your token. And in the cases that your vision is unclear, rely on the rules listed above to get it right.

And don’t forget to have a fun, innocent chuckle inside as you watch a friend count out the spaces next time he/she rolls the dice.

Good post. I, too, get frustrated when people count out spaces over and over again, making the game take longer than it has to. Another bad part about counting out spaces is that it can damage the surface of the board over time if people clink their piece on each space as they go by.

For me, I’ve played the game enough so that I can remember which square is the destination based on the number and the initial square, e.g. from St. Charles, 5 is St. James, 6 is Community Chest, 7 is Tennessee, 8 is New York, etc. (I typed that without looking.)

My most common mistake with visual counting is when I roll a high number and my starting square is near the middle of the side of the board (but not the easy railroads), e.g. I’m on Income Tax or Oriental and I roll a 10 or 12. I might accidentally go to Virginia instead of St. James with a 12 from Income Tax, or with a 10 from Oriental. It happens very rarely, but I think my brain is not as well trained to go over the long distances since I cannot make a quick visual estimation and the high numbers aren’t rolled as often as 5 through 9.

In my opinion, the trickiest part of the board is Indiana-Illinois-B&O-Atlantic-Ventnor. At this point between the Reds and the Yellows, the game switches from going Color Property-Chance/CommunityChest/Utility-Color Property-Expensive Color Property to Color Property-Color Property-Chance/CommunityChest/Utility-Expensive Color Property. I’m glad the board has variety, but it makes those high rolls even a little bit more difficult. From the Community Chest in the midst of the orange group, rolling a 10 puts you on Ventnor, when you might think you should go to Water Works.

It’s funny how playing a game can help highlight some “faulty wiring” in the brain. Lately, for some reason my mind occasionally sees “8” instead of “9” on the dice and vice versa. My brother and I play so quickly that the pressure of keeping pace can actually lead to silly mistakes, but it’s extremely rare for both of us to make the same mistake at the same time (then again how would we know lol).

I am familiar with the movements as I am an experienced player. Do you also use phrases like “140 for passing Go” when you buy a brown (dark purple) from go or “just 100 for passing Go” when you buy a light blue from passing go.

Cool game 🙂