It occurs to me that this evergreen childhood game (as pronounced by my 5-year-old grandson then) is a prime example of how to prepare a youngster for the vicissitudes of life. Can there be a more telling example of the blows delivered by fate - up one minute and on top of the world - brought down to earth and into the doldrums the next. Even now, I dread throwing the dice, my heart is in my mouth as I move my token around the board - will I land on a dreaded snake? The end is in sight - but so is that incredible long snake that sends the hapless player plunging back down almost to the beginning again. I sympathised greatly with my grandson as I used to watch him struggle not to cheat when moving his token to avoid the mouth of the grinning snake that was his legitimate destination. Yet the game is highly popular still with children (leaving computer games out of the equation for the moment.) It must be the frisson of excitement generated by the threat of the hugely colorful snakes and enticing ladders. Any game of chance seems to me on reflection to be pretty pointless, apart from this character-building side effect, because unless you are born lucky (I do have one such friend who is always winning things), your chances of winning are 50/50 - no skill or thought required. Perhaps it's just that I wasn't born lucky, never had a big (or indeed small) win on anything. I guess the golden rule is, whatever kind of game you are playing - don't play for money.