When software developer Natalie Fitzsimons agreed to accompany her husband to the Belfast heats of the UK Monopoly Championships she had no expectations.
Although she was a fan of the game and enjoyed playing it, she wasn’t what you would call a fanatic – like myself.
So imagine the 24-year-old’s surprise when she was eventually crowned the Northern Ireland Monopoly Champion at the Crumlin Road Gaol in the city recently.
She said: “Like most people I played as a child at my Granny’s house, but I only started to play again recently when I bought my husband the Marvel Comic monopoly board for Christmas.
“I didnt think I had a chance of winning at all. My husband has the competitive edge in our house, I had much greater expectations that he would win than that I would.
“It has been a lovely surprise though, and we can’t wait to go to London to the UK championships.”
And she said while she didnt have any magic tricks on the day she does have a few tips on how to make the most out of a game.
“A competition game of monopoly goes much more quickly than when you play at home, so it is a slightly different way to play, I definitely don’t have any magic tricks” she said, adding: “My first tip is that you should always be nice – because no one is going to want to help you out and trade properties with you if you are being a bad winner or loser. And my second tip is to simply have fun.”
Natalie will now be competing against 11 other players from across the UK and Ireland in the grand national final on July 19 in London, with the chance to make it through to the World final in Macau later in the year.
My Belfast: Natalie Fitzsimons
Sunday lunch with my family and my hubby.
Tell us something your mum doesn’t know about you?
Since I moved out I cook myself one proper meal a week, the rest of the time I survive on toasties and other lazy food!
What would you do if you had the keys to the city for the day?
Shop, eat and then shop some more!
Which building would you most like to be locked in overnight?
The Odeon Victoria Square, to have a really good movie binge.
There are lots…! Kit Harrington is a favourite at the minute.
Describe your perfect day in the city?
A big mix of shopping with my sisters, coffee and a walk in a nice park with my husband, and dinner with friends. I’m easily pleased!
What’s the last major event you attended in Belfast?
I did my first ever leg of the Belfast Marathon with my best friend at the start of May! I am newly married though, so until very recently the only big events I had eyes for were the Wedding Journal Show etc.
Flame, Howard Street. I have been a few times lately and love it, and you can’t leave without having their desserts!
Best place in Belfast to spend a fiver
The Continental Market (once it’s in town), I can’t resist a nice coffee and a cupcake whilst I nosy at the stalls.
Earliest Belfast memory?
Shopping on Royal Avenue after school for Christmas presents (probably buying more things for myself than for gifts). Oh, and Shane Ward turning on the Christmas lights!