Monopoly helped POWs escape
During World War II, the Nazis did something un-Nazi-like: they let Allied prisoners of war play board games. The British government was even allowed to send its incarcerated soldiers a game or two. One of the games it sent? Monopoly. Inside the box? Tools for escape. Specifically, the British government, with the cooperation of the game’s publisher, hid real bank notes among the Monopoly money. Compasses, metal files, and a folded silk map – which was less likely to disintegrate than a paper one – were also concealed inside the box to help the POWs flee their captors. It worked; the soldiers escaped.
Words With Friends saved a man’s life
Had Georgie Fletcher never signed on to play the mobile game Words With Friends, her husband, Simon, might be dead. Georgie, who lives in Australia, struck up a friendship via the game’s chat feature with frequent opponent Beth Legler from Missouri. One day, Georgie told Beth that Simon hadn’t been feeling well. Beth relayed his symptoms to her husband, Larry – who is a doctor. Larry insisted that the Fletchers go to the hospital immediately. It was good advice: Simon’s doctors discovered a 99 per cent blockage near his heart, which, left untreated, would have certainly been fatal.
It took Rubik a month to solve his cube
You’ve probably heard of Erno Rubik. But most people don’t know that he created the Rubik’s Cube by accident. A professor of architecture, Rubik built a twistable box with colourful rows of labels on each side to see if it was possible to design blocks that could move without causing the entire structure to collapse. After Rubik rotated a few rows and mixed up the colours, his challenge began: realign the hues. It took him about a month to restore the cube to its pristine condition.