The history of Monopoly can be traced back to 1903, when an American woman named Elizabeth (Lizzie) J. Magie Phillips created a game through which she hoped to be able to explain the single tax theory of Henry George (it was intended to illustrate the negative aspects of concentrating land in private monopolies). Her game, The Landlord's Game, was commercially published in 1923. A series of variant board games based on her concept were developed from 1906 through the 1930s that involved the buying and selling of land and the development of that land. By 1934, a board game called Monopoly had been created which formed the basis of the game sold by Parker Brothers and its parent companies through the rest of the 20th century, and into the 21st. Several people, mostly in the Midwestern United States and near the East Coast, contributed to the game's design and evolution. By the 1970s, the idea that the game had been created solely by Charles Darrow had become popular folklore: it was printed in the game's instructions and even in the 1974 book The Monopoly Book: Strategy and Tactics of the World's Most Popular Game by Maxine Brady.
In 1941, the British Secret Service had John Waddington Ltd., the licensed manufacturer of the game outside the U.S., create a special edition for World War II prisoners of war held by the Nazis. Hidden inside these games were maps, compasses, real money, and other objects useful for escaping. They were distributed to prisoners by secret service-created fake charity groups.
Because of the lengthy court process and appeals, the legal status of Parker Brothers' trademarks on the game was not settled until the late 1970s. Ralph Anspach won a lawsuit over his game Anti-Monopoly on appeals in 1979, as the 9th District Court determined that the trademark Monopoly was generic, and therefore unenforceable.
Although in the past, U.S. entrants had to successfully compete in regional competitions before the national championship, qualifying for the National Championship has been online since 2003. For the 2003 Championship, qualification was limited to the first fifty people who correctly completed an online quiz. Out of concerns that such methods of qualifying might not always ensure a competition of the best players, the 2009 Championship qualifying was expanded to include an online multiple-choice quiz (a score of 80% or better was required to advance); followed by an online five-question essay test; followed by a two-game online tournament at Pogo.com. The process was to have produced a field of 23 plus one: Matt McNally, the 2003 national champion, who received a bye and was not required to qualify. However, at the end of the online tournament, there was an eleven-way tie for the last six spots. The decision was made to invite all of those who had tied for said spots. In fact, two of those who had tied and would have otherwise been eliminated, Dale Crabtree of Indianapolis, Indiana, and Brandon Baker, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, played in the final game and finished third and fourth respectively.
The 2009 Monopoly U.S. National Championship was held on April 14–15 in Washington, D.C. In his first tournament ever, Richard Marinaccio, an attorney from Sloan, New York (a suburb of Buffalo), prevailed over a field that included two previous champions to be crowned the 2009 U.S. National Champion. In addition to the title, Mr. Marinaccio took home $20,580 — the amount of money in the bank of the board game — and competed in the 2009 World Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 21–22, where he finished in third place.