In the American edition of Monopoly, there is a Chance card that says:

Advance token to nearest railroad

Pay owner twice the rental to which he/she is entitled. If railroad is unowned, you may buy it from the bank.

this is the Chance card

However, is this the closest railroad, or the next one? If you are standing on the Chance spot in the light blues, do you go all around the board to Reading, which is the closest to you, or do you go to Pennsylvania, which is the first one you land on?


Look closely at the card and it tells you exactly what to do.

Advance token to nearest railroad

Pay owner twice the rental to which he/she is entitled. If railroad is unowned, you may buy it from the bank.

Advance means you are moving forward on the board so this will always move you to the railroad that you run into. In your example it means that you would stop at Pennsylvania.

From what it sounds like you are reading way to much into a simple card. As in the game of monopoly there is no way to go backwards so you never look behind you when you are trying to calculate distance.

To break it down from the chance spot that is in the light blues the ranking of railroads in terms of distance is

  1. Pennsylvania (8 spaces away with normal movement)
  2. B. & O. (18 spaces away with normal movement)
  3. Short Line (28 spaces away with normal movement)
  4. Reading (38 spaces away with normal movement)

The only time you can pass go with that card is on the chance spot right after the Short Line spot on the board.

Always need to remember that when playing a board game (unless specifically stated) you calculate distance based on the direction you move.

As for the comment about the go to jail card it does not instruct you to advance to jail. That card is specifying changes to the movement rules on the card because it wants you to treat it differently then other cards that direct you to move to a location

Go to jail

Go directly to jail
Do not pass go
Do not collect $200

There are other cards which break the movement rules and those cards fully describe the changes to the rules.

Go back 3 spaces

This card clearly describes an movement that is outside of the normal rules and does not use the word advance so it can't be confused with normal movement.

Official Tournament Rules where passing go a second time by this card is not mentioned even though it does mention passing go a second time from this space

GO Each time a player’s token lands on or passes over GO, whether by throw of the dice or by drawing a card, the Banker pays the player a $200 salary. The $200 is paid only once each time around the board. However, if a player passing GO on the throw of a dice lands 2 spaces beyond it on Community Chest, or 7 spaces beyond it on Chance, and draws the “Advance to GO” card, he/she collects $200 for passing GO the first time and another $200 for reaching it the second time by instructions on the card.

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    Yes, I know - so we like to go all the way around the board and collect another $200 ;). That's advancing to the nearest. We wouldn't go backwards. – Mithrandir Jun 11 '17 at 16:03
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    This sounds like opinion rather than a 100% certain interpretation of the game rule. If they meant to advance to the next railroad why wouldn’t they say that? Yes, you need to advance but they specify the nearest instead of the next railroad. There’s nothing in the rules that states the nearest is only in the direction of travel. It could very well be that you pick the nearest, forward or backward, and then advance to it. – ColGraff Jun 11 '17 at 18:47
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    @JoeW It’s not a matter of passing multiple locations, this is not a real-world example. For some reason a railroad is picked and you advance to it. In this case the only question is if “nearest” is synonymous with “next”. Obviously, in a dictionary definition they have different connotations. I would go with a literal meaning over an interpreted one if there was no further guidance on the matter from the rules or the manufacturer. “Nearest” literally means which one is closer in any direction. – ColGraff Jun 11 '17 at 18:55
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    @ColGraff another way to look at it is in the game there is only one legal direction to move and all distances are measured from that direction. To get to Pennsylvania it would take a roll of 8. To get to Reading from that same spot it would take a roll of 38 (yes i mean a series of rolls). – Joe W Jun 11 '17 at 19:01
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    @ColGraff If I say "go east to the nearest shop", and there's a shop just west of you, would you assume I meant to travel eastwards around the world until you came back to nearly but not quite where you started. ignoring all the other shops you passed on your travels? It's certainly a valid interpretation, but language is very rarely amenable to such purely logical analysis, and it feels perfectly natural to me (and others here) for "advance to nearest..." to mean "go forwards until you encounter...". – IMSoP Jun 12 '17 at 15:37

The wording is ambiguous, but in the many years that I've played this game, I have never heard it interpreted as "Find the closest railroad in front of or behind you, and advance until you arrive there".

While I know of no official ruling that spells this out (which is, in itself, somewhat telling, since most people seem to assume that "nearest" only applies to spaces in front of you, and this consensus was apparently clear enough that the makers never felt the need to clarify), there have been a number of official Monopoly video games released over the years. I certainly haven't played them all, but I've played 3 or 4 different versions, and never once has any of them advanced me around the board, past "Go", to reach a railroad station behind me when drawing this card.

As these were officially licensed versions of the game, I believe that is a fairly clear indication that the rules for this card are intended to only apply to railroads in front of you.

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    Besides, if it meant "nearest in front of you or behind you" then when you were on Go or Just Visiting or Free Parking, there'd be a tie, and then what would you do? – Kyralessa Jan 8 '18 at 20:54

The card says “nearest” (dictionary.com, 9) which literally means "being the lesser in distance”. There are no further rules that support interpreting “nearest” as meaning “next” (dictionary.com, 1): "immediately following in time, order, importance, etc.”

There is evidence that the back direction can be considered in a card since the the “Go Back 3 Spaces” card does just that, send a player in the backwards direction.

Therefore I believe that the correct interpretation is the literal meaning, the closest in real distance on the board. You find the railroad that matches that and then advance to it, stopping when you arrive. It doesn’t matter if you can’t go backwards, picking the nearest has nothing to do with direction.

Other interpretations are adding meaning to the rules without any official support for them. In the absence of a ruling or official guidance you should go with the literal rules.

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    The rules in monopoly only allow for movement in one direction which means in order to get to a railroad that is behind you the movement would be much greater. Your claim that it is nearest in distance ignores the fact that the movement to that spot is almost 5 times as the movement to the next one in line. If you could move in either direction and the card did not say "Advance" you might have a point. But as it stands there is only one direction on the board you can move. – Joe W Jun 11 '17 at 19:09
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    "Go to jail" and "Go back 3 spaces" cards spell out the changes to the rules. When a card uses normal movement rules it will just tell you to advance to the location which again is following normal rules. If the card wanted you to have the option of going to the one behind you it would instruct you to move it there which would also mean that you did not pass go and collect $200 – Joe W Jun 11 '17 at 19:20
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    Sounds like @ColGraff is not aware of how long Monopoly has been around and that there is, in fact, a general consensus on the rules of the game. There are even some well-known house rules, such as Free Parking and deal-making. But nobody has ever advanced the idea of moving backwards (sorry — forwards, but in a reverse direction) to get to the nearest railroad! This is where common sense ought to kick in. Rules-lawyering can be amusing, but the OP deserves a serious answer to their question about "Monopoly as she is played". – Quuxplusone Jun 12 '17 at 2:51
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    It's also clear from official software-based implementations of Monopoly that the intention is to advance to the next railroad. – jamesdlin Jun 12 '17 at 3:03
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    @FabricioAraujo I think you're mis-understanding the answer - he's saying you always move forwards, but the nearest station may be just behind you, meaning you may perform almost a full loop of the board. – UKMonkey Jun 13 '17 at 10:19

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