A LUCKY property swap and a frenzy of building propelled a 19-year-old Norwegian student to the top of board game fame at the Monopoly World Championship in Las Vegas.

Bjorn Halvard Knappskog, who graduated this year from the Oslo Private Gymnasium school, captured the title on Thursday when the battleship token of 25-year-old Geoff Christopher of New Zealand landed consecutively on Pacific Avenue and North Carolina Avenue, and he couldn’t afford the combined US$1,600 rent.

“(I’m) the most surprised you could ever be,” Knappskog told The Associated Press. “I think this was a really good final. It was the best game I played in the whole tournament.”

He won US$20,580 in real money for the title — the total amount in the “bank” of a standard Monopoly game.

The other finalists won nothing beyond the trip that brought each of the 41 competitors to the Caesars Palace hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip to represent their home countries as national champions.

After taking out 24-year-old Russian Oleg Korostelev, Knappskog bankrupted American champion Rick Marinaccio, a 26-year-old corporate lawyer from Buffalo, New York, who was trying to become the first American player to win the board game championship since 1974.

The final lasted about 45 minutes, quick for a tournament game and far less time than a typical casual Monopoly game. The world tournament was last staged in Tokyo in 2004.