Tim Bowen gets ahead of the game as he rounds up these game-related idioms. It’s all part of the game!

‘If you want to get ahead in politics, getting to know the right people is the name of the game’. In other words, it is what you need to do to be successful at a particular activity or business. It is also important to be ahead of the game, namely, in a position that is likely to lead to success because you have planned well and are well-informed. 

If you beat someone at their own game, you are more successful in a particular activity than they are, even though they have a reputation for being good at it, as in ‘In the 1960s, British pop groups beat the Americans at their own game’. 

If you give the game away, you let people know a secret or a surprise when you did not want or intend to let them know, as in ‘The expression on your face gives the game away, you know!’ 

Used mainly in American English, the expression the only game in town can be used to refer to the only thing of a particular type that is available, as in ‘At that hour of the night, the hotel bar was the only game in town’. 

The expression fair game can be used to refer to someone or something that someone considers is acceptable to criticise or attack, as in ‘The media tend to see politicians as fair game’. 

A normal part of a particular activity can be described as all part of the game, as in ‘For a young actor, being out of work for long periods is all part of the game’.

If you are game for a laugh it means you are happy to have a joke and do something funny.  It also means you have a sense of humour.