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Co-inventor of Trivial Pursuit dies at 55

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Sic semper tyrannis, May 31, 2010.

  1. The other inventor was a sportswriter.
    It just takes one good idea.
    I know of a few people -- poor working journalists -- who refused the initial investment, figuring the two of them would drink it away.
    Others who did invest received annual dividend cheques in the hundreds of thousands

    Chris Haney, the onetime Montreal Gazette photo editor who parlayed an idea sketched out on barroom napkins into one of the most successful board games in history – Trivial Pursuit -- has died in Toronto at the age of 55 after a long illness.

    In Dec., 1979, Christopher Haney, a Welland, Ont. native, and his Canadian Press colleague, sportswriter Scott Abbott, drafted the rough concept of a trivia-based board game over beer, during a lunch-hour game of Scrabble. They later rounded up some 32 small investors, who paid as little as $1,000, and used the proceeds to create a test-market version of the game. All of those early investors subsequently grew rich on the annual royalties.

    The first 1,100 copies of Trivial Pursuit were released commercially in November, 1981, at $15 each. Initially, it was a money-losing proposition for investors, since the cost of manufacturing was $75 apiece.

    It wasn’t until 1983, when Mr. Haney and Mr. Abbott licensed the product to U.S.-based Selchow and Righter, that the game began to take off, abetted by greater economies of scale and a massive marketing campaign. In fact, sales soared. The following year, some 20 million copies were sold. Time magazine called it the “the biggest phenomenon in game history.”

    Though annual sales slipped thereafter, Trivial Pursuit continued to be a staple of recreation rooms and summer cottages, spinning off an assortment of special, themed editions with questions expressly designed for children, families, and music, movie, TV and sports buffs. It also spawned a stream of imitation games.

    Since its creation, more than 100 million games had been sold in 26 countries and 17 languages.

    In 2008 Hasbro Inc. purchased Trivial Pursuit from Horn-Abbott Ltd, the company that owned the game’s intellectual property rights, for $80-million (U.S.).

    Mr. Haney later used some of the many millions he earned to build two of Canada’s most spectacular golf courses – Devil’s Pulpit and Devil’s Paintbrush, in Caledon, Ont.

    In recent years, Haney split his time between Canada and Europe, spending summers in Toronto and winters on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

    He is survived by his wife, Hiam, three children – John, Thomas and Shelagh – his brother John, and sister Mary, and his first wife, Sarah Crandall.

    YGBFKM Guest

    Trivial Pursuit is the greatest game ever invented. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to find the Genus edition these days. Lots of smaller, travel-type editions and 86 other various specialized forms, but the original, all-encompassing game was the baddest thing ever.
  3. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    We used to have three couples over for dinner once a month or so. We'd follow dinner with Trivial Pursuit.
    We took inventory after a few years. EVERY couple we had over - EVERY couple - ended up divorced.

    We don't think the two are related.

    One of my colleagues at my first paper and his wife were guests one night. Both brilliant. They missed their first question. It came around to them again, they didn't miss another. They won the second game pretty easily, too.

    Love that game. But if you are married, don't play it with us.

    YGBFKM Guest

    Always wondered why the U.S. divorce rate was so high. Now we know.

    My parents used to drag me to the neighbors every week to play. Initially, I hated it. Twelve-year-olds have better things to do. But I eventually started winning and became the adults' most sought-after playing partner. I was a pre-teen Trivial Pursuit God for a while. I may have peaked way too early, though. :)
  5. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    I love me some Trivial Pursuit.
    Didn't know its back story until today.
    I guess I would have missed that question.
  6. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    Huggy works for Scott Abbott who owns the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League.

    "It's Moops you idiot"|
  7. Dyno

    Dyno Well-Known Member

    Trivial Pursuit is the only board game I'll willingly play. RIP co-inventor guy.
  8. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    Oh, and Haney was 59, not 55.
  9. Sea Bass

    Sea Bass Well-Known Member

    Haney was a regular at the golf/racquet store I worked at about 15 years ago. Never wanted to pay retail.
  10. Magic In The Night

    Magic In The Night Active Member

    Very interesting. Didn't know Trivial Pursuit was invented by Canadians, and journalists at that.
  11. my father is one of the most brilliant and well-read people I will ever know, but he always had trouble winning TP because he didn't know enough pop culture. Use to drive him nuts.
    He'd read three biographies on George Orwell, but ask him to name the guy who played Charles on MASH and he was lost (to my dad's credit, he could name the stars of the movie).
    Was very amusing to see him stew
  12. Good back story on Haney's decision to build golf courses.
    Went to play at a good public course shortly after hitting the motherlode. They found either the wait or the round too long. Decided then and there to spend millions to build his own club. One of the most exclusive in and around Toronto.
    Have had the great pleasure to play one of them. It's exactly what I would do if I had multimillions.
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