Wednesday, August 09, 2017

We remember Chris Haney 1950-2010

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Who does not like to play "Trivial Pursuit"?    Well, I do and usually do fairly well when the topic is sports or history.    I don't do well when it's arts.

We remember Chris Haney.   It was Mr. Haney who created "Trivial pursuit":    
Born Aug. 9, 1950, in Welland, Ontario, Mr. Haney often described himself as a beer-swilling high school dropout whose biggest mistake was quitting school at 17. "I should have done it when I was 12," he said in interviews.
When he dropped out, his father, a radio news reader, insisted he get a job and helped him find one in the photo department at the Canadian Press wire service. He met Abbott, a sportswriter for the Canadian Press, in 1975 when he was assigned to the Montreal bureau to organize photo coverage of the 1976 Olympics. They became close friends and housemates.
In 1979, Mr. Haney was married to his first wife, Sarah Crandall, and working for the Montreal Gazette when he and Abbott hit on the idea that would change their lives.
It was a Saturday night before Christmas, and Mr. Haney and his wife had returned from grocery shopping with a surprise for Abbott: a Scrabble set. But Mr. Haney groused about paying what he believed was an inflated price -- $11 -- for the board game.
"He said, 'There must be a lot of money in games. Why don't we invent one?' " Abbott recalled in an interview Tuesday. "Then he said, 'What should it be about?' I said, 'Trivia.' "
They worked out the basic details in 45 minutes. Mr. Haney suggested calling the game Trivia Pursuit, but his wife suggested a crucial tweak: adding an L to make it Trivial Pursuit.     
Two business partners, Mr. Haney's brother, John, and a lawyer friend, Ed Werner, were recruited, and Mr. Haney and his brother spent the next two years writing the trivia questions -- 6,000 of them.
The partners tested the game on friends and were convinced it would sell, but marketers were dubious. A common criticism was that people wouldn't buy a game that made them feel stupid.
In 1980, with an infant son to support and a second child on the way, Mr. Haney quit his job to work full-time on the game. He and his partners raised $40,000 by selling shares to 32 people. His personal finances became so shaky, however, that he was redeeming empty beer bottles for cash. He suffered a nervous breakdown.
But after the first 1,000 games sold out, orders began to pour in. Mr. Haney began to work on a second edition focused on the movies, called the Silver Screen Edition. The popularity of Trivial Pursuit snowballed, and in 1984 more than 20 million sets were purchased in North America.
I have played "Trivial pursuit" hundreds of time and had no idea of how it came together.   Great story!

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