On the night of Dec. 15, 1979, a mustachioed Montreal Gazette photo editor named Chris Haney was steeling himself for a best-of-seven series. He and Scott Abbott, a sportswriter for The Canadian Press, had long boasted of their respective Scrabble supremacies. But before they could settle the score—stakes were to be $100 per win—Haney suddenly became intrigued by a different challenge. "There must be a lot of money in board games," he mused to Abbott. "What would ours be about?" Within 45 minutes, at Haney's kitchen table, the two friends had drawn up the rough parameters of a game called Trivial Pursuit. On a notepad they'd even settled on the final names of every category but one: sports.
For Haney, who died in Toronto on June 1 at age 59, the hesitation came not because sports were too, well, trivial. To the contrary: The Ontario-bred journalist (then a Maple Leafs rooter) had first met Abbott, a fervent Canadiens fan, when both were CP coworkers preparing to cover the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. As Abbott recalls, the original name of the category was Sports & Recreation, but they worried that it would turn off women. They settled on Sports & Leisure. Their favorite sports questions valued wit over memory. Who played for the New York Rangers, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Knicks in the same season? (Organist Gladys Gooding ... of course!)
Most nights last summer—a year after Hasbro had bought the rights to Trivial Pursuit for $80 million—avid duffers Abbott and Haney ate dinner at the shared clubhouse of their two Caledon, Ont., golf courses. "When I met Chris, we never imagined all this would happen," Abbott says. "What my life has been these past 30 years is a function of our friendship."
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
EA Sports, manufacturer of Madden NFL 11, will log and create scouting reports on individual gamers, which the company will offer to sell to opponents.
MARC BRYAN-BROWN/CORBIS (HANEY)
GAMES MAN Haney (center) linked with brother John (right) and Abbott.