It’s over twenty years since I started composing Trivial Pursuit questions. I have nightmares about them, but someone has to do it. Sometimes I’m inspired and write dozens a day, but most of the time it’s very laborious work, and sometimes I wish I hadn’t invented it.
There were four of us at the start, all Canadian journalists from Montreal. We were playing Scrabble one evening in 1979, and I asked: “Why don’t we invent something as good as this game?” It took us only 45 minutes to invent the rules and the circular board, then each of us invested money in the promotion of the idea. Two of us went to Spain to drink beer and write hundreds of questions. The difficult thing is to invent questions that are unusual enough to make people both laugh and think hard. At first hardly anybody bought the game, until a Toronto bank manager played it with his children, who loved it. He offered to invest a lot of money so that we could mass-produce it and promote it. Obviously, he hoped to get rich from his investment. The game was so good that millions of people bought it. Trivial Pursuit has so far sold more than 60 million copies in 33 countries.
I constantly check the questions for interest and difficulty, and make corrections based on comments received via e-mail, given by colleagues, or found in encyclopaedias. For example, I made up this question: “What is the main ingredient of the chocolate you buy in the shops?”, but afterwards found that the correct answer is not cocoa or even chocolate, but … sugar!
1. Write a summary of the text in English, including the most important points, using your own words whenever possible (maximum 50 words).
2. Explain in English the meaning of the following expressions as used in the text.
a) it’s very laborious work: means that the work is difficult and takes a long timeb) hardly anybody bought the game: means that very few people bought the game.
3. Complete the second sentence of each pair so that it has the same meaning as the first one.
a) I wish I hadn’t invented it.I regret inventing it / having invented it.b) The game was so good that millions of people bought it.It was such a good game (that) millions of people bought it.c) It took us 45 minutes to invent the rules.In 45 minutes we (had) invented the rules.d) The correct answer is not chocolate or cocoa but … sugar!Sugar, not chocolate or cocoa, is the correct answer.
4. Answer the following questions in your own words.
a) What are the main difficulties of inventing questions for Trivial Pursuit? The main problems are, firstly, that sometimes he is not inspired and then it is very laborious work. Also, it is hard to invent questions that are both funny and difficult, and finally, it is not always easy to give the correct answer, which is sometimes a surprising one.
5. Describe a game or sport that you enjoy, and say why you like it more than others. (Approximately 120 words)
I enjoy basketball, which you play with two teams of five players. You have to throw the ball into a ring, although the other team will defend their ring and try to stop you. The ring is quite small and high, while the ball is large. I think basketball is good because you play inside a building, so the bad weather doesn’t matter. It is a game for teams, so you make friends, and it is not violent. Usually, people do not break their legs and arms, while in football this can happen. It is exciting, and generally at the end of the game there is a difference of very few points. So basketball is fun to play and to watch.