Tuesday, June 1, 2010
From Trivial Pursuit to Sporcle
Fans of trivia were saddened to hear about the death of 59-year-old Chris Haney, a former journalist who co-created Trivial Pursuit.
On most trips back to Minnesota, I'll dig through my parents' basement to find the old Genus edition of the game. All of the colored pieces remain in the plastic bag, just waiting to fill the token. I'll then battle my mom, a longtime Trivial Pursuit foe. My dad almost never plays, but he does contribute from the living room, shouting random answers, sometimes when he's asked, often when he's not.
Trivial Pursuit remains my favorite board game, ahead of Scrabble, Monopoly, Life, Payday, everything. The Genus edition landed at my parents' after my grandpa's death. It joined numerous other versions of the game that take up space in the basement, from a junior edition to an '80s edition to a sports one. But the Genus remains the favorite. And probably the most difficult. Geography always gave me problems, as did the science category. I obviously dominated Orange, Sports & Leisure. Except when the questions veered toward Leisure. Honestly, how much do I know about backgammon or cribbage?
My uncle Jerry remains the best Trivial Pursuit player I've ever faced or seen, which is a compliment in this case but could be perceived differently. After all, is it completely healthy for one person to be so knowledgeable about 18th century Russian rulers and obscure British bands from the 1960s? I don't think I ever beat him, which is probably why I eventually quit playing him. I do usually defeat my mom. Growing up I occasionally wondered if she threw the games because that's what a mom might do. Was she pulling a Chicago Black Sox? Dad never let me beat him in sports, but I could see mom messing up an answer in order to boost my self-confidence about mundane historical events. Specifically, I remember her answer to the question, who was shot on December 8, 1980? She said Reagan. It was John Lennon. She was a huge Beatles fan and that question was for the game. I rallied to win. I remain skeptical that it was simply a wrong guess on her part.
Today I get my trivia fix through Sporcle. Trivial Pursuit, of course, had a finite number of questions. The more ethically challenged players searched through the cards before games, and eventually a player could memorize many of the questions and answers. Sporcle seems to have an infinite number of games.
In preparation for the Finals, here are some focused on the NBA.
Celtics retired numbers. Only diehards and those raised in households heavy in Celtics propaganda will get all of these, considering the franchise insists on retiring the number of anyone who scored 5,000 points or plays more than 100 minutes on a title-winning team. Based on his 13-point outburst in Game 6 of the ECF, I fully expect Nate Robinson's jersey to be lifted to the rafters in 10 years. I got all but six of them.
Lakers retired numbers. Much easier, considering the Lakers have only retired seven numbers and an inanimate object. There's something to be said for only honoring the best of the best. You have to be a true legend to get a number - or microphone - retired as a Laker. And, yes, I knew all of them.
Multiple NBA MVPs. Most NBA fans should be able to get all of these, especially since it gives the team. I finished in 50 seconds, not bad, not great. Average. The type of performance that gets your number retired in Boston.
Top 25 players in multiple categories. This is impossible. If there's one person that gets all of these, please email me. I want to congratulate you, and also alert the proper authorities. Institutionalization might be the best bet for help. No one - not even the Schwab, or my uncle - should know the 21st best free throw shooter in NBA history.
NBA 50 Greatest. A fun one. This was the list the NBA released in 1996, the 50th anniversary of the league. Meaning there's no Kobe, Duncan or LeBron. I got 41 of them. Should have definitely named at least two more. The pressure of that ticking clock got to me.
NBA Finals MVPs. This one goes back to 1969, the first year of the award. I got all of them in 1:52. It's easier than it should be, because it automatically fills in the slots if a player won more than one. So Jordan takes up six slots, Magic three, etc. The 1976 Celtics one took me the longest to get.
NBA Scoring Leaders by Letter. Quick, who's the all-time NBA scoring leader whose name began with a Q? I didn't know either. I also want to meet the person who nails all of these.
And, finally, it's not related to the NBA Finals or to sports, but in honor of the Leisure category in Trivial Pursuit...
Name the categories in Yahtzee.