Trivial Pursuit is an incredibly popular board game available involving asking and answering general knowledge questions. It's available in twenty-eight countries in eighteen different languages.

A little history

"What year saw the Post Office officially introduce
second class mail delivery?"

The game was invented in 1979 by two friends, Scott Abbott and Chris Haney, who were both working for newspapers in Montreal, Canada. In order to get the money and help needed to release the game to the public they also enlisted Chris Haney's brother John Haney, and another friend Ed Werner. They spent the next few years working tirelessly and using all their available money to get the first prototype off the ground.

After an initial Canadian test run of 1100 games, the group still found it hard work to shift any units. It wasn't until 1982 when they found a distributor (Chieftain Products Ltd) in Canada. A year later, however, their luck changed. In late 1983, Selchow & Righter, a US games company, took the game on and shifted 20 million games in 1984.

Since then the game has become a household name in many countries in the world and many new versions have been released using all sorts of media.

How does one play such a game?

"What coloured shape did Bass register
as the first ever trade mark?"

I will explain how to play the original standard version of Trivial Pursuit. Other versions may alter slightly, especially in regards to question categories

The board

The board squares are are organized like a wheel. There are 42 'squares' around the edge and six spokes with five 'squares' each and a final one in the centre. The places where the spokes meet the outside of the wheel are 'wedge' squares - more on that later.

Ignoring, for a moment, the center and the wedge positions, there are seven different types of normal position on the board which correspond to six different question categories and the Free Roll squares. Each is a different colour.

Normal Play

Players choose a coloured piece and place it on the central space. Each player then takes turns rolling the dice and moving -- in any direction -- that number of spaces. If the player lands on a grey square he or she may roll again. If the player lands on a coloured square he or she must answer a question from the relevant category. A correct answer means the player may roll again, whilst I wrong answer means the end of the player's turn.

What about these 'wedge' spaces?

There are six 'wedge' spaces -- one for each colour. These are treated as normal spaces, but if the player answers the question correctly he or she is given a wedge -- a small wedge-shaped piece of plastic -- of the same colour which will fit into his or her playing piece. A player cannot get more than one wedge of the same colour.

How do you win, then?

Once a player has collected all six different coloured wedges they should return to the central space. The player is asked a final question from a category chosen by his/her opponents. A correct answer wins the game, a wrong answer results in having to leave the central space on the next go and return to try again.

What versions are there?

"How many sons did William Shakespeare have?"

There have been numerous versions through the ages, and it's pretty hard to find out a definitive list but here is a selection of some of the more popular versions.

Board Games

Genus Edition
This is the main one as described above. There have been several re-issues of this to refresh (and update) the questions.
20th Anniversary Edition
Containing questions about happenings during Trivial Pursuit's lifetime. Handy for younger players.
Family Edition
Contains two sets of question cards; one for adults and one for the kids. Careful though: many of the kids questions are really easy, even for eight-year-olds.
Lord of the Rings Edition and such
Is there a game that hasn't been adapted to LOTR yet? You guessed it: the board and pieces are Tolkienesque and the questions are based around the books. There are other versions of the game in with these sorts of themes; Star Wars, for instance.
..for kids
Brightly coloured board and fascinating-fact type questions
DVD version
Questions are based on film and music clips from included DVDs
Baby-Boomer edition
The same game, but with questions aimed at -- you guessed it -- those born during the post-WWII baby boom. Lots of questions on the sixties.

Not-board games

Handheld Edition
Available for Palm OS or Pocket PC
Mobile Edition
For your J2ME mobile phone. Lots of the different versions are available and there's also a 'Time Attack' version where you get scores for answering questions quicker.
Available for Windows PC, XBox and PS2. This is standard Trivial Pursuit updated for the videogame audience. Extra rules can be added including stealing wedges and betting.
Other software versions
Versions of Trivial Pursuit have been made for pretty much every computer under the sun. I had one on my Spectrum, a friend had one on his C64 and I remember playing one on the Beebs at my primary school
Different versions of the game, both single and multiplayer, can be played at for free.