The game that got away

I think chess is the best game in the world. I love the fact that I can combine the thrill of risk taking and strategy planning with a cup of tea and a nice chat with a friend. 

Richard Branson and President Nasheed

There are several boards dotted around Necker Island, and you can often find yours truly perched over one of them. I had the pleasure of enjoying some great games with Björn Borg at the Necker Cup, and when President Nasheed came to visit.

These games reminded me about another game that most people know and love. It also happens to be one of the biggest business ideas that got away from me.

Image of Richard and Bjorn

I got a call one day in the early 80s from a friend in Canada, who had become obsessed with a new board game and told me it was going to be the next big thing. I took a look and could see it was going to catch on. The developers invited us to travel to Quebec and seal a deal to distribute the game globally - I readily agreed.

However, we were incredibly busy with Virgin Records at the time, and due to work commitments I ended up having to postpone the trip. By the time I got there, they had sold the game to another company. It has gone on to sell hundreds of millions of copies. The name of the game? Trivial Pursuit.

While we missed out on that one, I’ve never really dwelled on it. As I have often said, opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.

What’s more, I appreciate the way the idea for Trivial Pursuit was formed. Apparently, the creators Chris Haney and Scott Abbot were intending to play a game of Scrabble, but found there were some pieces missing. Rather than get annoyed about the faulty game, they decided to create their own – the result was Trivial Pursuit. The best ideas often come out of frustration.

What’s your favourite game? Make some time to play and relax this week, you won’t regret it.

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