STOP PRESS – a recent radio interview and a bouncy, controversial read…

Hello!

Just a quick interruption to my ongoing interview with quiz champion Yogesh Raut, to let you know about a little radio appearance I did last week.

On Thursday afternoon, I was invited onto the ABC Victorian statewide Drive program with Prue Bentley, to talk about winning game shows.

It was a great little (8-minute) chat, in which I outlined some of my favourite game show-winning training tips I’ve accumulated over the years. So if you’re interested in my top tips of all time, you can listen to our interview RIGHT HERE. (https://www.abc.net.au/listen/programs/vic-statewide-drive/drive/102975214) It starts around the 17:40 mark.

In other news, I stumbled across this AV Club article about the Jeopardy! strategy known as ‘the Forrest Bounce’…

(https://www.avclub.com/jeopardy-technique-james-holzhauer-forrest-bounce-1850935799)

It’s a great read if you’re interested in Jeopardy!, in the various tactics and strategies that can be used on it, and in the way that particular game continues to change and evolve. And while this article is an interesting read, it’s also proven a little controversial, with one of the key figures in it – James Holzhauer – taking to Twitter (X) to say this…

Intriguing… Long live the idea of spirited game show debate!

And that’s it for today. I’ll see you back here next Tuesday, where we’ll pick up our interview with Yogesh, right where we left off last week.

Until then, then!

Revisiting Russell!

Hello! Just a quick one today…

Recently, a friend* drew my attention to an interview on ABC Radio here in Australia with Sale of the Century Grand Champion Russell Cheek.

Russell Cheek

Here’s the link: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/rn-drive-tuesday-january-25/13727432 

It’s a wide-ranging chat about all of Russell’s extensive quiz show experience, but the Sale of the Century part of it starts at 29:52. 

Although I’ve interviewed Russell here (in fact, he kindly agreed to be one of my very first interviews for this site!), it’s great to actually hear him tell his story. He certainly knows how to spin a yarn! And you’ll find there are some pretty darn nifty quiz show homework tips in amongst it all, too. I hope you like it!

You can keep abreast of what Russell’s up to these days at his website http://RussellCheek.com.au/

 

 

 

* Fun fact: the friend was actually game show host and producer Michael Pope, who also agreed to be interviewed for this site, a while back… 

HTWGS movie review – ‘Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much’.

So, first things first… did you watch it?

If you haven’t seen this documentary yet, you still have time! There WILL be spoilers in this review, so before you scroll down to read it, here’s your last chance to see what I’ll be talking about…

You can watch the full (72-minute) movie online, either HERE, 

HERE, 

HERE,

or HERE.Okay. So don’t say I haven’t warned you.

Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much tells the story of maths teacher Theodore “Ted” Slausen; a lifelong The Price Is Right fan, who has attended a whopping 37 recordings of the show! Ted’s not just a superfan, though; he’s also an incredibly keen analyst of the show, watching it religiously, and creating and maintaining vast databases of all the prizes and their respective dollar values. And he’s been doing this for decades. 

The idea first occurred to Ted when he watched 4 episodes from 1973 and noticed they contained four fridges which were all the same price. This planted a seed in his analytical mind: it told him there were patterns on the show that could be predicted…

So Ted started logging all the prizes on the show – and their values – building what would become an ENORMOUS database. He made his own rudimentary TPIR computer game, which included all the games – and prizes – from the show, and he spent a lot of time playing his own home version of the game with friends.

When he turned 18, he went to recordings of the show six times but never got picked to “Come on down”. Ted ended up going to 23 tapings of the show without ever being called down… but then, on his 24th visit, he made it onto the stage as a contestant, played the games, and won a few prizes. And, it would appear that was where Ted’s TPIR journey would end…

There are more twists and turns ahead, though. This film is a portrait of Ted’s lifelong obsession with the show, and he’s not done yet…

As you know, I’ve always advocated getting to know a show intimately, if you’re planning to go on it. David Poltorak holds the same view, as does Martin Flood. If you’re an aspiring contestant who’s taking the show seriously, you’ve got to know all its ins and outs. As Christopher Walken says in the movie Mousehunt, if you want to catch a mouse… “You have to think…”

“…. LIKE A MOUSE!”

But I digress. About two-thirds of the way through Perfect Bid, after Ted’s one and only appearance as a contestant on the show, his TPIR journey seems to have ended…

But, as we know, the show’s format encourages the audience to yell out what they think the prizes are worth…. an element that seems tailor-made for Ted. The rest of the film outlines his subsequent visits to recordings, and the numerous occasions when contestants took Ted’s (yelled) advice and won big prizes! There is scandal, there are conspiracy theories, and we hear from the show’s current host Drew Carey, who feared that all of this could spell the end of The Price Is Right altogether! That’s why, when he’s congratulating Terry Kniess (whose perfect showcase bid resulted from following Ted’s advice), Drew is so unenthusiastic.

This is a well-made documentary, with lots of archival TV footage, and they clearly did it all on a shoestring budget. But on a technical note… I don’t know if it was my headphones or the settings on my computer when I watched this, but the background musical score sounded very intrusive to me. The producers have used upbeat, 1920s-style big band music (often featuring vocals) throughout a lot of the film, and to my ear, it really got in the way. Again, I don’t know if it was the sound mix or a problem at my end, but I found it incredibly distracting every time the background music annoyingly became foreground music. And on the subject of music… There’s a section of the film where (the show’s host) Bob Barker retires, as does its producer Roger Dobkowitz, and it’s incredibly schmaltzy, with a syrupy, overblown, sentimental song (again with intrusive vocals) called Christmas Time is Here. Um, why? As far as I can tell, Bob didn’t leave at Christmas, and neither did Roger.

In the final analysis, I found it all a bit sad. Ted never benefitted from the wins of anyone he helped… so what does he have to show for his decades of The Price Is Right obsession? Well, from that one time he got on the show, he came away with $1100 prize money, a recliner chair (worth $599), a coffee maker ($160), a photo laminator ($50), a dumbbell set ($35), 2 sets of jogging clothes ($18), and a peck on the cheek from – and an autographed picture of – the spokesmodel named Holly.

Perfect Bid is an interesting – and pretty quick – watch for game show aficionados and fans (like us), but I can’t help feeling that Ted’s story is ultimately unsatisfying; his journey as a contestant ended a long time ago, his winnings were unremarkable, and none of the people he’s helped since then have shared any of their winnings with him.

The documentary is certainly a mighty testament to the power of doing your game show homework, but I can’t help asking… what did Ted do all that homework FOR? For the love of the game, I suppose. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t necessarily make for a riveting tale.

As such, I’m giving Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much…

2 game show buzzers out of 4.

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Have YOU watched Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much? (You can do that HERE, HERE, HERE, or HERE.) If you have, what did YOU think of it? Please let me know in the comments below!

What I’ve planned for next week, and how you can get involved.

Hello!

I hope you enjoyed my epic interview with David Poltorak. I know I did!

As promised, this week I’m doing Something Completely Different (and next week too). Recently, someone who follows me on Twitter made me aware of a 2017 documentary about Theodore “Ted” Slauson; a man who’s been in the audience at tapings of The Price Is Right a whopping 37 times, and who has a unique story to tell. As you know, I’ve spoken many times here on the blog about doing your homework; about diligently studying the show you’re about to appear on. Well, Ted took this idea to INCREDIBLE extremes, as you can see right HERE in the trailer for the film, which is called Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much….

I’ve just watched the film in its entirety, and next week I’ll be bringing you my exclusive HTWGS review of it.

In the meantime, if the trailer above has whet your appetite, you can watch the full (72-minute) movie online, either HERE, 

HERE,

HERE,

or HERE.

If you can find a spare hour and 12 minutes between now and next Tuesday, I’d strongly recommend watching Perfect Bid. And if you DO get a chance to watch it, you’ll be able to compare notes with my review when I post it here next Tuesday. I’ll be interested to see how your reaction compares to mine!

Until then, then!

 

Okay, so this isn’t strictly about game shows, but it IS about games…

There’s a wonderful BBC4 podcast that I subscribe to, called The Infinite Monkey Cage. It’s hosted by the physicist Brian Cox and the comedian Robin Ince, and it aims to make a wide variety of science subjects accessible and entertaining. The show’s always educational, often very funny, and I’d highly recommend it to… well, to pretty much anyone who has any curiosity whatsoever about the universe.

This recent episode was all about games and the science behind them. I found it interesting, informative and amusing, and I wanted to share it with you.

You’re welcome.

Here’s the detailed description of this episode, from its website:

How To Beat The House And Win At Games.
Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined on stage by mathematicians Hannah Fry and Alex Bellos, psychologist Richard Wiseman and games enthusiast Helen Zaltzman, to get their top tips for winning games and solving puzzles. Do mathematicians make better Poker players, or is psychology the key to the ultimate poker face? Will a knowledge of probability give you the ultimate winning strategy for your next game of Monopoly? (the answer is yes!). How old are the oldest puzzles, and why do they involve wolves and cabbages? And how have puzzles involving wolves, cabbages and bridges resulted in the development of whole new branches of mathematics? 

Enjoy!

AAaaaand that’s all for this week. See you next time,

Stephen

How To Quiz… HARD!

Hello! I’ve got something a bit different for you this week. And when I say “something”… that “something” could probably be more accurately described as “nothing”.

You see, I don’t actually, technically have a post for you this week.

Well, not one of my own, anyway. Frankly, folks… I got nothin’.

BUT what I CAN do this week is direct you to another blog, and another blog post, that I highly, highly recommend.

Stephen Scott – a game show connoisseur, enthusiast and serial contestant, and friend of HTWGS.com – recently tried his luck on the ABC’s Hard Quiz. He’s written an extremely informative and entertaining account of his experience as a contestant…. and if you’re thinking about going on the show, you’ll find some pretty darn useful tips there too. It really is a fantastic read, from someone who’s been there and done that.

Stephen’s episode of Hard Quiz aired here last Wednesday (October 14)… but if you’re in Australia, you can watch it on the ABC’s iview platform any time, right here:

https://iview.abc.net.au/show/hard-quiz/series/5/video/LE1841V029S00

And his comprehensive article about the whole experience is right here, at MEDIUM.COM….

View at Medium.com

(That’s Stephen, second from the right)

Good, isn’t it? I’d like to thank Stephen for permission to link to his article, and I hope you enjoyed it…. HARD!

I’ll be back next week, with my next EXCLUSIVE interview… this time, with a game show host! Hmmm…. who could it possibly be?

That’s actually a rhetorical question for me. I’m perfectly well aware who it is, thank you very much. Obvs.

You, however, will have to check in next Tuesday to find out who this special exciting exclusive MYSTERY GUEST is.

INTRIGUING, No?

Huh. Thank you Tyrion.

Until then, then!

P.S. If you ARE considering applying to go on Hard Quiz, my interview with contestant Markos Hasiotis might also be worth a look for you.

My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Hard Quiz’ winner Markos Hasiotis – Part III

Hello, and welcome to the final instalment of my exclusive interview with Hard Quiz winner Markos Hasiotis, where Markos gives us his top three tips for success on this show. But before we get to that, there was another aspect of Hard Quiz that I wanted to get to the bottom of….

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SH: Part of (host) Tom Gleeson’s schtick is that he repeatedly insults the contestants on Hard Quiz... And yet the contestants often give as good as they get – do you all come up with your own “burns”? Some of them are pretty funny!

MH: We do come up with them ourselves. I suspect that the producers at the auditions look out for people who are somewhat witty and can respond to an insult with a snappy retort, as opposed to stunned silence… or tears!

However, the final two are told to prepare an interesting answer as to what we’ll do with The Big Brass Mug if we win it, so I came up with a Bondian answer: “I’ll drink Vodka martinis out of it, shaken not stirred.”

'Hard Quiz's Ultimate prize... THE BIG BRASS MUG!

‘Hard Quiz’s Ultimate prize… THE BIG BRASS MUG!

SH: What are the three most important things you’d tell someone wanting to go on Hard Quiz? The things you wish someone had told you beforehand?

MH: Firstly, I’d definitely recommend that you wait until Tom has finished the question before buzzing in (or at least wait until you’re certain what the question will be). There were a couple of instances where I wrongly assumed what the question would be based on the first few words so I buzzed in and got it wrong, which cost me precious points.

Secondly, try and be somewhat memorable in the audition, whether it’s a funny anecdote or mentioning one of your strange hobbies. I suspect that’s why I wasn’t successful in my first audition, I faded into the background a bit.

… And thirdly, don’t give up, even if things aren’t going your way during the show, just stay focused and calm and you can do it!

SH: Is there anything else about the experience that you’d like to share? Anything I haven’t covered?

MH: I’d like to say, for the record, that Tom is quite a nice guy when the camera is off.

SH: Markos, now that you’ve won Hard Quiz‘s ultimate prize (The Big Brass Mug), do you have any plans to go on any other quiz shows? Millionaire Hot Seat? The Chase Australia?

MH: I’d love to try another quiz show…I’ve auditioned for The Chase Australia and am currently in the “contestant pool”, so I may get on there at some stage. I’ve applied for Hot Seat too, but haven’t heard back and I would’ve loved to have done Pointless, but I couldn’t find a teammate. I’m excited for Australian TV to create some brand new quiz shows in the future and I’ll happily throw my hat into those rings. No rush!

SH: Markos, thank you so much for your time today, and for sharing your thoughts…. And of course, congratulations!

MH: Thank so much. Was a pleasure, Stephen.

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And that’s where we bid a fond farewell to Hard Quiz winner and trivia enthusiast Markos Hasiotis! I hope you found Markos’s story interesting, and picked up a few useful, actionable nuggets of information along the way. Just a reminder, you can follow Markos on Twitter (@FactBuffet) for a daily dose of fascinating facts… I know I do!

I wish Markos all the best with all his future quiz-related endeavours, and I’ll see you back here really soon! 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Millionaire Hot Seat’ Winner Judd Field! Part VI

And so now here we are at the climax of Judd Field’s Millionaire Hot Seat journey. The top prize amount on offer in Judd’s episode has turned out to be $50,000, and Judd has now battled his way through several questions to get here. He started the game in the Hot Seat, he’s been out of the Hot Seat, and is now back in it again, and he’s just about to have a crack at the big one…. ==============

SH: Before the final question, Eddie made you sing for your supper, literally. Presumably, this was something you’d worked out beforehand?

JF: Haha, yeah that was the song I sung down the barrel of the camera in my audition to stand out, for a bit of fun. I knew they would ask me to do something, so was ready to bust it out. In the recording of the show, they actually showed part of a clip of the song I helped write for a UK RAF war widow charity, that ended up being filmed in Westminster Abbey as the only song ever allowed there. After they played that, Eddie asked me to sing something else. The video clip part of the conversation never made it to air, which is a shame cause I might have got 10 seconds of royalties as well. Haha.

SH: Your final question – for $50,000 – was

“Well, nobody’s perfect” is the final line of which classic film?
A) Some Like It Hot
B) Chinatown
C) A Clockwork Orange
D) Psycho

You hadn’t seen any of them recently… but you were leaning towards A. Why was that?

Continue reading

My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Millionaire Hot Seat’ Winner Judd Field! Part V

Welcome to the fifth instalment of my exclusive interview with Millionaire Hot Seat winner Judd Field. At this stage of proceedings, Judd’s been in the Hot Seat, he’s chosen to pass on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles question, and so has returned to the contestant queue. None of his competitors have lasted long in their turns in the Hot Seat though, and we’ve cycled through them all quite quickly, and now Judd’s back in prime position. His next question is about rice, and it’s worth $4000…
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SH: Judd, you seemed pretty sure of your next question…

Which of these rice varieties is named after a town in Italy?
A) Arborio
B) Basmati
C) Calrose
D) Japonica

You seemed sure it was Arborio. Of course, it WAS Arborio, and that answer earned you $4,000.

JF: Yeah. I actually started a chef apprenticeship in an Italian restaurant when I left school, so I was very sure.

SH: For the question after that…

Which of these current model motor vehicles is not produced by Holden?
A) Captiva
B) Equinox
C) Mondeo
D) Trailblazer

 

At first you seemed unsure, but you then locked in “Ford Mondeo”. That was correct, and you were now sitting on $6,000.

JF: Haha, yes! That was one of those questions where the words of the producer’s pre-show talk were ringing in my ear; “Read the question properly”. I remember working through which of the options it wasn’t; “Holden Captiva”, “Holden Trailblazer”, “Holden Captiva”… they all sounded kinda right. Or at least not wrong. “Holden Mondeo”? No, that did sound wrong – it’s “Ford Mondeo”. Also, I used to have a Captiva and my Ford-mad uncle used to have a Mondeo (I used to tease him….haha!) So I was sure… once I had read the question 5 times haha.

Continue reading

My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Millionaire Hot Seat’ Winner Judd Field! Part IV

Welcome back to my interview with Judd Field. Let’s dive right back in!
===========================
SH: The show starts with 15 questions in the ‘Fastest Finger First’ format – did you do any specific training for that?
JF: Yes; playing the iPhone app quiz games, just trying to answer as quickly as possible. It’s a hard one to prepare for, as (on the show) it’s effectively an iPad with a stylus pen. The question comes up on screen and you have to click on the answer. It’s hard to hover the pen, as then you can’t see the answer. After a terrible start (the pen didn’t seem to register on the iPad), I did okay, and got a number right. That included having the only correct answer to a visual question (“Which of these cathedral rooves is the Pantheon roof?” Maybe my spiritual background helped haha), but anyway I finished third, and that helped my confidence levels.

SH: Central to the format of Millionaire Hot Seat is the contestants’ option to ‘Pass’ on a specific question, and go back to the queue, hopefully to have a another turn in the Hot Seat later in the episode. Did you have a particular strategy about how and when to use this?

JF: The lack of lifelines in the Millionaire Hot Seat format makes it a lot harder to just sit in the chair and answer everything. Something I noticed when watching over the years was that there was often that one question completely out of my interests or field of knowledge, and that was the hardest thing to prepare for.
As much as I wanted to turn off the TV and just study encyclopaedias, I realised you do need every bit of information from current events too. You need to be a sponge, but even then, there are always your weak areas.
For example, in my episode, there was a 92-year-old man – sharp as a tack, he nearly won the ‘Fastest Finger’ section – and when he got to the Hot Seat, he answered quite a number of difficult questions very confidently. His general knowledge was becoming very intimidating and I was starting to wonder if the gameplay would even get back to me. But he hit a question from current events;
American footballer Colin Kapernick appeared
in a 2018 ad campaign for which sports brand?
A) Converse
B) Adidas
C) Under Armour
D) Nike
He clearly had no idea, tossed up between Adidas and Converse and incorrectly guessed Adidas. I love sports, and remembered the “kneeling for the national anthem” controversy on Facebook, and was pretty sure it was Nike.*
It’s hard sitting in the next seats “hoping” someone gets it wrong so you can get back in the Hot Seat, but I must admit as soon as I saw that question, I breathed a sigh of relief, as I had a feeling that a modern sporting current event question might be outside his field of knowledge.
And that’s the thing; with the lack of lifelines in this format, it highlights strategically using the “pass” as the only other way you can avoid those left-field questions, short of being a certified, card-carrying genius like your good self Stephen.
SH: Oh, you’re too kind!
JF: Not at all. So my plan was; if I drew the first or second seat, I wanted to pass early to reduce my chances of hitting that kind of curve-ball question in the mid rounds. Watching the show, I’ve noted if you pass when you’re the third contestant, it’s likely you won’t get another chance, so if you are in those seats (third or above) you really have to just go all in, all the way.
SH: Judd, I’d like to run through your game in a bit more detail now, in the hope that that’ll be helpful for our readers. Now, your first two questions were…

Which of these is not the name of a Melbourne Cup winning jockey?

(3 names + the joke answer “Anita Winn”)

A cultural phenomenon beginning in the early 2000s were impromptu group performances known as what?

(Flash mobs)

Your answered both of these easily, but then your third question was….

The options being:

A) Lasagne

B) Pizza

C) Macaroni and cheese

D) Garlic bread.

Judd, when you passed at that point, were you thinking that your ‘Hot Seat’ journey was over? Or were you thinking that the other five contestants would all cycle through, and you’d get a chance to get back into the Hot Seat again before the episode was done?

JF: As I mentioned earlier, I’d always wanted to pass early – in fact, the earlier the better – so as soon as I had the slightest hesitation in my answer I decided I’d pass. Almost as soon as I left the chair, “Pizza” dropped into my head, but I was completely happy with the pass.

SH: And lo and behold… the other five contestants DID all cycle through, and you found yourself back in the Hot Seat again, with a shot at the new top prize of $50,000. What were you thinking at that moment?

JF: I can only reiterate this calm feeling I had that I was going to win. In my head It was like someone is watching over me and “it was all just meant to be.”

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Aha! But WAS Judd’s win actually ‘all meant to be’?** You’ll have to check back here next Tuesday to find out!

* For those of you playing along at home, it was Nike.
** SPOILER ALERT: Yes.