My EXCLUSIVE interview with Chaser ‘The Shark’ Brydon Coverdale – Part 5

Welcome back to my interview with Brydon “The Shark” Coverdale, one of the stars of The Chase Australia. We’re discussing Brydon’s new book, The Quiz Masters: Inside The World of Trivia, Obsession and Million Dollar Prizes, which is now available, and which I highly recommend.

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SH: One thing that results from your book being so up-to-date is the bit where you talk about quizzing in lockdown. I related to that because, in the depths of Melbourne’s many lockdowns, our niece in New South Wales organized a weekly online family get-together to play the trivia game Buzz. It was a real morale booster. 

BC: Yeah, that was a thing you could do reasonably easily. You could remotely have a trivia game where you ask the questions out of the newspaper or you can do it in a more organized way. And pub trivia was really just nonexistent for a couple of years in actual pubs. But a lot of those operators were, at least, able to still have a show in some form that they could do online. And in fact, in many cases, they could have a wider range of contestants, because you could log on from anywhere. Or, if you had to be home, because you had kids in bed or something, you could still log in and you might not have been able to get to the pub in real life if it was on. And that just kept ticking over for people. At the more high-level quizzing as well, it just brought all of these quizzers together from around the world who were suddenly doing quizzes over Zoom together.

Issa (Schultz, one of Brydon’s colleagues on The Chase Australia) has played in many tournaments, World Cups, and Asian quiz leagues, and in lockdown, he suddenly found himself playing against the Eggheads, from the UK, and-

SH: Doing very well.

BC: Exactly! And the great American quizzes and stuff. And I guess, because I have three small kids and quite a lot on, I didn’t do as much of that sort of stuff as he did. But I did a couple of bits here and there. I did a quiz that Paul Sinha, the UK Chaser, was writing heaps of questions for during lockdowns. And in a weird way, I think all that made a lot of the quizzing sort of people more of a close community than they had been before.

SH: So your show, The Chase Australia, has been going for seven years now. Have there been many unusual or unexpected moments that you’ve encountered during your time on the show?

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My EXCLUSIVE interview with Chaser ‘The Shark’ Brydon Coverdale – Part 4

Welcome back! When we left off last week, we were discussing the casting process of The Chase Australia, and how Brydon got the gig of the Chaser that would be known as ‘The Shark’. But this week, I wanted to explore what it’s like actually BEING ‘The Shark’…

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SH: So The Chase Australia has been going for seven years now, and goodness knows how many episodes… Five episodes a week, isn’t it?

BC: Yeah, although they have shown repeats a little bit later in the week for some time. I’m not sure. We’re certainly well past 1000 episodes. I know I’ve done somewhere in the range of 250 or something.

SH: It seems to me that an incredible work ethic is required of you, and you need to be always sharpening that sword.

BC: Yeah.

SH: I don’t think I’d have the stomach for it. And all four of you’ve always got this pressure on you to be that expert. I take my hat off to you all.

BC: Yeah. And at the start, I identified subject areas where I thought, “Okay, this is clearly a weakness of mine that I’ve never been that interested in”. So, I made myself some spreadsheets of operas, for example, and was trying to learn a bit more about that stuff. And I wrote myself some practice questions. And in time, I began to realize that, for example, on the UK version of The Chase, they’ll go into depth with something like opera and classical music. And in Australian game shows generally – not just The Chase – those subjects tend to be not explored in that much depth. Questions will tend to be about just the really famous stuff, mostly. So if you can get your head around that stuff, then you’ll probably be okay. Over time, I sort of worked out what subject areas I needed to brush up on, and what other ones I could just do in a shallower sort of way.

SH: Right. And that comes back to one of the big tips that I keep hearing time and time again, which is; if you want to do well in quiz shows, think like a question writer. In fact, become a question writer.

BC: Yes.

SH: That’s the best thing you can do.

BC: Yeah, absolutely. Because that’s ultimately where all of the questions come from! Someone looks at something and goes, “That’s an interesting fact, I’ll write a question about that”. The question writer has thought, “Well, that’s curious or quirky – that’d make good TV”. So if you’re looking at a list of things you’re trying to study, and you want to do it in a shortcut way… think like a question writer. Look at the information, and think, “Which of these things are the ones that would jump out and be the most interesting to have a question about?”

SH: Yeah.

BC: And so, sort of focus on those.

SH: I think that’s excellent advice. Now, it seems to me that The Chase – and the Chasers themselves – are in some ways, torchbearers of the idea of general knowledge being useful. You see, I have a theory that individual general knowledge is in danger of becoming a thing of the past. A wide range of general knowledge is no longer necessary. Because, thanks to the ubiquity of the internet, if any of us need to know something, we look it up, we use it and we then forget it. Because we can. The next time we need to know a certain fact, we’ll look it up, use it and forget it again. But I really like the fact that your program celebrates individual general knowledge. And I find it heartening that there still seem to be enough people with good general knowledge showing up and wanting to play. And there are, aren’t there?

BC: Yeah, but you can also look at it from the point of view that in the past, it’s been harder to study general knowledge. Now, if you have that interest in the first place, it’s so much easier. When I was a kid, I’d have had to literally browse the encyclopedias if I was trying to study general knowledge. Or if I was going on Sale of the Century back in the 90s. And these days, you literally have all the world’s knowledge in your phone, if you’re interested in looking for it. But you do have to have that interest and curiosity in the first place. And I guess what I’ve always had is, I’ve just wanted to know the stories behind things and why is something the way it is. A lot of people don’t necessarily have that, and that’s fine. But there are stacks of people out there who do, and they want to be the person who gets the right answer at Pub Trivia or who shouts at the TV and impresses everyone by going “Oh, well, I knew that one”.

SH: Yeah, bragging rights.

BC: Yeah, exactly.

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You’ll see that I mentioned Brydon’s colleagues (the other three Chasers) above. I’ve interviewed all of them for this blog at one stage or another. If you’re interested in reading my interview with Issa “The Supernerd” Schultz, it’s HERE. My interview with Matt “Goliath” Parkinson is HERE, and my interview with Cheryl “Tiger Mum” Toh is HERE. 

And of course, my interview with Brydon “The Shark” Coverdale will continue right here next Tuesday!

See you then!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with Chaser ‘The Shark’ Brydon Coverdale – Part 3

Hello, and welcome back to my exclusive interview with ‘The Shark’ from The Chase Australia… Mr Brydon Coverdale!

As we mentioned earlier, Brydon’s book The Quiz Masters isn’t just a collection of reminiscences about his many quiz show appearances, nor is it just a collection of interviews with some of the biggest players there have ever been; it’s also a look at the history of quizzing in Australia…

=====================================SH: Historically, too, I love how you talk about (former Australian Prime Minister) John Howard going on a radio quiz, as a teenager! And (former Australian Prime Minister) Gough Whitlam once went on Sale of the Century… and of course, you also focus on the great Barry Jones.

BC: Yeah. With that John Howard stuff, you can find the audio online. And it is just so funny, because he’s just got this really broad Australian accent, but he’s 16 or something like that.

SH: He’s a bit of a smart alec on the show, if I remember rightly.

BC: Yeah, a little bit, although (its host) Jack Davey had such a quick wit that he was just sort of steering John Howard through. I just thought it was really interesting, that he displayed already (at 16), this thing that all politicians do; if you don’t know the answer, you make it sound like you do. He was very good at saying things with absolute confidence.

SH: Yeah. Now, the cover of your book refers to you as Brydon Coverdale and as ‘The Shark’ – how long has The Chase Australia been on air now?

BC: Seven years. I think July, seven years ago, is when we started filming.

SH: Right.

BC: And it went to air in September. And given the lifespan of TV shows, you know, in the modern era, I’m amazed that we’re still going strong. But it’s a format that was proven in the UK. And so, I think we – the Chasers, and everyone involved in the Australian production – are lucky to be hitching our wagons to a format that people love.

SH: You bet. You do talk in the book a little bit about your audition process. And although I haven’t gone into this on the blog yet, I also auditioned to be a chaser back then. But I can’t remember if our paths crossed at that time.

BC: Oh, yeah. Right.

SH: And when they were trying to think of a persona for me, the producer, Steve Murray, suggested “The Ginger Ninja”! I’m not sure how I felt about that. In the book, you also talk about the constant training that you and the other chasers do; writing questions for each other, and so on. To me, that sounded incredibly daunting, but you seem to love it.

BC: Oh, yeah. Well, I love it now. I mean, it was daunting at the time. All the time that I was going through that audition process, I was constantly thinking to myself, “Is this the point where they realize there’s someone better for it than me?” I’ve been on a lot of shows as a contestant, but I wasn’t successful on all of them. But I guess that what I did know was because I’d watched quite a bit of the UK version of The Chase. I knew the show inside out, and what “a Chaser” had to be.

SH: A professional athlete.

BC: Yeah, more or less. And it’s like being prepared for a job interview. That just gave me such a good base to work on my Chaser character, which is just an extension of who I am in real life (which is probably the case for all of us). I think in the early days of the show, we were probably a bit more concerned about “Oh, what’s the ‘Shark’ character supposed to be?” But it quickly became apparent that what works best is just to be an exaggerated version of yourself, really. For me, that’s kind of throwing in a smartarse comment here or there or having a little joke at the host’s expense, that sort of stuff.

I’d watched a lot of the UK version, but I often found myself going, “Oh gee, I wouldn’t have known that. And I wouldn’t have known that, either”. And so I wasn’t sure I was going to be up to it, from the quizzing perspective. But what I also came to realize was that I was watching British questions. So they weren’t the questions we were going to get. Of course, I’m not going to know something to do with British politics from the 1970s in the same way that I’d know a similar Australian question. And I think the other thing was that I knew it really all came down to that final chase; the last two minutes. And speed has always been one of the things I’ve been good at. So, I think I realized that even if I stumbled a bit throughout the rest of the show, if I could just focus and race through those two minutes, I’d have a good chance of doing better, more often than not.

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Wise words there, as Brydon raises a point that keeps popping up time and time again here on the blog; DO YOUR HOMEWORK! You can see here how Brydon’s thorough understanding of the show’s format, along with an intimate knowledge of his own weaknesses and strengths really increased his chances of success. See you next week!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with Chaser ‘The Shark’ Brydon Coverdale – Part 2

Hello! When we left off last week, Brydon and I had been talking in broad terms about his new book, but as a self-publisher, I was keen to learn a little more from Brydon about how the author / publisher relationship works…

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SH: In the formatting of the book, was your publisher very hands-on? Did they make ‘big picture’ suggestions, or did they pretty much leave you alone?

BC: More just to do with the ordering of things, I guess. I had the guts of the idea, but I had things in a different order. And Malcolm Knox, – who you might have heard of; he’s a journalist, columnist and writer – he ended up being my editor through the first stages. And he made the suggestion to make it all more chronological. And my story can be told chronologically anyway, so that drives through all the other elements that kind of spin off from it. In the end, that worked really well. But it was very much my plan to do that thing of having a chapter that starts and finishes with my story. And then in the middle of it is almost like a diversion to an interview with somebody who’s relevant to that. But still, this story is meant to be the star of the chapter.

SH: Yes. So you start each chapter with the beginning of an episode from your story, then you go to an interview, but we still want to know how that part of your own story will finish.

BC: Yeah, yeah.

SH: On the book’s cover, you got a quote from (legendary Jeopardy! Champion) Ken Jennings! How did you get that?

BC: Yeah, I was hoping to get one. Because I thought, who in the whole world of trivia is the biggest name? As you know, he’s an all-time Jeopardy! Champion, and now he hosts the show. He was on The Chase in the US, and I managed to get in touch with him through a friend of mine called Bob Harris. Bob is an American former Jeopardy! champ who now lives in Australia. I’ve met up with him and actually become good friends. He’s a fascinating guy. He’s a comedian as well. So, there’s another connection. And he was able to put me in touch with Ken, which was very helpful. And it was a bit of a tight run thing to get the pages to Ken in time for getting it all done. He’s a very busy man, but he was absolutely lovely and very obliging, which, given everything he’s got on, was wonderful.

His book, Brainiac, which I read, came out in about 2006, a couple of years after his big Jeopardy! run. It’s a similar sort of book, in that he goes off and interviews people involved in different parts of trivia. So that was one of the books I had in mind when I was thinking of mine; no one’s done the Australian trivia story. I mean, we’ve been listening to quiz shows on the radio since the 1930s. And they were so massive on TV in the early days, and then Sale of the Century and everything and nobody’s written this book yet! And part of my original goal with it was to do the history of quizzing in Australia, as well. And there are bits of that throughout it. Because it’s just one of those topics that I think so many people are interested in. And for those of us who’ve been involved in working on shows or being on shows as a contestant, there’s so much stuff that the average person would be interested in; how those shows work, what it’s like to be on one.

So, while quiz people are going to be naturally interested in the book, I wanted it to be something that anybody who has ever watched a quiz show and been vaguely interested in it, could pick up and just read through and go, “Oh, that’s an interesting subculture…”

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It is indeed. Next week, we delve a little more into some of the historical aspects of quizzing in Australia… with a healthy dose of some pretty impressive name-dropping along the way! See you then!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with Chaser ‘The Shark’ Brydon Coverdale – Part 1

Hello! This week, I’m very excited to bring you the first instalment of my interview with The Chase Australia‘s very own Brydon Coverdale (AKA The Shark)! Brydon has just released his new book The Quiz Masters (which is a great read by the way, and I highly recommend it), but that was only one of the many things I was keen to talk to him about, in our wide-ranging discussion…

=====================================SH: Brydon, thank you so much for chatting to me tonight.

BC: My pleasure, Stephen!

SH: I just finished the book and really enjoyed it. It’s obviously my cup of tea, though!

BC: Yeah, that’s good. I mean, it’s just one of those things that I would have enjoyed reading, obviously being interested in what I’m interested in. And so hopefully, people like it; people who watch quiz shows and go to pub trivia and all that.

SH: When did you decide to write it, and how long did it take you?

BC: I’ve been thinking of a book like this for years. For more than five years anyway, because I did the first interview, which was Carey Young, back in 2017. Back then, I knew I wanted to do a book like this, but I didn’t have any publisher interest or anything; it was just something that I know I want to do. And so I thought, with some of these interviews, it’s like, “Alright, why don’t I just go and do it?” Then I’d have them there as a bit of a base to work from. The idea of it evolved a bit, and it turned into a little bit more of a memoir than I intended it to, but that helped drive the narrative through the various areas that I wanted to explore, anyway. And the more I thought about it, the more I was like, “Oh, yeah, well, I’ve actually got personal experience with that and that and that”.

SH: Of course. And any reader who’s interested in the subject is going to be interested in your experiences as well, and in learning from you what to do and what not to do…

BC: Yeah, yeah.

SH: It’s very valuable. And I must say, I really liked how you seeded trivia questions through so many pages, with their answers at the bottom of the page in the footnotes.

BC: Oh, yes.

SH: One of the things they say about good game show formats is that you have to be able to play along at home… but in the process of reading your book, the reader can play along at home, too!

BC: Yeah, exactly. And I just treated it like an opportunity to put in some of that random extra information, like I do on The Chase. You know what it’s like when you’re the person who’s into trivia, you love to share additional interesting facts. So it was just an excuse to put a whole bunch of that stuff in as well.

SH: And it’s great, because – you draw this parallel too and I think it’s a really valid one – great trivia facts are a bit like jokes; when you hear one, you can’t wait to share it.

BC: Yeah.

SH: And it’s fun to share them, and it’s fun to get the reaction of the other person too.

BC: Exactly. And, yeah, that was one of the reasons I was interested in exploring that link between comedy and trivia. Because there’s a huge amount of comedians who either work on a quiz show or have been on quiz shows or just have an interest in it. And chatting to Matt (Parkinson, comedian and ‘Goliath’ on The Chase Australia), he says there’s a parallel between finding those little bits of day-to-day life where the comedian goes, “Oh, that’s funny”. And the trivia person goes, “Oh, that’s interesting and quirky”. It’s a very similar mindset, I guess.

SH: Yeah, I’m sure we’re probably using similar parts of the brain making those connections.

BC: Yeah.

SH: And I loved that you put the answers to the trivia questions at the bottom of the relevant page, rather than making us go all the way to the back of the book to look up the answers. That would have been very impractical.

BC: Oh, yeah. Well, I’ve read a couple of quiz books that do a similar thing. And one of them put the answers at the end of the chapters, and I went “Oh, that’s annoying.” And another one put them upside down, so you’re often spinning the book around… that’s also a bit annoying.

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And that’s where we’ll leave Brydon this week. Next week, I ask him about the publishing process, and how he managed to get an official endorsement from the greatest Jeopardy! champ of all time – the mighty Ken Jennings!  

In the meantime, remember that Brydon’s book The Quiz Masters is OUT NOW... and I heartily recommend it!

See you next week!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Supernerd’, Issa Schultz! The Conclusion

Welcome to the final instalment in my far-reaching interview with that Gentleman, that Scholar, that Supernerd… Mr Issa Schultz.

When we left off last time, Issa was telling me about the public reaction to his onscreen persona, but I was curious about the other side of the coin as well…..

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SH: What do your family think of the persona you’ve adopted for the show?

IS: They weren’t surprised at all! What you see is what you get in real life – perhaps a little amplified for the show, but that’s all. Early on in rehearsals we tried the “nasty” angle but it just wasn’t convincing, and I wasn’t comfortable putting people down.

SH: What sort of study or training do you do for the show each week?

IS: My major weakness (I don’t mind giving it away, as I think most viewers know!), is sport, and most things Australiana, so I mainly focus on those. As most of my family are British, I didn’t have exposure to all the Aussie quirks/slang that most people here would lap up in a heartbeat. In fairness, it makes good viewing, since every audience member loves knowing an answer that the Chaser doesn’t – “Gosh! How did he get that wrong? Everybody knows that!” I also keep an eye on current films, the ARIA charts, and quite simply, do as many quizzes as I can (i.e. standard Issa behaviour!)

SH: And finally… (I understand entirely, Issa, if you’d prefer not to answer this, but I feel I’d be neglecting my duty if I didn’t ask)… Are there any tips you can share for any aspiring contestants wanting to go up against you on The Chase Australia?

IS: I don’t mind at all! Whilst I always play my best game on the day, it is admittedly lovely to see the money go off to teams. For The Chase Australia, I would strongly suggest watching previous episodes, just to get a feel for the questions asked. They certainly have their own style – e.g. “In which continent…” So make sure you know your continents! Same goes for the oceans, countries. “In which UK country” is another common one. No need to pass if you can take a guess at one of the four nations – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland. Which brings me to one more tip – TRY not to pass. A pass = zero points. A guess = a chance of a point. We’ve had teams pass when the question started with “In which Australian state…” or “What colour…”. Pick a state! Pick a colour! You might just get lucky.

SH: Issa, thank you so much for your time today, and all the very best
for your continued success on The Chase Australia!

IS: Stephen, so very kind, appreciate our chat.

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And there you have it. I’m so very grateful to Issa for giving his time so freely, and for his most detailed and thoughtful responses. You can follow Issa on Twitter (@Issa25), and for those of you in Australia, you can watch him on The Chase Australia, on the Seven Network each weekday afternoon, or right here, on The Seven Network’s catch-up service 7plus.

I’ll see you back here next Tuesday… 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Supernerd’, Issa Schultz! Part 4 of 5

Issa milking a cow, in his spare time.

Welcome to the penultimate instalment of my exclusive interview with Issa Schultz.

So far, we’ve discussed Issa’s early life, his first quiz show appearances, and his competitive – and successful – quizzing career with Quizzing Australia.

But, as a fan of superhero movies, I was also very curious to know about the Supernerd’s ORIGIN STORY…

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SH: Before The Chase Australia came along, you were working in the IT department
of a bank. How did your role on the show originate? Did you approach the production, or did the production approach you?

IS: Incredibly, ITV Studios rang me at work! This was back in March 2014, it was from a private number so I didn’t answer. I listened to the voicemail and was very confused. It sounded a bit nonsensical, especially as they didn’t actually name the show (They weren’t allowed to, at that point). But I rang the lovely lady back and we got chatting. She said “I can’t name the show…” but then proceeded to describe the exact format of The Chase. At the end of the conversation she said “I get the feeling you know where this is going…” and I said “yes I do too!”

SH: What was the selection / audition process like?

IS: Every couple of weeks I was flown down to Fox Studios at Moore Park, Sydney for a camera test in a dark room and some quizzing. The room size slowly increased over the weeks – it began with a tiny office space with black sheets over the windows! We eventually moved to one of their studios where there was a dummy game board and we played some ‘Chase’ rounds and did some ‘Final Chases’. During all this time I was reminded that I wasn’t guaranteed to be on the show, to my knowledge they were training perhaps 6-10 people. Eventually a Chaser Producer – at the time the marvellous Anthony Watt – was assigned to “us”, and he visited and quizzed me here in Brisbane for many weeks. Finally – after many months, I received THAT phone call, again at work, saying congratulations, I was officially in. It was meant to be top secret, but I was so excited I think everyone in the office figured it out.

SH: What sort of learning and ‘training up’ does it take to become a Chaser?

IS: I thank the stars that I had many, many years of preparation leading up to this role – even though I obviously didn’t know it was going to happen. To be a Chaser, you really need to have your quiz basics down. Geography, history, science, literature… if you don’t know the capital of Portugal or who wrote Jane Eyre you may not get to sit in the Chaser seat! So in the early days, I just bought and read every quiz book I could find, cover to cover. That, coupled with going to as many quiz nights as physically possible (I was up to 7 per week at one point!), meant that in just a few years I had built up a really good foundation of quiz knowledge. A crucial element of being a Chaser is obviously being quick, particularly with the Final Chase. I’ve always been lucky there; on most days can think quickly. A strong coffee helps, I find! If anyone wants to practice their speed, try getting a friend / partner to read you questions and see how fast you can answer.

SH: In what ways has becoming The Supernerd on The Chase Australia changed your
life?

IS: It has been a life changer, that’s for sure, my goodness! But all for the positive. I see myself as certainly not an extrovert, but perhaps not a full introvert either. Still, when the first batch of strangers stopped me on the street I really didn’t know what to do. But over the years, my self-confidence has definitely grown. It helps that absolutely everybody I’ve met has been SO lovely. The comments are all upbeat, and I find it so heartening to know that I’m bringing joy to so many people. A few months ago, I spoke to a lovely man who runs a special needs school, and he said they all stop at 5 PM to watch The Chase Australia, and if I come out, they all applaud and say “my friend!”. Stories like that just grip me and make me so happy.

There are the more unusual encounters, which give me a giggle. One chap said I was fantastic in Criminal Minds! I’ve had awkward/unexpected kisses, and even the odd cheek pinch (I didn’t know people still did that).

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I assume he’s talking about the cheeks on his face.

Moving swiftly on, be sure to join us next week, for the conclusion of my interview with the one and only SUPERNERD….the eminently pinchable Issa Schultz! 

 

 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Supernerd’, Issa Schultz! Part 3 of 5

Hello!

Last week, Issa and I discussed his earlier game show appearances – on The Rich List, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Millionaire Hot Seat.

Now read on…

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SH: Apart from those TV appearances, you’ve also long been a fixture on the Australian Quizzing scene. In fact, you’re a six-time winner of the Australian Quizzing Championships (2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018) and six-time Pairs Champion (2012-17). Can you tell me a bit about that area of your life? Just how all-consuming has it been?

IS: It is probably my favourite part of quizzing nowadays. I discovered Quizzing Australia (the organisation that runs these events) back in 2008, and I decided to fly myself to Sydney to compete. I came second that year but was instantly hooked. It really is “next level” quizzing. It is run concurrently with the World Quizzing Championships and consists of a whopping 240 questions over eight categories, done in two hours with a break in between. As the questions are the same worldwide, you get a massive range, and the difficulty is very high. Last year I was fortunate to win Aussie title No. 6 and reached 57th in the world – absolutely delighted. For the first time, I finished ahead of Anne (The Governess) and she wasn’t necessarily thrilled!

SH: Do you still have time to compete in this arena, now that you’re working on The Chase Australia? If so, has becoming a Chaser helped your game there?

IS: Oh, absolutely. If anything, I am probably guilty of studying for international competitions more than The Chase. There is a little bit of a crossover, but naturally many questions in a world championship aren’t going to be suitable for a televised Australian quiz show – too obscure and many are too long, for example. But doing The Chase has definitely helped my general knowledge across the board. I remember one year at the World Quizzing Championships, Brydon and I had a little chuckle because a question asked had just come up at a recording the week before. Every month, there are two international quizzes of 100 questions each called ‘Hot 100’ and ‘Squizzed’, both of which are excellent and I always put time aside to compete in both. We have groups meet up twice a month to do these in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. It’s great just to socialise and be guaranteed a decent, interesting quiz.

SH: Issa, your general knowledge is obviously very vast and wide-ranging… I wanted to get your thoughts on a theory of mine; that we are currently witnessing The Death of General Knowledge. Here’s what I mean; 100 years ago, American captain of industry Henry Ford was not a highly educated man, and he credited much of his success to The
Mastermind Principle. This can be summed up by the notion “Well, I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know someone who does”. Ford surrounded himself with knowledgeable people – an ‘external brain’, if you like – and would consult with them, and reap the benefits of their collective wisdom in his decision-making. This was seen as radical back then – successful businessmen were expected to be educated,
knowledgeable, intelligent, and have vast amounts of information in their memories that they could draw on; they were expected to have all the answers. Ford was the exception to the rule. Fast forward 100 years… and now, all of us have access to the entire world’s collective wisdom in our pockets (on our phones) 24 hours a day. The Mastermind Principle has now become the rule, rather than the exception. Arguably, none of us need General Knowledge anymore, since “Google knows the answer to that!”

Personally, I think this is sad, and I’m trying to teach my daughter to value and cultivate and exercise her general knowledge. It’s part of being a well-rounded, interesting human being, after all. What are your thoughts on this?

Continue reading

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Supernerd’, Issa Schultz! Part 2 of 5

Hello and welcome back to my exclusive interview with ‘The Supernerd’ himself, Issa Schultz.

By the time Issa was cast on The Chase Australia in 2015, he had already notched up a long and successful quiz show career, despite his relative youth…

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SH: When you were 25, you were a contestant on The Rich List
(which was hosted by Andrew O’Keefe, who you now work with on The
Chase Australia), where you won $200,000! Do you remember the list that scored
you the win?

IS: Oh absolutely Stephen, it’s one of those things you never forget! There were actually two lists, the first one netted $250,000, and the second one added $150,000. On The Rich List you competed in pairs, so the prize money was split at the end, hence $400,000 between two. The first list was ‘Letters of the Greek Alphabet’. We had great momentum going into that round, and just before shooting AOK said “I reckon you guys will carve this up”, followed by “there are 24 answers on this list”. And right then and there, I just had that feeling – I just knew it was going to be Greek letters. And when AOK began slowly “Letters…” the endorphins went crazy because I knew we were about to win $250,000.

The second list was ‘Ranks in the Royal Australian Navy’, which was jolly handy as my father was in the merchant navy, and it was a list I had looked at once before. The ranks get a bit messy near the bottom so we weren’t game to go all the way, but certainly very happy to bank another $150,000.

SH: What did you do with the prize money?

IS: Amazingly, for a then-25 year old, I held onto it! I used existing savings to take a couple of holidays, and also took my father over to the UK in 2009 so he could walk my sister down the aisle for her wedding. Eventually in 2017, I put it towards an apartment in the Brisbane CBD.

SH: Apart from the obvious ($$$!)… how was that experience different from the Einstein Factor experience, and what did it teach you about being a quiz show contestant?

IS: It was MUCH more tense. I remember hardly sleeping the night before (and after), because it really felt like a “do or die” moment. Sorry to be so dramatic! I just felt this show could change my life – after all it is probably the last “big money” show we’ve had for a while outside Millionaire. On The Einstein Factor, everyone was so relaxed, including the contestants – it was a fun day out. On The Rich List, everyone seemed on edge, especially other contestants. We were mostly kept separate, but a couple of times I crossed paths with teams that I was told I would not be facing, and they were very quiet. It felt more akin to a dentist’s waiting room than a TV studio.

SH: You’ve also been on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – how did you fare there, and do you have any tips for aspiring contestants for that show?

IS: Cheekily, I was on it twice! Back in 2002 with the old (better) format, and again in 2009 for Millionaire Hot Seat. I’ve always been fond of Millionaire, but I was never able to deliver on the day. In 2002, I bombed out going for the safe level of $32,000, and in 2009, I only answered two or three questions before missing a pop culture question (that my mother – in the audience – knew!) Success on Hot Seat relies on a lot of luck;  the seat placement for starters is decided by producers. For future contestants, I would use all the time available on the clock and try and eliminate some options. When I was on Hot Seat, you actually saw a numerical clock counting down, instead of the graphic you see on TV, so it’s easy to see how much time you have left. Even though he’ll continue to deny it, Eddie’s body language/choice of words can be a MASSIVE clue. If you’re hovering over a correct answer, he’ll lock it in quite swiftly, whereas if it is wrong he’ll ask if you’re sure/stall etc. I realised afterwards he was trying to get me to pass – so I wouldn’t get knocked out – but I was so frazzled I locked in my (wrong) answer anyway.

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Bad luck, Issa – you can’t win them all! That’s a FANTASTIC tip about (Millionaire Hot Seat host) Eddie McGuire, though. Any aspiring Hot Seat contestants here in Australia should most certainly take note!

See you next week, for Part Three!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Supernerd’, Issa Schultz! Part 1 of 5

Hello!

This week, I’m absolutely DELIGHTED to bring you my latest exclusive interview with one of The Chasers, from the hit show The Chase Australia.

Following on from my previous interviews with ‘Goliath’ (AKA Matt Parkinson), and ‘Tiger Mum’ (AKA Cheryl Toh)… Today, I’m delighted be talking to another firm fan favourite… ‘The Supernerd’ (AKA Issa Schultz)! Issa was very generous with his time in this very wide ranging conversation, and I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did.

So let’s get straight into it!

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SH: Issa, thanks very much for chatting to me today for HowToWinGameShows.com!

IS: An absolute pleasure Stephen, long-time fan! Delighted to have a chat.

SH: You grew up in England, moving to Australia in 1995 when you were 11 years old. Had you already been bitten by the quiz bug back in England? What quiz shows or game shows did you watch over there, as a child?

IS: Back in the UK, my father ran an establishment that I think he called “The Liberal Club” and he would host trivia nights every week. I would arrive at the club right near the end of these nights (after Cub Scouts!), and would occasionally overhear some of the questions – and it made me sit up and listen. I remember thinking “hey, I like this question / answer concept!” The big quiz shows of the day back then were Fifteen to One (hosted by the late great William G Stewart) and Mastermind (similarly the late great Magnus Magnusson).

SH: When and where did your interest in competitive quizzing begin?

IS: My family and I went to pub quizzes regularly up on the Sunshine Coast as I went through high school, but I think it got more serious once I moved to Brisbane in 2002, as I realised the pub quiz scene down here was more difficult and harder to win. I’d find myself buying quiz books and reading those instead of my uni books (!!). Likewise, back in high school I remember handing one or two assignments in late because I had chosen to go to a pub quiz the night before they were due!

SH: When you were 21 years old, you appeared on The Einstein Factor – I looked this up on imdb, and it appears your special subject was either ‘The Academy Awards’, ‘Australian Birds’, or ‘The Life and Times of Carl Lewis’… so, which one was it, and how did you do on the show?

IS: Aha, well researched sir! Yes that was back in 2005, and I had opted for Academy Awards. In hindsight my preparation was terrible, I think I had just looked at a couple of lists and some “weird Oscar factoids” and assumed/hoped that would do the trick. Back then of course, Wikipedia was very much in its infancy, so potential resources were all over the shop. I came second overall, the chap who did Australian Birds really knew his stuff. Funnily enough, the chap who came third in that episode I had previously met, on a recording of Millionaire. He said “Oh no, not you again!”.

SH: What did you learn from that experience?

IS: The wonderful thing about The Einstein Factor was that you were really playing for “the honour” rather than any cash prize. Sure I was disappointed, but equally as a struggling 21 year old it was so nice to have paid flights and accommodation at St Kilda. Little highlights like spotting Tim Ferguson (one of the show’s “Brains Trust”) afterwards in the local 7-11 stay in my mind. From a quizzing angle, I realised that going forward, I’d really need to do more preparation. That was my second TV quiz show and second loss at that stage. I also realised, watching it back, that I should jolly well get a decent haircut next time I’m on TV!

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And that’s where we leave it for this week. When our interview continues next week, Issa and I discuss his biggest quiz show win, how he spent the money, and he reveals his insider tips for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire….

 

And, for those playing along at home, the next time he went on TV he DID have a decent haircut.