My EXCLUSIVE interview with quiz champion Yogesh Raut – Part 3

Hello and welcome back. When we left our chat last week, Yogesh and I were discussing the format of The Chase, which positions its quiz champions (The ‘Chasers’) as extremely competitive Alpha-type winners…

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YR: Right. And I have a master’s degree in Film and Television studies as well as one in Business Administration and sometimes people who have none of these things feel they need to explain to me how the TV industry works. I think I have a good handle on it. I think many people have a misconception that the broadcast TV industry is about selling programming to viewers. It’s not. I mean, now there are more and more subscriber services that do have that as a model. But the broadcast TV model has always been not about selling programming to viewers but about selling viewers to advertisers.

SH: Yes.

YR: And these network TV shows like The Chase or some first-run syndication shows like Jeopardy are all optimised according to that model. Their goal is to drive in eyeballs that can be sold to advertisers. They have never been designed to reward who the best quizzers are. They have never been designed to provide a pleasurable playing experience for the contestants. None of these things are what they are meant to do. So it’s not really all that surprising that none of these things are what they’re particularly good at. No one ever tried to make them good at those things. The perception that they are is just a combination of a little bit of marketing and a lot of people not being rational. These shows, their goal is to be entertainment for people who are not particularly invested in the world of quizzing or quizzing as an activity.

SH: Yeah.

YR: And if they are seen only as that – as entertaining sideshows in the way that something like Holey Moley – I don’t know what shows you have, but in America there’s something called Holey Moley, which is –

SH: We had a version of that as well.

YR: Yeah, right. It’s a fun thing to watch.

SH: Yes, it’s silly, but yeah.

YR: It’s a sideshow compared to professional golf. No one in a million years would think that the champions of those shows are the best golfers in the world.

SH: No, no, they wouldn’t.

YR: Right? And so as long as people keep perspective on television shows and say, “Oh, these are just game shows designed to be silly, fun entertainment,” it’s not that much of a problem, even if they do promote these negative images. Because they’re like reality TV; they create images out of people, they create narratives that they want their audience to get invested in. And everyone should have a sense of ironic distance about it. They should say, “Oh, this is an edited TV show designed to rile me (the person on the couch at home) up.”

SH: Yeah. Manufactured heroes and villains.

YR: Right. The problem, of course, is that people who watch things like Jeopardy, don’t think of it as a reality show that should be approached with ironic distance. And what’s even worse, of course, is that objectively, Jeopardy is the thing that determines who gets listened to. And that is the most aggravating thing about it. My actual comments, this was the main thing they were aimed at, though people decided to make their own narrative out of them. But looking at my comments about Jeopardy, everything I had to say about them was based on 1) my academic expertise as a social scientist, 2) my personal experience as a quizzer, who’s done the hobby for decades, and 3) my lived experience as a person of colour in a majority white society. After I went on Jeopardy, none of those things changed – none of my qualifications for speaking or for being listened to changed. But suddenly people paid attention to my message, or paid attention in a way that they hadn’t before, when dozens and dozens of times, I’d said the exact same thing. Because no one cares when you’re just speaking as an academically trained expert, as one of the best quizzers in the world, as a person of colour who has both experienced and academically studied racism. No one cares. But when you speak as that-guy-who-was-on-a-TV-show, suddenly people care. But they care less when you “only” won $100,000 on that TV show. Because someone who isn’t a trained academic and isn’t a person of colour, if they won more than $100,000, then they’re more worth being listened to than you are.

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My EXCLUSIVE interview with quiz champion Yogesh Raut – Part 2

Hello and welcome back. When we left our chat last week, Yogesh and I were discussing how much easier it is to learn facts about things that you’re actually interested in…

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SH: Personally, I enjoy learning about culture, movies and arts and all that sort of stuff. But sport I don’t care about. And so if and when I have to learn stuff about sport, it’s much harder to make it go in… because I’m not going, “well, what can I learn next? What can I learn next?” I’m just going, “Here we go again…”

YR: Yeah, it is fun. Certainly, it’s interesting. Again, another thing I learned about as an academic was the phenomenon of ‘Interesting-ness’, but just at a commonsensical level, when two things that don’t seem like they’re related turn out to be related, that’s interesting, right? Something goes off in your head, and honestly, it’s inherently pleasurable. Which is not something that is talked about much in this culture because American culture is very anti-intellectual. I sometimes say it takes the attitude that Victorians had toward certain kinds of pleasure, and shifts it to the pleasure of learning.

SH: Ha! Yes, it’s similar in Australia. The amount of attention sport gets in this country… sportspeople are treated like gods and artists and performers and writers and actors are way, way, way, way down the level of priorities. People will have quasi-religious conversations about sport; sportspeople are the gods of our country. And as someone who’s not sporting and is more interested in more intellectual pursuits, it’s just… c’est la vie. That’s the way it is in Australia.

YR: Yeah, I mean, I like many sports, I follow them. I admire people who are good at them. But there was a certain point where I realised that my perspective was always going to be coloured by the fact that I put in the work to become, at one point, among the top 20 in the world, in an activity. And in any sport, if I were among the top 20 in the world, the amount of reinforcement and rewards I’d get from it are entirely different from what I get in the field of quizzing. I mean, first of all, the thing I am good at is literally called “trivia”. And often called “useless knowledge”. And sure, there’s a debate to be had about the extent to which it is useless. But then you compare it to throwing a ball up in the air and having it come down…

SH: I know! I KNOW! “Oh, you’re good at kicking and catching a ball, are you? Here, have a few million dollars…”

YR: Yeah. And now suddenly, the question of what is “trivial” doesn’t really seem all that ambiguous.

SH: (LAUGHING) Indeed, indeed. I’m in a conversation with my friend, and he’s watching the footy on TV out of the corner of his eye, and in the middle of our conversation, he suddenly yells at the screen, because one of the men running around on the grass didn’t catch the ball that the other man running around on the grass kicked to him. And I just think, “Hey, I’m right here! We’re having a conversation!” But the men running around on the grass throwing and kicking the ball to each other overrule absolutely anything else that’s going on.

YR: Yeah. I mean, it’s unavoidable to get sour grapes accusations thrown at me, but it is absolutely the case that like there isn’t anywhere close to the reward of being among the best in the world at quizzing as there would be in sport.

SH: Right. If you’re the 20th best golfer or the 20th best tennis player in the world, you’d be showered with endorsements and riches and all the rest of it.

YR: Right. But I don’t want to stop there, though. Because I don’t want to undersell the negatives that have come into my life as a result of working as hard as I have, to become as good as I have. In terms of people stereotyping you and taking your narrative away from you, starting with the myth that you just have a “photographic memory”. I put a lot of my effort into earning multiple degrees in psychology, including studying the psychology of memory. So I can say, as an academic, that that is not a thing, that’s not a real thing.

SH: Right.

YR: But what I can also say, as a person of colour, is that that is inevitably deployed to diminish your achievements. Because to wonder why is someone so curious about the world, so passionate, so able to see connections … it stirs an insecurity in certain people. Especially people who feel that, because they are white and you are Asian, then by definition you are less creative and more robotic than they are.

And this stirs some unpleasant self-reflection in those people, which can easily be cut off by saying, “No, no, no; they’re not more passionate, more creative, more committed to learning than I am. They’re just like robots. They just have a larger memory capacity, like a CPU.” And it diminishes who you are as a person. It causes people to assume you are uncreative, no matter how much you demonstrate otherwise. And I used to think that was the worst of it… until I started facing the literal, racist exclusion that I faced in pub trivia. And the ways in which the people responsible were never held accountable at all.

On my blog, I alluded to repeatedly the experiences that I had with racism, including most notably sitting in a pub in Portland with some friends. A friend had come in from out of town and invited me to join him. Sitting there quietly, just having fun, trying to have a nice evening while answering the questions, playing the quiz.

And the owner of the company got in his car, drove 20 minutes to the centre of Portland, came in, came into our group, and summoned me outside. And informed me that I was banned from playing all of his company’s games. And some of my white friends understood that this man’s report of what happened later would be different from the way he actually behaved. I’ve been through enough of these interactions to know that that’s how it works. And so they came outside and they witnessed everything; they witnessed him not being able to provide a genuine rationale for banning me, they witnessed his stumbling attempts to put together a rationale that ultimately involved just lies. Including also banning a white friend of mine who was a very meek and non-disruptive person. But he insisted that my friend had also done a bunch of stuff to deserve being banned just so that he could dodge the criticism that he was racist. Because he was like “Well if I am racist, why am I also banning this white guy?” 

SH: What did he say that he was banning you for?

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My EXCLUSIVE interview with quiz champion Yogesh Raut – Part 1

Yogesh Raut on the set of ‘Jeopardy!’ with ‘Jeopardy!’ host Ken Jennings.

When it comes to quizzing credentials, surely it’s hard to beat Yogesh Raut. He holds three Masters Degrees in three disciplines. He’s been a quiz show enthusiast and expert for decades, writing and competing in pub trivia, Scholastic Bowl state championships, collegiate quiz bowl, the Trivia Championships of North America, the World Quizzing Championships, and more. He’s done it all. He produces the podcast Recreational Thinking, he runs the blog The Wronger Box, which is a cornucopia of fascinating facts, regularly updated, and he made news in January this year following his run on what is probably America’s favourite TV quiz show – Jeopardy!

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SH: Yogesh Raut, Welcome to HowToWinGameShows.com!

YR: Thank you.

SH: When were you first bitten by the quiz bug? Or what initially piqued your interest in the world of quizzing?

YR: I told a story to local media about how when my brother was two grades ahead of me in school, he started playing Scholastic Bowl. I wasn’t eligible. I was at a different school, different grades, but my father put me in the front row of his matches with a clipboard and a notepad and told me to just write down all the answers I knew. And after two straight years of doing that, I finally got to middle school myself and got to play and in my first game, I answered the first seven questions correctly, and the coach of the opposing team called a timeout to try to break my rhythm. But then when we came back, I got the eighth one.

I think it’s a good metaphor for after multiple decades of trying to get on Jeopardy, and of honing my skills in many, many, many different formats across many years, and proving what I was capable of, whether it was in Quiz Bowl, whether it was the World Quizzing Championship, the Quizzing World Cup, Connections Online Quiz League, all of these things… finally getting a chance to do it in front of an audience, rather than just having my own private little notepad where I’m like, “Look! I knew all that!”

I thought that was a very good metaphor. It seems people were offended by it. And I don’t really understand why. Other than that they just don’t want to accept that the role of Jeopardy within the quizzing ecosystem is, for elite quizzers, NOT the Olympics, the testing ground; it’s not the thing that determines how good they are. I now realise that there’s a fairly large contingent of people who don’t want to accept that Jeopardy isn’t the Olympics. And they don’t like the attitude of “Well, I proved myself in the Olympics – now I’m coming on this reality show and hoping to make some money.”

SH: Right, right. So, Jeopardy is a mainstream and very popular show, but the world of quizzing is a lot more than just that. Is that the idea?

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From one-man show, to interviewee, to interviewer…

Hello! Firstly, my apologies to you for not checking in for a while, but now…

I’ve been having a pretty busy time since HTWGS turned 10, back in March. The thing that’s mostly been taking Centre Stage – and a WHOLE lot of my time and energy – since then has been my Melbourne International Comedy Festival one-man show…

I’m pleased to report that the show went well – even getting a couple of really nice reviews – and that I’m now planning a tour of it throughout regional Victoria next year, with the help and support of Regional Arts Victoria. So, all in all, the whole thing was a successful experiment! (Phew!)

“Well, that’s all fine and/or dandy, Stephen,” I pretend to hear you say… “But what on earth does THAT have to do with game shows?”

Mm, good question.

Nothing.

BUT bear with me, because there are two things I want to talk about today that ARE, in fact, game show-related.

Firstly, I was very flattered to be approached by the good folks at BoredPanda.com last month, to be interviewed for a piece they were doing on game show winners. It was a fun exchange; we did the whole thing via email (since I’m in Australia and they’re in Lithuania) and the end result is right here:

30 People Share What Happened With Their Prizes After Winning A Game Show

And secondly, I’m pleased to announce my next big interview, which will start here next week. It’s with Yogesh Raut, who’s been a quiz show enthusiast and expert for decades, writing and competing in pub trivia, Scholastic Bowl state championships, collegiate quizbowl, the Trivia Championships of North America, the World Quizzing Championships, and more. He produces the podcast Recreational Thinking; he runs the blog The Wronger Box, which is a cornucopia of fascinating facts, regularly updated, and he made news in January this year following his run on what is probably America’s favourite TV quiz show – Jeopardy!

My conversation with Yogesh probably goes deeper and addresses more serious issues than any interview I’ve ever done here. It’s a very comprehensive, wide-ranging, deep-diving discussion, so I will be breaking it up into quite a few instalments. We delve deep into topics both fun and uncomfortable, and it all kicks off next Tuesday, right here. I hope to see you here then!

10 YEARS OLD TODAY!

So was I, Milton… so was I. (And thank you, by the way.)

WHAAAT?! It’s March 14th again? Already?! How did THAT happen?

As long-time visitors may know, March 14th is www.HowToWinGameShows.com’s birthday.

And it’s now been a whopping 10 YEARS since I hesitantly wrote those first words “Well, here goes!” and nervously clicked “Publish”. I could bang on about all the content I’ve posted here since 2013, but that’s all stuff that you can easily find if you’re interested. Instead, I just wanted to look back on the last 10% of that time…

It’s been a pretty busy 365 days around here, but I must confess, not a lot of that time has been spent on this blog.
You see, there have been other significant demands on my time over the last 52 weeks. These included
– Acting in two seasons of Mad As Hell,
– Writing the 2022 TV Week Logie Awards,
– and, with my friend Bill, launching a new podcast called The Funny Thing Is…
Added to family commitments, these things have had an unfortunate tendency to nudge HowToWinGameShows.com further down my list of priorities. And I’m truly sorry for that. I’m going to double my efforts to get some great content up for you here in the months ahead. I’m pleased to say that I’ll have some more Patented HowToWinGameShowsBehindTheScenesReminiscences, and we do also have some more guest posts in the pipeline…
That’s all in addition to – and to one side of – the most pressing demand on my time at the moment, work-wise… my new one-man show for this year‘s Melbourne International Comedy Festival. It’s called Letters From My Heroes. And it opens in just 17 days’ time!
AAAARGH!!!
Anyway, putting that to one side, I just wanted to thank you for your patience, for your tolerance, and for your interest over this past decade. I’ll continue to keep posting game show-related tidbits, stories, interviews, reviews and behind-the-scenes reminiscences here whenever I can, for as long as I can.
Because I believe now – as I believed ten years ago – that if anyone gets even the slightest bit of value, entertainment or assistance out of it, then it’s all worthwhile.
Again, thank you, as always.
Stephen

Vale Cary Young.

I was saddened last week to hear of the passing of the great Cary Young.

When it comes to game show contestants, Cary was a Sale of the Century PHENOMENON… as you can see in this thrilling conclusion to the show’s World Championship Final in 1987. 

I’m just the right age to have grown up watching all of Cary’s Sale of the Century victories – from when he first took the show by storm in 1982, to when he won the show’s international ‘Ashes’ tournament, the ‘Commonwealth Games’ tournament, that World Championship Series in 1987, and many others besides. With his incredible general knowledge, lightning-fast reflexes, and unflappable self-discipline, Cary was a machine! Watching him compete on Sale was one part cheering him on, and one part marveling at his apparently superhuman skills… especially during the ‘Fame Game’ (“Who am I?”) questions. “How on EARTH,” we wondered, “does he get them all so quickly?” Tony – or Glenn – would read out when and where the famous person was born, and when they died, Cary would buzz in like a shot… and get the correct answer! His opposition didn’t stand a chance, as we all watched, awe-struck, from our lounge rooms. How did he achieve this amazing feat, time after time after time?

It was only years later that I found out. Cary was interviewed by Brydon Coverdale (AKA ‘The Shark’ from The Chase Australia), for Brydon’s excellent book The Quiz Masters. It was here that Cary revealed his technique; he’d meticulously research and catalogue birthdates and death dates of famous figures who he suspected would make good subjects for Fame Game questions. He spent countless hours on this, keeping all these snippets in huge, meticulously organized folders, repeatedly revising them.

And it seems this was typical of Cary‘s work ethic. He was no abstracted absent-minded genius, waiting for inspiration to strike him from out of the blue. Cary was a serious, methodical worker. As a former boxer, he brought that hardworking, disciplined training ethos to his quiz show preparations too. And it paid off. Boy, did it pay off! He had a staggeringly broad general knowledge, but his trick of learning birth dates and death dates made him virtually unbeatable.
Cary’s influence spread far and wide in the Australian quiz show community and spanned generations. Martin Flood (Million dollar winner on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?) had this to say:
“I was very fortunate to meet Cary in 2006, on the set of ‘Australia’s Brainiest Quiz Master’. Cary and I kept in touch over the years, writing each other long emails sharing our thoughts on all things quiz shows. Though there have been many talented Australian quiz show champions, there was really no one in Cary’s league. Yet he was very generous in his praise for other contestants, which I found so humbling and inspiring. After I had my only quiz show win, I received a lot of criticism. At that stage, I had not met Cary, but he was one of just a few people who had something nice to say about my win. He was also one of only a few people who took the time to send me a congratulatory card. Three years ago, he emailed me and shortly afterwards his wife Lyn contacted me to explain that she had been helping him write his emails. It saddened me so much as I knew it meant I would no longer hear from Cary. I treasure the times we spoke, and all our correspondence, as it gave me a glimpse into the thoughts of a most extraordinary mind and into the thoughts of a dear friend. Cary and Lyn made a great team. They and their family will stay in my heart.”
The only time I ever got to meet the great man was – like Martin – during the shooting of Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster.

That’s me (back row centre), and that’s Cary (front row right).

It was all very perfunctory – there’s no time to waste on a record day like that, and I was mostly concentrating on keeping my nerves in check. I don’t think there was much more than a brief handshake and a quick “Hello Cary, it’s so great to meet you”… but my massive respect for him and his daunting list of achievements was very much on my mind, as you can read in my recollections here.
I loved watching Cary’s run of success after success after success on Sale of the Century; he was a huge inspiration in convincing me to attempt to follow in his footsteps in my own small way. Cary Young was one of the greatest inspirational examples of what can be achieved in quiz shows if you have the discipline to approach it seriously, to do your homework and to train hard.
Although this feels like the end of an era, Cary’s influence will live on. My thoughts go out to Cary’s wife Lyn, his children Peter and Michelle, and his five grandchildren.

Vale Cary, and thank you for everything.

HNY, from HTWGS!

Hello to you, and Goodbye to 2022!

As the clock ticks down to midnight tonight, and we all pause to take stock of the twelve months just gone, I thought I’d quickly say hello and thank you again for your support of – and interest in – this little hobby of mine that is HowToWinGameShows.com.

Over the past twelve months here, we’ve had three big interviews; with game show producer Steve Marshall, game show winner Troy Egglestone, and with The Chase Australia‘s very own “Shark” – Chaser Brydon Coverdale. There have been updates too, but I’ve been remiss in sharing any patented HowToWinGameShowsBehindTheScenesReminiscences this year, as other endeavors (and work!) have been taking up my time.

Among these was my latest book, 50 Things To Be Seriously Grateful For* *and 50 not-so-serious things to illustrate themwhich, I’m pleased and proud to report is now available on Amazon.com.

I also, earlier this month, finally, FINALLY got around to recording the audiobook version of my novel Symphony Under Siege.

It’s now been distributed to all the following retailers…

and (depending on their various processing times after receiving the audio files) may even be available from them RIGHT NOW!

The other major passion project that’s perhaps been keeping me away from HTWGS a bit is my new one-man show for next year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

It’s called Letters From My Heroes, tickets are now available on the official MICF website… and the first performance will be on March 30th…. just 89 days from now. Gulp!

These things notwithstanding, I do plan to throw myself back into blogging here next year with renewed vigor. Until then, I hope you enjoy the few remaining hours of 2022, and that next year brings all the good things you wish for… and then maybe a cheeky one or two more on top!

Thank you so much for your support – as always – and I look forward to bringing you more interviews, updates, book reviews and patented HowToWinGameShowsBehindTheScenesReminiscences in 2023!

Cheers,

Stephen.

 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with game show winner Troy Eggleston – Part III: the conclusion

From one ‘Hot Seat’ to another…

Hello! Over the last couple of weeks, Troy and I have discussed his experiences as a contestant on Mastermind, Beat The Chasers and Hard Quiz… But in the Australian TV quiz show landscape, there are still a couple of challenges remaining…

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SH: Now Troy, I believe next month you’re scheduled to appear on Millionaire Hot Seat – what preparation or training are you doing for that?

TE: Well, I’ve already looked at your previous interviews with Millionaire Hot Seat winner Judd Field and former Hot Seat Executive Producer Steve Gilbert – they are invaluable.

SH: Oh, thank you very much.

TE: You’re welcome. I’ve also studied quite a few of the most recent episodes to see if there are any trends in the questions or the format. Other than that, I’m just doing as many quizzes as I can to get my mind ready for the big day of filming next month!

SH: Well, I wish you all the best! Any plans for other quiz-show-related adventures after that?

TE: After Millionaire Hot Seat, there’s only The Chase left, and then I’ve run out of game shows! I’ve always liked game shows, though, and I wouldn’t mind trying to get involved in them on a more permanent basis, whether it be behind the camera (question-writing, coaching, etc) or indeed in front of the camera. Nonetheless, this is my passion and I want to keep being involved…

SH: Yes, I know exactly what you mean – may your game show adventures continue for many years to come! Troy, thanks so much for speaking to me today, congratulations on your Mastermind win, all the best for Millionaire Hot Seat… and indeed for all your future quizzing endeavours!

TE: Thanks a lot Stephen, it’s been an absolute pleasure. All the best.

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And that wraps up my latest EXCLUSIVE game show winner interview, with Troy Eggleston. What a nice chap. Troy was actually brought to my attention by Adam, who’s a regular visitor to HowToWinGameShows.com, and a follower of the HTWGS Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/Howtowingameshows/)

Thanks, Adam! 

And Adam’s suggestion to interview Troy got me thinking…

Do YOU know anyone you’d like me to interview for this blog?

Or, indeed, would you like me to interview YOU?

My scope here is pretty broad. As you know, I’m interested in talking to people from every corner of the game show world; people who’ve won on game shows, and people who’ve lost on game shows. People who’ve worked on game shows (behind or in front of the camera), people who’ve studied game shows… even people who’ve conceived game shows!  

So please have a think, and if you know someone – or if you ARE someone – who’d make a good interview subject for HowToWinGameShows.com, do let me know!

You can reach me at Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com.  

Thank you in advance, and let’s see who we can find!

See you soon, 

Stephen.

Oh, and remember… Mastermind is now looking for contestants for its next series! You can apply right here: https://go.mycastingnet.com/Apply/Show/Mastermind

My EXCLUSIVE interview with game show winner Troy Eggleston – Part II

Troy on the ‘Mastermind’ set, with his trophy!

Welcome back. When we left off last week, Troy and I were discussing his win on Mastermind Australia. The Mastermind format had previously been successful on Australian TV from 1978 – 1984, but Troy’s victory was on the reboot of the show, which began in 2019. Since then, there have been three more series of the show on Australia’s SBS network…

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SH: Mastermind has had four seasons now, and therefore it’s had four Grand Champions. Are there any plans for a ‘Champion of Champions’ tournament? If there were, would you be up for it?

TE: I haven’t officially heard anything from SBS about a Champions show, and to my knowledge neither have any of the other champions (we are all Facebook friends as we all live in Sydney). It would be a fantastic idea; I think it would attract a lot of interest. My students have asked me repeatedly if there will be a “GOAT show” (an acronym students use for Greatest of All Time), I would most certainly be up for it… I even have a specialty topic in mind for the show (not telling, though)!

SH: What tips or hints would you have for anyone interested in appearing on Mastermind?

TE: Make sure your topic is not too broad; make it as narrow as you can get away with. My grand final topic for the Grand Final was ‘Melbourne Cup winners 1970-2000’. Memorising the details from 31 races is a lot easier than memorising the details from 160 races! Also, don’t focus on your opponents. You can’t really control what they do. There were several points during my Mastermind run where if one of my opponents did something slightly different, you’d be interviewing someone else on your blog. There is a fair element of luck about who is in your heat and how they go. There are episodes where high scores lose and low scores win. You should only concentrate on what you can control.

SH: Roughly a year after your Mastermind victory, you competed on Beat The Chasers. That’s all general knowledge, of course, no special subjects there… but you didn’t fare quite so well on that occasion, coming away empty-handed. What are your main memories of that experience, and if you had your time over on that particular show, what do you think you’d have done differently?

TE: My biggest memory was how long the filming day was, which was a lot different to Mastermind. I went for the big money; it was always my plan as I wanted to test myself. I wasn’t in the zone that day, and I ran into a white-hot Brydon Coverdale, who did not miss a single question. At first, I was devastated. Losing on a game show was foreign to me at the time, but then I realised anyone would’ve lost in those circumstances, with Brydon doing as well as he did. I did my best. I wouldn’t have done anything differently, and it was a massive learning curve for me. A lot of quiz show champs who went on that show suffered the same fate! I wouldn’t even say I came away empty-handed, I met some people on the show that got me more into competitive quizzing which I love.

SH: Any plans to go on the regular version of The Chase Australia?

TE: I have applied for it, and I had an audition in September last year. At this stage, I haven’t heard back. I did well in the audition (according to what the producer said to me) and I am hoping to hear soon.

SH: Good luck! Now Troy, your next quiz show appearance was in September 2021, when you popped up as a contestant on Hard Quiz, with yet another special subject: ‘The Periodic Table’. Did you choose that subject? (It’d make sense if you did – you being a science teacher…)

Troy on ‘Hard Quiz’

TE: It was actually my second-choice topic, behind ‘NRL Grand Finals’. They said to me in the audition I was more likely to get on the show with a science topic, (tip for people auditioning). In hindsight, I’m glad I chose it; it helps promotes STEM in society and gets scientific thought and concepts out there. It is the obvious choice for a science teacher.

SH: In the clip from the show on YouTube, you certainly gave as good as you got – did the “attitude”/comedy element of the show distract you from the quizzing, at all?

TE: No, not really. I went on for a bit of a giggle, not to win. I knew Tom was going to have a go at me. I’ve been a teacher for 17 years now, so I’ve learned to have a thick skin and to have a few comebacks when you need them. I would’ve liked to win that one… but I ran into Rosalie, who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of her topic (How To Train Your Dragon) and did not miss a question. My topic was quite broad, but there wasn’t much I could’ve done anyway; she was too good.

SH: What are the 3 most important things you’d tell someone wanting to go on Hard Quiz–the things you wish someone had told you beforehand?

TE: Have a thick skin. Tom WILL take the mickey out of you. That’s the whole premise of the show.

Do a topic that is as narrow as you can get away with.

Be yourself at the audition, and learn to laugh at yourself!

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And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next Tuesday, as our chat concludes, the subject shifts from Hard Quiz to Millionaire Hot Seat. See you then!

Oh, and before I forget… Mastermind is now looking for contestants for its next series! You can apply right here: https://go.mycastingnet.com/Apply/Show/Mastermind

My EXCLUSIVE interview with game show winner Troy Eggleston – Part I

‘Mastermind’ champion Troy Eggleston with the Mastermind trophy, and the show’s host Jennifer Byrne.

Hello! Back in September 2019, high school science teacher Troy Eggleston was the first Grand Champion on Mastermind Australia in 35 years! He brought home the trophy with his special subject, Melbourne Cup winners. But that’s not the only area in which Troy boasts expert knowledge… nor is it the only time he’s appeared on our screens. I recently spoke to Troy about his love of quizzing, and the highs (and lows) of his various TV quiz show appearances.

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SH: Troy! Welcome, and thanks so much for speaking to me today for HowToWinGameShows.com!  

TE: Absolute pleasure, Stephen. Thanks for having me.

SH: In September 2019, you won the first (new) season of Mastermind Australia. And although it was your very first quiz show appearance, I understand that quizzing has been a passion of yours for a long time…

TE: Yes, I’ve been watching game shows for as long as I can remember. One of my first memories is watching David Poltorak scoring $200 on Sale of the Century (by the way, please bring that back, TV people!) I also enjoyed it when the really good players came back on, such as Virginia Noel, David Bock and Cary Young. I really looked up to those guys and thought it could be awesome to be like them one day. Unfortunately, Sale went off the air just as I got old enough to apply for it! I’ve always enjoyed general knowledge quizzes and trivia nights. I also enjoyed reading books that would expand my knowledge, particularly in the areas I was interested in.

SH: Your final special subject for Mastermind was Melbourne Cup winners – what inspired you to learn as much as possible about them?

TE: I have a bit of a party trick where I can memorise a list easily. Since I was a bit of a sport nut when I was a kid, I memorised lists to do with sport; Olympic host cities, NRL winners, VFL winners, Melbourne Cup Winners and so on. The Melbourne Cup has always interested me, as it’s arguably the biggest sporting event in Australia, and some of the stories involved are part of folklore, from overseas winners to drunk Governors-General awarding the cup. Unfortunately, I’m only good at telling you past Cup winners, not future ones… more often than not, the TAB keeps my money on Cup Day!

SH: You also had another two special subjects along the way – what were they, and why do they hold such fascination for you?

TE: My topic for my heat was Sir Donald Bradman. I am a big cricket fan and like studying the history of sport. ‘The Don’ is someone who is an icon of both sport and Australiana and a fascinating individual to study. I have been to the Bradman Museum many times; I absolutely love it there. I also like reading books on how others saw him. Not everyone associated with cricket has a favourable view of him and it was very interesting getting their insights.

My topic for the semi-final was World Chess Championships. I like playing chess, and when I was little, I was told to look at the games of past great players. There are plenty of books on the subject, and some of the world championship matches were epic battles. The psychology and preparation are comparable to a heavyweight boxing title fight! The psychological warfare that these players sometimes try to perform on each other is incredible. Once, a player complained about another player eating yoghurt, as he thought that player’s coaches were trying to send him a message with the flavour!

SH: When it comes to studying your special subjects, is there a particular method of studying or revision you like to use? Could you take us through it?

TE: I tried to keep all the information associated with a year, this was easier with Melbourne Cup and Chess as they only had one event per year, Bradman was a little bit harder as there was more than one thing that happened in a particular year (hence me not doing as well in that particular round). I then drew up a table with all the information in it and memorised it. It’s easier for me to memorise a table, but it will be different for everyone, as everyone’s brains work differently.

SH: Mastermind‘s Grand Prize is a magnificent engraved bowl – what did you do with it?

TE: It is currently sitting on my “wall of fame” with my sports memorabilia, next to my signed Don Bradman photo. I pull it out sometimes when friends come over. When I first won it, a lot of people wanted to see it. I get requests from the students to bring it to school and show them, but I haven’t done that so far. There are some people who say “Oh, it’s just a bowl” and laugh a bit… but to me, it means a hell of a lot more than that.

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No doubt! A hard-won trophy indeed, and richly deserved. Next week, Troy and I discuss life post-Mastermind, and he takes us through his next two quiz show appearances. See you next Tuesday!

Oh, and by the way… Mastermind is now looking for contestants for its next series! You can apply right here: https://go.mycastingnet.com/Apply/Show/Mastermind