Thursday, November 19, 2009

My new substitute-favorite game show

I haven't seen my old pal Alex Trebek or heard that "thinking music" in ages. When David was here, we played Trivial Pursuit (Pop Culture Edition, and I WON!!!) and I didn't give all of my answers in the form of a question. I miss Jeopardy. I think my brain pistons aren't firing as rapidly as a direct result of not watching.
So, I must find something to take up for my daily dose of smart. I have the "Challenge" channel which airs a lot of game shows. I love game shows. But mostly, I love Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. I was pretty excited when I saw that Wheel of Fortune was on, but when I watched it, I wondered why on earth the WoF set was so dated. Our Wheel of Fortune has come a long way since the 80s, but this one...well, hadn't. As I watch more and more "Challenge" channel, though, I think (or at least hope) that many of the shows are actually rebroadcasts from the 80s. The hair, the clothes, the glasses... wow.  Who Wants to Be a Millionaire seems to be new, but they ask questions about stuff I don't know. British stuff. One day, I was super excited because I got a question about English Geography right!!! Because they said "What county are Diss and King's Lynn in?" and I knew that because those names are on a sign that I pass nearly every time I drive away from my house. But that was not a typical occurrence, so I needed to find a game show that I could watch, play along with and have a chance at feeling good about myself afterwards.
And then, a couple of weeks ago, I found Countdown.  (again. I had seen just the end of it once before)
Oh, Countdown. It's on every weekday afternoon at 3:25, just five minutes before Jeopardy would be coming on at home, so that's got to be a good sign!
Here's how it goes: There are two contestants. Each "letters" round, one of the contestants asks for 9 letters by saying "consonant" or "vowel" and the letters are revealed one at a time. The players then have some time (30 seconds, maybe?) to find the longest word they can with the letters. I'm not exactly sure how the scoring works...sometimes only one gets points and sometimes both do. There is also a lady with a dictionary who tells you the longest or most interesting words that could be made with the letters. I love letter games, but I'm not that good at Countdown yet. If the point were to find as many words as possible, I'd really be something at this game. But it's not.
Today I was really excited to find an eight (!!!...usually I'm stuck with sixes, and sevens with the right letter combination) letter word from these letters:
I also found the longest word possible in this round:
But I did not fare as well with
R W S U A A I D P or R F R O E A L S J
(I won't tell you what I found, just in case you want to play along in the comments!)

There are also three "numbers" rounds in each game and this is where I really struggle. My math anxiety kicks in when the Countdown version of "think music" comes on.
For the numbers game, the contestant chooses 6 numbers by asking for "big" and "small". I think the available "big" numbers are 25, 50, 75, and 100. Then a target number is randomly selected and you have like three tenths of a second to use addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to make any or all of the six numbers (don't have to use them all, but can't use any of them more than once) equal the target number. The players try to reach the target number, or as close as possible.
It always stumps me. Except for the day when the target number was 108 and two of the numbers given were 100 and 8. I finished that one way before time was up.
Today I was SO proud of myself, because I solved a slightly more challenging numbers problem within the time limit.
The numbers were 5 small and one large (3, 9, 2, 5, 5, 100) and the target was 175.
Right away I saw what to do... again, I won't tell here in case you want to play along.
I was so excited that I drew stars all around my answer.
The next numbers challenge was to reach 336 using 9, 1, 9, 25, 50, 100.
I managed to get to 334, which was just as close as the contestants. The Vanna White of Countdown (Rachel Riley, who is apparently incredible at math) said she got to 335, but didn't show how.
And the final numbers challenge, the target was 167 and the numbers were 6, 3, 4, 75, 100, 25.
I got to 168 (and 166), and I was happy enough with myself for tying with the contestants. The Pat Sajak of Countdown (don't know his name) got 167 exactly. But he used division, and I just don't think I'm ready for that. :)


Dogeared said...

Aww bless! Countdown is the staple of students and pensioners, as it's on at the right time for those demographics! Afternoonses time :D

The numbers were 5 small and one large (3, 9, 2, 5, 5, 100) and the target was 175.

I'll go with 5x5=25, 9-2=7, 25x7=175

I usually watched but didn't seriously attempt the puzzles on Countdown. If you have the Challenge channel, I wonder if they show Crystal Maze reruns? That might be a morning show.

The Countdown programmes are new. For years and years, it was the duo of Richard Whitely and Carol Vordermann (he the presenter, she the maths whizz). He unfortunately died, and they had a succession of other presenters, some lasting longer than others. It kind of lost its popularity when Richard left. Carol stayed on for a while, but then Channel 4 wanted her to take a HUGE paycut, and she refused one so big. They took on the new girl, and she caught a lot of flak because people don't like change, and they missed Carol (plus through nerves, and knowing the big shoes she had to fill, she fluffed one of the maths problems on one show).

You can buy a Countdown boardgame, if you really like it!

uncle bill said...

If you need a some tidbits

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by today! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving in Dublin!

pk @ Room Remix

Life with Kaishon said...

I am popping in from SITS this morning. I just love the game show network! We have been watching Family Feud at bedtime lately and it always makes me laugh : )

Cairo Typ0 said...

Hi, stopping by from SITS! :)

I totally love Trivial Pursuit! I even have the original version. Best. Game. Ever.

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