Monthly Archives: April 2019

Advanced Stats Television: Mental Samurai Episode 6

And we’re back with another week of boxscores for this year’s hot new reality TV show Mental Samurai. In case you haven’t seen the show — which is streamable at Fox — contestants are strapped into a gyroscope, called Ava, flung around between four towers and asked a series of trivia questions. Answer 12 in a row, win $10,000. Answer four more, win $25,000 per question. Answer all 16, win the title of Mental Samurai. Miss a question or run out of time, and you’re done. I run down the category types and subcategories that appear in my week one writeup if you’re new.

Also, as always future contestant Chris Yeh’s podcast often has bonus content for the show, so subscribe to that if you haven’t already.

Below is each contestant’s “box score” with a little analysis. A reminder of the stats I’m tracking:

  • Category: The category of the question – Knowledge, Puzzles, Sequence, or Memory
  • Subcategory: Each category has a selection of types. I list these in depth in my week one write up.
  • Travel Time: How long it takes for Ava to settle the contestant in front of the tower with the question up in front of them.
  • Start time: What the countdown is at (in seconds) when the question is first visible to the contestant.
  • End time: When Ava flashes green or red, signifying the contestants’ answer has been registered.
  • Answer time: The time between the start time and end time. In theory, below 18 seconds is ideal for this.
  • Required Pace: How quick the contestant must, on average, answer each of the remaining questions. This assumes an average of 8 second travel time between each question.

Hannah Cussen

18-year-old student. She’s a Colorado native. She’s a Stanford freshman. Both her parents went to Stanford. She’s got a black belt in Tae Kown Do and is one of the shortest contestants on the show.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1KnowledgeReality Check03002901017.7
2SequenceAlpha Order102802651518.2
3MemoryEcho Chamber102552421318.3
4PuzzlesWordplay92332082518.8
5MemoryName Dropper72011861518.1
6SequenceTime Warp81781463218.6
7KnowledgeFactfinder8138133516.3
8PuzzlesPicture Perfect91241091518.4
9SequenceStriking Distance7102861619.5
10MemoryBlackout878413720.7
  1. Which is the real Mona Lisa? Image without a necklace.
  2. List 10, 12, 11 in alphabetical order.
  3. Repeat pattern of Burger, Fries, Soda.
  4. Rearrange “POT GNU” to spell Top Gun. Clue is Iconic 80s movie.
  5. Which dog took 2nd place? Image of three dogs on a pedastal. She did amazing verbalizing a ton of info quickly on this one.
  6. Arrange American Idol winners from earliest to most recent (Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks)
  7. Which sign of the of the Zodiac is an image of two fish?
  8. Identify the six word phrase represented by an image of a candle burning on both ends.
  9. Arrange European Countries (Iceland, Poland, Spain) from North to South.
  10. Image of a sign post with lots of countries with arrows. Which City’s Arrow is pointing in the same direction as Amsterdam? Spent too long on the question regardless, but bummer. Tough blackout question.

A pretty strong run that felt like it ended in fatigue. On challenge 5, Hannah did a great job verbalizing the image for her memory. On an admittedly harder memory challenge, Hannah was much quieter. I do get to a little meta-analysis on this. On any question that is a multiple choice or order question, it makes way more sense to guess than to overthink it. Both Hannah and Jameson from episode 4 fell into this trap. Obviously, it’s easy to Monday Morning quarterback this though. Good run!

Steve Kaye

26-year-old-student. He was a programming manager at a casino and worked with some major names. Says he’s relentlessly competitive, and it shows!

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1KnowledgeToss Up0300293717.7
2SequenceBack Order62872771018.8
3MemoryEcho Chamber10267258919.5
4PuzzlesWornado8250243720.7
5SequenceTime Warp6237228922.6
6KnowledgeTrue Lies9219213624.4
7PuzzlesGridlock92041802427.3
8MemoryHear Say91711541727.8
9SequenceRecord-Breaker81461331330.5
10MemoryMind Field101231081535.7
  1. Which movie stared Angelina Jolie, Salt or Pepper?
  2. Place words “Cupboard, Dog, Bone” in order they appear in nursery rhyme “Old Mother Hubbard”
  3. Repeat pattern of words: “Khloe, Courtney, Kim”. Has images of the Kardashian.
  4. Combine floating word fragments to form “Tennessee” Clue is US State.
  5. Arrange Academy Award Winners Best Picture in order of premiere. “Chariots of Fire, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Shape of Water”
  6. Derek Jeter is married to Jennifer Lopez.
  7. Find three people associated with Batman in 6 by 6 letter grid. Robin, Alfred, Bane
  8. What was the second sound played? Baseball bat.
  9. List Navy ranks by seniority, Ensign, Lieutenant, Commander, Admiral
  10. Where is the red bird located. It was 5 :(

Steve did the strategy I love, he answered super fast and wasted little time. His pace was competitive with some of the top contestants so far on the show. Sadly he was knocked down by a memory question, and one of the harder challenges. He noted his second guess was wrong too, so there was nothing he could have done.

Chad Poist

46-year-old supply chain manager. He grew up on a farm, has two young children and says that impacts his memory. Clever foreshadowing or good editing? Either way, it’s correct.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesWordnadop03002901017.7
2KnowledgeFactfinder82822196318.4
3SequenceAlpha Order72121951714
4MemoryEcho Chamber81871741313.7
5SequenceTime Warp101641422213.5
6MemoryBlackout71351033212.4
  1. Spell “Blackjack” from word fragments. Clue is card game
  2. In Happy Birthday, which word is only said three times? Choices Happy, Birthday, You. You.
  3. List Cup, Box, Bag in order.
  4. Repeat pattern of “Shake, It, Off”
  5. Arrange Whites from youngest to oldest. Shaun White, Jack White, Betty White.
  6. Which marking appeared on the bicyclists left side? Double red line.

A very very tough challenge. The video of the bike riding was quite long, meaning there were a lot of details to keep track of and forget. Chad is one of a few contestants with odd editing. We see a decent intro but no interaction with Rob Lowe. This has happened once or twice before. Not a horrible run, but he was definitely in time trouble and a long tough Memory challenge was brutal.

Stella Zawistowski

40-year-old associate creative director. She’s a top crossword puzzle competitor.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1KnowledgeToss Up0300294617.7
2PuzzlesMissing Piece8286277918.7
3MemoryEcho Chamber72702591119.8
4SequenceAlpha Order92502381220.7
5KnowledgeSnapshot82302102021.8
6PuzzlesGridlock8202195722
7MemoryName Dropper81871701724.5
  1. Which flower is the symbol for the New Year’s Day Parade in Pasadena? Rose.
  2. C completes image of merry go round.
  3. Repeat pattern of play, pause, rewind, stop.
  4. Shirt, glove, scarf.
  5. Girl on Fire. Clue is Song Title. Image of girl, on switch, and fire. Rough one, she gets it!
  6. Find three common beverages (Coffee, Juice, Milk) in 6 by 6 letter grid.
  7. What is the name of the wrestler in fire outfit – Inferno. She guesses Diablo.

Stella did what I call the classic “chess blunder.” Based on the verbalized information about the images, she had all the information she needed. She answered too quickly though and got knocked out. Especially brutal as she was on a solid pace. On Chris Yeh’s podcast he noted she would lock in the handle before saying “Lock It In.” Very much like Jeopardy, this is ideal strategy as saying “Lock It In” apparently does not impact your answer being processed, so wasting time saying it before hitting the lever is needless. At least she didn’t go out on a puzzle clue.

Ron White

45-year-old memory trainer. He’s a two-time US memory champion as well.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesWordplay0300292817.7
2SequenceAlpha Order72852642118.6
3KnowledgeToss Up102542431118.2
4MemoryPay Attention72362162019.1
5PuzzlesDouble Crossed82081872119
6MemoryMind Field81791631618.7
  1. Clue: European country. Germany
  2. List tree, star, gift alphabetically.
  3. How many meats are in BLT: One or Two?
  4. Auto phone operator, which option to leave a message: one.
  5. Familiar Phrase: Clues are NBA Legend Larry and Opposite of Late (Early Bird)
  6. Where is Gold Clover Coin located. 1. He missed. Ouch!

The memory champion misses on a straightforward memory question? Oh man, the producers must have been giddy over this. The chess metaphor I get back to here is when Gary Kasparov lost to Deep Blue on a “simple” (for chess masters) opening trap. Even the best experts when knocked off their game can blunder. Ron White is no exception. I’m sure he’ll use this example in future lectures.

Ryan Jones

28-year-old spin cycle instructor. He wanted to be on Broadway before finding his job as a spin instructor. He brings lots of performative aspects to spinning.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesWornado03002901017.7
2SequenceAlpha Order92812681318.3
3KnowledgeToss Up9259250918.7
4MemoryEcho Chamber72432331019.9
5PuzzlesMissing Piece9224216821
6MemoryPay Attention82081901822.9
7KnowledgeSnapshot7183174923.8
8SequenceStriking Distance81661511526.8
9KnowledgeFactfinder91421301229.5
10SequenceMeasure Up10120903034.7
11MemoryBlackout1080651536
12PuzzlesDouble Crossed1055451055
13PuzzlesOddball01351211427.8
14SequenceAlpha Order7114823232.7
  1. Valentine with clue of “Type of Greeting Card.”
  2. Desk, Lamp, Sink
  3. Which state uses MI as its abbreviation. Michigan!
  4. Repeat beef, chicken, fish pattern.
  5. B completes image of flowers and windmills.
  6. Which subject does student say they’re getting a B in on a phone message. History
  7. What drink is represented by a Canadian Flag and Dry desert.
  8. Arrange Singers in Country of Origin from North to South. Celine Dione, Gwen Steani, Shakira.
  9. This Van Gogh painting is of what king of flower? Irises.
  10. Arrange boxing weight divisions lightest to heaviest: Flyweight, Welterweight, Heavyweight.
  11. Subway sign. What letter is in a gray circle. S!
  12. Guitar Hero. Clues are Hendrix’s Instrument and Superman is a Super what?
  13. C. Sandcastles one with a different flag.
  14. List Larry David, David Duchovny, David Letterman, and David Beckham in order. Sadly he doesn’t know them all.

Ryan definitely follows what Chris Yeh calls the “fast and fun” method. At each question Ryan is all business, but as soon as his answer is locked in, Ryan is excited, celebratory, and takes a break until the next question. His spin mastery seems perfect here. Ryan falls on a familiar pitfall. He didn’t recognize the images of famous people shown and as a result, was unable to finish the question. On a meta-analysis level though, he played it perfectly. He didn’t spend too much time and made a guess. The show rules apparently will allow you to order people as long as you distinguish your answers enough. As he knew David Beckham, he had a 1/6 chance of getting it right. Fate was against him, but otherwise, a fantastic run.

Another week in the tank! A reminder that this week at 9 pm EST on Tuesday 4/30 is Chris Yeh’s episode. So be sure to tune in and I’ll try and make sure his box score is up quickly. See you then!

Advanced Stats Television: Mental Samurai Episode 5

Week 5 and we’re in a groove, so I’ll just be copy/pasting my recap notes if that’s ok … just like last week. Although I’m adding a new stat, see below. I’m reviewing the reality TV show Mental Samurai but from a box score perspective. Every week I rundown each contestants performance. Since Mental Samurai is a timed trivia game show, the box score is pretty simple – how quick and how far does each player go?

In case you haven’t seen the show — which is streamable at Fox — contestants are strapped into a gyroscope, called Ava, flung around between four towers and asked a series of trivia questions. Answer 12 in a row, win $10,000. Answer four more, win $25,000 per question. Answer all 16, win the title of Mental Samurai. I run down the category types and subcategories that appear in my week one writeup if you’re new.

Also, as always future contestant Chris Yeh’s podcast often has bonus content for the show, so subscribe to that if you haven’t already.

Below is each contestants “box score” with a little analysis. A reminder of the stats I’m tracking:

  • Category: The category of the question – Knowledge, Puzzles, Sequence, or Memory
  • Subcategory: Each category has a selection of types. I list these in depth in my week one write up.
  • Travel Time: How long it takes for Ava to settle the contestant in front of the tower with the question up in front of them.
  • Start time: What the countdown is at (in seconds) when the question is first visible to the contestant.
  • End time: When Ava flashes green or red, signifying the contestants answer has been registered.
  • Answer time: The time between the start time and end time. In theory, below 18 seconds is ideal for this.
  • Required Pace (new): How quick the contestant must, on average, answer each of the remaining questions. This assumes an average of 8 second travel time between each question.

I decided to add Required Pace after Jameson’s run last week. Examining how fast a contestant answer each question as fast enough or not is fine. That said, the real question is if they can complete the course, so the Required Pace stat helps with that. Going into this week, the “worst” required pace we got to was Mitch Emerson in week two at 8 seconds. Spoiler alert, that gets shattered this week.

Glenn Hetrick

55-year-old airline pilot. He has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and gives himself the nickname of “Flying Samurai.” I love it!

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesPicture Perfect03002841617.7
2KnowledgeTrue Lies9275266917.7
3SequenceMeasure Up72592411818.7
4MemoryEcho Chamber92322211118.7
5SequenceRecord-Breaker102111951619.4
6MemoryBlackout81871662119.9
7PuzzlesMatch Box111551352019.2
8KnowledgeFactfinder8127118919
9PuzzlesMissing Piece9109951421.3
10MemoryMind Field887721523.7
11SequenceTime Warp963224127.5
12KnowledgeSpellbound81401414
  1. Identify the Four-Word Phrase represented by a picture of a butterflies in a stomach.
  2. A seismograph is commonly referred to as a lie detector: Nope.
  3. Arrange Daniels from shortest to tallest: DeVito, Radcliffe, Day Lewis
  4. Repeat pattern of Gold/Silver/Bronze.
  5. Arrange Monopoly properties by least to most expensive Baltic: Marvin Gardens, Boardwalk
  6. A Racecar is t-boned by another car, which number? 2
  7. Identify the numberr matching images on a 4 by 4 grid.
  8. Image of glass headquarters. Three options, new HQ of which organization? Apple.
  9. Missing image in puzzle of Golden Gate Bridge.
  10. Where is image of soup located? 4
  11. Arrange Actresses from Youngest to Oldest. Mila Kunis, Amy Adams, Halle Berry, Jane Fonda
  12. Spell the nine-letter word for a sea that borders the U.S. Virgin Islands. He says it but doesn’t spell it. Oh man, heartbreaker.

A great run that ran into time trouble. Glenn even knew the right answer but missed that he was supposed to spell it out, not just say it. Of course, given his time constraints that would have been hard. Annoyingly he was on great pace heading into question 11 when the age question sucked up too much time.

Ed Moses

38-year-old former Olympic swimmer. He has a gold and silver medal and broke thirteen world records!

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesDouble Crossed03002019917.7
2SequenceAlpha Order91921623010.2
3KnowledgeSnapshot1015214578
4MemoryEcho Chamber7138125138.2
5PuzzlesWordnado8117107107.6
6MemoryBlackout109784137
7KnowledgeFactfinder7776896.2
8SequenceBack Order115745125
9KnowledgeToss Up7383263.5
10SequenceTime Warp92313102.3
11MemoryMind Field11202-3
  1. Solve the crossword to name a famous actor. Harrison Ford!
  2. List four-letter musical items alphabetically – Drum, Harp, Bell.
  3. Identify the body part represented by a picture of ham and string.
  4. Repeat Hickory Dickory Dock pattern.
  5. Downloading from moving fragments. Clue is “Popular Tech Term”
  6. How many fish are in the bowl on the left? 3.
  7. Steve Rogers is the Alter Ego of Captain America.
  8. Place these words in the order in which they appear in the nursery rhyme “Jack be Nimble” Nimble, Quick, Candlestick.
  9. What is a porpose? Fish or Mammal? Mammal.
  10. List first ladies by earliest to most recent: Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama.
  11. Question doesn’t even finish asking.

While not as good as winning $10,000, I can give Ed Moses this. He holds the “record” for being the first televised Mental Samurai contestant to be mathematically eliminated before failing a question. While other candidates have run into time trouble that meant it was unlikely they could have completed their course in time, Ed is the first that ran out of time. I give him full marks for persevering. The pop-culture Puzzle knocking a strong competitor off their game is nothing new. Ed “recovered” and tried his best on an otherwise exemplary run.

Jack Vomacka

19-year-old Computer Science Major. Got a perfect score on the ACT. He’s also been writing a fantasy novel for ten years.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1KnowledgeSnapshot0300294617.7
2SequenceAlpha Order102842671718.5
3MemoryEcho Chamber92582451318.6
4PuzzlesWordplay82372271019.2
5MemoryBlackout72202061420.5
6SequenceBack Order101961841221.1
7KnowledgeFactfinder10174167722.3
8PuzzlesMatch Box101571451225
9SequenceTime Warp71381162228.5
10MemoryPay Attention9107881930.3
11PuzzlesCompound Fracture97907935.5
  1. What movie is represented by a picture of a Magician and a Microphone.
  2. Arrange 11, 31, Twenty
  3. Repeat King, Knight, Queen, Queen, Rook.
  4. Rearrange letters to spell Drake. Clue is Popular Musical Artist.
  5. What type of pastry was in the image. Croissant out of focus. Nicely done!
  6. Place these words in the order in which the appear in the “Pledge of Allegiance”: Flag, Republic, Indivisible.
  7. What is another name for the human tailbone? Coccyx.
  8. Identify two matching pairs on a four by four grid.
  9. Arrange these animated series in order they appeared:Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy.
  10. What are two for 25 dollars? Jeans.
  11. What four letter words is a prefix for port and a suffix for over?

A very strong run before getting knocked off by a tough question. Essentially, Ed’s run in reverse. I’ve left the answer out, see if you can get it. It was definitely a tough question and was a real shame to see Jack’s amazingly strong run go down.

Nancy Jo Perdue

65-year-old retired journalist. She was the first television journalist. She’s interviewed six presidents.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1SequenceAlpha Order03002851517.7
2KnowledgeReality Check72782661218
3PuzzlesPicture Perfect7259250918.7
4MemoryBlackout72432281519.9
5SequenceBack Order92191942520.4
6KnowledgeTrue Lies7187178919.9
7PuzzlesWordplay10168016821.3
  1. List Bagel, Bacon, Donut in order.
  2. Which is the real White House? Fake has a pillar.
  3. What phrase is represented by hand with butter for fingers.
  4. How many black guitars in the image? 2.
  5. Arrange words Sky, Diamond, World in order they appear in “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
  6. A female fox is valled a vixen. True?
  7. Rearrange letters to spell Inception. Clue is Twisted 2010 Movie.

Another running theme, strong run with a tough question that knocked her out. She was one of the most fun competitors that had great sass in her answers.

Jackie Boehme

28-year-old Resident Anesthesiologist. Was born in the Dominican Republic and came to the US at age 2.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1SequenceAlpha Order03002851517.7
2MemoryEcho Chamber82772651217.9
3KnowledgeToss Up102552431218.3
4PuzzlesPicture Perfect92342231118.9
5MemoryBlackout102131803319.6
6PuzzlesMissing Piece81721581417.7
7KnowledgeFactfinder10148141718
8SequenceMeasure Up71341211320.4
9MemoryName Dropper81131001322.3
10PuzzlesOddball99184725
11KnowledgeFactfinder975651033.5
12SequenceRecord-Breaker1253341953
13KnowledgeFactfinder020410410045
14PuzzlesWornado995791626.3
15MemoryHear Say871462531.5
16SequenceMeasure Up838182038
  1. Arrange Medal, Pizza, Shark in order.
  2. Repeat pattern of words “Shake it Off”
  3. Which is the Clown from Stephen King’s “IT” – Pennywise
  4. Identify the four word phrase by an image of a man with a chip on his shoulder.
  5. How many wheels are on the chair. This question is BS. She logics it out though!
  6. Which piece completes an image of a tucan.
  7. How many children does Homer Simpson have? 3.
  8. Put steps to roast turkey in order. Put stuffing in raw turkey, roast turkey, serve turkey.
  9. What is name of blonde haired woman on the right on a Christmas card? Beverley.
  10. What pharoah is not like the others? D, spinning head. Do they teach this stuff in med school?
  11. Which TV show is the show “Sheldon” a prequel to? Big Bang Theory.
  12. Arrange NBA Teams in order of Number of Championships won from least to most: Timberwolves, Bulls, Celtics.
  13. What animal is not native to Africa? I believe tiger.
  14. Combine fragments to spell “Legislation” clue is something produced by politicans.
  15. What sound played 4th? Frog.
  16. Arrange action stars from youngest to oldest: Arnold, Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, Matt Damon.

Jackie followed Chris’ “fast and fun” strategy. She was very matter of fact in her answers while enjoying herself and relaxing during the gyroscope time. Like other Mental Samurai winner Nathan Gonzales, she’s in the medical profession, which apparently makes the tough “Oddball” question easy. About six questions in, Rob Lowe said she needed to pick up the pace. While he was wrong, she took that to heart and crushed “the back nine.” Another compliment I can give is she “thought her way” through several questions.

Another week in the tank! The good news is we’re hitting enough data that I’ll probably be back with some meta-analysis soon. Seeya next time!

-Dre

Advanced Stats Television: Mental Samurai Episode 4

Week 4 and we’re in a groove, so I’ll just be copy/pasting my recap notes if that’s ok. I’m reviewing the reality TV show Mental Samurai but from a box score perspective. Every week I rundown each contestants performance. Since Mental Samurai is a timed trivia game show, the box score is pretty simple – how quick and how far does each player go?

In case you haven’t seen the show — which is streamable at Fox — contestants are strapped into a gyroscope, called Ava, flung around between four towers and asked a series of trivia questions. Answer 12 in a row, win $10,000. Answer four more, win $25,000 per question. Answer all 16, win the title of Mental Samurai. I run down the category types and subcategories that appear in my week one writeup if you’re new.

Also, as always future contestant Chris Yeh’s podcast often has bonus content for the show, so subscribe to that if you haven’t already.

Below is each contestants “box score” with a little analysis. A reminder of the stats I’m tracking:

  • Category: The category of the question – Knowledge, Puzzles, Sequence, or Memory
  • Subcategory: Each category has a selection of types. I list these in depth in my week one write up.
  • Travel Time: How long it takes for Ava to settle the contestant in front of the tower with the question up in front of them.
  • Start time: What the countdown is at (in seconds) when the question is first visible to the contestant.
  • End time: When Ava flashes green or red, signifying the contestants answer has been registered.
  • Answer time: The time between the start time and end time. I note when this is below 18 seconds in green, and above 18 seconds in red, as, in theory, that’s the needed pace to complete the full challenge.

Stephanie Thornton

38-year-old Direcotr of Consumer Insight. She’s a Mensa member, which is how she met her husband. He’s also competing!

# Category Subcategory Travel Time Start Time End Time Answer time
1 Sequence Alpha Order 0 300 291 9
2 Memory Blackout 9 282 269 13
3 Knowledge Toss Up 9 260 246 14
4 Puzzles Picture Perfect 8 238 230 8
5 Memory Echo Chamber 8 222 209 13
6 Puzzles Wordnado 9 200 188 12
7 Knowledge True Lies 9 179 166 13
  1. Egg, Ham, Pie
  2. What name is person carving in the photo: Thomas.
  3. What is printed on US currency? “God Bless America” or “In God We Trust”
  4. Duck Face based on an image of a person taking a selfie of themselves in a duck mask.
  5. Repeat “Diamond, Circle, Square, Triangle” with visual and audio play.
  6. Combine floating/moving fragments to spells lemonade. The clue is a beverage and hit pop album.
  7. Doc is the only member of the seven dwarfs whose name does not end in Y. False. Missed Bashful, ouch!

There’s going to be some nice symmetry here. Stephanie answered a trick question too quickly. Her run had been going great and she actually had built up a decent buffer. Some quick back of the napkin math said she had 23 seconds a question (excluding travel time) for the back six. Running through all seven dwarfs would have definitely been worth it. A slight misstep on an otherwise strong run.

Jameson Thornton

32-year-old electrical engineer. As noted, he’s married to Stephanie Thornton and they’re playing for bragging rights. It appears she went first so he got to observe her run, a definite edge. He claims at home his win rate in various trivia games is about 1/5.

# Category Subcategory Travel Time Start Time End Time Answer time
1 Sequence Back Order 0 300 289 11
2 Knowledge Toss Up 7 282 269 13
3 Puzzles Wordplay 7 262 252 10
4 Memory Blackout 10 242 183 59
5 Sequence Time Warp 9 174 156 18
6 Knowledge Fact Finder 7 149 137 12
7 Puzzles Mirror Mirror 11 126 105 21
8 Memory Mind Field 7 98 80 18
9 Sequence Alpha Order 11 69 43 26
  1. Put the words “London, Bridge, Falling” in the order they appear in the song “London Bridge”
  2. Fred Flinstone is the father of which child: Bamm Bamm or Pebbles.
  3. Rearrange letters to identify a New York city district: “Wall Street”
  4. How many seconds does Tom Hanks say he’ll be judged on in a clip from the movie Sully (208)
  5. Arrange video game consoles in debut date (early to latest): Atari 2600, Nintendo Game Boy, Microsoft XBox 360
  6. MMA Artists in the UFC compete in what shape of cage: Octogan.
  7. A^2 + B^2 = C^2 chalkboard.
  8. Where is the trophy located? Spot 6
  9. List the Kelly Ripa Co-Hosts alphabetically by first name. Regis, Middle Guy (he doesn’t know his name, neither do I), and Michael.

We get into interesting territory here. Technically Jameson bests his wife by going two more questions than her. However, by spending a full minute on his blackout question, he was in a precarious spot. In fact, by the time his run ended, I can say it was almost impossible for him to win. At 8 seconds, at best, per travel time, he’d need to answer all three of his final questions in 8 seconds or less. Highly unlikely, especially given that some questions take 10-16 seconds at minimum. As I mentioned, a very symetric point. On a multiple choice question, Jameson spent far too long, especially as he’d narrowed the question to two possibilities. Sadly he was downed by Ryan Seacrest!

Leah Khoury

24-year-old accountant. Wants to defy the stereotype that accountants are boring!

# Category Subcategory Travel Time Start Time End Time Answer time
1 Sequence Alpha Order 0 300 284 16
2 Memory Blackout 8 276 262 14
3 Knowledge Fact Finder 8 254 248 6
4 Puzzles Wordplay 9 239 218 21
5 Memory Pay Attention 10 208 189 19
6 Puzzles Picture Perfect 8 181 161 20
7 Knowledge True Lies 9 152 138 14
8 Sequence Time Warp 8 130 101 29
9 Memory Mind Field 9 92 68 24
  1. List national toy Hall of Fame inductees alphabetically: Dominos, Hoola Hoop, Slinky. In order!
  2. Study image of balloons and duck balloon carefully.
  3. Kanye West and Rihanna released the song “Fourfiveseconds” with which former Beatle? Paul McCartney
  4. Rearrange the letters to spell “Serena Williams”, the clue is “Professional Athlete”
  5. Which makeup was not mentioned in a sound clip? Blush.
  6. Identify the phrase “In one ear, out the other” by an image.
  7. The Letter “O” in the text acronyms “LOL” and “ROFL” stands for the same word. False!
  8. Arrange these fashion brands by their founding date, oldest to newest.
  9. Where is the butterfly balloon located? 1 spot.

The Mind Field strikes again! Leah was starting to get into time trouble but had an otherwise impressive run. The killer Memory tower is brutal.

Matthew Potts

36-year-old Intelligence Officer in the Marine Corps. Has done seven tours of duty and didn’t come here to lose.

# Category Subcategory Travel Time Start Time End Time Answer time
1 Knowledge Fact Finder 0 300 291 9
2 Sequence Alpha Order 9 282 269 13
3 Memory Pay Attention 9 260 240 20
4 Puzzles Missing Piece 8 232 221 11
5 Memory Echo Chamber 7 214 202 12
6 Sequence Alpha Order 8 194 178 16
7 Knowledge True Lies 7 171 146 25
8 Puzzles Double Crossed 9 137 107 30
9 Sequence Measure Up 7 100 88 12
10 Memory Blackout 9 79 56 23
11 Puzzles Oddball 8 48 30 18
12 Knowledge Toss Up 8 22 14 8
13 Puzzles Missing Piece 0 104 93 11
14 Knowledge Toss Up 9 84 72 12
15 Memory Hear Say 11 61 39 22
16 Sequence Time Warp 10 29 7 22
  1. Which is an image of an alpaca? (Middle one)
  2. Bow, Hay, Pin.
  3. What is there a 2-for-1 sale on? Pickled Peppers.
  4. B
  5. Repeat a pattern of green, yellow, red.
  6. Canoe, Kayak, Yacht. Clue is five letter floating vessels.
  7. Singer Lorde released her hit song “Royals” when she was only 16 years old.
  8. Miami Vice from clues: “NFL Dolphins Home” and “Bad Habbit”
  9. Arrange Eggs in order from smallest to largest: Salmon, Chicken, Ostrict.
  10. What wasn’t visible on an image of a burger (pickles)
  11. C has a larger claw that the other three. He’s a damned wizard.
  12. Which Olympics did the US most recently host. Winter, apparently.
  13. B completes puzzle.
  14. Which blockbuster won the Acadamy Award for best picture? Titanic or Avatar?
  15. What was the second sound played? Owl
  16. Place songs: Ice Ice Baby, Baby Got Back, Baby One more Time, Baby in order they hit top 10 on the charts.

True story: Ice Ice Baby was the first cassette I ever owned. Matthew puts up an amazing run and falls just short on a gap in musical knowledge. To be fair, I didn’t realize there was only a two-year delay between Ice Ice Baby and Back Got Back. Can’t wait to see Matthew back on in the finale.

Andrew Ames

35-year-old professional dancer, who has danced with some major names. He’s also scared of heights!

# Category Subcategory Travel Time Start Time End Time Answer time
1 Puzzles Picture Perfect 0 300 0 300
  1. Identify the Two-Word phrase represented by an eye in a candy wrapper.

Andrew has some fun records for a televised contestant. He’s the first contestant to spend the full five minutes on a question. Also, as he notes, since he didn’t answer the question, he’s also the only contestant to not get a question wrong or right! Good to be in the record books I guess.

Marlena Gasper

39-year-old Director of Academics. Lost her mother to HIV/AIDS at 15. Dropped out of school to help her mother, but went back and now has six degrees!

# Category Subcategory Travel Time Start Time End Time Answer time
1 Knowledge Snap Shot 0 300 291 9
2 Sequence Alpha Order 7 284 247 37
3 Memory Echo Chamber 10 237 224 13
4 Puzzles Wordplay 8 216 207 9
5 Sequence Time Warp 7 200 178 22
6 Knowledge Factfinder 9 169 157 12
7 Puzzles Oddball 10 147 121 26
8 Memory Pay Attention 11 110 90 20
9 Sequence Striking Distance 9 81 68 13
10 Memory Blackout 9 59 46 13
11 Knowledge Special Equation 12 34 0 34
  1. Identify the Two-Word phrase represented by an eye in a candy wrapper.
  2. What Vegas duo is represented by a picture of a Pen and a Teller?
  3. List One, Two, Three, in alphabetical order!
  4. Repeat: “Blonde, Burnette, Blonde, Redhead”
  5. Rearrange the letters to identify a famous dog: Snoopy.
  6. Arrange US Holidays by when the fall in the year, earliest to latest: New Year’s Day, Halloween, New Year’s Eve.
  7. Who played Batman opposite Heath Ledger’s Joker? Christian Bale.
  8. B is missing a ring.
  9. The burger on the soundbite is made of tofu.
  10. Arrange these doctors by body party they specialize in from head to toe.
  11. What was the painting on the wall of? Sailboat.
  12. 99 Red Balloon and 99 Problems from Jay-Z combine for 198.

A very strong run sunk by a gap in musical knowledge. Must be a theme this week. Marlena had already gotten into time trouble by question 11, and was sunk when there was no real way to guess he way through it quickly. Otherwise a great run.


I’ll be back next week with more box scores! Today’s fun meta-analysis fact: of the televised contestants that answered at least 10 questions correctly, we’ve yet to see one fall to the Puzzles tower. Also, we’ve yet to see a contestant fall on question 14. We’ll see if next week changes that!

-Dre

Advanced Stats Television: Mental Samurai Episode 3

And we’re back! I’m reviewing the reality TV show Mental Samurai but from a box score perspective. Every week I rundown each contestants performance. Since Mental Samurai is a timed trivia game show, the box score is pretty simple – how quick and how far does each player go?

In case you haven’t seen the show — which is streamable at Fox — contestants are strapped into a gyroscope, called Ava, flung around between four towers and asked a series of trivia questions. Answer 12 in a row, win $10,000. Answer four more, win $25,000 per question. Answer all 16, win the title of Mental Samurai. I run down the category types and subcategories that appear in my week one writeup if you’re new. This week we did actually see one new subcategory added:

Puzzles:

  • True Colors: Four different words are shown, each of a color word. Each word is in a different color (different from the word color). The contestant is asked to say what color the word was in. Confusing!

Also, as always future contestant Chris Yeh’s podcast often has bonus content for the show, so subscribe to that if you haven’t already.

Below is each contestants “box score” with a little analysis. A reminder of the stats I’m tracking:

  • Category: The category of the question – Knowledge, Puzzles, Sequence, or Memory
  • Subcategory: Each category has a selection of types. I list these in depth in my week one write up.
  • Travel Time: How long it takes for Ava to settle the contestant in front of the tower with the question up in front of them.
  • Start time: What the countdown is at (in seconds) when the question is first visible to the contestant.
  • End time: When Ava flashes green or red, signifying the contestants answer has been registered.
  • Answer time: The time between the start time and end time. I note when this is below 18 seconds in green, and above 18 seconds in red, as, in theory, that’s the needed pace to complete the full challenge.

Kevin Hays

24-year-old Software Developer. He’s a world champion in the Rubik’s cube. He even has a viral video of solving the most Rubik’s cubes underwater!

# Category Subcategory Travel Time Start Time End Time Answer time
1 Puzzles Wordplay 0 300 294 6
2 Knowledge Fact Finder 9 285 278 7
3 Sequence Alpha Order 7 271 255 16
4 Memory Chat Attack 8 247 235 12
5 Sequence Back Order 10 225 183 42
6 Memory Blackout 8 175 156 19
7 Puzzles Oddball 11 145 105 40
8 Knowledge Toss Up 6 99 92 7
9 Puzzles Gridlock 9 83 72 11
10 Memory Echo Chamber 9 63 53 10
11 Sequence Striking Distance 9 44 30 14
12 Knowledge Toss Up 8 22 18 4
13 Knowledge Spellbound 0 148 111 37
  1. Rearrange letters to spell a superhero: Wolverine
  2. Where was the Fresh Prince Born and raised, according to the song? You should know this, so I’m not leaving the answer.
  3. Pear, Lime, Corn in order
  4. New Phone — who dis? Which letter was capitalized? He literally said all lowercase except N right before this.
  5. Place the words in the order they appear in the Star Spangled Banner (Twilight, Lights, Fight)
  6. Which tollbooth is not labeled tickets (numbered reverse order)
  7. Uh Oh! Four bikes, front wheel on C has one fewer circle to draw it. This challenge is b.s.
  8. Where is the femur located? Leg.
  9. Find three Grammy Award-winning bands in letter jumble. Wow, in 11 seconds??
  10. Repeat “Winter Spring Fall Summer” with visual clue too.
  11. Order LAX, Ohare, ATL from West to East.
  12. Which animal can live to be 100 years old? Maine Lobster or Atlantic Salmon.
  13. Spell the ten-letter word for the name of the Generation Born Between Generation X and Generation Z.

Kevin advances to the “Circle of Samurai” by nailing the first twelve questions. I will say if I get around to making a “strength of schedule” metric I know it will show Kevin had a ridiculously hard set of questions. Oddball is the toughest question by far. In a cruel twist of fate, Kevin falls on spelling his own generation. Full disclosure, I use Grammarly to edit my posts, and it tells me on a weekly basis my spelling is atrocious!

Marie Criddle

36-year-old stay-at-home mother. She is also a very talented illustrator. She gives Rob Lowe a great journal with a drawing of him surfing on the cover.

# Category Subcategory Travel Time Start Time End Time Answer time
1 Sequence Alpha Order 0 300 285 15
2 Knowledge Snap Shot 8 277 266 11
3 Puzzles Wordnado 8 258 250 8
4 Memory Blackout 8 242 226 16
5 Sequence Time Warp 10 216 195 21
6 Knowledge Fact Finder 9 186 178 8
7 Puzzles Mirror Mirror 11 167 154 13
8 Memory Chat Attack 10 144 129 15
9 Sequence Record-Breaker 11 118 95 23
  1. List Cookie, Waffle, Sundae
  2. Identify the author from an image of a shake and a spear.
  3. Form word commander from floating fragments.
  4. Which hand is a snowboarder touching his board with in an image – right.
  5. Place Musicals in order the appeared on Broadway, earliest to latest: Producers, Legally Blonde, Mean Girls
  6. What is Lady Gaga’s First Name? Stefani
  7. Chalk Image of e=mc2
  8. Stu order a pizza with emoji for cheese, bacon, and tomato, but no peppers emoji. Which topping didn’t he want?
  9. Arrange models by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Covers: Tyra Banks, Kate Upton, Chrissy Teigen.

A very strong run. The question that stumped her, was super hard too, given that the difference between all three models was only 2 — Kate Upton was the most with three.

Frankie “Bam Bam” Bloise

39-year-old retired MMA fighter. He has a samurai tattoo!

# Category Subcategory Travel Time Start Time End Time Answer time
1 Puzzles Wordplay 0 300 292 8
2 Knowledge Snap Shot 8 284 0 284
  1. Rearrange the letters of a vegas game of chance: Roulette
  2. What Rock music is represented by an image of a Hall and Oats?

Last week I said I thought Bennett Reeber’s 231 failure on “Elephant in the Room” would hold up as the longest time on a question. Sadly Frankie falls to a similar problem, but arguably much more forgivable. He recognizes what the two images are — a Hall and Oats. But he never puts the two together. The band category Snap Shot challenge is brutal, as it also took down Dr. Ken last week.

Jaimi Alexander

36-year-old Digital Marketing Specialist. She labels herself the “Queen of All Trades.”

# Category Subcategory Travel Time Start Time End Time Answer time
1 Puzzles Picture Perfect 0 300 287 13
2 Sequence Striking Distance 8 279 258 21
3 Knowledge Toss Up 10 248 220 28
4 Memory Blackout 7 213 190 23
5 Puzzles Wornado 8 182 172 10
6 Memory Mind Field 10 162 149 13
7 Knowledge Special Equation 7 142 118 24
8 Sequence Measure Up 8 110 79 31
9 Knowledge Initial Impression 7 72 0 72
  1. What image is represented by a man pushing a giant envelope (3 words)
  2. Arrange famous party cities from North to South.
  3. Which direction do Tinder Users swipe to represent they like someone?
  4. What color was the tablecloth in a scene from Dumb and Dumber – tough one!
  5. Identify the word Cosmopolitan from floating fragments. Clue – Drink and Magazine.
  6. Boat in the #2 spot.
  7. Add Dollar Value of Bill featuring Andrew Jackson + Jacksons in Jackson 5.
  8. Arrange professional ball types from small to largest by circumphrence. Golf Ball, Tennis Ball, Base Ball.
  9. Combine these famous people’s initials to name a state capital. Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck, Neil Young. Albany.

Jaimi was already in time pressure when the state capital flubbed her up. Part of the challenge of some of the Mental Samurai challenges is they are two-parters. Step one do this, step two, do that. This can trip people up as their head isn’t in the right space for problem two if problem one knocks em down. Jaimi realized Albany immediately at the end, but I think was too knocked off guard not recognizing a picture of Neil Young. I didn’t know who it was either.

Nathan Gonzales

27-year-old Emergency Medical Tech. His mother was an ER nurse, and he’s getting married soon. I suspect the wedding budget may have gone up recently.

# Category Subcategory Travel Time Start Time End Time Answer time
1 Puzzles Wordplay 0 300 293 7
2 Sequence Alpha Order 9 284 261 23
3 Knowledge Toss Up 10 251 244 7
4 Memory Chat Attack 7 237 223 14
5 Puzzles Mirror Mirror 8 215 202 13
6 Memory Blackout 8 194 180 14
7 Knowledge Snap Shot 8 172 158 14
8 Sequence Measure Up 8 150 138 12
9 Knowledge Reality Check 8 130 123 7
10 Sequence Time Warp 9 114 101 13
11 Memory Echo Chamber 9 92 80 12
12 Puzzles Missing Piece 11 69 63 6
13 Puzzles Oddball 0 153 143 10
14 Sequence Time Warp 9 134 114 20
15 Knowledge Fact Finder 9 105 98 7
16 Memory True Colors 11 87 68 19
  1. Rearrange to form a long-running reality show: Survivor
  2. List five letter words: ghost, skull, and witch, in order (from picture clues)
  3. Florida or California, which is the Golden State?
  4. I just got house emoji and the rose emoji I’ve got kiss emoji (x4) for you! How many kiss emojis?
  5. License plate mirror image.
  6. Video of a man skateboarding on diner top. Which hand did he extend? Left.
  7. Which magazine is represented by a picture of a Vanity and a picture of a Fair?
  8. Arrange McDonald’s menu items by calorie count: Big Mac, Small Fries, Large Diet Coke.
  9. Which of these is the Real Sculpture of David by Michaelangelo? Fake has a crown of thorns.
  10. Arrange headlining performers from earliest Superbowl to latest: Janet Jackson, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga.
  11. Repeat a pattern of “Eeenie, Meenie, Mo, Mo, Miney” (visual clues as well)
  12. Missing puzzle piece in a fish image.
  13. Spinning Adventure badges. The odd one is missing a bird silhouette.
  14. SNL Actors earliest to latest: Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones
  15. The TV Show Mad Men was set at what fictional advertising agency? Sterling Cooper
  16. Show four color words, each is a different color. Pink is blue, which is the question.

Mental Samurai may be slightly more lenient than Jeopardy. On question 14, Nathan calls Kate McKinnon – Kate McMahMahMah (or at least that’s what I heard). Regardless the order was still right and easily inferable. Amazing, amazing job! Also, he nailed the Oddball question in 10 seconds! How ridiculous is that? As I noted we see “True Colors” for the first time and this puzzle is a doozy. Nathan still knocked it down easily for the fastest time to win both rounds of Mental Samurai we’ve seen. Will it hold up?

Next week I might start doing some more meta analysis. This week’s crop was a strong group that honestly only got flubbed on “gaps in knowledge.” I will say that is one of the fun aspects of the show. There is an element of luck, because no matter how skilled or knowledgable a contestant is, it’s hard to know everything. This week’s crop was incredibly strong and great great job to Nathan for taking down the crown.