Monthly Archives: May 2019

Advanced Stats TV: Mental Samurai Finale

And we’ve reached the finale! A reminder of how Mental Samurai works. Contestants are strapped into a metal gyroscope called Ava. They have five minutes to answer twelve questions from four categories (three of each type. The order is random). During the regular season if they bested these twelve questions, they’d advance to the round of Samurai where they’d have 90 seconds plus whatever time they had from the first round to answer four questions (one from each category). Besting the first round earned them $10,000. Each question in the second round was worth $25,000 for up to a total of $100,000.

In the regular season each contestant got their own set of questions. In the finale, the 11 competitors that managed to make the Circle of Samurai all went through the same course. The top three, regardless of if they bested the course advanced to the Circle of Samurai. Whichever of the three did best in the second round won $250,000.

Given the number of competitors this show had more editing and as such my normal box score tracking doesn’t work for all competitors. I’ll do a quick breakdown of the twelve questions in the first round, and then a grid of how each competitor got knocked out.

Elimination Round

Destroyer of the first round!

Here’s the question all contestants were asked.

  1. Knowledge (Toss Up) Curling is an Olympic sport played on ice or grass?
  2. Sequence (Back Order) What order to the words “Season, Holly, Jolly” appear in “Deck the Halls?”
  3. Memory (Chatt Atack) How many words ended in “ing” in a text about the Hokey Pokey?
  4. Puzzles (Wornado) Form “Spaghetti” from word fragments. The clue is popular pasta.
  5. Sequence (Alpha Order) List “Asia, Europe, South America” in order.
  6. Knowledge (Factfinder) Which TV show is set in Pawnee, Indiana – Park and Rec. Rob Lowe was on this!
  7. Puzzles (Oddball) Which ice cream sign is not like the others? B has an extra cone rim.
  8. Memory (Blackout) What comes out of the creatures pouch in a movie clip? Jewelry.
  9. Sequence (Time Warp) Arrange “Portia and Ellen”, “Amal and George”, and “Meghan and Harry” by marriage date, earliest to latest.
  10. Memory (Pay Attention) What passenger was called to reclaim a passport? Harrison.
  11. Knowledge (Reality Check) Which is the real US quarter? A is a mirror image. Tricky!
  12. Puzzles (Picture Perfect) Which two-word phrase is represented by a rat in a gym?

The timer at the end of each question either correct or eliminated. Since this was a montage-heavy episode, many of the players have sparse entries. Also, there’s a link to each contestants qualifying run if you want to see that and their biography information.

Contestant123456789101112
Ryan Jones2952772522392192051861561401139559
Heather Hurley1391199171
Chris Yeh1179064
Sam Durbin2342111951671391168974
Kevin Hays296269243228209193177150123
Matthew Potts80
Nathan Gonzales122
Dylan Gentile204
Marissa Willman204
Ben Bergstrom200
Jackie Boehme291

The two questions that tripped up most players were listing continents in order and identifying a fake quarter. I’ll say the continent question was difficult as Africa and South America look slightly similar and it’s easy to confuse them, especially in a stressful moment. The quarter question is definitely amusing as it was just a mirror image. Traditionally on the show Picture Perfect challenges have glaring things sticking out, so this was especially tricky. Kevin and Matt both fell to the pop culture trap having a gap in knowledge. The most surprising was that Dr. Jackie missed the “gimme” first question. To be fair, curling does sound like a form of weight lifting event.

The most shocking aspect was Sam, Heather, and Chris’ tie for 2nd place. They used how fast the contestants correctly answered questions as the tiebreaker. Sam, Heather, and Chris were all within 2 seconds of each other! The official timer was Chris beat Sam by three-tenths of a second! As Chris Yeh’s podcast revealed, the editing changed the order a little. It actually went in order of regular season success, with Dr. Jackie, Ben, and Nathan going the last three. So Ryan, Heather, and Chris were all worried they’d be kicked.

Onto the medal round!

Circle of Samurai

Winner!
  1. Puzzles (Double Crossed) Across: “The Hoosier State”, Down: “Catherine Zeta”, Clue: Movie Character. Indiana Jones.
  2. Knowledge (Initial Impression) Tom Arnold, Tina Turner, and Ozzy Osborne. The clue is “type of artist.”
  3. Memory (Name Dropper) Matt the Tiger. Very last image on the right.
  4. Sequence (Striking Distance) List locations of “Empire, Grey’s Anatomy, and Breaking Bad” from West to East.
Contestant13141516
Heather Hurley8260264
Chris Yeh826532
Ryan Jones8316

Heather “fails” by thinking Empire takes place in Los Angeles. I guessed New York, but it’s actually Chicago! It doesn’t matter as she took down Chris, and Ryan doesn’t come close. Chris fell arguably by being too quick. He lists the animals and names of the image out but does it quick enough to go back to the beginning. Had he been slightly slower, “Matt-Tiger” would have been the last thing he said before the image came up. Ryan is unable to recognize Tom Arnold and “ttoo” is a hard clue to fill in. On Chris’ podcast, Ryan says he realized the answer right when he was done. Sadly, it wouldn’t have mattered, he could not have matched Chris or Heather’s time at that point.

Amazing performance by Heather! I’ll also say that I really enjoyed the format of a knock out room watching contestants watch others try and beat them. I don’t know if Mental Samurai will get a second season, but following that method might add even more tension to regular episodes. I might be back with more advanced stats or analysis. And here’s hoping to a second season!

-Dre

Advanced Stats Television: Mental Samurai Episode 9

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.

Boris Chernin

41-year-old Emergency Consultant. He was born in Russia and came to the US in 1979. He says he learned english watching game shows and is often told he has a game show host voice!

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesWornado0300296417.7
2SequenceAlpha Order9287278918.8
3KnowledgeToss Up10268260819.6
4MemoryBlackout72532411221
5PuzzlesMissing Piece8233226722.1
6MemoryEcho Chamber92172061124.1
7KnowledgeSpellbound7199192726.5
  1. Combine word fragments to form insomnia. Clue is “Nighttime Disorder.”
  2. Arrange seven, nine, eight alphabetically.
  3. Which coffee drink is traditionally prepared with milk? Americano or Latte?
  4. What was the tattoo of? Lion.
  5. Missing piece. C completes a picture of a bear.
  6. Repeat pattern of Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo.
  7. Spell the nine-letter word that is both a popular cocktail and a New York City Borough.

We’ve seen this error before – he was asked to spell a word and he said it instead. He also broke the lever doing so! Which, I believe if we’re placing him using clues from Chris Yeh’s podcast, places him right in front of Nathan Gonzales. He had a really strong run going but answered too quickly.

Marlie Clarke

27-year-old Flight Attendant. She prepared for the show doing trivia and crossword puzzles in the jump seat during turbulence.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1KnowledgeToss Up0300291917.7
2SequenceAlpha Order92822641818.4
3MemoryHear Say102542381618.2
4PuzzlesMissing Piece82302181218.4
5MemoryBlackout72111971419.4
6SequenceBack Order81891593020.1
  1. Which app is used to primarliy rate restaurants: Yelp or Zillow? Yelp.
  2. Arrange Pope, rope, soap in alphabetical order.
  3. Which sound was heard twice in animal noises? Parrot.
  4. Which puzzle completes photo of singers. C.
  5. Which fruit was not in the bowl in the photo? Strawberries (they were to the right.)
  6. Arrange these words in the order they appear in “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (Crowd, Peanuts, Back)

A theme we’ll see in this week’s show, Marlie gets the order right but says it in reverse! For good measure Rob Lowe has the audience sing the song at the end. Marlie wasn’t breaking any records but was on good pace, and a rough way to go out.

Courtney Courter

33-year-old model. They give her a model runway walkout intro. An annoying giveaway is she gets a very rushed intro after that with no interview time with Rob Lowe. I can now say definitively, no Rob Lowe interview on screen = no shot at winning.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1KnowledgeReality Check03002831717.7
2SequenceMeasure Up92742462817.6
  1. Which picture of Da Vinci’s Last Supper is real? Fake has a big piece of meat.
  2. Arrange metals in price lowest to highest: copper, silver, gold.

Just like Marlie, Courtney gets the order right but says it in reverse. To be fair, the show occasionally baits contestants on things like this (repeat Eenie, Meanie, Mo, Miney, for example). Would have loved a longer run, oh well.

Myles Nye

37-year-old Games Developer. He develops real-world games, not video games. So Mental Samurai is right up his alley. Like Courtney he gets a “fast count” entrance with no Rob Lowe time, and sadly we know his fate as a result.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1KnowledgeToss Up03002891117.7
2SequenceAlpha Order72822691318.4
3MemoryBlackout92602431718.8
4PuzzlesWordnado82352251019
5SequenceTime Warp72181873120.3
  1. Gates or Jobs, who co-founded Microsoft?
  2. List nine-letter occupations alphabetically. Astronaut, Chauffer, Conductor.
  3. How many cupcakes (in photo of 12 St. Patrick’s Day Cupcakes) had yellow shamrocks. Two. Holy cow, he’s a wizard!
  4. Mosquito from word fragments. Clue is familiar pest.
  5. Arrange artists in order of when they recorded a song for a James Bond film from earliest to most recent: Paul McCartney & Wings, Duran Duran, Adele.

A decent run but not knowing music history sinks him. To be fair, this one was rough as it spanned 40+ years. He knew ahead of time he was guessing and guessed wrong. As a consolation though, this is absolutely the right strategy and meant Myles stayed in the game.

Eric Schroeder

29-year-old Tennis Pro. He was injured in his first match and is working his way back to compete at the world level.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1SequenceTime Warp03002861417.7
2KnowledgeToss Up9277268917.9
3MemoryChat Attack72612451618.9
4PuzzlesMissing Piece8237228919.2
5KnowledgeFactfinder8220211920.5
6SequenceAlpha Order92021881422
  1. Arrange these inventions by first successful use: trains, automobiles, planes.
  2. Which of these is a name of a grouchy muppet: Emmy or Oscar.
  3. How many points did Tigers score based on text message? 35.
  4. B completes a picture of people running with the bulls.
  5. Which of the following is not a grain: wheat, oats, or potatoes.
  6. List these six-letter dog breeds in alphabetical order: Poodle, Collie, Beagle.

Eric had one of the calmest and coolest demeanors on the show. Sadly, he didn’t know what type of dog a collie was by picture and like Myles before him, went out on a guess. Dang.

Josh Kronz

30-year-old Math Teacher. Recently lost his mother to cancer. If he wins he plans to scatter her ashes in Alaska and go kayaking with the Orcas with his wife. It was one of his mother’s life dreams.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1SequenceAlpha Order03002811917.7
2KnowledgeTrue Lies92722601217.5
3MemoryHear Say72532361718.1
4PuzzlesMatch Box82282101818.2
5KnowledgeReality Check9201192918.1
6SequenceMeasure Up81841681619.4
7MemoryName Dropper81601441620
8PuzzlesWordplay9135128720.6
9KnowledgeSpecial Equation9119962323.8
  1. List Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Anniston, and Jennifer Lawrence in order of their last name. Almost doesn’t recognize Anniston.
  2. Free is the last word of the Star-Spangled Banner. False.
  3. Chicken was the first of three sounds played.
  4. How many matching pairs are there of cats in a 3 by 4 grid? 3.
  5. Which picture of Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” is real? Fake has a pine tree.
  6. Arrange muscles by location in body head to toe: Pecs, Abs, Quads.
  7. What is the name of the firefighter in the middle? James
  8. Food Processor rearranging letters. Clue is kitchen appliance.
  9. Number of U.S. Senators plus number of U.S. Supreme Court Justices.

The math teacher loses on a math equation? Production gold. Sadly, Josh miscounts how many U.S. senators there are and comes nowhere close. He was on a very solid run before then though, so nothing to be mad about.

Ben Bergstrom

26-year-old Bartender. Says being a bartender will help him stay calm.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1SequenceAlpha Order03002901017.7
2KnowledgeToss Up82822711118.4
3MemoryChat Attack72642521219.2
4PuzzlesMissing Piece82442321220
5KnowledgeTrue Lies10222217520.8
6SequenceTime Warp82091911823
7MemoryHear Say81831681523.8
8PuzzlesOddball101581431525.2
9KnowledgeSpecial Equation91341132127.5
10MemoryPay Attention9104851929.3
11PuzzlesWordnado87768934.5
12SequenceMeasure Up1157441357
13KnowledgeFactfinder01361231328
14SequenceTime Warp71161011533.3
15MemoryName Dropper1091761541.5
16PuzzlesPicture Perfect1165461965
  1. List steak, wagon, zebra in alphabetical order.
  2. Which month has more days: June or July?
  3. How many carrot emojis were in the text message from the Easter Bunny to Santa? 3.
  4. B completes the photo.
  5. Sudoku is a form of Chinese Martial Arts. False.
  6. Arrange #1 hit songs from earliest to recent. Lose Yourself, Empire State of Mind, Humble.
  7. What is first sound played? Drums.
  8. D had a silver edge on the paintbrush unlike the others.
  9. Add the number of quarters in a basketball game with the number of quarters in $5. 24.
  10. Announcement about Lliam Neeson film festival. Taken is playing ay 6.
  11. Hypnotized from word fragment. Clue is “Altered Mental State.”
  12. Velociraptor, T-Rex, Brontosaurus. Arrange by estimated weight, lightest to heaviest.
  13. What does the G in the Tech Acronym GIF stand for? Graphics I believe.
  14. Arrange reality TV shows by their debut: Survivor, Apprentice, the Voice.
  15. Who is the blonde race car driver? Patty.
  16. Barking up the wrong tree from an image. Wow! Tough one.

Ben does Chris Yeh proud by repeatedly double-checking his answers. He almost missed an “unmissable question” (Missing Piece), but checks himself and gets it right. He wasn’t kidding about staying calm from being a bartender, throughout the entire run his temperament stayed great. His mother was behind the scenes though and more than made up for it. An amazing run and a great way to finish the season.

Alright, next week is the finale. I’m not sure the format or how the show will go, so we’ll find out together. Good job to all the competitors!

-Dre

Advanced Stats TV: Mental Samurai Episode 8

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.

Alex Goines

34-year-old engineer. He works at a small engineering firm, but his hook for the show is he does endurance contests for fun, including things like swimming with sharks!

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesPicture Perfect0300292817.7
2SequenceBack Order72852721318.6
3KnowledgeSnapshot92632521119.1
4MemoryEcho Chamber72452341120.1
5PuzzlesDouble Crossed9225216921.1
6MemoryPay Attention102061871922.6
7KnowledgeToss Up7180174623.3
8SequenceRecord-Breaker81661481826.8
  1. Identify the image represented by a Flying Clock: Time Flies.
  2. Arrange the words “Mary, Fleece, Snow” in order they appear in “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
  3. What band is represented by an image of a cold thermometer and a applause call at a play. ColdPlay.
  4. Repeat pattern of London, Paris, Rome
  5. Identify “Veronica Mars” from clues Betty’s Riverdale Rival and Red Planet.
  6. What room is the Bat Mizvah being held in” Blue Room.
  7. Who has an Oscar: Key or Peele? Peele.
  8. Arrange countries by times they’ve hosted the Olympics from fewest to most. Mexico, France, USA.

Ah, the Olympic themed sequence questions are tough. Alex notes he wouldn’t have gotten the question right with more time. He falls into the category of a strong competitor with a great pace that just got hit by a gap in knowledge.

Marissa Willman

30-year-old digital marketing director. She met her boyfriend on-line dating and it turns out they went to the same high school. She loves to play video games, and those skills definitely translate.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1SequenceAlpha Order03002891117.7
2KnowledgeReality Check8281275618.3
3MemoryEcho Chamber82672571019.5
4PuzzlesDouble Crossed82492381120.6
5KnowledgeFactfinder10228220821.5
6SequenceTime Warp82121882423.4
7MemoryHear Say81801641623.3
8PuzzlesOddball91551451024.6
9KnowledgeSpellbound101351221327.8
10MemoryBlackout101121001232
11PuzzlesWordplay892652742
12SequenceStriking Distance1055411455
13KnowledgeFactfinder01311092226.8
  1. List Christmas, Easter, Halloween. Image clues given.
  2. Which is the real London Eye? Fake has large thing in middle.
  3. Repeat Ace, King, Queen, Jack from card images.
  4. Apple Pie. Clues are “Maker of Macbook” and “Circular Chart”
  5. Who was an origial co-host of “The View”: Joy Behar, Meghan McCain, Whoopi Goldberg.
  6. Place sporting events from earliest to latest in year: Super Bowl, NBA Finals, World Series.
  7. List instrument sound/image shown second: Flute
  8. C has a blue flower unlike other tattoo images.
  9. Spell the eight-letter word for this predominantly land-dwelling turtle. T-O-R-T-O-I-S-E
  10. Study image from “The Martian” movie carfuly. what is the mission day? Sol 21. Last thing she says before Ava asks the question!
  11. Fidget Spinner from: GIFTED ERSINNP
  12. Arrange 2018 American Music Festivals from West to East.
  13. What name has been shared by six US presidents? John, James, William, or Thomas?

A great intro run with very few bumps. Her first question was brutal, and I think definitely merited a little more time given that she had a great buffer from her intro round. Of course, it’s easy to Monday Morning Quarterback this. Great job Marissa.

Arius George

38-year-old police officer. He’s an LA police officer and says that high pressure will help him out. Sadly, he gets a quick edit and no intro time with Rob, which “spoiled” he was going to lose.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1KnowledgeToss Up03002792117.7
  1. Americans send more gift cards for Christmas or Valentine’s Day.

And oh man did he lose quickly. This question was very tough. I know the show says they avoid “trick questions” and that is true. However, it’s pretty easy associate cards with Valentine’s Day over Christmas. Of course, on Christmas you send cards to everyone, whereas Valentine’s day tends to be more significant others. Despite the long explanation, this one fooled me too.

Zach Engel

28-year-old from Rochester, NY. He prepared for Mental Samurai by using a rolling chair and spinning around while reading trivia questions. He also had the best hairdo-stashe-style combo on the show.

>
ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesCompound Fracture03002891117.7
2KnowledgeSnapshot82811978418.3
3SequenceBack Order81891543511.7
4MemoryEcho Chamber8146133139.1
5SequenceTime Warp912487378.5
6MemoryBlackout97861174.3
7PuzzlesWordplay115039111.7
8KnowledgeInitial Impression73212200
  1. What word is a suffix for lip and prefix for up? Stick.
  2. What action character is represented by a Ram and a Bow?
  3. Place these words in the order in which they appear in “Little Miss Muffet”: Tuffet, Curds, Spider.
  4. Repeat Cherries, Lemon, Grape pattern.
  5. Arrange husbands of Angelina Jolie in order. Billy Bob Thronton, Brad Pitt, Jonny Lee Miller.
  6. Video of skydivers. Last person to join was wearing an orange helmet.
  7. Thomas Edison from jumble. Clue is “Famous Inventor”
  8. Combine initials of Billy Idol, Clint Eastwood, and Patrick Stewart to form a body part. (Only images of actors shown)

Zach was sunk pretty early on because he took too long to figure out “Rambo.” I will say, he ended in a fun area where he hit 0 as his required pace, as in, if he were able to instantly answer every question, he was theoretically still in it. Of course, we know this is actually impossible. Zach also showed the show knocking down a close to the correct answer answer. He said “Bicep” when the answer was “Biceps.” I’d say he’d have an argument for appeal, but at best he could only get one more question in.

Kristy Agamegwa

41-year old database analyst. Dropped out of college but returned at age 37 and got her sociology degree.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1SequenceAlpha Order03002821817.7
2KnowledgeToss Up72752641117.7
3PuzzlesWordnado7257248918.5
4MemoryEcho Chamber82402271319.6
5SequenceStriking Distance92181912720.3
6KnowledgeSpecial Equation71841483619.4
7PuzzlesDouble Crossed11137924516.2
8MemoryBlackout785701510.6
9SequenceTime Warp125846128.5
10KnowledgeSnapshot7393097.7
11PuzzlesMissing Piece10201556
12MemoryName Dropper114044
  1. List blender, toaster, spatula in order.
  2. Foghorn Leghorn is which animal? Chicken or Fish.
  3. Combine floating fragments to form Switzerland. The clue is a European country.
  4. Repeat pattern “You, Happy, To, Birthday” funny.
  5. Arrange US Landmarks from North to South. Niagara Falls, Liberty Bell, Cape Canaveral
  6. Add number in 1st Jump Street Movie with number in 2nd Jump Street Movie. 21 and 22.
  7. A hit song is the clue. Across – Fireplace Tool. Down; App: ____ Time. Poker Face.
  8. What name was on the mailbox in an image? Ness.
  9. Place show in order of their U.S. TV debut from earliest to most recent. Wheel of Fortune, Deal or No Deal, the Wall.
  10. What Broadway musical is represented by a ham, a mill, and a ton?
  11. Identify the piece that completes the puzzle. C.
  12. Time expries before question finishes.

Kristy just barely ran out of time. It all boiled down to “Poker Face”, which took just a little bit of time to figure out. Kristy didn’t know the app “FaceTime” quickly or the song “Poker Face” and that set her back. A classic gap in pop culture moment. Other than that an amazingly strong run, and a thrilling finish that came down to the wire.

Dylan Gentile

40-year-old classical pianist. He’s been studying since age three! Also, I was excited to see how good his memory was. He did not disappoint.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1SequenceAlpha Order03002841617.7
2KnowledgeToss Up62782661218
3PuzzlesWordnado7259251818.7
4MemoryBlackout82432281519.9
5SequenceAlpha Order112172031420.1
6KnowledgeReality Check81951821321
7PuzzlesDouble Crossed111711482321.8
8MemoryMind Field81401281221.6
9SequenceStriking Distance13115106922.8
10KnowledgeFactfinder799881127.7
11PuzzlesOddball880602036
12MemoryName Dropper1347192847
13SequenceTime Warp0109852421.3
  1. List ant, bat, fox in order.
  2. Regifting is from Seinfeld or Shakespeare? Seinfeld!
  3. Psychology. Clue is something you can get a degree in.
  4. What shape were the designs on a picture of Sarah Jessica Parker in an ornate dress? hearts.
  5. Arrange words “Peanuts, Back, Crowd” in order they appear in “Take me out to the Ball Game.”
  6. Which image is real Golden Gate Bridge? Fake has a middle portion.
  7. Dream Catcher. Clue is “Somthing found on a bedroom wall.” Clues are Down: Nocturnal Vision. Across: Masked Baseball Player.
  8. Where is the pinata located? 4.
  9. Arrange lakes from West to East. Lake Tahoe, Great Salt Lake, Lake Michigan.
  10. Which type of noddle is called “Bow-Tie” pasta? Fusilli,. Farfalle, or Fettuccine.
  11. C has a different nose than the others.
  12. Where was image of man with a beard in polic lineup? Spot 1.
  13. Arrange Fitness Trends by year. Crossfit, Jazzercise, Step Aerobics, Soulcycle.

I was really curious how well Dylan’s memory would be, as I mentioned. And he did great. He followed pretty much the same path as Marissa, a strong first round that was immediately downed by a gap in knowledge. I guess Soulcycle is an exercise fad now? I didn’t know that either.

Alright, only one “regular season” game left and then the finale. Sorry for the late scores this week. I’ll try and be more prompt the next two shows.

-Dre

Advanced Stats TV: Let’s Watch Chris Yeh on Mental Samurai

Let’s Watch!

I got into Mental Samurai thanks to Chris Yeh. Over six weeks I’ve tracked advanced stats and learned the show for this very moment. Chris’ run was on this week, and I avoided social media and watched his run “blind” for excitement. Of course, editing by the show impacted my run a little. Enough of Chris’ run was in clips to know he got far, and was worried on a sequence question. As I note, editing also fooled me into thinking he failed as well. Tricky fools! Anyway, I have a few noted on his run, and some meta-analysis. Also, sadly WBTV pulled this run off of YouTube almost instantly. Kind of a bummer, but I wanted to make sure the view included Chris’ footage, so glad I can post it here.

Tune In Next Time

Some basic reminders. Chris Yeh has a great podcast: “The Chris Yeh Podcast”, which you can find on most platforms. Definitely subscribe if you want good behind-the-scenes Mental Samurai content, as well as a fantastic business and tech advice.

Of course, Chris Yeh will be on the Mental Samurai season finale on May 21st. So make sure you tune in. You can stream it on Fox.

You can follow Chris on Twitter, @chrisyeh.

Check Your Work!

Chris had an interesting run in that he never developed much of a buffer. A neutral pace is around 18 seconds an answer. Chris stayed close to this in the first round. What’s more, on a few questions he spent a little longer than I’d have liked, as you’ll notice in my “Let’s Watch.” Of course, here’s the key, when Chris “spent too much time” he was verifying an answer he knew. And Chris never went over 30 seconds on a given question, which wasn’t hard to gain back. On his podcast, Chris made a very astute observation. The value of extra time is minimal. You get a little extra in the last round, but beyond that, there is no reward. On the other hand, any miss is instant death. Two other competitors on last week’s show knew an answer but buzzed in immediately and lost. So, honestly, doing a double check on any question you know is pretty prudent.

Meta-Meta-Analysis

Doing a let’s watch added some good meta-analysis about runs. For seven weeks I’ve been tracking stats and collecting ideal strategies for solving Mental Samurai. I will say, Chris’ run is one I likely could have done. But as you’ll notice in the let’s watch, I miss three questions (two memory, and a puzzle, which I notice, no one misses!)

On Chris Yeh’s podcast both he and several of the Mental Samurai contestants note that the producers gave the advice to talk out their answers. And, of course, every contestant knows they’re being watched. Doing a Let’s Watch I could have been silent and tried to “match” Chris’ run, but I wanted to make sure I was giving good commentary to go along. And doing that definitely made focusing and memorizing things harder. Also, the adrenaline just from realizing a friend of mine did great on the show “knocked me off my game.” Realizing Chris probably wins, I got so excited I missed a question that I said: “No one misses this.”

Doing a let’s watch is nowhere near as stressful being in gyroscope spinning you around, tens of thousands of dollars on the line, or having Rob Lowe commenting on your every move. As such my respect for the contestants that have put up impressive runs is even higher.

I’ll see if I do another let’s watch for Chris’ finale. And, of course, I’ll keep tracking the stats until then. Seeya next time!

Advanced Stats Television: Mental Samurai Episode 7

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.

Nick Bremner

27-year-old accountant. He works for a French cheese company. He lives at home currently and says he might move out sooner if he wins!

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesPicture Perfect03002901017.7
2KnowledgeFactfinder8282273918.4
3SequenceBack Order82652461919.3
4MemoryEcho Chamber82382241419.3
5SequenceMeasure Up92151952019.9
6MemoryChat Attack81871691819.9
  1. Identify four-word phrase by an image of a frog in a throat.
  2. Which symbol did Kesha officially remove from her stage name? Dollar sign.
  3. Place these words in the order in which they appear in the song “Jolly Good Fellow”: Jolly, Fellow, Deny
  4. Repeat a pattern using words: “Rome, Paris, London, Paris”
  5. Arrange these teaspoon cooking measurements in order from smallest to largest: Heaping, Level, Rounded, Heaping.
  6. Text message, “Dude, where r u? Where u @?” How many Us were there?

A pretty solid run stopped by a subtle question. Nick misses that the word “Dude” has a U in it. Going a little too quickly is a killer for a few contestants this week.

Matthew Schultz

46-year-old pastor. Does a lot of work in the community. He performs weddings and funerals and says this is a “leap of faith.”

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1KnowledgeFactfinder0300292817.7
2SequenceBack Order72852731218.6
3MemoryEcho Chamber92642521219.2
4PuzzlesWordplay82442341020
5SequenceAlpha Order72271656221.4
  1. Which talk show host is the voice of Dory in Finding Dory? Ellen!
  2. Put the words: “Dog, Farmer, Bingo” in order the appear in the song – “B-I-N-G-O”
  3. Repeat sequence of “Green, Yellow, Red”
  4. Rearrange letters to spell: “Kanye West”, clue is “Famous Rapper”
  5. List Jessicas in Alphabetical Order by Last Name. Alba, Biel, Chastain. He doesn’t know them all. Neither did I! He does guess, but puts Biel last, ouch!

Matthew fails for the classic of not recognizing the images of famous people. I didn’t either! He made an educated guess with the two Jessicas he recognized, but sadly the third name was Biel. Oof.

La Tawnya Robinson

40-year-old third grade teacher. Would love to inspire her classroom with a win. Rob likes her hair.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesWordplay03002891117.7
2KnowledgeToss Up72822691318.4
3SequenceAlpha Order72622461619
4MemoryBlackout82382221619.3
5SequenceTime Warp92131892419.6
6MemoryMind Field81811651619
7PuzzlesCompound Fracture101551451019.2
8KnowledgeSpecial Equation81371181921
9PuzzlesGridlock10108109821
10MemoryName Dropper8202-4.7
  1. Rearrange to spell “Frozen” clue is “Disney Film.”
  2. What does the K in K-Pop stand for. Korean!
  3. List “Hammer, Wrench, Screwdriver” alphabetically.
  4. What state is a License Plate with Just Married on it from? Michigan.
  5. Arrange TV Sitcoms in order of debut year, earliest to latest. That 70s Show. Modern Family, Blask-ish.
  6. The donut is located in spot #2.
  7. What four-letter word is a prefix for Works and a Suffic for Bon. Fire!
  8. Add Halloween’s day in October (31) with Valentine’s day in February (14), 45!
  9. Find three musical instruments in six by six letter grid. Violen, Piano, Flute.
  10. Doesn’t even finish :(

La Tawnya had a great run before being stumped by a puzzle. She did amazingly well on the “Compound Fracture” question, so it was brutal to get hurt on Gridlock. She completed it but became the second contestant to be mathematically eliminated from finishing.

Chris Yeh

43-year-old author. His nickname as a kid was “Encyclopeia Yeh.” He got his degree from Stanford at 19.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesPicture Perfect03002881217.7
2KnowledgeToss Up8280271918.2
3SequenceAlpha Order72642521219.2
4MemoryEcho Chamber82442311320
5SequenceTime Warp92222071520.8
6MemoryBlackout91981722621.4
7PuzzlesDouble Crossed111611342720.2
8KnowledgeToss Up7127119819
9PuzzlesMirror Mirror10109852421.3
10MemoryPay Attention877601720.3
11SequenceMeasure Up852391322
12KnowledgeReality Check83127431
13KnowledgeToss Up01171071023.3
14EchoHear Say899762327.7
15SequenceTime Warp967402729.5
16PuzzlesMissing Piece103072330
  1. Identify the four word phrase by the image: (Talk to the hand)
  2. Which musician had a hit in 1972 with the song: “Rocket Man” (Elton John)
  3. List Bull, Lion, Wolf in order.
  4. Repeat “Gold Bronze Gold Silver”
  5. List Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga in order iconic red carpet moments, earliest to latest.
  6. Which number is on the fire truck? 54.
  7. Roller Coaster from two crossword puzzle clues.
  8. T-Rex was a meat eater.
  9. Mirror image of post it note. A is the answer.
  10. What temperature is it in LA from captain’s announcement. 76
  11. Arrange amounts of data storage from smallest to largest- Mb, Gb, Tb.
  12. Which is the real Canadian Flag. Fake has blue background.
  13. Kale is a type of what? Fruit or cabbage? Cabbage.
  14. How many musical instruments were played? 3.
  15. Arrange viral Youtube videos by release date: Charlie Bit My Finger, Double Rainbow, Chewbacca Mask Lady.
  16. B completes an image of football players.

Oh, I’ll have much more to say about Chris in the future. I’m sure his podcast this week will be a hoot as well. The editors did a great job faking out Chris losing, so I was delighted when he won. He was amazingly “clutch” on his last question doing both a time check and double checking his answer. A great competitor and I couldn’t be happier that he’s a Mental Samurai! Let’s give him his own gif from show footage!

Kenyatta Smith

44-year-old firefighter. He says he’s excellent at make split second decisions.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1PuzzlesWordplay03002427617.7
  1. Rearrange to spell a beloved show: “Friends”

You’ve got to feel for the brain freezes that occur on the show. The original jumble said: “Finders” and Kenyatta just couldn’t find his way out. He did make a joking guess of “Derfinds”, which I appreciated.

Roz Paul

74-year-old travel agent. She was divorced 25 years, but re-entered the dating pool and has been with her current boyfriend since. Her promotion package looked amazing and Roz seems very active.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1KnowledgeTrue Lies03002881217.7
2PuzzlesWornado8280272818.2
3MemoryBlackout92632501319.1
4SequenceAlpha Order82422222019.8
5KnowledgeSnapshot82142041019.8
6PuzzlesCompound Fracture81961712521.1
7MemoryMind Field81631422120.5
8SequenceTime Warp9133934020.2
  1. The final word in the Pledge of Allegience is justice. False.
  2. Millionaire from word fragments. Clue is “Name a wealthy person.”
  3. What color wear the helmets in the image of white water rafters? Red.
  4. List barrel, cannon, castle in order.
  5. What band is represented by an image of a Pearl and Jam.
  6. Side is a prefix for ways and a suffix for blind.
  7. The dice are in the 5th spot.
  8. Arrange these cities in the order that they hosted the Summer Olympics from earliest to most recent.

Before her run started, Roz said her weakness was pop-culture. So when she got Pearl Jam, Rob Lowe was elated. I argue no one cares about the Summer Olympics, so I can’t fault the question that eventually downed her, as her run was fantastic before then.

Adam Thomas

37-year-old stay-at-home dad. He’s a former Marine Corps officer, and his wife is still in the Marines. They met in Iraq, and now have two kids.

ChallengeCategorySubcategoryTravel TimeStart TimeEnd TimeAnswer TimeRequired Pace
1SequenceTime Warp03002851517.7
2KnowledgeToss Up82772661117.9
3MemoryBlackout72592421718.7
4PuzzlesWornado9233224918.8
5KnowledgeSnapshot7217210720.1
6SequenceStriking Distance82021891322
7MemoryPay Attention71821641823.7
8PuzzlesOddball8156148824.8
9KnowledgeSpecial Equation101381281028.5
  1. Arrange famous scientists by birthyear, earliest to latest. Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Neil Degresse Tyson.
  2. Which cereal mascot traditionally wears a red kerchief? Tony the Tiger.
  3. What was printed on the plane wings? US Navy.
  4. Combine floating word fragments to spell Versace. Clue is luxury brand.
  5. What band is represented by an image of a Nickel and a Back.
  6. Place events in order of their location from North to South. Iditarod, Burning Man, Daytona 500.
  7. Baseball play by play. Which player slid home? Hernandez.
  8. Which pizza is different than the others? C.
  9. Add number of minutes in an hour and number of hours in two days. 108.

Gotta feel for Adam, as he did the “chess blunder.” His verbal thinking had the correct answer, but he said the wrong answer and knew immediately.


For weeks I’ve been promoting Chris Yeh’s day on the show. And as an added surprise, he’ll be back for the season Finale! I’ll be back next week, and maybe before then with more content!

-Dre