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
5MemoryName Dropper72011861518.1
6SequenceTime Warp81781463218.6
8PuzzlesPicture Perfect91241091518.4
9SequenceStriking Distance7102861619.5
  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
5SequenceTime Warp6237228922.6
6KnowledgeTrue Lies9219213624.4
8MemoryHear Say91711541727.8
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
3SequenceAlpha Order72121951714
4MemoryEcho Chamber81871741313.7
5SequenceTime Warp101641422213.5
  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
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
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
2SequenceAlpha Order92812681318.3
3KnowledgeToss Up9259250918.7
4MemoryEcho Chamber72432331019.9
5PuzzlesMissing Piece9224216821
6MemoryPay Attention82081901822.9
8SequenceStriking Distance81661511526.8
10SequenceMeasure Up10120903034.7
12PuzzlesDouble Crossed1055451055
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!