Thursday, 6 September 2007

These Four People are Amongst the Greatest Quiz Players in Britain, and CJ is Among The Greatest Quiz Players in Britain

Eggheads is getting ridiculous now. I drew this a while ago and it's just getting more and more relevant:

(I didn't upload it right away, not least because it very quickly reminded me of an old Far Side cartoon which used the same exact premise, although didn't make a point about Eggheads, possibly because Eggheads hadn't been invented then.)

It's what, fifty-eight shows in a row now that the Eggheads have won? It's hard, sometimes, to imagine that it isn't rigged, when there are questions assigned, supposedly at random, that are anywhere from blatantly unanswerable to the downright simplistic, and the same team wins every week. I don't care how smart they are, you'd think random question assignment would have done for them by now.

This is made worse by the format: I have done a Monte Carlo simulation (oh, yes) of 10,000 games of a slightly simplified version of Eggheads and 10,000 games of a more straightforward game. I've assumed that all Eggheads know 90% of all answers and all players know 60% of all answers. If the players went one-on-one for 15 questions and the team with most correct answers won, the Eggheads ought to win 98.66% of all games. Under the current rules, the Eggheads should only win 94.25% of games. That's still a lot, obviously, but there's a 96.77% chance that they should lose at least one game out of any random fifty-eight game sequence. Especially since for every ludicrously easy question (that any team would know) and every ludicrously hard question (that even Eggheads don't know) the balance between my guesses of 90% and 60% get nearer and nearer together. If it was all questions like that, the challengers ought win every other show.

So can we have a win for the challengers soon, please? If not, I may end up genuinely believing the show is actively being rigged. And nobody wants that.

Another thing about Eggheads is that the general knowledge questions in the last round are often very easy (I can tell because even I can answer a lot of them), and the sudden death games are almost unwinnable. You can answer all fifteen multiple choice questions correctly, and still lose out just because of one ludicrously difficult sudden death round.

It's almost as if the show is designed to make the Eggheads look better than they are: the several-round mechanic and the contestants-pick-of-competitors mechanic ought to put the Eggheads at a disadvantage, but when you get down to it, the whole game boils down to one round at the end, and that round is very hard for the Eggheads to lose: the questions are mostly of a level that no self-respecting Egghead should ever get wrong, and the challengers can't win unless they do get them wrong. The head-to-dead questions are very difficult, allowing a lucky team to knock out many Eggheads, but then the difficulty level of the questions is suddenly dropped, meaning the remaining Eggheads are still probably going to win. A conspiracy theorist would suggest that this was deliberate.

I don't see why they'd do that, though. Personally, I'd think the show a lot more exciting if the Eggheads lost sometimes. This isn't Takeshi's Castle. Even Knightmare and The Crystal Maze didn't go fifty-eight weeks without a win.

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