Monday, December 23, 2013

The Christmas Investigations - Turnabout

Christmas Investigations
Part One
Delve into a world of word puzzles and strategic thinking in the first of my Christmas Investigations. We look at the different word games featured in Turnabout before exploring the strategic play of the sphere game.

What is the maximum score on a Turnabout grid, and how can it achieved?

In the 1990’s television schedules looked very different, whereas in modern times game shows tend to be shown in the afternoon in the 90’s there were three main slots for daytime quizzes. ITV had their shot at twenty-five past nine each morning while channel four had various quizzes in the late afternoon.

The BBC had their main quizzing time at lunch time, the most famous of these lunchtime quizzes was Going For Gold, supported by other quizzes. One of these was a funny little game of wordplay and spatial awareness called Turnabout.

In Turnabout three players attempted to solve a variety of word puzzles for points. The main game in each episode had players claiming spaces on a 4 by 4 grid with each correct answer. Getting three or four in a row would score bonus points. Other rounds included finding words that matched a given definition and filling in the missing letters of words.

The Sphere Game

This round was played twice in each episode; the contestants received a three-letter combination and a series of definitions. They had to identify a word that contained the three-letter group and matched the definition.

e.g. NAB – Quiz show presented by Rob Curling.


We'll come onto the scoring of this round a little later on, halfway through the round the three letters would ‘turnabout’ and the game would continue.

e.g. BAN – Musical Instrument you might pluck.


The Sphere Game Challenge

Here is a set of definitions to fit the three letters ERA. You will have to work out which clues have them forwards, and which have them backwards. They're all nine letter words and they're all a darn sight harder than you'd find in the show. Of course you're all seasoned puzzlers by now!

The Father's father.
The real game of life.
Similar starts.
Sounds like Cinderella's slippers.
The man without fear.
They look after things.
Below the cannon.
Boys who get the shots.

The Star Game Challenge

In this round the contestants competed individually to complete their own personal star game. They were given sixteen words on a grid, and were read sixteen definitions. Their task was to match one, to the other. However if they guessed wrong they couldn't come back to the clue.

Here's your chance to take on a Star Game powered by Sporcle. You have just 90 seconds to answer all the questions,  all the words contain either 'era' or 'are'. This time the words are all eight letters long, watch our for the cryptic definitions too.

The Sphere Game

So now, as in the TV show we go back to the sphere game. This time however I want to talk about the scoring and set you the first Christmas Investigation puzzle.

In the sphere game, instead of scoring points fir each correct answer the contestants got the opportunity to choose a sphere from a 4 by 4 grid. That sphere would turn to their player colour. If, over the course of the game they managed to get three spheres in a row, either horizontally or vertically, they would score five points.

If they got four spheres in a row they scored ten points. The smart ones amongst you will already have realised then that if you get four correct answers in a row and can choose four spheres, you should always choose either the first or last sphere in a row last. That way you score five points after the third sphere, and another ten after the fourth. Instead of just the ten points you would get if you turned the second or third sphere last.

The Christmas Investigation

So, suppose you have a grid composed entirely of grey spheres, and you get the next sixteen questions right, allowing you to turn the whole board to your colour. What are the theoretical minimum and maximum scores you could get, and what is the method needed to get as close to them as possible.

Have some fun with that one, and until the next Christmas Investigation.

Keep Puzzling, and Merry Chrstmas.

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