Pre-game one: the surviving female contestant thus far declares herself injured due to an awkward fall on the stepping stones, aggravated in the battle of the wobbly quarterstaves. She then eliminates herself ("retires undefeated in the tournament") and the contestant who was eliminated yesterday comes back.
The rules change at this point too. No longer are you trying to avoid lives and avoid being the contestant with fewest lives remaining, today you are trying to gain lives and be the contestant with most lives remaining. The contestant with most lives remaining at the end gets first shot at the endgame, the contestant with second most lives gets second shot and the contestant with fewest lives gets third shot at it. We're looking for two to qualify for the next round (ie, week four) so presumably we go round and round until we reach two contestants if required.
Game one: contestants have been caught in the Forest of Chains and enchained. They race to hook two keys using long poles (returning from day one's Skull-esque game), undo the padlocks and grab the single treasure ring - which, in this case, earns an extra life. Not earth-shatteringly original stuff, but different from everything we've had so far on the show.
Game two: in turn, starting with the contestant in last place, contestants attached to safety ropes climb up the big tree (rope-ladder and hand-holds, same as before) but walk along a very thin log to retrieve keys. Retrieval of all three keys opens a portal; travel through the portal warps the contestant to the next game and earns an extra life. All three contestants succeed ("Astonishing!") making this a bit dead. Failure apparently entailed "a long walk" to the next game rather than the instantaneous portal transfer.
Game three: contestants race to haul a load of polystyrene blocks up a hill. This links straight into game four: contestants race to correctly build a statue out of said polystyrene blocks. All three contestants plus the host then hide behind the assembled statue which passes them from passing "demon's breath", though the graphics are confusing and make it look like the foursome are hiding on the wrong side.
And so off to the endgame, the Dark Pools. There is a stone cylinder, about six feet tall, two feet thick with annular diameter about one foot, which has a riddle printed on it. Starting with the contestant with most lives, the contestant speaks their answer into the Listening Rock, o prop of all props. Should their riddle answer be correct, they may pass through the big rocky doughnut and through to the next round. We're looking for the first two to give a correct answer to go through to the final; in the final, presumably the first to give a correct answer will become the tournament champion. Happily, correct answers get the nice "win" chord progression also used for successfully completing the riddle stones and there's a nice "stepping into a field of poppies" graphical effect.
Here are some large spoilers containing the riddle, the riddle answer and the result of the week. Highlight them to spoil your own viewing at your own risk. The riddle reads WHO SPEAKS TRUTH SHALL PASS HERE; the answer is the word "TRUTH", by the old "speak friend and enter" gag. (No, I didn't get it, though I certainly should have done.) As it happens, the girl who was nominally eliminated yesterday but returned as an alternate happened to go 4/4 today and so got to give the first answer. She said some truthful statement, rather than the word truth itself, and lost; the second-placed boy said truth and won; the third-place boy faced the same riddle, also said truth and took the second place in the next round. It is not clear that the third-place boy didn't hear the second-place guy's correct answer and just copy off him, which is a highly dissatisfactory bit of game design which rather neatly summed the whole show up. The pattern of the results of the day also - without good foundation, I admit - set the rrrrrrriggometer atremble; a previously-eliminated contestant comes back, performs brilliantly all day and then stumbles at the last hurdle.
Now presumably we do the same thing all over again twice in the coming two weeks. The ordering of the games might be different and we can expect there to be new riddles but I can't see the show offering radically new thrills or surprises. Accordingly, I don't expect that I'll bother watching it over the next two weeks. Week four will see two winning contestants from each of the past three weeks; each of the six champions will have played all of the games once already, so one might hope that the games have some new twist second time round and that these twisted games are worth viewing.
It's probably unfair to rate the series until we've seen this fourth week to see whether there are some clevernesses yet latent, but I think this is looking like a five-out-of-ten show because of its repetitiveness. Admittedly it's not Ice Warriors bad, but it doesn't have the visuals or sense of humour of Fort Boyard, let alone the glorious looks and cheek of Scavengers. The games themselves tend to be on the dull side, but at least they're usually quick and some allowances should be made for the evident low budget of the show.
Hey ho. At least I don't need to crawl down in the middle of the nights and fiddle with the VCR next week - and at least this week's Treasure Hunt revival has been a thing of great joy, beauty and nasty remixed music.
Luke McShane won his game in the thireenth round, but so did Levon Aronian. Levon is a clear winner with 10/13, Luke clear second place on 9½/13 and India's Surya Sekhar Ganguly (good name) was the player who tie-broke best out of the 9/13 finishers for third place. Well done, master Luke.
The big surprise came in the rapidplay match between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov. The time control in use was 25 minutes per player plus ten seconds per move, so each game was over in a little over an hour; long enough to be vaguely respectable, but not long enough or serious enough for there to be serious bragging rights on the line. Karpov went 1/2 (lost, won) as white in games seeing Kasparov adopt the Grünfeld defence; Kasparov's white games saw Karpov throw up the Petroff defence - unpredictably, Karpov managed to score 1½/2 in his games as black to win the overall match 2½-1½. Karpov has been playing some excellent rapidplay this year but seemed to be performing the honorable drift into obscurity of the former world champion, making this rather an embarrassment for Garry. He'll probably mumble something about preparation for his (full-length chess) match against the computer next month, but it's still a bit of an embarrassment.
Old-timers may recognise Kasparov and Karpov as the big names who kept playing each other through the 1980s and who continued to meet in anger from time to time in the '90s. This week's games represent the 174th to 177th games played between the two, though you can add an extra one for a simultaneous display with Anatoly gave to Garry and others when Garry was only twelve years old.
The match was sponsored by some company who make 3-D glasses, devices which have been on the go since at least the age of the Sega Master System. Perhaps that's why they chose the classic chess confrontation from that age, too. At least they managed to get David Blaine to turn up and make a pawn disappear before the start of the first game. Perhaps he should have got rid of another one so Garry could retreat to his old Terry Chapman match preparation...