"Pole Chudes" ( _ru. По́ле Чуде́с, literally "The Field of Wonders") is the Russian adaptation of "Wheel of Fortune" quiz show, however it has distinguishable differences from the original version.
Pole Chudes debuted in
1990, introduced by Vladislav Listyev, who used to be a host of the show. Later on, Vladislav Listyev offered the position of host to Leonid Yakubovich, who occupies this position to this day (hosting the show for about 16 years already). The program running time is 52 minutes and airs weekly on Fridays. The studio itself located at Ostankinoand the game is property of the VID TV Company.
The name "Field of Wonders" is probably taken from Aleksei Tolstoy fairy-tale "The Golden Key or the Adventures of
Buratino",which is well-known in ex-USSR countries. The description given by Alice the Fox to Buratino::"...In the Land of Fools there is a magical field, called the Field of Wonders... Dig a small hole there, say 'Krex, fex, pex' three times and put a golden coin in the hole, then cover it with ground and powder with the salt, water it well and go to sleep. Next morning the small tree will rise from the hole, but instead of leaves it would have golden coins.. " Later the story turns to be a hoax to swindle out Buratino's money.
Important game objects and things
The wheel, which is a vertical cylinder about 2 meters in diameter and slightly higher than the average dinner table, in Russian version is called "baraban" (Russian бараба́н), meaning drum, or barrel. The inside of the wheel can be rotated by hand by using the vertical handles along the edge. The outside of the wheel, built to contain the spinning part of the wheel, is stationary to the ground, and includes an arrow that points to the various sectors of the wheel after being spun.
The places for 3 player close to each other and to the wheel so they could rotate it by stretching a hand.
The places for the audience which surrounds the wheel.
The place for prizes, where prizes which could be won in the game are exposed. These prizes are usually arranged with one or more brand new
cars in the center, surrounded by television sets, fridges, and other household appliances.
The large screen to display the information required at the current state of game.
The game is divided into the rounds (usually five or four). The first three rounds start with three players, so the total number of players is always 9. The fourth round is named "final" and could be played with three, two, or even one player. Theoretically, there is possibility to end up the game after the first three rounds, if no players can proceed to the final, however the chances of such a situation are very low. The fifth round, called "Супер Игра" (Super game), is optional; the winner of the show could play it or may refuse, making game end with its fourth round.
The studio audience can only support players with an applause, as it is forbidden for the audience to help players in any other ways, i.e. suggesting the possible variants of answer, giving clues, etc. Players could bring their children to the studio and let them stand by them. These kids are often called by the host, and being asked some typical questions, such as their name, their
patronymic, and what they would like show on the program. The most usual responses are dancing, singing, or reciting some poetry.
The show starts with the host announcing the "theme" of the game. All in-game questions would revolve around the named theme, which are very diverse and could be anything one could imagine (e.g. owls, honey, marriage, iron etc.).
For the first three rounds, the host gives the question for players with its answer hidden behind the black squares on the screen. Each square conceals one letter, so players know the length of the word.
Sometimes the answer could be a phrase or combination of words - in such case the words on the screen are separated with spaces, but in most cases the answer is a single word, usually a noun. It seems there are no certain rules about the length of the word, however the minimum number of letters is rarely if ever less than 3.
The game is turn-based and once the question is stated players begin to spin the wheel. Generally the player's aim is to guess the word faster than contestants and earn as many points as possible.Each time the contestant has a turn he or she is asked by the host to name the whole word or phrase or roll the wheel. If player names the right word he becomes a winner and proceeds to the final, otherwise he or she has to leave the game.
The word could be opened letter by letter by spinning the wheel and naming any letter present in the Russian alphabet which could be present in the hidden word (one letter per turn).The round ends when player names the last closed letter, thus fully revealing the word.
Sectors could be subdivided into two categories:1. Sectors with points: the player would gain a value of points depicted on the sector if he could guess the letter in the word correctly. If word contains more than one instances of the letter all of them are revealed, and player gains points multiplied by the number of instances. (Unlike the US version the players earn points instead of dollars or rubles).2. Sectors with events: these usually represented with a letter (like B for Bankrupt, P for prize) or a symbol and basically could vary from time to time. I.e. almost every time show has a sponsor - a commercial company which supports the show. A sponsor is always being advertised during the program and could provide a show with special sector with a symbol of the company which usually means a free gift to the player who lands on it.
Prize: the player has to choose whether to accept the prize and leave the game, or continue playing with an added 750 points to their account. If the player decides to take the prize, they proceed to a mini game with the host, who starts the so-called trade sequence. The object of trade is the prize (an object hidden in a black box), which stands near the host, who knows what is hidden inside while player does not. The trade is started by the host when he offers a certain amount of money (in
Russian rubles) to the player to leave the box closed. The player has to choose if they want to take the money or refuse it and take a prize. In the latter case the host usually raises the amount of cash until the player takes the money or the host refuses to raise the sum of cash any higher and opens the box, giving the prize to the player.
The "trade" portion of the game attracts the highest attention from the audience, since they can participate in the show "suggesting" the player what he or she should do by shouting "money" or "prize".
Keeping in mind that no one, besides the host, has any idea what is hidden in the black box, the "trading" portion is the funniest part of the program, since the prize could be anything: car keys (meaning player wins the car, which is very rare), household appliances (in this case only papers with the name of appliance are hidden in the box), or unexpected things such as a banana or an apricot.
+ (plus) allows the player to open a letter by naming its position in a word (in most cases the player asks to open the first letter if the peg lends on "+" at the beginning of the round). As a rule all other instances of the letter, if present, are revealed.
Chance allows player to make a telephone call (the number is given by random viewer in the studio) in order to gain the right answer.
Bankrupt - the player loses all their gained points and the turn.
0 works like "Bankrupt", except the player retains the turn.
X2 - all gained points of the player are multiplied by 2.
End game conditions
Each round has one winner, the situation when only one player left at the wheel is possible if two other left the show by taking a prize or naming wrong word of phrase. If this happens player doesn't automatically proceed to the final instead he or she has to make maximum three spins of wheel and then give the right answer .
The "final" played by winners of three preceding rounds with the same rules. The winner of the final becomes a winner of the show. Then the screen shows the number of prizes and their cost in points. Winner spends his or her points by buying prizes. After shopping is done, he or she is asked to participate in the "Super Game" and fight for a superprize being warned he would lost everything he bought if he will lost the game.
"The Super Game"
If player agrees to play the Super Game the cards with names of superpizes are being put on the wheel, and player makes a spin to select the prize he will fight for in the Super Game. The last two cards being put on the wheel are usually have "a car" and "a flat" (in
Moscow) written on them. When prize is selected the host asks player a question and then letting him several (usually three or four depending on the length of the word) tries to name the letters which player thinks are presented in the word. After the named letters are being opened, player have one minute to think and when give the answer. When Super Game is over the show ends.
If player manages to guess three different letters in a row (without losing the turn), the two closed caskets are being brought to the studio. The player has to pick which casket should be opened: one contain money other is empty. If he picks the casket with money he takes it as a bonus, which couldn't be lost.
Other game aspects
The program itself is strongly associated with the host of the show - Leonid Yakubovich. His personal charisma is the corner stone of the show. Humorous comments on game events and wry dialogs with contestants made him a symbol of the game. Another possible reason of game popularity is expansion of host to players interaction during the game. I.e. players often give their own prizes, which they brought to the show to the host. Since the game is broadcasted on many regions of ex-USSR and contestants often come from different countries the prizes could be very exotic and eccentric. To store the prizes given by the contestants the Museum of the Field of Wonders was founded, the collection of prizes stored there is quite huge and contain thousands of items. Side effect of this prize giving could be dressing the host in weird costumes (such as scuba-diver, beekeeper and many others) or national costumes of different nations.
The game rated as one of the most popular programs on Russian TV and known as one of the most longevity project. Only few others entertainment programs could be compared with "Field of Wonders" prolific existence. One of such examples could be "
KVN" show. The notable fact is that Leonid Yakubovich was active KVN player himself in the days of his youth.Some catch-phrases became quite recognizable such as:
Рекламная пауза! (
Commercial Break! pronounced before show goes into commercial break) which almost always announced by a kid in the studio, player in foreign language, or Yakubovich himself under certain conditions (such as being dressed in unusual dress).
.... в студию! (to the studio! i.e. prizes to the studio) the phrase became a phrase cliché, and used under different conditions in daily speech.
The show has been parodied and spoofed many times. The well-known stand-up comedian
Yevgeny Petrosyanin his monologue "Шпингалеты" ("Larches"), written by Sergey Kondratyev, has his fictional character come to the show to advertise his brother-in-law from Nizhniy Tagil's larches.
MS-DOSgame based on the show was also made and largely spread in early 90s while MS-DOS was installed on the majority of users personal computers.
* [http://www.vid.ru/eng/home.htm VID TV company] - VID company official site
* [http://www.vid.ru/programs/default.htm Pole Chudes] - Pole Chudes page (in Russian)
* [http://www.kondratiev.info/index.php?categoryid=4&p2_articleid=9 Personal page of the Russian satirist Sergey Kondrariev] - "The larches" monologue in Russian
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