Rich Pickings

Today, there are signs that swp manufacturers have grown tired of trying to outwit the professional player. Machines have been introduced with 10,000 questions, but they have suffered a similar, if slower fate to the others. At the 1993 trade fair for the amusement arcade industry (ate at Earl's court in January), there was only one new quiz machine on display: Brainbox. It offers a maximum cash prize of £6 and boasts over 12,000 questions. (The questions are generated randomly, and a second data bank of questions can be accessed if too many questions arc answered correctly.)

In a dignified retreat, swp manufacturers have switched the emphasis from large cash prizes to entertainment. The public are given longer on the machine, but they can't win as much. And a new range of machines requiring a completely different set of skills is now coming onto the market. Crystal Maze, a version of the Channel 4 cult tv game, is leading the way.

The implications of all this for professional players are bad in the long-term. Manufacturers would clearly like to see the back of the old swps that offer £20. However, there is still a huge public demand for these machines (particularly Give Us A Break, Barquest, Adders and Ladders, Every Second Counts), and they continue to be installed in their hundreds around Britain's pubs. As long as these old favourites circulate, there will be rich pickings to be had for the experienced and aspiring player.

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