CBS (ended 1976)


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Take the Las Vegas gambling favorite Blackjack, add that to a general knowledge quiz, plus throw in a few twists and turns and what do you get? Gambit, one of three CBS daytime game shows which premiered on Sept. 4, 1972. Two couples, including a returning champion, competed, each sharing a common deck. After an initial up-card is revealed, host Wink Martindale asked a toss-up question (usually true-false or multiple choice). The first couple to buzz in provided an answer. If correct, they won control of that card (otherwise, their opponents won control). All subsequent cards weren't revealed until the couple that earned control made a decision on whether to keep it or force their opponents to take it. Most regulation Blackjack rules were in play, with the object being getting as close to, but not over, 21 before your opponents did. As in the Las Vegas game, aces were worth 1 or 11, while face cards were worth 10. At any time, the couple could freeze (if they feared the next card would mean going over and thus losing), forcing the opposing couple to keep answering questions and taking cards until they either beat them or went over 21. A round was won in one of four ways: Freezing and forcing their opponents over 21 (the "stay at 17 and above" rule didn't exist here, one major rule difference to regulation Blackjack); freezing and the opponents missing a question; having the high score after the opponents freeze or by reaching 21 exactly. Scoring 21, by the way, won a Gambit Jackpot, which began at $500 and grew by $500 each game until claimed (The Catch is added $100 to the Gambit Jackpot when 21 hasn't made during the 2-out-of-3 Match and tie game included from September 4, 1972 to January 12, 1973). Each round was worth $100 with the couple who won two rounds being named champion and advancing to the Gambit Bonus Board. In the Gambit Bonus Board aka "The GAMBIT Board", the couple was shown board of 21 flip-card numbers (from 1 to 21) with each assigned a prize and a playing card. The couple chose numbers, one at a time; after each prize was shown, they were given a card. Play was like before and the couple could stop at any time and keep what they've accumulated, although going over lost everything they found on the board. Hitting 21 won the prizes plus the Gambit Jackpot and a new car. The original Gambit lasted up to December 10, 1976, but resurfaced four years later on NBC as Las Vegas Gambit, which had similar rules. See that entry for details. Oh…as for those other two game shows that also were born on CBS Sept. 4, 1972. One was The Joker's Wild, a slot machine-based quizzer; the other was a reincarnation of The Price is Right, which involved getting closest to the actual retail prices of products or prizes without going over. You know which one lasts to this day. Contrary to ESPN's ulterior motives, Gambit didn't inspire the World Series of Poker on which ESPN and ESPN 2 are currently spinning.moreless