Pole Chudes - Russian Wheel of Fortune

Russian version of the famous American game Wheel of Fortune is called Pole Chudes which means Field of Wonders. However, as each country brings something new to the original game, so did Russia, and so here you will find out about the most common features and most interesting moments in the game.

The game first appeared in 1990, introduced by Vladislav Listyev, who was the game show host for three years. The program has been shown every Friday evening at 8 pm since the first airing.


Pole Chudes
Millions watch this TV show every
Friday evening.

First of all, let's consider the name. "Field of Wonders" is taken from a very well-known among ex-Soviet fairy tale "The Golden Key or the Adventures of Buratino" by Aleksei Tolstoy. In this tale there is an episode where Alice the Fox turns to Buratino and says ""...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 soil and sprinkle it with salt, water it well and go to sleep. Next morning a small tree will rise from the hole, but instead of leaves it will have gold coins..." (quote Wikipedia)

However, in the end it turns out she was only trying to swindle his money.


The Russian show features a wheel that is 2 meters in diameter and larger than an average dinner table. This wheel is called a "baraban" (drum or a barrel) and it has vertical handles along its edge by which players spin it. The outside part of the wheel is stationary, and has a fixed arrow which indicates the winning segment.

Players stand in special places close to each other and to the wheel so that they can easily spin it. The game studio has special places for the audience in shape of a semi-circle at one side of the wheel. Prizes are kept in a large area and usually there are a few cars, and lots of home appliances etc.

There is a board with a puzzle to be solved opposite to the players, which is on the other side of the wheel.

The game comprises of 4 or 5 rounds, with each one starting with a new group of 3 players. The 4th round is the final which can be played with either 2 or 3 players. The grand finale is the Super Game round, which is optional. Players are offered the choice to either take their winnings or to risk everything and win something extra in the super game. Players are allowed to bring their children to the game and they are usually called upon by the host of the show and asked typical questions like their name, vocation of their parents, who they want to become. Most of the time these children perform something like dance, sing, or recite some poetry for what they get special prizes.

Let the game begin!

Each show starts after the host announces the THEME of the night. Questions of the show all concern the theme and can be very tricky. The answers are mainly uncommon and old Russian words.

Just like in the Wheel of Fortune game, players have to guess the word, which is on the board hidden by black squares for each letter. From time to time the answer can be a phrase and the words would be separate by blank spaces. The first player to guess the word wins. Players also gain points by guessing correct letters after the points are shown on the wheel.

Once the question has been announced, the first player spins the wheel. When it is the player's turn to spin the wheel, the host asks him/her to either guess the word or to spin the wheel. If the guess is correct the player proceeds to the final, but if he is wrong - the player is eliminated. If the player decides to spin the wheel, the outcome depends on the winning segment. Players say letters of the Russian alphabet trying to guess the hidden word.

If no player manages to guess the word, then the game is won by the player who reveals the last closed letter of the puzzle.

Game Wheel

The sectors or segments of the wheel can be either with points, or even sectors. Point sectors give the player a chance to guess a letter from the puzzle and if the guess is correct, then the points indicated are added to the player's total. If there is more than one letter of each kind in the word, the winning points are multiplied by the number on the sector. The event sectors are represented by special letters or some symbols.

NB: Russian show uses the wheel also for another purpose. Most players come to the game with presents such as homemade jams, bread, fruit and vegetables from their own gardens or things made at the factory they work at and the wheel then serves as a table for these gifts. Players may sometimes bring gifts such as different costumes representing their profession or national costumes. The host usually dresses in these costumes before they are taken away. These gifts are collected by the host assistant, Rimma Agafoshina and taken to the Field of Wonders museum. There are over a thousand different prizes in the museum now.

Special sectors

Prize – this sector offers player the chance to have 750 points and to continue with the game or to choose a prize. If the player picks a prize then he is offered a choice of two black boxes. The prize is hidden in one of them, while the other usually holds a booby prize (e.g. a lemon, a ball etc.). When the host picks up the prize, he offers to the player an amount of money. The player can either take the money or risk it and take the prize. The prize could be anything from a car to an apple.

Plus – is a sector that allows the player to open any letter in the word by naming its position in it.

Chance – is a special sector that allows players to make a phone call to get the right answer. (The telephone number is chosen by random audience member.)

Bankrupt – the sector that means the player losses all the points and the turn.

0 – player loses all his money but keeps the turn.

X2 – all player points are multiplied by 2.

NB: If the player correctly guesses three different letters in a row in one turn, he gets an additional bonus of two boxes. One box is with cash, the other one is empty. The player chooses one box and if he gets the money, this bonus cannot be lost even if the player goes bankrupt.

The Final

Each round has one winner, but the rounds are not elimination, which means if two players leave the round after naming the wrong word, the third one does not automatically proceed to the final. Instead, the player has to make three spins maximum and to get the answer. If his guess is correct, he goes on to the final. If not - he does not.

The final round is played by the winners of the three first rounds. The rules for the final are the same as for the preceding rounds. The winner of the final round is announced as the winner of the show. As the show is played for points instead of money, the winner chooses the prizes by "buying" them from the earned points.

The Super Game

After the winner has chosen the prizes, the host then offers the chance to participate in the super game. If he agrees, then the assistant brings out cards with the names of the prizes which are then placed on the game wheel. The player spins the wheel to determine the prize he could win. The player is then asked the 'super game question' and gets to name letters equaling half of the word (if there are 6 letters in the word, the player may name three). If the named letters are in the word, the blanks are filled in and the player has 1 minute to think of and correctly guess the word.

NB: The game host Leonid Yakubovich is the face of the show and without any doubt is the main reason that the show has been on air for 19 years, with Leonid as the host for 16 years. Most of his catchphrases are now very recognizable, these include: «Commercial Break!», «to the studio!». The show has been parodied many times in various shows, movies and books. The computer MS-DOS based game appeared in early 90's and has been played on most PC from the former USSR.

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