Every Champion Loses... Eventually
June 4, 2019 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Last night (or yesterday morning, if you live in Alabama), a king was toppled: James Holzhauer lost a Jeopardy! match for the first time, ending a 32-game winning streak that brought the venerable game show huge ratings and nearly broke Ken Jennings' record for total earnings (the two have expressed mutual respect on Twitter).

Holzhauer's technique -- start at the bottom and amass money before betting big on Daily Doubles -- may have fundamentally changed how players approach the game, and some analysts think that's a good thing.
posted by Etrigan (65 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Impressive run, yes—but it’s delightful that he was beaten by a librarian.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:02 AM on June 4 [60 favorites]


I'm in the (very large, absolutely no guarantees) contestant pool for the upcoming season so BOTH my parents emailed me from separate rooms in their house to celebrate...and I'd been spoiled by the NYT in the morning.

[My mom said, "I think her job is like yours!" which is funny because, well, nope.]
posted by wellred at 6:17 AM on June 4 [7 favorites]


Why did he bet so low on Final Jeopardy? Edit - because this. “Holzhauer bet $1,399, the exact amount he'd need to still come in second place should his answer have been incorrect.”
posted by 41swans at 6:18 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


He bet low in the final because he knew the eventual winner would go all in. He could not catch her with any wager, so he just wanted to wager enough to be above the then-third place player if he went all in and was correct.

As he said in an interview, betting a large amount would have just been a bad play.
posted by andreaazure at 6:21 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


Why did he bet so low on Final Jeopardy?

He bet low in the final because he knew the eventual winner would go all in.

I don't get it though. I mean, he knew she had played perfectly up until that point but there's still a chance she'd have been incorrect. Had be bet at least $2600 then even if she only bet $1.00 he'd have won if she lost.

For a professional gambler, that seems like a bad move unless he was just tired of playing or maybe felt she deserved to win at that point.
posted by bondcliff at 6:26 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Holzhauer had hinted this when he tweeted earlier yesterday that he wished he hadn't invited Drake to that day's taping (playing off the supposed Drake curse that afflicts the Raptors (it occurs to me now that both Drake and Holzhauer 'started from the bottom')), so I made sure to tune in. I'd seen someone come pretty close to beating him a few weeks ago so I knew that it was possible, and Boettcher played a flawless game; her making that true daily double in DJ was a wonderful and thrilling Jeopardy moment. The ending was surprisingly low-key, and Holzhauer handled it with dignity. It was a perfect conclusion to his run.
posted by Flashman at 6:28 AM on June 4 [9 favorites]


Or, he knew she was a librarian and had studied English and figured she'd know the answer and he probably wouldn't.
posted by wellred at 6:28 AM on June 4


>bondcliff: I don't get it though. I mean, he knew she had played perfectly up until that point but there's still a chance she'd have been incorrect. Had be bet at least $2600 then even if she only bet $1.00 he'd have won if she lost.

What are the chances the person in the lead would have bet so low? Far lower than the chances the person in third would both bet everything and be correct.
posted by Easy problem of consciousness at 6:33 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


I'm one of those people who watched Jeopardy with their parents as a kid. I still watch it every day and even DVR it so I don't miss an episode. Luckily yesterday I wasn't spoiled on this and was able to watch Jeopardy live basically live. The analysis of Holzhauer's play has been kind of annoying. He didn't "break" Jeopardy, contestants have been bouncing around the board on the high dollar clues looking for the Daily Doubles for a long time. The strategy even has a name, the Forrest Bounce, after a contestant in the 80s, Chuck Forrest, used it to make a ton of money.

The bet he made was correct. The person in the lead has to behave as if everyone is going to get the answer correct, so they have to bet to cover second place doubling up. Second has to hope against hope that first place will bet correctly and miss, so has to bet to cover third doubling up.
posted by ephemerista at 6:34 AM on June 4 [19 favorites]


I don't get it though. I mean, he knew she had played perfectly up until that point but there's still a chance she'd have been incorrect. Had be bet at least $2600 then even if she only bet $1.00 he'd have won if she lost.

But she had been playing well so he knew she wasn't going to bet $1. The smart play for her was to bet so that she would have exactly double his total, plus $1 (exactly what she did bet). His bet was calculated so that if she had the wrong answer, he would be guaranteed to remain ahead of the player in third, so he would win whether or not he himself had the right answer. But since he didn't have the lead going into the final, his strategy depended on her getting the final wrong.
posted by stopgap at 6:37 AM on June 4 [15 favorites]


"contestants have been bouncing around the board on the high dollar clues looking for the Daily Doubles for a long time"

And the strategy that everyone who doesn't actually watch or care about Jeopardy! plays when playing the game on a computer or at a work meeting, which is kind of infuriating to those of us who do actually care about the game.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:37 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


figured she'd know the answer and he probably wouldn't.

More true than he could have known.... There's a piece on Emma Boettcher in her hometown Chicago Tribune today with this bit of information:

"She led Holzhauer by $3,200 going into “Final Jeopardy” and she was “delighted” to see the final clue was about William Shakespeare’s era. Boettcher knew it was her category — she was an English major at Princeton University and her undergraduate thesis was on Shakespeare’s plays."
posted by martin q blank at 6:39 AM on June 4 [9 favorites]


His bet was calculated so that if she had the wrong answer, he would be guaranteed to remain ahead of the player in third

Ok, I think I get it now. I wasn't factoring in the third player. I guess that's why he's the professional gambler / Jeopardy! champion and I'm a schlub doing bad math on the internet.
posted by bondcliff at 6:39 AM on June 4


which is kind of infuriating to those of us who do actually care about the game

I've read that it annoys Alex and the clue writers because they progress the clues intentionally sometimes with a series of puns or other jokes, but I don't have a ton of sympathy for the writers. The players want to win! Personally, I do prefer if they don't bounce around, but you get kind of used to it. People were all crazy about Arthur Chu doing it too, and the contestants all went back to "conventional" play once he lost.
posted by ephemerista at 6:41 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]




Oh and while I've enjoyed watching Holzhauer play the game expertly (his knowledge base is astounding) I'm kind of happy he didn't beat Ken Jennings' record. Jennings' will always be my favorite Jeopardy player. Well, Jennings and Julia Collins.

I would like to see Holzhauer play against Brad Rutter, who I think is the absolutely best contestant to ever play the game.
posted by ephemerista at 6:45 AM on June 4 [9 favorites]


Had to happen eventually. Of course, she is now obligated to win a minimum of 33 games, clear ~2.5 million total, and get 22 of the top 25 all time one night winnings. You cant just topple James, win a couple and go home.

It just wouldn't feel right. I look forward to Holzhauer 2.0.
posted by mrgoat at 6:45 AM on June 4


Emma seemed to have the right background and experience to match James, especially given that his episodes hadn't aired yet, and that their match was the first to be taped that day.

James had a very good run, and his style of play has a lot going for it.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:46 AM on June 4


I would like to see Holzhauer play against Brad Rutter, who I think is the absolutely best contestant to ever play the game.

Looking forward to the next Tournament of Champions.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:47 AM on June 4 [4 favorites]


And the strategy that everyone who doesn't actually watch or care about Jeopardy! plays when playing the game on a computer or at a work meeting, which is kind of infuriating to those of us who do actually care about the game.

Wait...so if I'm playing Jeopardy! on a computer, and I'm going for all the high value answers first, there's a chance that I am inwardly infuriating my opponents? Hmm.

(1) I had no idea.
(2) Now that I do know, that's the only way I'm ever going to play.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:57 AM on June 4 [6 favorites]


I've watched a lot of Jeopardy, including most of Holzhauer's run, and back in 2003 I passed the contestant test -- 500 people in a hotel ballroom, 50 multiple-choice questions, one every 30 seconds, and the top dozen or so move on.

So, two observations... one, James hurt himself by hitting the first Daily Double on the first question, when he had no money yet. All he could do was double up the $1,000 value of the question. Probably still the optimal strategy, in part because you keep someone else from getting it, but he really could have used that money later.

Two, while the strategy obviously works, I think it makes the game much less enjoyable to watch. When the players work from the bottom up, and the Daily Doubles go early, the players spend the end of each round answering dinky, low-value questions, with zero chance of Jeopardy's equivalent of the last-second Hail Mary pass or two-out, ninth-inning grand slam. It's anticlimactic, if not outright boring.

As you can tell, I've thought a lot about this :) and probably too much, but I think a couple of tweaks are in order. The easy one is to mix up the Daily Double placement; now, they're almost always in the last two rows. The other is, frankly, to make the questions tougher. I'm not really a trivia genius, and yet I can pretty much always get four of the bottom row, if not all of them. More than once last night I said to my kids (because we watch together, geeks of a feather), "I can't believe that's a $2,000 question." And when those questions are that easy, there's no disincentive to head straight to the last row.

Make the dollar rewards proportional to question difficulty (and it can be done, ask anyone who's done College Bowl) and it's a much different, and (to me, anyway) better game.
posted by martin q blank at 7:00 AM on June 4 [9 favorites]


Make the dollar rewards proportional to question difficulty

See for example the Master's thesis "Predicting the Difficulty of Trivia Questions Using Text Features" by Emma Boettcher.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:05 AM on June 4 [48 favorites]


was hoping someone would link that!
posted by martin q blank at 7:08 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


I'm not really a trivia genius, and yet I can pretty much always get four of the bottom row, if not all of them.

But you passed the contestant test, so obviously you are better than the average person watching at home.

Make the dollar rewards proportional to question difficulty

Maybe, but I like being able to answer the questions as they come up. It makes watching more fun! When I watch the ToC and the questions are more difficult it is slightly less fun to watch. I wonder if they would lose viewers if they made the questions more challenging. I agree about moving the Daily Doubles around more though. Especially up to the second row and to more generally perceived "easier" categories. They almost never put them in the pop culture type categories.
posted by ephemerista at 7:14 AM on June 4 [6 favorites]


They do get harder as you go down the board, but I think if they got much harder, the show would be less appealing to the average viewer.

I wouldn't mind a rule change where control of the board gets to pick category, but the questions always go in order from top to bottom, but I suspect that would infuriate much of the J! community.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:19 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


The easy one is to mix up the Daily Double placement; now, they're almost always in the last two rows.

Last three rows, and they're more likely to be in the third row than the bottom row. That was why Holzhauer's strategy was so good -- he amassed a lot of money early in the bottom before getting to the more likely areas. Note where he hit the disastrous first-round DD on his first pick: Second column, bottom row, which is the least likely place in the bottom 3/5 of the board. I would bet my car that he has that exact link bookmarked.
posted by Etrigan at 7:21 AM on June 4 [9 favorites]


Last night was one of the best played games of Jeopardy! (by all three contestants) I've ever seen.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 7:25 AM on June 4 [4 favorites]


Last three rows, and they're more likely to be in the third row than the bottom row.

Wow. Good find, Etrigan. Gotta say, I just don't remember them in the third row that much, but the stats say otherwise and are probably more reliable than my memory. And yeah, he probably did have that memorized. And -- if we want to join the conspiracy theorists all over Twitter today -- maybe the Jeopardy planners knew that and set it up accordingly...
posted by martin q blank at 7:26 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


He didn't "break" Jeopardy, contestants have been bouncing around the board on the high dollar clues looking for the Daily Doubles for a long time. The strategy even has a name, the Forrest Bounce, after a contestant in the 80s, Chuck Forrest, used it to make a ton of money.

Holzhauer wasn't using the Forrest Bounce, which moves around the board "randomly" (hence the word "bounce"). It is explicitly designed to confuse the other players. Holzhauer was going after the high-dollar stuff more systematically than Forrest (or Arthur Chu, or Ken Jennings) ever did (see the chart I linked a coupla comments back) -- because he was playing the board rather than the other players.
posted by Etrigan at 7:28 AM on June 4 [7 favorites]


Someone had to do it:

"That's right James, you lost!
But that's not all, you also made yourself look like a jerk in front of millions of people
And you brought shame and disgrace to your family name for generations to come
You don't get to come back tomorrow
You don't even get a lousy copy of our home game
You're a complete loser!"

posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 7:29 AM on June 4 [10 favorites]


James Holzhauer's New Twitter Profile Image is the Best Part of His Jeopardy! Run (Russ Burlingame, Comicbook.com)

@alyankovic
I like your new Twitter avatar, James!
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:33 AM on June 4 [18 favorites]


I wouldn't mind a rule change where control of the board gets to pick category, but the questions always go in order from top to bottom, but I suspect that would infuriate much of the J! community.

This would make slow play/timewasting strategic in a way that I would hope no one would encourage.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:51 AM on June 4


Holzhauer wasn't using the Forrest Bounce, which moves around the board "randomly" (hence the word "bounce").

That is true, but my point still stands that he wasn't doing anything game breaking. He was using a strategy similar to what other players have done in the past. He's also not the first person to continuously bet huge on Daily Doubles, see Roger Craig.

He is an amazing player to be sure and he absolutely optimized his strategy. I just get irritated by the breathless commentary from the internet. He didn't "revolutionize" Jeopardy. My prediction is that folks will go back to the top down way of playing pretty quickly. Although I'd love to see Emma Boettcher continue to win with the bottom up strategy.
posted by ephemerista at 7:52 AM on June 4


So, professional gambler loses on the day he could get the record and attention on him (and presumably betting) is the maximum it could be.

Okay.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:52 AM on June 4 [4 favorites]


"so if I'm playing Jeopardy! on a computer, and I'm going for all the high value answers first, there's a chance that I am inwardly infuriating my opponents?"

Not necessarily. If you're playing against non-J! fans, they're probably pursuing the same strategy, and so it probably won't affect them. And if you're playing against J! fans, and beating them, you'll be infuriating them regardless of strategy.

If your goal is to infuriate J! fans, look up Arthur Chu. Although, if I'm being honest, he did it so well that I developed respect for him.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:14 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know how long ago the Holzhauer run was taped? I'm wondering when contestants who actually watched him on TV will be playing on the show and possibly emulating his strategy. Maybe not until next season?
posted by Clustercuss at 8:18 AM on June 4


infuriate

Can you explain why Jeopardy fans are annoyed by contestants who are trying to maximize the amount of money they can win? I didn't understand it when Arthur Chu got shit for it, and I don't understand it now. It's a game show, why wouldn't you want to try and get as much money as possible? Why would you want your clue-selecting-strategy to be one that reduces the chances that the Daily Doubles will the found? Why would you want your clue-selecting-strategy to be one that minimizes the potential dollars you could win?
posted by 23skidoo at 8:19 AM on June 4 [6 favorites]


Clustercuss, it's usually 2-3 months ahead, but taping begins again in July for the upcoming season, so...
posted by wellred at 8:22 AM on June 4


Also, pour one out for Jay, Isaiah Thomas-ing it up in a battle between Magic and Bird.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:22 AM on June 4 [3 favorites]


Does anyone know how long ago the Holzhauer run was taped?

I think it was the February tapings (5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27), and then he lost on March 5th.
posted by Etrigan at 8:27 AM on June 4


The Atlantic says he lost on March 12.

Also, the Teacher's Tournament happened during his run - not sure how that interacts with the taping schedule, though.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:33 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]


I think it was the February tapings (5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27)

Yeah, he started his run on the 5th. (A friend of mine was on the show right before his first one.)
posted by asterix at 8:38 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


And the strategy that everyone who doesn't actually watch or care about Jeopardy! plays when playing the game on a computer or at a work meeting, which is kind of infuriating to those of us who do actually care about the game.

There are plenty of people who care about the game who are open to a vast array of playing styles and don't feel like there's some limit to how someone can properly play Jeopardy.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:00 AM on June 4 [8 favorites]


And the strategy that everyone who doesn't actually watch or care about Jeopardy! plays when playing the game on a computer or at a work meeting, which is kind of infuriating to those of us who do actually care about the game.

I don't understand this mindset. It's like claiming that true chess fans don't move their bishops, only some kind of min-maxing asshole would do something so declasse.
posted by axiom at 9:23 AM on June 4 [8 favorites]


This post seems familiar.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:26 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth: "So, professional gambler loses on the day he could get the record and attention on him (and presumably betting) is the maximum it could be."

From a conspiratorial mindset I'm more interested in the showrunners -- Boettcher seems a step above most of the players who actually make it onto the show. Did they plant her as a foil for Holzhauer?
posted by crazy with stars at 9:32 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


I am one of those many, many people who have heard "You should go on Jeopardy!" when casually playing along at home and getting the fairly easy trivia questions mostly right.

Yeah, that part I'm good at. It's easy sitting at home, that's part of the charm of why watching the game and playing along is so much fun. The questions are designed to be entertaining and just challenging enough.

My answer to the suggestion I should try out for Jeopardy has always been "Oh, hell no!" and it isn't just because I don't want to go through the ringer that is taping live TV and dealing with that show in particular. (Which, yeah, I really don't. I've seen how that sausage is made and it's a lot less glamorous or fun than most people think it is.)

No, t's because being slightly above average at trivia questions isn't nearly enough to be a strong player - and it isn't just button timing, either - it's that there's all kinds of weird strategies involved that are just about as arcane as some weird variation of poker.

And I SUCK at poker.

Also, I wouldn't even make it past the selection process. Too quirky and weird. That's not my kind of spotlight.
posted by loquacious at 9:32 AM on June 4 [4 favorites]


I watched Jeopardy a few weeks back when i saw they had "Championship" on Netflix, and my god, IDK if questions have gotten harder, my reflexes slower, or I've gotten dumber (or all 3), but man... Just like I was better at Chess as a kid... I was better at Jeopardy, too. WTF happened to me. I don't like getting old, and I regret all that alcohol I drank over the years.

But yes, this dude was insane watching him...
posted by symbioid at 9:48 AM on June 4


From a conspiratorial mindset I'm more interested in the showrunners -- Boettcher seems a step above most of the players who actually make it onto the show. Did they plant her as a foil for Holzhauer?

Seems unlikely, given how far in advance contestants are selected, plus not knowing how well any player will do before a game.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:04 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Looking forward to the next Tournament of Champions.

Is this the new Clegane Bowl? I'm ready to buy in!
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:31 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Just like I was better at Chess as a kid... I was better at Jeopardy, too

It's not you, a whole lot of stuff happened between when you were a kid and now so there's just a lot more facts floating around that one would need to know than back then.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:41 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Contestants are called a month in advance, which means she was probably called very early February. He would've been much earlier in his run. And I don't think Jeopardy was that interested in getting rid of him.

I've wondered how show results are kept secret in the social media age. The spoilers now illustrate - it's not when there's something of general interest. Just your "run-of-the-mill" three-day champs remain unknown before air. (Quotation marks because winning three days is a FEAT.)
posted by NorthernLite at 10:42 AM on June 4


"Can you explain why Jeopardy fans are annoyed by contestants who are trying to maximize the amount of money they can win?"

Not satisfactorily, LOL. It's like in baseball how people are complaining about the shift to a three-true-outcomes offensive hitting strategy. Basically, it's not the way things were done in the past, so we don't like it. It's my sense that this is changing after the success of people like Chu and Alex Jacob, and I'd expect it to change even more after Holzhauer.

But my original point was, this isn't a novel strategy. Non-J! fans (to continue the baseball analogy, people who don't "respect the unwritten rules") have been doing this for years. Moreover, they've been doing this for precisely the reason that actual J! contestants are now doing it: because it's an obvious way to win the most points. The novelty is that the contestants have adopted the strategy as well.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:22 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


The baseball analogy is pretty good. Recent years have seen a lot of innovation -- as a Tampa Bay fan, I've seen a lot of it take off right in front of me. There's no question those innovations give teams a competitive edge. But some of those same innovations make the game less fun for the fan. Ditto for Jeopardy, at least for me. YMMV.
posted by martin q blank at 11:40 AM on June 4


'Jeopardy' Ratings Peak for James Holzhauer's Record Attempt (Rick Porter, Hollywood Reporter)

Best in 14 years, so it's said.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:03 PM on June 4


Since the Ultimate Tournament of Champions with Ken, Brad and Jerome, then?
posted by jacquilynne at 12:14 PM on June 4


I tried out for Jeopardy when the Trebek version was still pretty new. They filled the audience of the studio with wannabes and gave us all written tests. Then after an interminable wait while they graded the tests, they called up the top 9 test-takers in no particular order, and I was called about halfway through. Then we went, three at a time, through a mock game on stage with the show's buzzers... I consistantly jumped the gun and was 'locked out', earning third place in my group of three and departed as ignominiously as Weird Al in the muic video. And no, I never met Alex, or even announcer Johnny Gilbert...
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:40 PM on June 4 [4 favorites]


I haven't watched it yet, but was the final question "who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?"
posted by Metro Gnome at 3:00 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


I grew up watching Jeopardy. I remember the 5-game max era and I remember when they doubled the clue values and removed the limit. I remember Ken Jennings' run vividly and he remains one of my favourite contestants.

I watched James' entire run. I don't particularly like how James played the game. He didn't do anything wrong. Quite the opposite, he methodically worked to gain a lot of money and then find the Daily Doubles, as has already been noted. If you're talking about winning the game, he did a really good job at developing a system that did that, which only works if you have a pretty great foundation of knowledge from which to draw.

As someone who enjoys the game of Jeopardy specifically, I prefer when they go down through each category. I also like how they have the opportunity to go elsewhere, but I prefer they go 200 through to 1000, 400 down through 2000. So I've thought a lot about why I don't like what James did and can only really come up with "because that's not how it's done". I feel that his method, successful as it was, broke the spirit of the rules, if not the letter.

But why worry about the spirit of something when you can win almost 2.5 million dollars in about 30 games of play? The question becomes what is the point of the game? To win, or to win the way other people have played? The answer is to win, of course, and come back to play again another day.

So James has my respect, even if I didn't like how he played and what this may mean for the game going forward. Ultimately, James played very well, stuck to his strategy (almost always went to the same spot for the first Daily Double in the Jeopardy round after clearing out the 1000 dollar clues), made large wagers and had the knowledge to back up his bets. I respect him as a competitor and would love to see him against Ken and Brad, one day -- soon.

Oh, and I definitely wondered why James wagered so little in Final Jeopardy too, but J-Archive explains the wager well.
posted by juliebug at 7:33 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


From a conspiratorial mindset I'm more interested in the showrunners -- Boettcher seems a step above most of the players who actually make it onto the show. Did they plant her as a foil for Holzhauer?

I mean.

The audition pool is fairly large and it would be extremely difficult to set things up over a month in advance, before anyone involved had stepped into a studio.

Further, there is an attorney from a firm non-affiliated with Sony who attends each tape day (the one for my day was a lady named Laura, she seemed nice) and oversees the random selection of who from the pool of contestants goes against the current champ. When you arrive on tape day, you know you’ll be on one of the five shows taped but not which you’ll compete on or who will be on the podiums next to you.

And his opponents weren’t exactly chumps. I mean, off the top of my head, Sameer Rai came up early in the run and has serious trivia cred — the trivia on J! isn’t usually particularly difficult. A significant portion of how well you do is buzzer timing, being comfortable under the lights in front of the audience knowing this’ll be televised nationwide eventually, and just plain luck.
posted by rewil at 9:52 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


James Holzhauer's Final Episode (youtube), posted and available through Friday June 7th.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:10 PM on June 4


martin q blank: "The baseball analogy is pretty good. Recent years have seen a lot of innovation -- as a Tampa Bay fan, I've seen a lot of it take off right in front of me. There's no question those innovations give teams a competitive edge. But some of those same innovations make the game less fun for the fan. Ditto for Jeopardy, at least for me. YMMV."

This is how I see it, too. The rise of "three true outcomes" in baseball totally makes sense. But I think it's made it more boring for fans, because the defense never does anything. And the Holzhauer run wasn't very exciting because he was so consistently completely out of the reach of the other contestants. Blowout games aren't so much fun to watch.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:41 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


I don't get the arguments that Holzhauer "broke" Jeopardy. He broke it about as much as Dick Fosbury broke the high jump.

As far as those who merely don't care for James's style of play, I'm sure that's true, de gustibus non est disputandum, and I'm sure there were those who just liked it better when athletes treated the high jump like a hurdle.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:26 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


I don't have a ton of sympathy for the writers.

Uhh...I do. They have to come up with 61 on-theme questions, 60 of them grouped in categories of 5 each. They have to do this 5 days a week, for one of the longest per-season stretches of any game show ever:

In its 34th season currently, there are about 230 new episodes of "Jeopardy!" produced a year. That's right, with 46 days of taping a year and five tapings per day, according to BuzzFeed, Alex Trebek and the entire team to producers and cast members bring us over 200 days of joy and nerdiness a year. And, yes, Trebek changes his suit five times a day to make sure his suit is new for each episode.

That's over 14,000 unique, well-researched clues and possible answers (many questions have multiple possible right answers) per year. And then they help judge the answers in real time!

Respect.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:21 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Did James make the right Final Jeopardy bet? - "So James did what I described above. He figured Emma would bet at least enough ($20,201) to top twice his total ($46,800) in the case that they both got the answer right.

Following that logic, he figured that if Emma got it wrong, she’d end up losing at least $20,201, bringing her down to $6,399 at most. His only shot of winning would be if Emma got it wrong, so $6,399 became his “do not cross” floor. His maximum bet would then be $17,000, which would guarantee that he beat Emma if she got it wrong, regardless of whether he got it right or not.

But like in our case above, the third place player, Jay Sexton, was in the picture too, with $11,000. Twice Jay’s total ($22,000) became a second and higher “do not cross” line for James—so James made the perfect bet: $1,399."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:34 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


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