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Friday, February 28, 2014

WaPo: Why we’re actually mad at ruthless ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant Arthur Chu

Paging Snapper…

Chu’s strategy wasn’t part of some long-brewing master plan, but simply the result of some Googling. He did some searching once he found out he would appear on the show and was inspired by what discovered about Chuck Forrest, a 1985 contestant whose similar Daily Double hunting even earned a phrase to describe his method of play, the “Forrest Bounce.”

“There’s no logical reason to do what people normally do, which is to take one category at a time from the top down,” Chu told the Web site Mental Floss. “Your only point of control in the game is your ability, if you get the right answer to a question, to select the next question — and you give that power up if you make yourself predictable.”

In 1985, of course, angry viewers didn’t have the option to take to social media to complain about an un­or­tho­dox contestant who disrupted a beloved and orderly daily routine. Chu’s secret weapon may be the fact that he can look past the show’s iconography and decades of sentimental baggage and see it for what it is: a game. And the purpose of playing a game is to try to win, generally through some combination of skill and strategy, regardless of whatever arbitrary etiquette is attached to it.

In that way, what Chu is doing isn’t so different than the principles of “Moneyball.” In the book/film of that name, as in real-life, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane took a much-romanticized process (picking players in major league baseball’s annual draft) and turned it into something stark and evidence-based (focusing on statistics and formulas instead of the traditional and more subjective scouting). In fact, when you zoom way out, Chu’s strategy seems to fit into a larger cultural pattern: Now that everything can be measured, quantified and reduced to statistical probabilities, there’s no space for romance or instinct anymore. A scientific formula predicts hit songs; Big Data determines who directs our favorite shows. And all of these approaches have been adopted because they work: As Chu earned another victory on Thursday night, he became the show’s third-highest earner ever. (He has said he will donate some of his winnings to fibromyalgia research; his wife suffers from the condition.)

Chu, like Beane and Netflix and Warner Music Group, isn’t breaking any actual rules here. He’s just being ruthlessly, idol-killingly pragmatic, in a space where we don’t want pragmatism — we want pure genius!  We want Ken Jennings!

Jennings, who set a “Jeopardy” record with 74 consecutive victories while winning $2.5 million in 2004, thinks Chu is “playing the game right.”

“In sports, players and fans love it when teams shake up the game with new techniques: the basketball jump shot in the 1950s, the split-finger fastball in the 1980s, four-down football today,” he wrote over at Slate. “Why should Jeopardy be any different?”

JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 07:58 AM | 131 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: media, moneyball, sabermetrics

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   1. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:35 AM (#4663974)
No, we don't like Chu because he's a smug prick. That he makes the game less enjoyable for people watching at home is only part of that.
   2. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:42 AM (#4663978)
Also, Chu won't even be the biggest winner in the next three months. There's a 20+ day winner in the pipeline.
   3. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:43 AM (#4663979)
Would anyone mind explaining to me what "four down football" is and why that's some sort of revolution comparable to jump shots in basketball?
   4. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4663981)
Dumb question time; how is hopping around the board going to make you more or less likely to find the Daily Doubles? If there are 30 answers on the board and you start with Potpourri for $200 why does going to Civil War Generals for $800 make you more likely to find a DD than Potpourri for $400? Isn't it a 1 in 29...1 in 28...etc... chance regardless?

I haven't watched Jeopardy in years though I have always loved it. No frills trivia is fantastic (I still miss the Two Minute Drill on ESPN) so I have no opinion on this guy. I will say the picture in the article makes him look smug and the little self-serving blurb doesn't reduce that opinion.
   5. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:47 AM (#4663982)
I suspect that "four down football" refers to the growing frequency of teams going for it on fourth and short. Guys like Belichick and Kelly have had success with a strategy previously pooh-poohed by the mainstream, and as a result the mainstream is changing.
   6. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4663984)
Dumb question time; how is hopping around the board going to make you more or less likely to find the Daily Doubles? If there are 30 answers on the board and you start with Potpourri for $200 why does going to Civil War Generals for $800 make you more likely to find a DD than Potpourri for $400? Isn't it a 1 in 29...1 in 28...etc... chance regardless?


90% of the DD's are in the bottom three rows, historically. Chu isn't the first person to do this, btw, it's just that he's the first person to have the speed on the buzzer to be a champ regardless.
   7. Bitter Mouse Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:52 AM (#4663987)
Dumb question time; how is hopping around the board going to make you more or less likely to find the Daily Doubles?


My understanding (vague memory) is that DD are not randomly distributed, they cluster a bit more in rows 3, 4 and 5 (or something). My memory could be wrong though.
   8. Greg K Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:55 AM (#4663988)
Would anyone mind explaining to me what "four down football" is and why that's some sort of revolution comparable to jump shots in basketball?

I assume it refers to this new-fangled American version of football where the team gets four downs rather than three like a proper league. Only time will tell whether this rule change will create a viable commercial product, though I am not optimistic.
   9. kcgard2 Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:55 AM (#4663989)
The Daily Doubles are never found on the two easiest questions of a category, so jumping around skipping those ones increases chances of finding it. Lots of players have started doing this recently, but with no real effort to actually take advantage of finding the DD, usually only risking what the question was worth anyway or very slightly more. I guess they just like the feel of having a strategy, even if the strategy isn't giving them any advantage. I wouldn't mind people jumping around looking for it if they then utilized it, but just jumping around for it only to then ignore the chance to utilize it is annoying to me (irrationally, I suppose).
   10. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4663991)
Chu isn't the first person to do this, btw, it's just that he's the first person to have the speed on the buzzer to be a champ regardless.


It seems like speed is a great deal of Jeopardy! success since you can't buzz in until the reading of the question is complete.
   11. SteveF Posted: February 28, 2014 at 10:01 AM (#4663992)
My understanding (vague memory) is that DD are not randomly distributed, they cluster a bit more in rows 3, 4 and 5 (or something). My memory could be wrong though.

That's my understanding. And beyond that, you don't get two daily doubles in the same row.

Another advantage to moving around is that you get to mentally prepare yourself for the category in advance of your opponents, which is advantageous when the category answers (or questions) have a particularly specific theme.
   12. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 28, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4663994)
Daily Doubles have been placed in the second easiest row ($400 clue in Jeopardy and $800 clue in Double Jeopardy) to increase some of the "randomness," but they are most commonly in the three bottom rows. Jumping around the board also helps the guy who is selecting because most of the contestants are nervous and want to get into a rhythm - going from easiest to hardest in one category is one way to do that. Even throwing someone off for a brief second has to be advantageous.
   13. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 10:06 AM (#4663995)
It seems like speed is a great deal of Jeopardy! success since you can't buzz in until the reading of the question is complete.

A former co-worker who won twice on Jeopardy said his biggest mistake was using the thumb, not the stronger forefinger, to indicate a response.
   14. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 10:13 AM (#4663998)
It seems like speed is a great deal of Jeopardy! success since you can't buzz in until the reading of the question is complete.


Yeah, my understanding is that the big time winners are not only really good at trivia but also demons on the buzzer. And they only get better because they have so much experience with it as compared to their fresh competitors.
   15. Kurt Posted: February 28, 2014 at 10:15 AM (#4664000)
I've never liked Jeopardy, and the fact that it's so controversial that this guy is actually doing things to try to win is a pretty good encapsulation of why.
   16. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: February 28, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4664008)
   17. Charles S. will not yield to this monkey court Posted: February 28, 2014 at 10:45 AM (#4664019)
Chu is growing on me. I'm getting used to his DD hunting and I kind of like that confident half-smile he gets when he starts going on a roll. I also like that he has the guts to make significant bets on those Daily doubles. His challengers, especially this week, have looked intimidated from the start.
   18. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:01 AM (#4664026)
I would think that the advantage of moving away from categories that one of your opponents chose to ones that you are confident of your own knowledge in would provide a greater advantage than finding the DDs. I would think that clearing the board of the top dollar questions in the categories that you feel strongest in would provide a greater advantage than finding the DDs.

More importantly, I would think that people who are "actually mad" at this guy are even bigger losers than all of us obsessive baseball stats geeks.
   19. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4664036)
No, we don't like Chu because he's a smug prick. That he makes the game less enjoyable for people watching at home is only part of that.


In the interview Der linked to, Chu explains this as him just being super nervous, and this is how he copes with the pressure of being on the show.
   20. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4664038)

My understanding is that Chu also isn't afraid to wager nothing on a DD in a category he knows nothing about--there is still value in taking the DD away from the other candidates who may know that category better.
   21. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4664052)
It seems like speed is a great deal of Jeopardy! success since you can't buzz in until the reading of the question is complete.

As evidenced by a glorified search engine "dominating" two human champions through its ability to chime in faster than they could, despite the fact that it gave nonsensical responses 20% of the time.
   22. EddieA Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:39 AM (#4664053)
To me, the things that make the game less fun with Chu playing are the early triple stumpers, the additional strain of remembering which category has been chosen, and the complete dominance where the other contestants appear to have given up ("intimidated from the start"). The show loses its suspense early and that's far less entertaining than thinking about final jeopardy wagering strategies - wagering strategies on late DDs in the second round are also entertaining to me. Since Chu usually goes horizontally instead of vertically, it's become a bit less stressful for me to track the categories the longer he's been on.

A very prepared and knowledgeable contestant can go a long way, IMO primarily because of subpar competition. We talked on another thread about what seems to be more of a politically motivated than merit-based selection process. Jeopardy could reduce the number of slots reserved for less qualified contestants. It was rumored in that thread that they tried to screen out contestants that are too knowledgeable - now if that rumor were true and an overqualified contestant happened to make the show, that would certainly set the stage for a long winning streak.
   23. Perry Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4664054)
I suspect that "four down football" refers to the growing frequency of teams going for it on fourth and short. Guys like Belichick and Kelly have had success with a strategy previously pooh-poohed by the mainstream, and as a result the mainstream is changing.


Apparently there are some football sabermetrics out there that show it's ALWAYS better to go for it on 4th down. Slate's Hang Up and Listen podcast interviewed an Arkansas high school coach a few weeks ago who never kicks. No punts, no field goals. I believe he always onside kicks on kickoffs too. And he's been wildly successful for years.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:48 AM (#4664065)
As evidenced by a glorified search engine "dominating" two human champions through its ability to chime in faster than they could, despite the fact that it gave nonsensical responses 20% of the time.

The point about speed is valid, but Watson is programmed only to buzz in when it has a certain % of confidence in its answer. Buzzing quickly doesn't help unless you get a high % right.

Observing him in a few games Chu, like Jennings before him, seems to be a classic "list" player. He's memorized all the obvious lists of thing Jeopardy asks, and is very fast on the buzzer.

I'd guess neither is actually even close to being the "genius" they're described as. I'm fairly certain there are dozens and dozens of primates who are smarter and more erudite than either.
   25. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:57 AM (#4664073)


In the interview Der linked to, Chu explains this as him just being super nervous, and this is how he copes with the of being on the show.


When SoSH Jr. was competing in geography bees, there was this young girl in the state finals who came across as extremely smug and self-satisfied after every answer she gave. When it was over, it was clear no one wanted this young girl to win. But I figured that she was probably just a typical girl who was extremely nervous and had developed a specific way of answering questions that made come across as extremely obnoxious. Reading that interview reminded me of her, and gu4essed that it's probably not uncommon.
   26. tshipman Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:58 AM (#4664074)
A very prepared and knowledgeable contestant can go a long way, IMO primarily because of subpar competition. We talked on another thread about what seems to be more of a politically motivated than merit-based selection process. Jeopardy could reduce the number of slots reserved for less qualified contestants. It was rumored in that thread that they tried to screen out contestants that are too knowledgeable - now if that rumor were true and an overqualified contestant happened to make the show, that would certainly set the stage for a long winning streak.


It's not political at all. It's based on who the producers think would do well on camera.

Anyways, Roger Craig already showed how important proper preparation and a good understanding of game theory is. The only thing unique about Chu is the bet to tie (and maybe his affect). Everything else has been done for years.
   27. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4664089)
I really don't get why people would get upset about the bouncing around. I mean, I see the reasons people say, but my reaction is "So?".

The thing I don't fully understand is the bet to tie thing. Can someone explain how that helps him over betting $1 more or less to win?
   28. villageidiom Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:27 PM (#4664090)
Apparently there are some football sabermetrics out there that show it's ALWAYS better to go for it on 4th down. Slate's Hang Up and Listen podcast interviewed an Arkansas high school coach a few weeks ago who never kicks. No punts, no field goals. I believe he always onside kicks on kickoffs too. And he's been wildly successful for years.
There is also a 30-for-30 short on Youtube about that team. The numbers - at least on the HS level - bear it out. HS teams are horrible at receiving on onside kicks, even when they know it's coming. The reward of maintaining possession is greater than the risk of giving the opponent better field position. The same is true for going for it on 4th down.

At the professional level the risks are greater and the rewards are lesser, but there are still many occasions when going for it on 4th down is worth it. Only in recent years are coaches catching on that not taking sensible risks, either because of ignorance or to avoid postgame questions when it (occasionally) doesn't work, is the wrong path.
   29. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4664094)
There is also a 30-for-30 short on Youtube about that team. The numbers - at least on the HS level - bear it out. HS teams are horrible at receiving on onside kicks, even when they know it's coming. The reward of maintaining possession is greater than the risk of giving the opponent better field position. The same is true for going for it on 4th down.


It's not just that. As someone who has watched a lot of high school football, for most teams there's very little field position difference between a deep kickoff and an onside kick that's recovered by the receiving team. I long ago came to the conclusion that high school teams should onside kick every time.

   30. stanmvp48 Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:34 PM (#4664095)
"It's not political at all. It's based on who the producers think would do well on camera"

That was the Stempel vs Van Doren issue wasn't it. Stempel was nerdy and ethnic and they found a way for him to lose.

   31. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4664098)
As someone else who has watched a lot of HS football, I agree with SoSH. Although I will note that HS teams also suck at onside kicking -- you could call offsides on the kicking tam about 85% of the time.
   32. PepTech Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:37 PM (#4664099)
I have two reasons why I would, personally, bet for a tie.

1) I just topped this competitor on two random boards full of questions. I'll likely top him again. Bring in someone new, and they might kick my ass.
2) If this guy does outpoint me on the next show, he might return the favor.

Granted, there's not much in the way of sample sizes to prove anything one way or the other.
   33. stanmvp48 Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:38 PM (#4664101)
If they don't like his strategies they could start randomly distributing the DDs.

They could reinstitute term limits, for that matter, but I think having a familiar contestant coming back is good for ratings.

Personally, I only started watching again because of this guy. I had stopped for a variety of reasons; mainly the arbitrary rulings on when you can misspell or mispronounce or when full names or required.
   34. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4664102)
The thing I don't fully understand is the bet to tie thing. Can someone explain how that helps him over betting $1 more or less to win?


This guy explains it.The game theory behind it is that the extra $1 only comes into a factor when the person in the lead gets the question wrong which causes the person in second place an opening if he/she wagers "correctly". In Jeopardy's case a tie is as good as a win as you keep your monetary winnings and have the opportunity on the next show to win more money.
   35. Davo Dozier Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4664103)
My understanding is that Chu also isn't afraid to wager nothing on a DD in a category he knows nothing about--there is still value in taking the DD away from the other candidates who may know that category better.


You will probably get a kick out of this video.
   36. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:42 PM (#4664106)
Only in recent years are coaches catching on that not taking sensible risks, either because of ignorance or to avoid postgame questions when it (occasionally) doesn't work, is the wrong path.


I think we're starting to actually see the media question why coaches don't take sensible risks that the numbers bear out. I've seen NFL coaches challenged a lot more why they didn't go for it on 4th down. I've seen it in college basketball too, with coaches being slow initially to use the practice of fouling when up by 3 in the closing seconds of a game, but its become so commonplace now, you get hounded by the media if you don't take that reasonable risk.
   37. bigglou115 Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:43 PM (#4664108)
Yeah, I went to the Arkansas school in the short for 11 years (note: didn't spend 11 years in high school). I can say with absolute certainty that Pulaski Academy is the single most hated school in the entire state, and it's not even close. Some of that is football, baseball, golf, and basketball, all of which they win with great regularity. Some of it is the fact that they make every other school look stupid in just about every comparative measure of high school academics, most of it is that it's so freaking expensive and elitist.

I will say, while they were always good, they did miss the fact that PA is the only high school in the state that recruits and offers scholarships based on athletics.

I do like their coach, I got bullied mercilessly while I was there and he was always nice to me.

Edit: another thing is, never kicks means never. They don't just go for it on 4th to get a competitive advantage in close games, they do the same when they're up by 28 in the 4th quarter.
   38. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:44 PM (#4664109)
I'd guess neither is actually even close to being the "genius" they're described as. I'm fairly certain there are dozens and dozens of primates who are smarter and more erudite than either.


I've met Jennings. He's a smart dude, and very nice.
   39. Greg K Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:56 PM (#4664118)
I'd guess neither is actually even close to being the "genius" they're described as. I'm fairly certain there are dozens and dozens of primates who are smarter and more erudite than either.

I do marvel at Jeopardy folk. I really enjoy a good trivia game, and can usually hold my own in Trivial Pursuit (though my all-time favourite trivia game in Ubi).

But answering to a clock, and perhaps more than that, buzzing in against other competitors astounds me. I do realize that it's part of the strategy to buzz in before you really know the answer, then trust yourself to come up with it before your time runs out, but even that is something I'd never be capable of. Give me some reasonable amount of time to work it out (30 seconds to a minute) and I'm fine, but put on the pressure and I'll forget my own name. Which is ok for me, because the trivia I love are the questions you don't know, but can work out relatively quickly from information you do have. Just straight getting a question I know the answer to is a bit dull...unless it's something really obscure I can show off about!
   40. BDC Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4664119)
I didn't like Jennings when he was actually on the show every night, but he has had a very interesting career since. He never seemed arrogant about being so much better at Jeopardy than everyone else. I agree that he was super at knowledge, and the tactics of the game, and the buzzer, and cool under pressure – I also remember him as being absolutely murderous at anything that involved wordplay, which is quite a different skill than knowledge.

I reckon I am like a lot of Jeopardy fans, I feel great about myself from the couch at home and would melt like a Popsicle under the actual circs.
   41. esseff Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4664120)
That question in the clip in #35 is awfully darned easy for bottom of the board.

Also, I saw Chu miss badly the other night on the California governor/future U.S. chief justice who delivered the GOP convention keynote in 1944, so there's that.
   42. Greg K Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:16 PM (#4664130)
Speaking of television quiz shows, is anyone here a fan of Starter For 10?

I suppose Quiz Show has the "best movie about a TV quiz show" category locked up, but Starter For 10 has a young James McAvoy going for it, as well as Rebecca Hall, and Benedict Cumberbatch and Alice Eve anticipating their work together in Star Trek!
   43. Blastin Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:18 PM (#4664132)
I'd guess neither is actually even close to being the "genius" they're described as. I'm fairly certain there are dozens and dozens of primates who are smarter and more erudite than either.


And one of my friends is Chu's best friend, and says he is indeed very very intelligent.

No, being good at this game does not make one a genius. But he happens to be very smart anyway.
   44. simon bedford Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:20 PM (#4664133)
what i hate about jeopardy, and i mean hate, is the whole "lets talk to the contestant" part, i couldnt give a rats ass about their stupid slice of life storeis, they are duller than dishwater and the more of one contestant you see the more irratating i find the interaction between them and trebek.
   45. Greg K Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:26 PM (#4664138)
what i hate about jeopardy, and i mean hate, is the whole "lets talk to the contestant" part, i couldnt give a rats ass about their stupid slice of life storeis, they are duller than dishwater and the more of one contestant you see the more irratating i find the interaction between them and trebek.

That part of Jeopardy is always difficult for me to watch, mostly because I think, "what anecdote or foible would be my 'Jeopardy' patter?" and how awkwardly Trebek would bring it up, how desperately I'd be forced to make it sound funny or endearing, and how that aspect of my life would forever be ruined for me.
   46. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:36 PM (#4664142)
I'd guess neither is actually even close to being the "genius" they're described as.


Jennings turns up on a lot of media I consume (podcasts and radio shows). He's a bright guy, but he doesn't come on the air and just blow you away with his incision or erudition the way, say, Mike Pesca or Moshe Kasher is. Whether this is a calculated thing to seem more personable and sustain a media career, or if his trivia brain doesn't serve to make him seem like a genius outside the game show format, or if he's just surprisingly modest for a guy who works in television and radio, I cannot tell you.
   47. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:38 PM (#4664143)
another thing is, never kicks means never. They don't just go for it on 4th to get a competitive advantage in close games, they do the same when they're up by 28 in the 4th quarter.

Possible this situation hasn't happened, but they wouldn't kick down 1 point with 2 seconds on the clock on the opponent's 15-yard line?
   48. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:38 PM (#4664144)
That part of Jeopardy is always difficult for me to watch, mostly because I think, "what anecdote or foible would be my 'Jeopardy' patter?"


I've thought about this, too. Candidates include:

"Voxter, is it true that your first 'girlfriend' was actually a boyfriend?"
"Voxter, is it true that your parents worry about how much you drink, and you're starting to worry about it, too?"
"So, Voxter, what was it like being enormously fat? Would you say it's better or worse to be in good shape or bad shape?"
"I've heard that you used to be an incredibly aggressive driver and are now so frightened of driving that you don't do it anymore. Care to explain?"
   49. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:40 PM (#4664147)
but they wouldn't kick down 1 point with 2 seconds on the clock on the opponent's 15-yard line?


I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't have anybody on the team they could rely on to make that kick.
   50. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:41 PM (#4664149)
I like Chu because I like people who actually use strategy instead of just thinking "sweet, I get to show up and try to answer some questions". If I ever get on the show (been trying for years, had one audition, definitely passed this year's test) I will probably try to play similarly to Chu.

I'd guess neither is actually even close to being the "genius" they're described as. I'm fairly certain there are dozens and dozens of primates who are smarter and more erudite than either.

I don't think this is fair. Jennings's interesting post-Jeopardy life and Chu's sudden media whirlwind lend credence to the idea that they are both quite smart and erudite.

Also, Chu won't even be the biggest winner in the next three months. There's a 20+ day winner in the pipeline.

Wait, what? I didn't think they tape that many episodes that far in advance, and you couldn't know anything of the sort unless you were in the audience or a contestant yourself, but contestants are under NDAs...
   51. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4664150)
This guy explains it.The game theory behind it is that the extra $1 only comes into a factor when the person in the lead gets the question wrong which causes the person in second place an opening if he/she wagers "correctly". In Jeopardy's case a tie is as good as a win as you keep your monetary winnings and have the opportunity on the next show to win more money.

I understand the article's second point (he calls it mind-game), but not his first (he calls it game theory).
   52. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:05 PM (#4664155)
but they wouldn't kick down 1 point with 2 seconds on the clock on the opponent's 15-yard line?

I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't have anybody on the team they could rely on to make that kick.


Yeah, HS kids who can make 32 yard FGs are probably about as common as HS kids who can throw 88 mph or hit a baseball 400 feet.
   53. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:07 PM (#4664156)
Jennings turns up on a lot of media I consume (podcasts and radio shows). He's a bright guy, but he doesn't come on the air and just blow you away with his incision or erudition the way, say, Mike Pesca or Moshe Kasher is. Whether this is a calculated thing to seem more personable and sustain a media career, or if his trivia brain doesn't serve to make him seem like a genius outside the game show format, or if he's just surprisingly modest for a guy who works in television and radio, I cannot tell you.


His tweets are surprisingly funny and racy.
   54. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:08 PM (#4664157)
I've met Jennings. He's a smart dude, and very nice.

Agreed. But everyone who gets on Jeopardy is smart. And I've met a bunch of primates, and most of them are really smart.

In an average Jeopardy game, all 3 contestants know 50% of the answers, and 2 of 3 know 75%. The buzzer is all that separates the super-champs from your run of the mill 2-5 time champions.

If you could somehow neutralize the buzzer advantage, I'm 100% confident I could hold my own vs. Jennings and Chu on straight knowledge. As could another several hundred past Jeopardy Champions.
   55. Kurt Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:13 PM (#4664160)
I understand the article's second point (he calls it mind-game), but not his first (he calls it game theory).

The game theory is explained more fully here.

Long story short, a tie is as good as a win (you still get the money and a return trip), so there's no benefit to tacking on the extra dollar.
   56. The District Attorney Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4664168)
Obviously Jeopardy! isn't an intelligence test. They aren't asking you to friggin' rotate a shape in your mind, or identify patterns. They're asking you to regurgitate facts... many of which are from "lowbrow" pop culture that is stereotypically not worth the attention of a genius... but it's not like even knowing the history of opera or ballet has any sort of connection to "intelligence", as we normally think of it.

And buzzer speed/timing is definitely a huge factor. "Wordplay" was mentioned, which is also a big part of it -- very often, the clue has some sort of allusion or pun that makes an otherwise difficult question very simple. Surely there are many "intelligent" people (particularly the more math-leaning types) who aren't especially great at "thinking like the writers" in that way.

Being "erudite", i.e. being a compelling speaker who can weave facts into some sort of logical narrative, is of course also a different skill set than being able to regurgitate facts.

So yeah, these are all different skill sets, and winning at Jeopardy! doesn't in and of itself prove anything besides that you're good at Jeopardy! I know we have a Quiz Bowl player here, since he talked about writing BTF-related questions for it ;) I'm sure that guy would attest to what Ken Jennings freely admitted in his own book: innumerable Quiz Bowl players would clean Ken's clock. The gameplan there is to ring in "early" on obscure, elaborate questions that Jeopardy! would never even dream of asking. It's interesting to ponder why we don't see anyone from that world wrecking shop on Jeopardy! Do they in fact get on the show and not do especially great, because it doesn't translate... or are they screened out for being insufficiently telegenic... or are they screened out because they'd be too good? I really don't know.
   57. Ben V-L Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:26 PM (#4664170)
I enjoy watching Jeopardy every now and then, but I continually find the "guess the question" gimmick annoying. It's a relic from when there were a lot of game shows and they all had to have some gimmick to get noticed. The reason Jeopardy is still standing is because it celebrates knowledge and asks challenging questions. Ooops, I mean: gives challenging answers.

I would really cheer the producers and Alex Trebek if one day he would begin the show announcing that they've known for a long time that the answer/question thing has no purpose and they will dispense with it going forward.
   58. Karl from NY Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4664172)

Didn't Jennings do exactly everything that Chu does? Jennings jumped around the board, for the disorienting advantage of knowing the category a few seconds sooner, and to hunt for Daily Doubles. Jennings made big DD bets, knowing that was positive EV since he would have more than 50% of the responses. Jennings won not on knowledge (on par with any other J champion, as mentioned) but on impeccable buzzer timing. Nothing about Chu is new except the FJ tie strategy.

Chu just doesn't come across as Jennings' aw-shucks humble countryman. That's the only difference, their PR.
   59. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:32 PM (#4664173)
Jennings turns up on a lot of media I consume (podcasts and radio shows).


He's been on the stoner-friendly podcast "Doug Loves Movies" a few times, and not surprisingly holds his own in movie trivia.
   60. JL Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:33 PM (#4664175)
That question in the clip in #35 is awfully darned easy for bottom of the board.


I am also surprised that a guy who has put so much thought into strategy would just give up on a question like that. I know it was only five bucks, but throw out a sport as a guess rather than say "I don't know."
   61. Nasty Nate Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:36 PM (#4664177)
A fun way to watch is try to guess the winning final jeopardy "question" (answer) during the commercial break after they announce the category but before the clue.
   62. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:47 PM (#4664185)
The buzzer is all that separates the super-champs from your run of the mill 2-5 time champions.

The buzzer is the whole game. Once I figured that out, I couldn't really enjoy watching. You want a competition where the smartest guy wins but that's not it at all. All the contestants know the answers, it's just mastering the silly buzzer. That is less compelling.
   63. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:48 PM (#4664186)
A bunch of did Quiz Bowl (me included, HS only) and several did Jeopardy (me not included).

Jennings turns up on a lot of media I consume (podcasts and radio shows). He's a bright guy, but he doesn't come on the air and just blow you away with his incision or erudition the way, say, Mike Pesca or Moshe Kasher is.

Agreed, but quoted for the Pesca and Kasher complements. Never hear anyone refer to either of them, but they both merit praise.

Also, Voxter, feel free to elaborate on post 48 at a time and place of your choosing.
   64. The District Attorney Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:51 PM (#4664192)
I enjoy watching Jeopardy every now and then, but I continually find the "guess the question" gimmick annoying. It's a relic from when there were a lot of game shows and they all had to have some gimmick to get noticed
The traditional explanation is that, in the wake of the quiz show scandals, Merv Griffin (or actually his wife) figured, "They can't say we're giving the contestants the answers in secret if we're already giving them the answers on the show!" (Of course, that doesn't make any sense beyond a surface level, but maybe the network bought the logic, I don't know.)

I do think, although I can't really explain why, that the game would come off as far more bland if the answers were in the form of answers.

Jennings jumped around the board
He did not.

I know it was only five bucks, but throw out a sport as a guess rather than say "I don't know."
In an interview with Mental Floss (he's done a lot of interviews -- he is really trying to get his name out there), Chu said:
everyone laughs about sports—but I also knew that [sports clues] were the least likely to come up in Double Jeopardy and Final Jeopardy and be very important. So I decided I shouldn't sweat it too much, I should just recognize that I didn't know them and let that go, as long as I can get the high value clues.
So, although you could say it doesn't take all that much time and mental effort to name a random sport, he didn't even want to invest that much for no reward.

I think his basic approach was to have the strategy totally pre-planned so that he could focus 100% on answering the most questions and making the most money. If you buy that the mental aspect of the game is a huge part of it, which I do, that does sound pretty good. And of course, it's hard to argue with the results in any event.
   65. Chone Mueller Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4664194)
what i hate about jeopardy, and i mean hate, is the whole "lets talk to the contestant" part, i couldnt give a rats ass...


I absolutely agree with this. It was especially annoying when they would leave several answers on the board because of Trebek's yammering with the contestents. I stopped watching the show over this and I go back to the Art Fleming/John Pardo era. I got back on board with Jeopardy! last year when I acquired a DVR. Zipping through the chatter session and the Final Jeopardy tune (along with the commercials) makes it quick and more enjoyable than ever.
   66. BDC Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:56 PM (#4664195)
My fear is that I'd get the Final category TEXAS RANGERS BASEBALL, I'd blank and write WHO IS RICK HELLING? at the last second, and the answer would turn out to be NOLAN RYAN.
   67. Greg K Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:59 PM (#4664197)
My fear is that I'd get the Final category TEXAS RANGERS BASEBALL, I'd blank and write WHO IS RICK HELLING? at the last second, and the answer would turn out to be NOLAN RYAN.

That is the absolute worst part of any trivia game. Someone picks up a card and gives that most dreaded of intros: "Oh, wow, this is exactly your speciality, you'll get this one for sure!"
   68. Nasty Nate Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:01 PM (#4664198)
When the show started, were the answers actually plausible answers for the questions that the contestants have to name? That would make the gimmick more interesting. Now, it's just a trivia question contorted to fit the answer/question reversal gimmick.
   69. Swedish Chef Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:10 PM (#4664203)
Isn't the point of the Jeopardy gimmick that it gives the watching audience time to blurt out the answer?
   70. Swedish Chef Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:13 PM (#4664204)
Oh, and I remember the story about Greg K breaking into Toronto Zoo at night and not being eaten by antelopes. I'm sure that would be heavily featured in any game show chatter.
   71. Greg K Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:22 PM (#4664205)
Oh, and I remember the story about Greg K breaking into Toronto Zoo at night and not being eaten by antelopes. I'm sure that would be heavily featured in any game show chatter.

Right, I suppose that would have to be it. I suppose that is the perfect Jeopardy anecdote. Grabs your attention, and not enough time to tell the actual, banal story, so the viewers' imagination can fill in the gaps.

Unless they thought it relevant that I played a National Championship baseball team!
   72. Nasty Nate Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:23 PM (#4664206)
Isn't the point of the Jeopardy gimmick that it gives the watching audience time to blurt out the answer?


It doesn't seem like that would make a difference.

"This Yankee hall of famer was caught stealing to end the 1926 world series" doesn't take longer than "What Yankee hall of famer was caught stealing to end the 1926 world series?"
   73. Swedish Chef Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4664210)
"This Yankee hall of famer was caught stealing to end the 1926 world series" doesn't take longer than "What Yankee hall of famer was caught stealing to end the 1926 world series?"

Yes, but the contestant needs to utter a whole sentence with the answer at the end.
   74. Greg K Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:28 PM (#4664211)
"This Yankee hall of famer was caught stealing to end the 1926 world series" doesn't take longer than "What Yankee hall of famer was caught stealing to end the 1926 world series?"

A funner version might be an Apples to Apples-like game:

And here's the clue: "Babe Ruth"

The contestants all enter their proposed questions and the best one wins (for instance "What Yankee hall of famer was caught stealing to end the 1926 world series?" would beat "Who built Yankee Stadium").
   75. BDC Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:28 PM (#4664212)
"This Yankee hall of famer was caught stealing to end the 1926 world series"

WHO IS EARLE COMBS … Damn it! Damn it!
   76. Moeball Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4664219)
Chu, like Beane and Netflix and Warner Music Group, isn’t breaking any actual rules here. He’s just being ruthlessly, idol-killingly pragmatic, in a space where we don’t want pragmatism — we want pure genius!


People always hate it whenever someone else defeats them using a strategy that anyone could have and should have thought of...but didn't.

For example, the Redcoats were really ticked off when our Revolutionary soldiers wouldn't come out in the open and stand in line together so they could be shot more easily!

This is as old as time itself...someone always changes the strategy (in war, sports, business, etc.) and it's up to others to adapt.
   77. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:43 PM (#4664221)
In an average Jeopardy game, all 3 contestants know 50% of the answers, and 2 of 3 know 75%. The buzzer is all that separates the super-champs from your run of the mill 2-5 time champions.

I see people say this a lot, but are there actual stats on this? Even if sometimes you can't know because the first person to buzz in gets it right, you could probably do some reverse statistics on wrong answers and no answers and come up with a good estimate.

Furthermore, how do those numbers change when adjusted for prize value? The 100 and 200 dollar questions are fairly meaningless in the grand scheme of things but also most likely to skew the above stat significantly upward.
   78. stanmvp48 Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:49 PM (#4664223)
As I recall, when the show started, (Pardo and Fleming) you would be incorrect if you said "who" instead of "what". Agree, that this is a relic and they should get rid of it as well as the insipid human interest ####. Unless someone had really done something interesting.
   79. Howie Menckel Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:52 PM (#4664225)

"That part of Jeopardy is always difficult for me to watch, mostly because I think, "what anecdote or foible would be my 'Jeopardy' patter?" and how awkwardly Trebek would bring it up, how desperately I'd be forced to make it sound funny or endearing, and how that aspect of my life would forever be ruined for me."

I have one that I don't find all that interesting but for some reasons others do, making it perfectly banal for the show: My twin brother and I are married to women who were born on the same day, which happens to be 180 days apart from the birthday my brother and I share. And while he and I were born in the same year (duh), the women were born 14 years apart.

   80. Greg K Posted: February 28, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4664229)
This is as old as time itself...someone always changes the strategy (in war, sports, business, etc.) and it's up to others to adapt.

Or up to the larger community to say "that's lame, let's outlaw it". Although that could fall under others adapting. Such strategies as bunting a ball in such a way that it rolls into foul territory, base coaches running up and down waving their arms in order to distract the pitcher, getting a running start on a tag fly, or running over catchers were employed by someone until the community got together and decided they were strategies they didn't want in the game.

I think it's a legitimate discussion to have when someone starts taking advantage of a strategy that was always possible, but never used much until they came along. That doesn't mean every new strategy should be banned, but it's a perfectly valid discussion to have.

For example, the Redcoats were really ticked off when our Revolutionary soldiers wouldn't come out in the open and stand in line together so they could be shot more easily!

Also, I'm not an expert in the American Revolution by any means, but I'm not entirely sure this is accurate. As I understand it the Revolution was primarily fought with conventional means, and guerrilla tactics were employed on the periphery by both sides (and probably the most effective guerrilla soldiers were the native allies of the British. Though I'm sure someone who knows more about it can correct me). Of course your larger point stands...in a venue such as 18th century warfare, where there isn't really an equivalent of forming a rules committee and calling bunts foul balls, new strategies must be adapted to rather than removed.
   81. Nasty Nate Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:00 PM (#4664231)
I have one that I don't find all that interesting but for some reasons others do, making it perfectly banal for the show: My twin brother and I are married to women who were born on the same day, which happens to be 180 days apart from the birthday my brother and I share. And while he and I were born in the same year (duh), the women were born 14 years apart.


Is one 7 years older than you and the other 7 years younger, or is one the same age and the other 14 years older/younger?
   82. Bad Doctor Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:04 PM (#4664234)
In Jeopardy's case a tie is as good as a win as you keep your monetary winnings and have the opportunity on the next show to win more money.

I understand the article's second point (he calls it mind-game), but not his first (he calls it game theory).


Without reading the linked game theory article, I have to say I have long been a fan of this strategy if the second-place person is someone that the first-place person felt pretty comfortable beating in the current game. You never know who you are going to draw as competition in the next game. If you can assure one of them is a person you beat pretty handily in this game, why not lock that person in to one of the spots? Especially for someone like Chu ... he knows a lot, but not quite as much as the typical Tournament of Champions finalist, IMO. I'd eyeball him at 95th percentile knowledge with 95th percentile buzzer skills, as Jeopardy contestants go.

Another benefit of his category selection is that it probably puts him in better position than his opponents to remember when the answer is going to have a particular letter pattern or theme that is stated in the category title.
   83. Howie Menckel Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4664240)

"Is one 7 years older than you and the other 7 years younger, or is one the same age and the other 14 years older/younger?"

One 3 1/2 years older, the other 10 1/2 years younger

   84. Red Menace Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:19 PM (#4664241)
A former co-worker who won twice on Jeopardy said his biggest mistake was using the thumb, not the stronger forefinger, to indicate a response.


Was he a video game player? After decades of primarily using my thumbs to mash control pads I feel like my thumbs are superior to the index fingers.
   85. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:25 PM (#4664247)
The buzzer is the whole game. Once I figured that out, I couldn't really enjoy watching. You want a competition where the smartest guy wins but that's not it at all. All the contestants know the answers, it's just mastering the silly buzzer. That is less compelling.

It's not the whole game, but it's half the game, and I agree, it's less compelling to me since I figured that out.
   86. zonk Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:29 PM (#4664248)
My fear is that I'd get the Final category TEXAS RANGERS BASEBALL, I'd blank and write WHO IS RICK HELLING? at the last second, and the answer would turn out to be NOLAN RYAN.


OK... Now I want to train like hell, enter the contestant pool, and fight my way onto the show just I can write for my final jeopardy answer:

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH FRANK TANANA?
   87. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:30 PM (#4664250)
I see people say this a lot, but are there actual stats on this? Even if sometimes you can't know because the first person to buzz in gets it right, you could probably do some reverse statistics on wrong answers and no answers and come up with a good estimate.

Furthermore, how do those numbers change when adjusted for prize value? The 100 and 200 dollar questions are fairly meaningless in the grand scheme of things but also most likely to skew the above stat significantly upward.


It's my observation from being on the show, and since then paying attention to the players' hands. Most players hold the buzzer above the podium, so you can see who is trying to answer. It is all 3 a lot of the time.

Yes of course it works more for the low value, but those "gimme" questions are free money. If you can get effectively 90% of the "easy" ones (as Ken Jennings did) you don't have to do that great on the "hard" ones.

I kinda sucked at the buzzer, so I had to do well at the hard questions, and Final Jeopardy. It's hard to have a run away game unless you dominate the buzzer.

   88. The District Attorney Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:39 PM (#4664255)
I understand the article's second point (he calls it mind-game), but not his first (he calls it game theory).
To summarize this, let's say the leader has $20G and 2nd place has $14G. In standard betting, the leader would bet $8,001. 2nd place has two possible bets: $14G, or $2G. ($2G -- undoubtedly the better bet -- would be based on knowing that the leader has to get the question wrong for you to win anyway, and if they do get it wrong and make the standard bet, this bet is sufficient to put you ahead of them.)

What can happen?

Leader correct, 2nd place correct: Leader wins ($28,001 to either $28,000 or $16,000)
Leader correct, 2nd place incorrect: Leader wins ($28,001 to either $0 or $12,000)
Leader incorrect, 2nd place bets $14G and is correct: 2nd place wins ($28,000 to $11,999)
Leader incorrect, 2nd place bets $2G and is correct: 2nd place wins ($16,000 to $11,999)
Leader incorrect, 2nd place bets $14G and is incorrect: Leader wins ($11,999 to $0)
Leader incorrect, 2nd place bets $2G and is incorrect: 2nd place wins ($12,000 to $11,999)

But if the leader bets $8,000 instead, then:

Leader correct, 2nd place correct: Leader wins, either outright or via tie ($28,000 to either $28,000 or $16,000)
Leader correct, 2nd place incorrect: Leader wins ($28,000 to either $0 or $12,000)
Leader incorrect, 2nd place bets $14G and is correct: 2nd place wins ($28,000 to $12,000)
Leader incorrect, 2nd place bets $2G and is correct: 2nd place wins ($16,000 to $12,000)
Leader incorrect, 2nd place bets $14G and is incorrect: Leader wins ($12,000 to $0)
Leader incorrect, 2nd place bets $2G and is incorrect: Leader wins via tie ($12,000 each)

So, there is a scenario where it's better for the leader to bet $8,000, and (assuming no interest in knocking out the 2nd place player for the future...) there is no scenario where it's better for the leader to bet $8,001.

You could speculate that 2nd place could in turn anticipate that and bet $2,001 instead of $2,000... but (again, assuming they consider a tie to be as good as a win) there is no reason for them to do that.
   89. zenbitz Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:46 PM (#4664258)
We used to play jeopardy on the 8086 in monochrome back in 1988-89 in the dorm. We quickly learned that mashing the button and almost always betting all on Daily Doubles was the way to win. I think the questions were substantially easier than TV Jeopardy.

I am great at couch jepardy because I can speed read the question long before Alex finishes reading it aloud.
   90. Nasty Nate Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:50 PM (#4664260)

OK... Now I want to train like hell, enter the contestant pool, and fight my way onto the show just I can write for my final jeopardy answer:

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH FRANK TANANA?


heh... mine would be WHO IS KARIM GARCIA?

(and, yes, I have thought about this)
   91. Swoboda is freedom Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:50 PM (#4664261)
The only problem with jumping around is that is is easier to figure out what they are asking if you stay in the category. Sometimes the category title is misleading. I remember when Watson won, he missed badly on a couple of questions in one category, heard the answers, and then won the next 3 in the category. Sometimes easing in a a good strategy.

The betting strategies kill me when I watch. People don't bet enough on the daily doubles, especially when they are down late. They will be losing, but only bet enough to get within 50% of the leader. So they have all the risk of not being able to win if they miss the question but none of the reward. They need to bet it all.

Also final jeopardy betting is stupid, with people betting it all when they are down. They should be more strategic.
   92. Nasty Nate Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:54 PM (#4664265)

I am great at couch jepardy because I can speed read the question long before Alex finishes reading it aloud.


I've wondered if players on the show are listening, or are they close enough to a screen to read the clue? Reading is faster.
   93. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 28, 2014 at 04:56 PM (#4664267)
You could speculate that 2nd place could in turn anticipate that and bet $2,001 instead of $2,000... but (again, assuming they consider a tie to be as good as a win) there is no reason for them to do that.


That wouldn't matter to the leader. The only place where the second-place's $2K bet would matter to the leader in that situation is if the second-place person is incorrect, at which point 2K+1 would be worse for the second-place person than $2K.

The question is if the second-place finisher started betting $1,999.

There's one other reason why it might be smarter to play for the tie than the win - the positions could be reversed on the next episode, and you'd certainly appreciate the favor being returned.

   94. The District Attorney Posted: February 28, 2014 at 05:05 PM (#4664270)
The question is if the second-place finisher started betting $1,999.
Yes, sorry, my bad.

All other things being equal, you'd figure that maybe 2nd place would be more interested in not facing the leader again tomorrow, as opposed to the other way around... but I'd still maintain that, as the leader, I would be confident in my opponent being able to determine that $2G is the optimal solution. I suppose it's a bit of a prisoner's dilemma. In any event, it still wouldn't suggest a bet by the leader of $8,001; that wouldn't help any.
   95. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 05:08 PM (#4664273)
I've wondered if players on the show are listening, or are they close enough to a screen to read the clue? Reading is faster.

You can read them, unless your eyes are very bad.
   96. Red Menace Posted: February 28, 2014 at 05:12 PM (#4664275)
What if you already won a time or two and your main concern was earning as big a pay day as possible? I'd like to see a leader double down on Final Jeopardy if the category suits him. Suck it, Trebek!
   97. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 28, 2014 at 05:18 PM (#4664276)
Snapper:

Do you get to talk with the other contestants prior to filming?

Because it would make sense for all parties to simply agree to play for a tie. Under such a scenario, you'd only need to finish in the Top 2 (and have at least half as much as the leader at the end of Round 2) and get Final Jeopardy correct to guarantee you'd be playing the next episode.* Theoretically, two players who debuted on the same show could tie for first for five straight games, with each player receiving all the benefits that come with it.

* If the conditions were right, all three could keep doing this, though it would be harder to pull off (bringing in the third-place finisher carries more variables than the one DA listed above).
   98. Nasty Nate Posted: February 28, 2014 at 05:20 PM (#4664277)
I've wondered if players on the show are listening, or are they close enough to a screen to read the clue? Reading is faster.


You can read them, unless your eyes are very bad.


Maybe if they didn't show the contestants the clue screen until Trebek was done reading it, the importance of clicking ability would be diminished.
   99. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 05:22 PM (#4664278)
What if you already won a time or two and your main concern was earning as big a pay day as possible? I'd like to see a leader double down on Final Jeopardy if the category suits him. Suck it, Trebek!

It's pretty hard for your expected value to be better from that then from coming back another day.

Say you have $25,000, and it's a runaway. You can bet nothing or little and win an expected $25,000, or you can bet everything.

Even if you have a 2/3 chance of being right, your expected value only goes us to $33,500. Coming back the next day gives you, at minimum a 33% chance, but it should be at least 50% for a returning champ) to win approx. $20,000 (or whatever the avg. win is).

Expected value would generally always favor winning the game, and coming back.

   100. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 28, 2014 at 05:26 PM (#4664279)
Snapper:

Do you get to talk with the other contestants prior to filming?

Because it would make sense for all parties to simply agree to play for a tie. Under such a scenario, you'd only need to finish in the Top 2 (and have at least half as much as the leader at the end of Round 2) and get Final Jeopardy correct to guarantee you'd be playing the next episode.* Theoretically, two players who debuted on the same show could tie for first for five straight games, with each player receiving all the benefits that come with it.

* If the conditions were right, all three could keep doing this, though it would be harder to pull off (bringing in the third-place finisher brings in more variables than the one DA listed above).


You're in a "green room" with the ~15 contestants for the 5 shows they're filling that day (not everyone gets to play their first time, but they guarantee to bring them back).

So, except for the returning champ of game 1, yes you get to meet everyone, but you don't specifically know your opponents until right before the game. And in such a large group, there's basically no chance of making a deal. Plus, the staff would notice this and kick you all off pretty fast.

I did tie one of my games (it was the smart bet selfishly), and would have tied a second with the same woman (we entered FJ tied) if she had answered a relatively easy question correctly.
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