All Twisting, All Turning

Revisiting a week of rollercoaster rides on the Trebek Stage

Published November 19, 2023

Welcome back to my weekly rundown from the world of Jeopardy!

We were back to a six-episode week; viewers saw five Clubs bracket quarterfinals in Champions Wildcard, as well as the return of Celebrity Jeopardy.

Each heading contains a link to my daily write-up over at The Jeopardy! Fan

Clubs Bracket, Quarterfinal #3: Monday, Nov. 13

The week kicked off with an absolute barn-burner of a match. Fred Nelson was mostly in control of his one, having converted a $5,000 Daily Double midway through Double Jeopardy. However, Stuart Crane got control of the board and got a $10,200 True Daily Double correct to draw close. By the end of the round, leader Fred and second-placed Stuart scored over $20,000 each, while Emily Fiasco trailed with a respectable $11,000.

Iconic Brands was the first Final Jeopardy category of the week: In 1916 it began packaging its flagship product in a variety of glass called Georgia green. Glass + Georgia was enough for all three of our players to name Coca-Cola, and Fred bet enough to advance to the semifinals.

Quarterfinal #4: Tuesday, Nov. 14

A Daily Double miss in the opening round was only a speed bump for Nick Cascone; his Double Jeopardy round included 10 correct and 0 incorrect, with a $5,000 Daily Double giving him a lead over Brandon Deutsch that he would not relinquish. Thanks to an incorrect Daily Double of her own, Emily White fell out of contention.

The Final Jeopardy, in Historic Objects: The inscription of this, made in 1753, concludes “unto all the inhabitants thereof.” While Brandon went for a small bet and a shout-out, Nick didn’t miss; he and Emily remembered the Liberty Bell, and Nick advanced to the semifinals.

Quarterfinal #5: Wednesday, Nov. 15

Leah Caglio – who founded Head in the Clouds Trivia with a fellow Seattle-area Jeopardy! alumna – got off to a hot start, getting 9 of the first 15 clues correct. Both Leah and Kit Sekelsky seemed to be in control of this one, as Henry Rozycki sat mired in a distant third place with a mere $2,000 and only nine clues to play. But not so fast: Henry scored a True Daily Double, and then nearly did it again on the final clue of Double Jeopardy, to take a slim lead!

The Final Jeopardy category was Washington, D.C.: It was proposed in Congress in 1926 in honor of a big 150th anniversary; it opened 17 years later. None of our players could successfully name the Jefferson Memorial, dedicated to the lead author of the Declaration of Independence. And in another shocking turn of events, both Henry (from the lead) and Leah (from second place) bet their entire score, leaving Kit as a surprise semifinalist.

Quarterfinal #6: Thursday, Nov. 16

Thursday’s game saw a bit of misdirection from the writers. The first instance came on the last Daily Double, in a category called “That’s Misleading”:1 Scott Plummer faced a clue of “Paintings seen along the sloping path for wheelchairs” and was unable to come up with “ramp art.” Enough fans thought the clue was unfair to prompt news articles about it, but in fact it was a reused clue – and contestant Noah Rachels was correct when the clue ran in 2012 (plus it wasn’t a Daily Double then, so he had less time to puzzle it out.) 

Regardless, Amy Bekkerman held a runaway going into Final Jeopardy, with Tim Moon in second and Scott in third. Then, another misdirect in Final Jeopardy, in the category Poets: 1793 reports of the killing of a Hector Munro by a wild animal in India may have inspired one of this man’s best-known poems. Many viewers here—along with Tim and Amy—stopped at Kipling and were incorrect, while Scott correctly named William Blake, writer of “The Tyger.” With the game locked up anyway, Amy became semifinalist #6.

Quarterfinal #7: Friday, Nov. 17

Carrie Cadwallader had what she called “the game of her life,” picking up a stunning 30 correct responses in the opening two rounds, and even running two of the Jeopardy round’s six categories. However, an early True Daily Double in Double Jeopardy from Danielle Maurer, plus some costly incorrect responses from Carrie on high-valued clues, meant that everything was still to play for, and everyone was in contention going into Final Jeopardy (including third-placed David Ferrara.)

It all came down to Final Jeopardy, in Literary Characters: In his first appearance in 1902, he was described as “betwixt-and-between” a boy & a bird. Danielle, who gained fame in 2022 for ending Mattea Roach’s win streak, successfully named Peter Pan to pull off another shock victory. Incredibly, Danielle had only 14 correct to Carrie’s 30 in the main game, going to show that there are many possible paths to victory.

Celebrity Jeopardy!, Quarterfinal #7: Wednesday, Nov. 15

This matchup was hotly anticipated, featuring WWE superstar Becky Lynch, Saturday Night Live‘s Rachel Dratch (best known as Debbie Downer), and Home Alone’s Macaulay Culkin. Even the fans were looking forward to it—this episode set a season high in the ratings department. 

This one had two separate storylines. First, Mack and Rachel had an epic battle—the game saw nine lead changes and two ties. Secondly, Becky struggled. Lacking confidence after it seemed as though every one of her responses wasn’t quite correct enough to be given credit, Becky had the ignominious distinction of being the first known player in the current incarnation of the show to see two full boards without a correct response.

Fortunately for Becky, a Celebrity Jeopardy board these days has a Triple Jeopardy round, and she picked up the 73rd and 74th clues of the match to avoid being completely shut out. However, she still couldn’t pull herself out of the negative; the producers had to spot her $500 for Final Jeopardy.

Meanwhile, the exciting Mack–Rachel battle wasn’t resolved until Rachel’s buzzer timing came just when she needed it; she ran the last five clues of Triple Jeopardy to pull out a slight advantage going into Final.

The category was Artists: Exhumed in 2017 to settle a paternity suit, his mustache had “preserved its classic 10-past-10 position” according to the Spanish press. All three players—yes, even Becky—came up with Salvador Dali. The stress wasn’t over for Rachel, though. After Mack went all in, Rachel was very nervous, worried that she had messed up her math. As it turned out, Rachel made the perfect covering bet, taking this battle by a single dollar! She’ll be back for the semifinals; her charity, City Harvest, is still in the running for the million-dollar grand prize. The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, courtesy of Mack, and The V Foundation, courtesy of Becky, will receive $30,000 each.

I’d love to see Macaulay Culkin again in a celebrity match—he was one of the strongest non-winning players I’ve seen—and I think I’d also like to see Mack’s partner Brenda Song play at some point. Mack credited Brenda’s flashcards with a lot of his own strong play in this one.

Other notes:

  • While categories still had some repeated content this week, there were significantly fewer instances of entire categories repeated verbatim. We’re now seeing one or two rehashed clues, with three or four new ones sprinkled in (and some minor re-wordings in other cases). This is what I’d been expecting to see starting last week – and it makes sense, as the writers are also hard at work preparing for the return of Season 39 players.
  • Next week features the last two quarterfinals from the Champions Wildcard Clubs bracket, followed by the three semifinals. Celebrity Jeopardy takes another week off due to Thanksgiving, but will return with the last two quarterfinals on Nov. 29 & Dec. 6. Viewers should also be reminded to check their local listings, especially on Thursday and Friday, as the holiday weekend usually sees holiday- and sports-related shufflings of Jeopardy! airtimes.
  1. The object was to take the unusual description in the clue to create a compound word or phrase—an earlier clue was “eyed an equine” to refer to “sawhorse.”

Andy Saunders covers Jeopardy! daily as site administrator for The Jeopardy! Fan. He is also a founding archivist of The J! Archive. His weekly recap appears at Questionist every Sunday.

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