Back to the Buzzsaw

In first full non-tournament week, one champ finds a hot hand

Published April 21, 2024

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

Alison Betts returned on Monday as a two-day champion, kicking off the first full week of regular play in Season 40.

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

Monday, Apr. 15

Challenger Joshua Beckett matched Alison clue-for-clue early on, while Adam Sieff struggled significantly on the buzzer—Adam didn’t successfully get in even once in the opening round! Alison broke the game open in Double Jeopardy, picking up a pair of $5,000 Daily Doubles en route to a runaway victory. Adam finally got in four times, and was at least still in contention for second place.

Final Jeopardy was in Great Brits: From 1689 to 1690 & 1701 to 1702, he served as a Member of Parliament representing the constituency of Cambridge University. Yes, Isaac Newton also had a political career; Alison’s correct response added $9,000, upping her three-day total to $97,500. Joshua also got Newton, so Adam wound up in third after all. 

Tuesday, Apr. 16

Alison’s quest for win #4 started well; she picked up the Daily Double just before the first ad break. But Eric Reimund rebounded well in Double Jeopardy—until the last Daily Double, when he forgot to phrase his correct response in the form of a question. Despite that $8,000 miscue, he maintained a $400 lead at the end of Double Jeopardy. Strong on the buzzer, Veronica Tabor gave a number of incorrect responses that dropped her to $0, and relegated her to spectator mode for Final Jeopardy.

That clue was in Words & Their Meanings: Churchill gave a word a new meaning when he called for a “talk with Soviet Russia upon the highest level… a parley at” this. Neither Alison nor Eric could complete “a parley at the summit”; Alison made a small bet of just $1,000 and ended up with her fourth victory on Eric’s incorrect response, adding $10,200 to give her a 4-day total of $107,700.

Wednesday, Apr. 17

The opening round saw a spirited battle between Alison, Vidya Revella, and Jeff Plate. But this one would be decided by the Daily Doubles in Double Jeopardy. Alison nailed a $4,800 True Daily Double, then Vidya’s comeback attempt ended with a $6,000 loss just a couple of clues later; she would miss Final Jeopardy. Meanwhile, Jeff could not keep Alison from winning her fifth game in runaway fashion, $12,800-$5,400.

Final Jeopardy, for bragging rights, in Organizations: The press called the donations received after this org.’s 1938 founding “a silver tide which actually swamped the White House”; Alison’s correct response of the March of Dimes brought her five-day total to $121,500. 

Thursday, Apr. 18

If Marko Saric and Rob Blumenstein were intimidated by Alison’s win streak, they didn’t show it: All three players had scores between $3,600 and $5,000 at the end of the Jeopardy round, with the challengers splitting the Daily Doubles on the second board. When the dust settled, the scores were still close: Marko led with $12,900, Alison had $11,000, and Rob $9,600.

Final Jeopardy was in Alphabetical America: Until Alabama became the 22nd state, this one was first alphabetically. All three players fell into the show’s trap—picking Arkansas, which became a state 17 years after the Yellowhammer State—instead of that one of the original 13, Connecticut. Marko had to bet big to cover Alison. Alison was in Stratton’s Dilemma, forced to choose between offense and defense. Rob chose to bet big, thinking Alison would bet small. Alison chose offense, and all those big wagers meant a win for Marko at just $3,799.

While Alison’s streak ended at five, we’ll see her again in next year’s Tournament of Champions.

Friday, Apr. 19

Marko’s title defense was helped by more strong buzzer play—he was 63% in Game 1 and 64% in this game—as he led challengers Molly Fitzpatrick and Scott Nations after 30 clues. Even losing $4,500 on a Daily Double didn’t derail Marko too much; while Scott did nearly double his score on the last Daily Double, Marko’s 23 correct responses gave him a fairly comfortable lead before Final Jeopardy.

The week’s final clue was in Comic Book Characters: Featured in a 2020 film, she gets her name from a 16th c. Italian stock character who often wore diamond-patterned outfits. Harley Quinn is named for the “harlequin”; both Marko and Molly were correct here, and Marko did a lot better than $3,799; his two-day total is $26,600.

Other notes from the week:

  • Today was the debut of an Australian version of the show—six episodes hosted by Stephen Fry, featuring Australians in the U.K. I doubt the show will take off, though; the Coriolis Effect doesn’t make Saturday any better of a TV night.
  • Next week, Marko Saric goes for win #3 as regular play continues.

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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