Bracket Buster

Tournament of Champions produces first big upset

Published March 3, 2024

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

The Tournament of Champions is in full swing, with this week’s games featuring quarterfinals #2 through #6.

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

31st Tournament of Champions, Quarterfinal #2, Monday, Feb. 26

Top-seeded Cris Pannullo got off to the best start, but an incorrect response on the number of megabytes in a gigabyte proved to be an important turning point after Jared Watson rebounded it. A few clues later, Jared scored a Truly Daily Double, tying Cris at the end of the round with $8,800. In Double Jeopardy Jared picked up 12 correct and a combined $11,000 on the Daily Doubles, en route to a shocking upset runaway victory. (Ben Goldstein was in a distant third.)

With no wild cards in this tournament, Final Jeopardy was moot. Regardless, the clue was in Art History: The Royal Academy of Arts has this man’s “La Fornarina” & in the 1800s the RAA’s love of him made some artists retreat to an earlier style. Jared closed out an impressive performance by being the only player to get Raphael (the retreating artists were the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood), as he moves on to the semifinals; you’ll see him next on March 7.

Quarterfinal #3, Tuesday, Feb. 27

David Sibley got off to a rocket start, doubling eight-day champion Hannah Wilson’s score after the first round. Hannah had the best start to Double Jeopardy, though, already leading by the time she found back-to-back Daily Doubles. She got the first one correct, then bet $10,000 in a bid to put the game out of reach… but she gave an incorrect response, handing the lead to David. From there, David picked up several high-valued clues to take that lead all the way to Final Jeopardy. (Yungsheng Wang advanced out of Champions Wildcard back in the fall, but struggled on the buzzer in this game, only getting in 31% of the time.)

The Final Jeopardy clue in Military History: A prototype of this craft was deployed in August 1955; it made headlines in May 1960. All three players found what they were looking for–the U-2 plane–and David advanced to a March 8 semifinal (where he’ll meet first-quarterfinal winner Emily Sands).

Quarterfinal #4, Wednesday, Feb. 28

Jake DeArruda took a big lead in the Jeopardy round; a late True Daily Double took him to $14,400, the second-highest ToC opening-round score of all time (behind Brad Rutter). Yogesh Raut reeled in Jake’s lead in just four Double Jeopardy clues, though, aided by a pair of incorrect responses from Jake in a literature category. Nick Cascone found both Daily Doubles, getting back into contention on the first before a costly $10,000 miss on the second. From there, Yogesh went on a tear, picking up 17 correct to finish with not quite a runaway.

To have a chance, Jake needed a correct response in 1950s Politics: In 1959 Bob Bartlett & Hiram Fong each won a coin flip to gain this alliterative title. No one came up with “senior senator”—Bartlett and Fong won the tosses for seniority in new states Alaska and Hawaii, respectively. Yogesh joined David and Emily to round out the March 8 semifinal.

Quarterfinal #5, Thursday, Feb. 29

Viewers hoping for an exciting Leap Day game were not disappointed on Thursday. Juveria Zaheer, who had run both the Second Chance and Champions Wildcard gauntlet, led this $8,000–$0–$0 after seven clues, with a $4,000 True Daily Double helping considerably. However, Luigi de Guzman was not to be outshone, converting two TDDs in Double Jeopardy. Both Luigi and Juveria took more than $20,000 to Final Jeopardy, with Juveria holding a slim lead. Kevin Belle had the worst buzzer experience yet, getting in 27% of the time (but just 19% in Double Jeopardy).

World Travel was the Final Jeopardy category: The name of this service that began Nov. 14, 1994 echoes the Étoile du Nord, which linked Paris, Brussels & Amsterdam from 1927. Only Luigi successfully named Eurostar, as Juveria’s Cinderella run ended. Luigi will play in the third semifinal on March 11.

Quarterfinal #6, Friday, Mar. 1

The week-ender saw eight-day champion Stephen Webb drop into the red early, due to a missed Daily Double. He never got back on track, struggling with incorrect responses, and did not survive into Final Jeopardy. Josh Saak held an early advantage in his two-man race with Brian Henegar, but Brian found his stride in Double Jeopardy, picking up 13 correct responses. Even a missed $3,200 Daily Double midway through the round didn’t keep him from leading into Final Jeopardy.

The week’s final clue was in Countries of the World: Fearful of independence in 1975, around 120,000 of this country’s people, a third of the population, fled to the Netherlands. Josh guessed Papua New Guinea, which also got some measure of independence that year, but neither he nor Brian thought of Suriname in South America. Brian held onto his lead, and will join Luigi on March 11.

Other notes:

  • Next week will feature the last three quarterfinals—including Monday’s, wherein #2 seed Ray Lalonde takes on Celebrity champion Ike Barinholtz–and the first two semifinals.

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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