Don’t Bet the Farm

For better and worse, conservative wagers characterize the Jeopardy! week

Published October 8, 2023

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

This week sees the beginning of Jeopardy!‘s first ever Champions Wildcard competition, in which Season 37 & 38 champions who did not qualify for the Tournament of Champions return in groups of 27 players, playing a quarterfinal, semifinal, and two-game final. Naturally, the winner receives a Tournament of Champions berth.

It’s also really important to note that, once again, this is replacement programming because the show felt unable to proceed normally due to the recently-ended WGA strike. While this programming is a part of Season 40, it’s also still part of a three-month strike “holding pattern” in the show’s continuity.

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

Quarterfinal #1 – Monday, Oct. 2

Scoring was down in this first quarterfinal as a result of 16 combined incorrect responses and 12 Triple Stumpers; however, things were very interesting mathematically going into Final Jeopardy, as Dane Reighard, Burt Thakur, and Emily Seaman Hoy’s scores were in a 3:2:1 proportion: Dane with $10,800, Burt with $7,200, and Emily with $3,600.1

Final Jeopardy was in Presidential Proclamations: Both issued in April, 80 years apart, the first proclamations by these 2 presidents each declared national days of mourning. None of the players were able to come up with Andrew Johnson and Harry Truman—whose predecessors died in April in 1865 & 1945, respectively—and it came down to the betting. Burt should have bet $0, but went all-in instead, sending Dane through to the semifinals.

Quarterfinal #2 – Tuesday, Oct. 3

Lawrence Long—who went viral in his initial appearance after being introduced as a stay-at-home uncle—made a big move midway through this one

by successfully converting a True Daily Double early in Double Jeopardy. From there, he cruised to a runaway game over Greg Marrero and Katrina Hill.

Final Jeopardy in this one was in The 1500s: In the early 1500s he produced a codex in words & pictures on the flight of birds, one of many subjects that interested him. Interestingly, both Katrina and Lawrence could have used 32 seconds and not 30—Katrina needed some more time to complete a shoutout, whereas Lawrence needed more time to finish a response of Leonardo da Vinci. But Greg’s correct response was moot; Lawrence is semifinalist.

Quarterfinal #3 – Wednesday, Oct. 4

Kendra Blanchette was cruising with a big lead on Wednesday, but she wasn’t really searching for the last Daily Double—which gave John Bussard an opening to get back into contention. Sure enough, he found and converted it for $6,000 to stop a possible Kendra runaway, with Evan Roberts in a distant third.

Final Jeopardy for Hump Day was in American Immigrants: His 1904 will stipulated that “all the sums hereinbefore specified for prizes shall be used for prizes only.” The good news for John was he was the only player to come up with Joseph Pulitzer. The bad news2 was that he made a $0 bet when he shouldn’t have, and Kendra had enough to advance to the semifinals. 

Quarterfinal #4 – Thursday, Oct. 5

In what was overall the most competitive three-way game of the week, Brendan Sargent, Joe Feldmann, and Amanda Ganske were all over five figures after the Double Jeopardy Round, thanks to both Joe and Amanda making good headway on the Daily Doubles.

Final Jeopardy was in Global Geology: In this nation of 360,000 people, you can walk along the boundaries of the Eurasian & North American tectonic plates. In a “Slumdog Millionaire moment” for Joe, who had walked along that rift on a trip to Iceland just a week before taping, he gave the only correct response—which made him semifinalist #4 for the week.

In better news for Brendan, the wish he made in his interview—for guest host Katie Couric to release a selfie she had taken during his initial appearance—was granted very quickly on Thursday evening. 

Quarterfinal #5 – Friday, Oct. 6

The week’s final game started slowly, with four of the game’s six total incorrect responses happening before the first commercial break, but Daniel Nguyen and Matt Glassman had an excellent battle throughout the Double Jeopardy Round. Daniel took a slim $1,600 lead into Final, with Jamie Logan still in contention but well back in third place.

The week ended with this Final Jeopardy in Composers: He was given piano lessons by Madame Maute de Fleurville, the mother-in-law of Paul Verlaine, whose poetry he would later set to music. Jamie was the only player to come up with Claude Debussy, which would have normally boded well for her. However, Daniel made the week’s fourth $0 bet—and this one worked out perfectly for him, making him the fifth semifinalist.

Celebrity Jeopardy! Quarterfinal #2 — Wednesday, Oct. 4

The second quarterfinal in this year’s Celebrity Jeopardy! tournament took place on Wednesday night, this one between Timothy Simons (Veep), Lisa Ann Walter (Abbott Elementary), and Brian Baumgartner (The Office).

Lisa Ann started off slowly, trailing both Brian and Timothy after the opening round, but she picked up 12 correct in both Double Jeopardy and Triple Jeopardy to barely have a runaway game going into Final. Along the way, she made many tributes to her mother, who originally made her a Jeopardy! fan.

Lisa Ann’s success definitely came at the expense of Brian, who had asked golf buddy, former guest host, and former celeb winner Aaron Rodgers for advice. We’re not sure how good the advice was; Brian only got nine correct responses total across the last two rounds of the game. Meanwhile, Tim got a thumbs-down from the judges on a response in Scientists’ Rhyme Time: Danish physicist Niels’ small openings in skin. They were looking for “Bohr’s pores,” but Tim said “Bohr’s pore”—the judges are very strict on Rhyme Time, as Ken noted during the game.

Tim also had the game’s most comical moment. Coming into the final Daily Double, Tim had $7,100—and said he wanted to make it a True Daily Double. When Ken confirmed that Tim wanted to bet all $7,100, it turned out that Tim thought that a True Daily Double meant wagering the original clue value. From now on, if I refer to a “Tim Simons bet,” you’ll know what I mean!

Final Jeopardy was purely academic thanks to Lisa Ann’s runaway, but all three contestants came up with the correct response to this clue in World Landmarks: Also famously cracked like the Liberty Bell, this 14-ton landmark still sounds its distinctive bong every hour. It’s Big Ben. Lisa Ann will join Utkarsh Ambudkar in the semifinals later this season, while Timothy and Brian earned $30,000 for the Friends of LAHSA and the Motion Picture Television Fund, respectively.

One other note: With regards to how I noted last week that these Celebrity games felt more difficult than past years, the closing credits are showing that a different team of writers3 had written this season of Celebrity Jeopardy! compared to both the regular games as well as last season; that is likely a major reason for the clues feeling different.

Other notes from the week

  • Amy Schneider’s memoir, In The Form of a Question: The Joys and Rewards of a Curious Life released on Tuesday. I reviewed the book for The Jeopardy! Fan; I think it will be a very inspirational memoir to many in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.
  • As I predicted, this week’s games did have a lot of repeated categories; nearly two-thirds of this week’s categories (39 of 60) had at least one reused clue in them.

Next week, the mothership show sees four Champions Wildcard quarterfinals and the first semifinal – while over in prime time, Celebrity Jeopardy!‘s third quarterfinal, featuring sports commentator Katie Nolan, daytime talk show host Sherri Shepherd, and Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime).

  1.  With scores at 10800–7200–3600, the leader’s “cover” bet is 3601 (7200 x 2 = 14400; 14400 + 1 = 14401; 14401 – 10800 = 3601). If the leader is incorrect with that bet, the leader falls to 7199, therefore, the player on 7200 should bet $0.
  2.  Kendra had 23,200 to John’s 14,200; Kendra’s “cover” bet is 5201. (14200 x 2 = 28400; 28400 + 1 = 28401; 28401 – 23200 = 5201). Kendra on an incorrect response fell to 17999; thus, John, on 14200, needed to bet at least 3,800.
  3. Credited for Celebrity Jeopardy! this season: Bobby Patton, Kyle Beakley, Chip Dornell, David Levinson Wilk, and Amy Oslos.

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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