My Little Runaway

Second Chancer rides lock games to Wildcard berth

Published September 24, 2023

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

For those of you who are hoping for new contestants, I have some bad news for you: it’s going to be a while before we do—television listings are showing tournaments until at least December, and I expect that it’ll be even longer than that before we see Lucas Partridge defending his title.

This week is the second of three Second Chance competitions, all featuring non-champion players from Season 37, with the week’s winner advancing to a Champion’s Wildcard event later this fall. Nine players played in three semifinal matches Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, with the winners advancing to a “two-game total-point affair” final on Thursday and Friday.

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

Semifinal #1 — Monday, Sept. 18:

I opened my first recap last week with “Contestants generally under-bet Daily Doubles”; once again, Daily Double bet sizing was a major theme for the week’s games. Unfortunately, Matt Walks—who had a feel-good interview story about having found his partner through his first appearance on the show—was “twice bitten, thrice shy” in his Daily Double bets; the money he left on the table when he got the third Daily Double correct would have prevented Deanna Bolio from having a runaway going into Final; Deanna had $19,600, Matt was in third at $8,000, and Elliott Goodman was in second with $8,800.

Final Jeopardy’s category was AUTHORS: He dedicated books to each of his 4 wives, including Hadley Richardson & Martha Gellhorn. Unfortunately for Matt, he was the only player to pull Ernest Hemingway, and Deanna’s runaway sent her through to the week’s final.

Semifinal #2 — Tuesday, Sept. 19:

Elizabeth Devereaux—the third player from Matt Amodio‘s debut game—was cruising in Tuesday’s semifinal. Unfortunately, a $5,000 Daily Double miss midway through Double Jeopardy brought Rob Kim and Morgan Halvorsen back into contention. Rob took the lead for good on the penultimate clue of Double Jeopardy, holding a $400 lead over Elizabeth going into Final Jeopardy.

The final clue of this one was in HISTORIC GEOGRAPHY: Of Spain’s colonial possessions in the Americas, this 3,400 square mile one in the Antilles never gained independence, but did change hands. Rob was the only one to come up with Puerto Rico, and became the second player to reach Thursday and Friday’s games.

Semifinal #3 — Wednesday, Sept. 20:

While she struggled a little bit with the signaling device, only getting in 41% of the time, Pam Sung’s 44 attempts were more than enough for her to dominate the run of play on Wednesday. Only dropping $3,000 on an opera Daily Double kept her from having a runaway over Brian Ross and Alex Lamb going into Final Jeopardy!

Wednesday’s Final (in 20th CENTURY PEOPLE): In 2022 the Dept. of Energy noted “a flawed process” & vacated a 1954 commission’s decision “in the matter of” this man. All three players came up with J. Robert Oppenheimer—a relatively straightforward Final for anyone who went to the movies this summer—and Pam was advancing to the weekly final.

Final, Game #1 — Thursday, Sept. 21:

Pam’s timing on the signaling device improved in Game 1 of the two-game total-point final—she was successful 54% of the time in this one, and her $18,000 score was further buoyed by getting both Daily Doubles correct in Double Jeopardy. Deanna’s strong play in the opening round—she had $8,200 after the Jeopardy Round—meant she was still in a good position at $12,200 going into Final Jeopardy; meanwhile, Rob Kim was in a distant third already at $6,200.

This Final Jeopardy—in the category FIRST NAMES IN SCIENCE—turned the match on its ear: First name of the paleontologist who in 1990 noticed some large vertebrae jutting from an eroding bluff in South Dakota. Deanna knew the clue was referring to Sue, the large T-Rex in the Field Museum in Chicago (named after its discoverer); she was the only player to get the clue correct. Deanna’s score went up to $16,200, while Pam’s score fell $8,000 to $10,000 and Rob’s dropped to $3,400. While Pam and Rob weren’t out of it, Deanna certainly had the upper hand going into Friday.

Final, Game #2 — Friday, Sept. 22:

Day 2 of the final started with confusion after Ken had Pam select the first clue instead of first-day leader Deanna. (Pam would have had first selection under past rules, but this rule recently changed.) However, it didn’t affect the players, who were all within $2,000 after the Jeopardy Round.

Everything was still very much to play for in Double Jeopardy, even after Deanna picked up $2,400 on the first Daily Double of the round. The last one, which didn’t come out until the 27th clue, gave Rob a golden opportunity to bring himself back into the match. Unfortunately, he only bet $4,000 of his $7,000 score up to that point, with ramifications that wouldn’t become apparent for another few minutes. After the last clue of the round—worth just $400—fell for a Triple Stumper1, the Day 2 scores were with Deanna at $12,400, Rob at $11,400, and Pam at $9,200. Rob’s maximum score was $26,200, Pam’s maximum was $28,400, and Deanna’s combined 2-day score was $28,600. Deanna had a runaway—barely.

Deanna barely having a runaway proved crucial for the second time in under a week. Final Jeopardy, in COMPOSERS: A fireworks display followed the April 27, 1749 premiere of a work by this man that had been commissioned by George II. Pam and Rob came up with Handel (composer of “Music for the Royal Fireworks”), while Deanna did not. Deanna stood pat with her runaway, and she’ll be advancing to Champions Wildcard—a deserving Second Chance winner, having outplayed her four opponents this week. Pam was the runner-up, and Rob took third.

Other notes from the week:

Next week sees Week 3 of Second Chance, with Wednesday night seeing the return of Celebrity Jeopardy; Mark Duplass (Chip on The Morning Show), Emily Hampshire (Stevie on Schitt’s Creek), and Utkarsh Ambudkar (Jay on Ghosts) play on ABC at 8:00 (7:00 Central). One thing to note with this season of Celebrity Jeopardy is that actors won’t be able to promote their work due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike; thus, viewers might have to do more work to determine what these celebs have appeared in.

  1. MAY WE QUOTE YOU? $400: Twisting a phrase around, Oscar Wilde called this “the curse of the drinking classes” What is work?

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.

2 thoughts on “My Little Runaway

  1. Thomas Gazdayka says:

    I must have missed something, but why are words blacked out in the sentences? Just curious,

  2. Diana Tenery says:

    They are! This is so the readers can try their hand at answering the final Jeopardy! questions before seeing the answers. On mobile, tapping the blacked text will reveal the answer. On desktop browsers, hovering your mouse over the blacked text will reveal the answer. Happy solving!

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