Jeopardy! Masters a tradition unlike any other

(unlike any other that started in 2023, that is)

Published May 5, 2024

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

Things ramped up in the Jeopardy! world this week as the show entered its busiest month of the year. In addition to the five regular games (Amy Hummel entered the week as a 3-day champion), viewers also saw the opening game of this season of Jeopardy! Masters.

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

Monday, Apr. 29

In Amy’s fourth game, players struggled early with incorrect responses; Ferdinand Percenti and Kirsten Lundquist combined with her for 10 incorrect in the Jeopardy round. Ferdinand found his footing in Double Jeopardy, though, nailing both Daily Doubles in a three-clue span, adding 40% to his score, and leaving him with a non-runaway lead heading into Final Jeopardy.

That clue was in Nicknames: Surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku has been called this 2-word name that describes any dominant person or expert. Both Kirsten and Amy thought of the Big Kahuna, but Ferdinand did not; Amy’s four-day winnings reached $85,794.

Tuesday, Apr. 30

As Amy sought her all-important fifth win, Bryan Carrasco and Laura Bligh kept things very close early, with all three players separated by just $600 through 30 clues. Bryan took a big swing in Double Jeopardy, but an incorrect True Daily Double knocked him out of contention. Then Laura missed the final clue of Double Jeopardy, and Amy got the rebound, leading to a tie for the lead and a very dramatic Final Jeopardy.

Fictional Groups was the category for that one: Maybe because he was too Baroque, Bernini was rejected as a name for a member of this group created in 1983. This time, Laura was the one of the three who couldn’t puzzle out the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Amy’s five-day winnings climbed to $100,994.

Wednesday, May 1

Challenger Weckiai Rannila got out to an early lead—and revealed in her interview that “Alex Trebek” were among her first words—but Nils Cousin had a strong round too, leading at the midway point after nine correct responses. In Double Jeopardy, Amy doomed her chances of matching the win total of Questionist chief editor Christopher Short (Damn straight – Ed.) by adding an extra letter and syllable1 on a Daily Double; Weckiai finished the round in a strong but not insurmountable position.

Nils needed a correct response on this clue in Executive Orders: On Nov. 15, 1961 JFK suspended the 8-hour workday at this agency, saying its work needed to proceed “with all possible speed.” All three players went for military/intelligence instead of NASA, and Weckiai took home victory at $9,999.

Amy joined Alison Betts as an early Tournament of Champions entrant; we’ll see her again in 2025. 

Thursday, May 2

Thursday was definitely a game of two very different halves: Weckiai, Angelus Kocoshis, and Sarah Hardy combined for 29 correct responses in the opening round, but eight incorrect and seven Triple Stumpers in Double Jeopardy. Weckiai led again going into Final, with Sarah in second and Angelus third thanks to a missed Daily Double.

Final Jeopardy went to space again, in the category Countries With Space Programs: It launched its first satellite, Asterix, in 1965. All three players connected Asterix to France as Weckiai’s second victory sent her total to $28,000.

Friday, May 3

Weckiai and challenger Deana Krumhansl struggled early with incorrect responses, allowing Henry Lindstrom to jump out to a lead. The group combined for three Triple Stumpers in World Series MVPs (though that’s hardly a record for a sports category). Weckiai got five more wrong in Double Jeopardy, and sat third going into Final; at the other end, Henry finally lost his lead at the very end, as Deana picked up the last two clues.

Another dramatic Final Jeopardy would be contested in 1990s No. 1 Songs: This title character of the top song from 1996 can’t stand her boyfriend Vitorino & spurns him to be with his 2 friends. The writers were looking for recent Thrice answer Macarena; only Weckiai gave it (The Thrice players didn’t do very well either – Ed.). Henry could have won from second with a smaller wager, but instead Weckiai pulled off a shock come-from-behind victory. With $35,200 banked after three wins, she’ll be back to defend on Monday.

Jeopardy! Masters, Episode #1, Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Jeopardy’s newest premiere competition resumed this week, with six top players—James Holzhauer, Mattea Roach, Matt Amodio, Yogesh Raut, Victoria Groce, and Amy Schneider—competing for a $500,000 prize over nine episodes on ABC primetime.

This year’s competition will run similar to last year’s, with quarterfinal, semifinal, and final phases. The main difference this year is the removal of one quarterfinal. Each game’s winner gets three match points; second place gets one, and third place none. The top four players at the end of the quarterfinals on May 15 will advance to the semifinals on May 17 & 20, with a 2-game total-point final airing May 22.

Game 1 

The opening round was evenly contested, with Victoria Groce holding a lead of just 1,600 points (not dollars) at the end of the Jeopardy round. Victoria found another gear in Double Jeopardy, though, buzzing in on an astounding 73% of her attempts. Her strong play forced Matt Amodio into a True Daily Double midway through the round, where an incorrect response took him out of contention. From there, Victoria picked up 7,000 on the last Daily Double, and cruised to a runaway for three match points, with Mattea Roach picking up one in what was, in fact, a double-runaway.

So truly nothing was at stake on this clue in Latin Science Terms: In 1694 the latest in bio-knowledge was Tournefort’s “Elements of Botany” listing 698 of these, like ambrosia & chrysanthemum. Locked-out Matt got some consolation, as the only one who came up with “genus/genera.”

Game 2

The second game featured James Holzhauer, Yogesh Raut, and Amy Schneider. James missed an early chance to lead by missing a True Daily Double; instead, Yogesh led on the strength of 12 correct responses–then converted a 9,400-point True Daily Double to consolidate a lead that would eventually grow to a runaway win.

The Final Jeopardy category was World Heritage Sites: This entire capital is a World Heritage Site “linked to the history of the military & charitable order of St. John of Jerusalem.” All three players came up with Valletta, Malta; Yogesh got three points, and James one.

Coming up next week:

  • Next week, Weckiai Rannila will go for her fourth victory in regular play.
  • In its first full week, Jeopardy! Masters will air Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8:00 (7 Central) on ABC  in the U.S. In Canada, it will be on CTV2 Monday and Wednesday, and CTV on Friday). Monday’s Episode 2 will open with a rematch of last year’s final–James, Matt, and Mattea, lest you forget—followed by Amy, Victoria, and Yogesh. With the latter two in fine form, Amy will have to work hard to avoid a zero-point total after two games.
  • For the remainder of Masters Season 2, Questionist will feature a second column, “The Jeopardy! Masters Fan,” which will run alongside this column on Sundays.

  1. -OLOGIES $800: Remove 2 letters from the study of weather to get this, the study of weights & measures. Amy responded with “What is meterology?” instead of “What is metrology?” There were pockets of controversy on this point, but I believe the judges made the correct ruling.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *