Just the Facts

A well-meaning shoutout apparently leads to Final Jeopardy downfall

Published November 26, 2023

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

Champions Wildcard’s Clubs bracket continued in a quieter week thanks to Thanksgiving; Celebrity Jeopardy! took the week off for the holiday, airing a rerun of an earlier quarterfinal; and many viewers saw Thursday’s or Friday’s game preempted due to sports or holiday programming.

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

Clubs Bracket, Quarterfinal #8: Monday, Nov. 20

Fresh off advancing from Second Chance earlier this season, Deanna Bolio kept up her strong play here. She picked up 14 correct responses in the Jeopardy Round, 11 in Double Jeopardy, and all three Daily Doubles to take a runaway game into Final Jeopardy over Kevin Hirsh and Verlinda Johnson Henning.

The week’s opening Final Jeopardy was in U.S. Presidents: 7 U.S. Presidents were born in the state of Ohio, beginning with this man who entered West Point in 1839. Both Verlinda and Kevin named Ulysses S. Grant, while Deanna’s runaway saw her through to the semifinals.

Quarterfinal #9: Tuesday, Nov. 21

In a quarterfinal that proves just how important the Daily Doubles can be, Sandy Olive held a $2,800 lead over Ed Hashima with 10 clues to go in Double Jeopardy. That was before Ed found both Daily Doubles, adding $11,000 to his score. Sandy gave a pair of incorrect responses in a valiant attempt to catch up, and thus Ed amassed a $19,000 runaway lead over Sandy (and third-place Nick Heise).

Television was the Final Jeopardy category: This series grew out of a screenplay titled “Murdoch.” With today’s fractured TV landscape making this sort of question tougher, the players struggled, with none able to name the Emmy-winning drama Succession (whose Roy family is based on the Murdochs). 

Semifinal #1: Wednesday, Nov. 22

A close game early in Double Jeopardy turned south for Kit Sekelsky after a missed True Daily Double; after that, Nick Cascone broke the game wide open. Nick picked up five correct responses on $2,000 clues, to build a massive lead over Kit and Deanna Bolio going into Final Jeopardy. His stumbling over the pronunciation of Ypres also entertained everyone on the last clue of Double Jeopardy.

The Final Jeopardy in Musicians: An Esquire profile said, “The most distinguishing thing” about the face of this singer “are his eyes, clear blue & alert.” Only Kit remembered the famous “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” article, but Nick’s insurmountable lead put him through to next week’s final.

Semifinal #2: Thursday, Nov, 23

The caliber of play trended upwards as we reached the end of the week—it was a shame that Thursday’s and Friday’s episodes were preempted in many places! Thursday’s game saw zero Triple Stumpers in the opening round and just 3 over the entire game. In this one, Ed Hashima was in control midway through Double Jeopardy, but Jen Jazwinski moved from third place back into contention after successfully converting a $9,000 Daily Double. She was only $2,800 off the lead by the time Final Jeopardy came around despite 15 correct responses to Ed’s 26, while Amy Bekkerman was well off the lead, despite having $14,600 and 16 correct responses herself.

Science Etymology was the Turkey Day final: First detected in the Sun’s atmosphere in 1868, it got its name from an old word for sun. Both Jen and Amy successfully named helium; heartbreakingly, Ed realized that his “hydrogen” response was incorrect a couple seconds too late, sending Jen through to the finals.

Semifinal #3: Friday, Nov. 24

Dennis Chase controlled most of the run of play in this one, giving 28 correct responses (14 in each of the first two rounds). However, a pair of clue selection missteps (selecting clues where the last Daily Double was definitely not going to be) gave control of the board to Danielle Maurer, where a correct Daily Double from her brought her to within 50% of Dennis’s score. Fresno professor Fred Nelson struggled on the signaling device (successfully buzzing on only 37% of his attempts) and was in a distant third.

The week’s final Final Jeopardy was in Business: This company announced “On September 29th, 2023, we will send out the last red envelope.” All three players remembered Netflix’s winding-down of the DVD-by-mail service, as Dennis became the Clubs bracket’s third finalist.

Other notes from the week:

  • The amount of repeated material seemed similar to last week; I think we’ve reached a point where I don’t see the amount of repeated material changing between now and Dec. 18. I may note it if this changes, but I expect to retire these notes.
  • Ed’s predicament on Thursday, where he couldn’t change his response in time, might be seen as a cautionary tale. Ed wrote “Thanks for having me back” at the bottom of his response—presumably taking away crucial thinking time. Might he have come up with the correct response sooner had he not been thinking of a shoutout? It’s something to consider if you’re in the contestant pool.
  • You may or may not have noticed this, but contestants have been asked to say the full names of categories whenever calling for them this season, apparently due to focus-group feedback. It hasn’t been a particularly popular move with many fans or players; I am ambivalent, as long as all of the clues are being seen (which they are).
  • Next week is an important one, as we have the finals of the Champions Wildcard Clubs bracket, the first three quarterfinals for Hearts, and Wednesday’s Celebrity Jeopardy match featuring comedian Heather McMahan, Cedric the Entertainer, and Cynthia Nixon.

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.