Nothing ventured…

Fully resigned Final Jeopardy players make weird history again

Published February 18, 2024

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

As we get closer and closer to the upcoming Tournament of Champions, the last Champions Wildcard event continues, with the competition’s last four quarterfinals and the first semifinal match.

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

Winter 2024 Champions Wildcard, Group 2, Quarterfinal #6, Monday, Feb. 12

The opening two rounds of this one were a story of the buzzer, with Donna Matturri rebounding well from a missed Daily Double two-thirds of the way through the opening round; she still managed to clear the $20,000 mark going into Final Jeopardy. Meanwhile, Dan Wohl only was successful 38% of the time on his attempts—$4,200 of the $6,000 he had through two rounds came on a single Daily Double. Sriram Krishnan had a solid game, staying in contention until the end.

Final Jeopardy was in U.S. Stamps: This Roman numeral appeared on stamps in a 2022 series for the 50th anniversary of an anti-discrimination law. Both Dan and Sriram knew this was referring to Title IX and were correct; meanwhile, Donna thought of civil-rights legislation and went down the wrong path, giving Sriram a come-from-behind victory.

Quarterfinal #7, Tuesday, Feb. 13

Tuesday’s quarterfinal saw easily one of the best two-player battles in the history of the show between Long Nguyen and Kat Jepson; Nicole Rudolph was barely heard from. Long, who felt that finding the Daily Double on the opening clue was “too soon!,” got a second Daily Double for $11,000 midway through Double Jeopardy. But Kat was not to be denied—she got $7,000 on the last one! Both Long and Kat took more than $25,000 into Final Jeopardy, with Kat leading $28,000–$26,400.

“Southern Politicians” was the crucial category: An article written after his 1935 death asked, “Will some crown prince arise to take his place?” Long got the rare and fun opportunity to write his own first name as a correct response to Final Jeopardy, as the correct response was famed Louisiana politician Huey Long. Unfortunately for Long’s fans, who’d advanced out of Second Chance with some daring play, everybody got Final Jeopardy correct as Kat moved on to the semifinals.

Quarterfinal #8, Wednesday, Feb. 14

Montreal moved to center stage, as the first of the tournament’s two Quebecers featured in this quarterfinal. Specifically, Vince Bacani struck a $5,000 Daily Double early in Double Jeopardy, and parlayed it into a lead that Ilhana Redzovic and Elliott Kim weren’t able to overcome–despite Ilhana successfully buzzing on 66 percent of her attempts.

Final Jeopardy took our players to Broadway Plays: Rita Moreno & Sally Struthers were the first to star in the female version of this comedy, their characters becoming Olive & Florence. Vince was the only player who remembered Neil Simon’s female version of The Odd Couple, and so he advanced through to the next round.

Quarterfinal #9, Thursday, Feb. 15

Montreal’s second representative, Diandra D’Alessio, found all three Daily Doubles amongst 23 correct responses. James Tyler did just enough to block Diandra’s runaway with 18 correct responses of his own, while David Bederman’s comeback attempts crashed into some incorrect responses.

James needed a correct Final Jeopardy response in Landmarks: The distance between its 2 legs at ground level is 630 feet, making it as wide as it is tall. Diandra missed by guessing the Eiffel Tower, leaving the door open for James … who guessed Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, a statue with no discrete legs. By failing to think of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, he made Diandra the last semifinalist.

Semifinal #1, Friday, Feb. 16

Drawn into the first semifinal, Vince Bacani extended the Montreal streak to three games. Though he found the first Daily Double, his momentum was stifled by a couple of unfortunate happenings: the judges walked back his pronunciation of Camilla Cabello’s last name (he said “Cabella”), and then he followed that with a $2,000 miss in Canadian Geography. His Hail Mary attempt at a True Daily Double was met with an incorrect response, and he fell out of contention.

Meanwhile, Mira Hayward had found the game’s middle Daily Double, picking up $4,000 that proved to be crucial. Sriram Krishnan tried very hard to keep Mira from securing a runaway win through the rest of Double Jeopardy, coming up one clue short.

The week’s last Final Jeopardy clue came in Theater: A 1955 play review noted “restless Delta folk” & “lives as uncomfortable & insecure as the proverbial” this title. Both Vince and Mira came up with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but with the outcome predetermined, all three players bet $0. Incredibly, this has now happened in both of Mira’s games, after zero known times in the nearly 40-year history of the show before last Monday. Mira will be back next Wednesday and Thursday to compete for $100,000, and the final spot in the Tournament of Champions.

Other notes from the week:

  • Next week features the remaining four games of Champions Wildcard. Then, the 31st Tournament of Champions begins on Friday, with the opening quarterfinal featuring Emily Sands, Suresh Krishnan, and Matthew Marcus.
  • The annual Jeopardy Honors event will air on the show’s YouTube channel, Thursday at 6 p.m. Pacific.
Sarah and Buzzy discuss the first Jeopardy Honors (2022)

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.