Quick on the Draw

This week’s contestants were adept Daily Double hunters

Published December 31, 2023

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

This week gave us the conclusion of the opening Season 39 Second Chance event, followed by the first four games of the second. Each heading contains a link to my daily write-up over at The Jeopardy! Fan

Winter 2024 Second Chance, Week 1, Final, Game #2, Monday, Dec. 25 

Juveria Zaheer entered Monday’s game with a commanding lead after scoring $51,200 to Jason Carpenter’s $16,200 and Iris Masucci’s $2,400 last Friday. Unfortunately for Jason’s comeback hopes, Juveria found both Daily Doubles in Double Jeopardy, starving Jason of the ammunition he needed for any hope of victory.

“Famous Names in America” was the Final Jeopardy category: The name of this animal that died in 1885 after being struck by a train that subsequently derailed lives on as an adjective. Only Jason could come up with the correct response of Jumbo, clinching a $20,000 second-place prize. Juveria took him $35,000, and will be back in January for Champions Wildcard.

Week 2, Semifinal #1, Tuesday, Dec. 26 

Week 2 of Second Chance began with an occurrence that hasn’t happened on the show since July 1990: the two Daily Doubles were played on clues #1 and #2 of Double Jeopardy! Unfortunately, Emily Kawaler got the second one incorrect, so her quadruple-up attempt left her rebuilding from zero. Meanwhile, Christopher Pennant and Myles Karp had a very closely contested battle. Myles picked up three $2,000 responses in Double Jeopardy to leave him just $800 off Christopher’s lead going into Final.

The Boxing Day Final Jeopardy was in Book Characters: Early in a 1966 novel, this title character beats the protagonist in maze races; later on he bites him. Emily and Christopher came up with Algernon, the title character of Daniel Keyes’ work, as Christopher advanced to the weekly final.

Semifinal #2, Wednesday, Dec. 27

A close game after the opening 30 clues very quickly turned Greg Czaja’s way over the opening six clues of Double Jeopardy; Greg found both Daily Doubles on back-to-back clues, doubled his score on the first one, and added another $3,000 on the second! Ben Hebert and Tammy Grover tried in vain to mount a comeback over the final 80% of Double Jeopardy, but Greg had a runaway game well and truly sealed.

“Americana” was the category in Final Jeopardy: After “Black Monday” in 1987, sculptor Arturo Di Modica put a statue of one of these in Manhattan to symbolize strength & power. Everyone in the game came up with a bull, as Greg’s runaway saw him through to the final.

Semifinal #3, Thursday, Dec. 28

In what is becoming an increasingly common trend, the Daily Doubles in Double Jeopardy were both found within the first five clues; Xanni Brown used them to add $7,800 to her score. But Raquel Matta and Mitch Cutter made things uncannily interesting going into Final Jeopardy: Xanni’s $17,400 and Raquel’s $11,600 were both multiples of Mitch’s $5,800.

Thursday’s Final Jeopardy, in Those Zany Ancient Romans: In the 20s B.C. the Emperor’s sister Octavia had a sitcom-worthy home, including the boy & girl twin children of this man & woman. All three players came up with Antony & Cleopatra, and Xanni advanced to the final. Had Xanni’s “Anthony” been ruled incorrect, we would have seen a tiebreaker clue between Raquel and Mitch for the win; instead, Raquel took second place (and an extra $1,000) due to having had more money going into Final Jeopardy.

Final, Game #1, Friday, Dec. 29

Greg Czaja got off to the best start in Game 1 of the two-game final, riding a True Daily Double to a score of almost $12,000 in the Jeopardy round. Double Jeopardy saw Xanni Brown mount a comeback, doubling her score on the second Daily Double. This time the third Daily Double stayed out very late—Christopher Pennant found it, but only bet $2,000 of his $7,400. Greg led going into Final, with Xanni second and Christopher third.

The week’s final Final Jeopardy was in Famous Names: In 2023, shortly after his death, his name was added to a Brazilian dictionary to describe one who’s superior or out of the ordinary. All three players came up with Pelé, as our three players made increasingly more aggressive Final Jeopardy bets. At the end of Day 1, Greg had $35,200, Xanni $29,600, and Christopher $16,000; these scores will be added to Monday’s to determine the overall winner. Everything is still very much to play for, as Xanni only needs to be $2,800 ahead of Greg on Monday to have the advantage going into Final Jeopardy.

Other notes from the week:

  • Besides more Second Chance action, Celebrity Jeopardy returns on Tuesday (not Wednesday!). The first semifinal between Utkarsh Ambudkar, Mira Sorvino, and Lisa Ann Walter will air at 8:00 (7:00 Central).
  • For Jeopardy! fans in Britain, Stephen Fry will present the new U.K. revival starting New Year’s Day at 5:45 PM GMT on ITV. Then on Tuesday, it moves to its usual time slot of 4:00 PM GMT. This series will consist of 20 episodes.

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.