Squeaking Through

Champions Wildcard sees some low-dollar wins

Published October 29, 2023

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

The Diamonds bracket of the Champions Wildcard was featured in this week’s five syndicated games, while Celebrity Jeopardy aired quarterfinal #5 on Wednesday night.

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

Quarterfinal #2 – Monday, Oct. 23

What turned out to be a low-scoring week—only four of the 15 players had at least $10,000 going into Final Jeopardy—began with Isaac Applebaum missing a pair of Daily Doubles and Pasquale Palumbo missing the other one. This gave Leah Wiegand a slim lead, going into Final Jeopardy with just $7,600.

Final Jeopardy was in Music Men: Before creating this record label in 1959, its founder worked on a Lincoln-Mercury assembly line. Isaac and Leah successfully named Motown Records, and Leah progressed through to the semi-finals despite not betting enough to cover an all-in wager from Isaac.

Quarterfinal #3 – Tuesday, Oct. 24

While Steve Crupi led Tuesday’s quarterfinal after 30 clues, recent Second Chance winner Jilana Cotter had the best Double Jeopardy round, picking up three $2,000 clues and an opera Daily Double worth $4,000. However, she didn’t quite have enough for a runaway game—Steve picked up the crucial last clue of Double Jeopardy, putting him just inside 50% of Jilana’s score.

Final Jeopardy in Awards & Honors: As of 2023 the only 2 to win a Nobel Prize in Literature & an Academy Award were George Bernard Shaw & this singer-songwriter. John Vigna wrote part of the response, but Jilana got out all of Bob Dylan to advance.

Quarterfinal #4 – Wednesday, Oct. 25

The week’s best game saw top-seeded Emily Sands pick up 25 correct responses, and a pair of Daily Doubles worth $9,000, to rack up more than $25,000 through two rounds. But Carlos Chaidez nearly kept pace, getting 16 correct to keep Emily from a runaway. Phillip Howard’s strong score of $9,200 would have led two other games in this low-scoring week.

This Final Jeopardy was in Historic Letters: A letter from him begins, “On the thirty-third day after I had left Cadiz, I reached the Indian Ocean.” Unfortunately, our players forgot about the famously geographically challenged Christopher Columbus, and the clue fell for a Triple Stumper, pushing Emily through.

Quarterfinal #5 – Thursday, Oct. 26

In the week’s second game this week with an 0-for-3 Daily Double performance, Tony Freitas and Yoshie Hill saw their scores drop to $0 at times (Yoshie was even in the red as late as the tenth clue of Double Jeopardy). Mason Maggio was in control of the game, but when he tried to put the game out of reach midway through the round, he lost $6,000 on his own Daily Double. From there, Yoshie and Tony tried to come back, but Tony dropped out of a tie for second due to a scoring change, after he mispronounced the name of the Montgolfier brothers.

The Final Jeopardy was Famous Families: In 2020 a former U.S. ambassador to Ireland, the last of 9 siblings in this dynastic family, died at 92. Both Tony and Yoshie successfully named the Kennedy clan, whereas Mason went for Carnegie. Amazingly, Yoshie went through to the semifinals with just nine correct responses overall (to Mason’s 25).

Quarterfinal #6 – Friday, Oct. 27

Erick Loh and Brian Adams had the best opening round in Friday’s quarterfinal, both with double-digit correct responses. However, Cory Burns Barger came out strong in Double Jeopardy, converting a True Daily Double on clue #3. She had a big lead when she faced the last Daily Double on clue #6, but lost $6,000 on an incorrect response and fell back toward the pack. By the time Final Jeopardy rolled around, Erick had a small lead, with third-place Brian still in contention.

The week-ending Final was in Famous Americans: On March 23, 1779 he became the first U.S. diplomat to serve overseas by presenting his credentials to a foreign government. Brian in third place named the correct Founding Father and emissary—Benjamin Franklin, the first minister to France—and then watched as Cory and Erick gave very plausible but incorrect responses (Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both early ministers in Europe) to win a shocking berth in the semifinals.

Celebrity Jeopardy! Quarterfinal #5 – Wednesday, Oct. 25

This week’s Celebrity Jeopardy matchup featured sports broadcaster Peter Schrager (from Fox’s NFL coverage and the NFL Network), Adam Rodriguez (Criminal Minds), and Mira Sorvino (the second Oscar-winner to appear, after Jodie Foster beat Nathan Lane and Harry Connick Jr. in 2001). Interestingly, though this episode was taped back in August, viewers had just seen Mira eliminated from Dancing With the Stars the night before.

Adam got off to a rocky start, struggling mightily with the “Above, Below, or Intersected by the Equator” category—he had four incorrect responses in that category alone. Mira had the best run of the signaling device over the opening 30 clues, picking up 15 correct responses to take a $1,200 lead over Peter. In Double Jeopardy, Peter did some better buzzing, but also whiffed on a pair of Daily Doubles to keep the scores very close; Mira held onto a slim $200 lead.

All three players played very well in a Triple Jeopardy round that saw four lead changes. Adam picked up a Daily Double and six other correct responses to ensure he had plenty of money to play Final Jeopardy with; Mira found the other two, and got one of them right. Peter had a $1,700 lead with three clues to go, but Mira finished with a flourish to take a very small lead into Final.

In the category TWEEN LIT: Referring to the lengthy title of her much-discussed novel, this author lamented that she didn’t just call the book “Margaret.” All three players successfully named Judy Blume, and Mira made a sufficiently large bet to ensure her victory! The Baby Quest Foundation will get $30,000 thanks to Peter, while Lift LA will get $30,000 thanks to Adam. Mira, playing for the UN Trust Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking, could still win $1 million for her charity.

Other notes from the week:

  • I was right! After 55 repeated categories out of 60 last week, we did have fewer repeated categories. This week’s five games only had 52!
  • The clickbait sports media were all over the fact that the players went just 1-for-5 in a HALL OF FAMER BY POSITION category, but I should note that the category was not meant to be easy when it was originally written; this was a repeated category from 2005 that originally ran in the Ultimate Tournament of Champions; the players then, which included Super Jeopardy finalist Dave Traini and 5-time champion Alan Bailey, only went 3-for-5 in that version.
  • Next week finishes the Diamonds bracket quarterfinals, followed by the first two semifinals; Celebrity Jeopardy in prime time features Dulé Hill (The Wonder Years and The West Wing), Sheryl Underwood (The Talk), and Peter Facinelli (Dr. Carlisle Cullen in the Twilight films).

Due to the CMA Awards on ABC, there will not be Celebrity Jeopardy on Nov. 8. However, the Nov. 15 game features a star-studded lineup of Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone), Rachel Dratch (SNL’s Debbie Downer), and WWE wrestler Becky Lynch.

  1. Leah bet $5,000 for a possible $12,600 to Isaac’s $13,400. Thankfully for her, Isaac decided to guard against Pasquale’s possible $9,800 instead.

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.

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