Still Waiting for Reinforcements

Strike-era repeats continue as Champions Wildcard rolls on

Published November 12, 2023

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

For the first time since mid-September, there were only five new games of Jeopardy! this week, as the Celebrity version took a week off for the CMA Awards.

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

Diamonds Semifinal #3 – Monday, Nov. 6

Dave Pai started the week with 14 correct responses in the opening round, but a missed Daily Double early in Double Jeopardy brought Jilana Cotter and Brian Adams back into contention. A correct Daily Double from Jilana brought her close, and a few clues after that she took a lead she would not relinquish.

The week’s Final Jeopardy heartache started today as well, with our players facing this clue in Music & Literature: John Steinbeck called this “one of the great songs of the world” & wanted the music & lyrics printed in one of his novels. That novel was The Grapes of Wrath, with a title inspired by a line in “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Fortunately for Brian, an embarrassing misspelling where he forgot the L in “Republic” didn’t affect his final placing, as Dave bet small and Jilana spelled the title correctly, continuing her Cinderella run as the third finalist.

Diamonds Final, Game #1 – Tuesday, Nov. 7

Game 1 of our Diamonds group final turned out to be a battle between Emily Sands and Jilana Cotter; throughout this game, they attempted to buzz on over 50 clues apiece (Aaron Craig’s 44 attempts in Game 1 of the final paled in comparison.) Needless to say, there were only 2 Triple Stumpers this entire game. The first turning point came on the Daily Doubles—Emily picked up $9,000 on her clue, while Jilana lost $8,000 on hers. That didn’t deter Jilana, who closed the gap with seven more correct responses in the second half of Double Jeopardy.

The crucial Final Jeopardy was in World History: This African capital renamed an area Mexico Square to honor Mexico’s WWII-era support of its sovereignty during Italian occupation. Unfortunately for Jilana, she misread the clue, giving the country’s name of Ethiopia instead of its capital, Addis Ababa. Emily jumped into a massive lead at the midway point of the two-game final, but not an insurmountable one: Emily, $30,400; Aaron, $10,000; and Jilana, $3,000.

Diamonds Final, Game #2 – Wednesday, Nov. 8

Jilana wasn’t giving up—a $3,200 true Daily Double in the Jeopardy Round told everyone she was still there to play. Then, a $10,000 Daily Double early in Double Jeopardy brought her very close to the outright lead in the final, while Aaron knocked himself out of contention with a miss on the last Daily Double. Meanwhile, Emily found her buzzer timing again late, picking up what appeared to be 10 correct responses over a 15-clue stretch before the judges clawed one back. Aaron finished in the negative and had to sit out Final Jeopardy, while Jilana had $24,000 and Emily $16,200. This was not a runaway—Emily could still lose, but Jilana would need to get Final Jeopardy correct, with Emily missing.1

“Explorers” was the category for this Final Jeopardy clue: Perhaps inspiring a line 2 centuries later, in 1774, he wrote that he was headed “farther than any other man has been before me.” Unfortunately for Jilana, neither she nor Emily could name Captain James Cook, writing in his diary from the Antarctic sea ice. Emily ends up with the Tournament of Champions berth!

Clubs Quarterfinal #1 – Thursday, Nov. 9

Our third Champions Wildcard bracket—Clubs—opened with a very exciting game between Charlie Fonville, Jen Jazwinski, and Matt Takimoto. This game saw ties on 4 different occasions as the lead changed hands 9 different times! A late Daily Double miss from Charlie and an incorrect response on the penultimate clue of Double Jeopardy from Matt, rebounded by Jen, led to Matt and Jen tied going into Final (and Charlie still very much in the hunt in third place!)

Thursday’s Final Jeopardy was in AMERICAN AUTHORS: In 1950 the Swedish Academy said this Nobel Prize winner “is a regional writer” but called “his regionalism universal”. Charlie and Jen could name William Faulkner, but Matt’s guess of Sinclair Lewis sent him home and Jen through as the first semifinalist.

Clubs Quarterfinal #2 – Friday, Nov. 10

The exciting gameplay continued in our final game of the week between Alan Johnson, Dennis Chase, and Kate Lazo (whose mother Meg was a 3-day champion in June 1987). Much like Thursday, this one saw four ties and nine lead changes—and in this one, the lead changed hands three times over the final four clues of Double Jeopardy, with Alan getting the final clue of the round to jump into a slim $700 lead over Dennis, and Kate staying very close behind.

The final Final Jeopardy of the week’s category was The Catholic Church: The 1456 posthumous annulment of this woman’s sentence by the Church was witnessed by her mother Isabelle. Both Kate and Dennis came up with a correct response Joan of Arc, but Alan, getting tripped up by “Isabelle,” went for “Joanna” in another heartbreak (thinking of Joanna of Castile) as Dennis became Semifinalist #2.

Other notes from the week:

  • I was honestly surprised at the number of repeated categories and clues on Thursday’s and Friday’s shows—it was basically at the same level as the Diamonds group games (with nearly every category seeing repeated clues). I had expected some more fresh material to be inserted into these boards.

Next week on the show features quarterfinals #3 through #7 of the Champions Wildcard clubs bracket; Celebrity Jeopardy also returns on Wednesday with Quarterfinal #7 at 8:00 (7:00 Central) on ABC, with this week’s Celeb matchup featuring the WWE’s Becky Lynch, Saturday Night Live‘s Rachel Dratch (famous for her Debbie Downer character), and actor Macaulay Culkin.

  1.  Jilana’s maximum possible two-day total was $51,000; Emily’s current combined total was $46,600.

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.