Then there were four

Field narrows as Season 2 hurtles toward conclusion

Published May 19, 2024

Welcome to a weekly recap of the three episodes of Jeopardy! Masters!

This week saw the quarterfinals of the competition finishing up, with the semifinals beginning on Friday. Yogesh Raut and Victoria Groce entered the week on 10 match points, James Holzhauer had 5, Amy Schneider 4, Mattea Roach 2, and Matt Amodio 1.

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

Monday, May 13, Game 1:

This quarterfinal—between Victoria, James, and Matt—was all Victoria: she picked up 17 correct in the opening round, including the first Daily Double, to have a large lead at the midpoint. While James made it close early in Double Jeopardy when he found a Daily Double, Victoria later converted a 20,800-point True Daily Double to put the game away. (Poor Matt got in on only 26% of his buzzer attempts in this game.)

Final Jeopardy was in Around the World: Almost twice the size of Texas but with the population of Lubbock, this part of Australia rejected statehood in a 1998 referendum. All three Masters named the Northern Territory; Victoria moved to 13 points, and James 6. Matt, at 1, would be in serious jeopardy of not advancing.

Monday, May 13, Game 2:

Monday’s nightcap featured Yogesh, Amy, and Mattea; with the latter two in a tight battle for fourth, this game could be crucial. Amy got 12 correct to lead after the Jeopardy round, but with their back against the wall, Mattea found both Daily Doubles to vault into the lead. Meanwhile, Amy picked up just five correct, allowing Yogesh to get to second.

Anagrams was the Final Jeopardy category: One is a procedure foundational to computer science; the other was made in large part obsolete by computers. This stumped viewers and players alike: while the show gave a correct response of “algorithm” and “logarithm,” I would say that it’s only the manual calculation logarithms that’s obsolete now. Regardless, this came down to betting—and Amy chose to defend against Yogesh rather than make sure she stayed ahead of Mattea. Mattea’s three points moved them to a total of five, as did Amy’s second-place point. The last spots in the semifinals would come down to Wednesday, while Matt would be locked into sixth place.

Wednesday, May 15, Game 1:

Yogesh, James, and Matt played this one; James hadn’t yet mathematically clinched a spot in the semis, but rode a late True Daily Double to pole position at Final Jeopardy.

That clue, in Military People: In April 2020 Chief Master Sergeant Roger Towberman became the first enlisted member of this. Both James and Matt named the Space Force; James’s three points finally punched his ticket, while Matt got a consolation point.

Wednesday, May 15, Game 2:

Mathematically, this match boiled down to a head-to-head match between Amy and Mattea; whichever finished better would lock down the last berth. And it was essentially decided on the opening clue of Double Jeopardy, when Mattea found—and then missed—the round’s first Daily Double. Victoria dominated otherwise, limiting the others to a combined 6,800 points; Amy’s 4,000 got her to 7,800, while Mattea finished Double Jeopardy with just 2,800.

Short Stories was the category for an anticlimactic Final Jeopardy: “Down–steadily down it crept… downward with its lateral velocity. To the right–to the left” is in this 1842 tale. Though that does sound like a pendulum in a pit, no one got to Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” – but nobody bet any points, either.

The final quarterfinal table: Victoria, 16 points; Yogesh, 10; James, 9; Amy, 6; Mattea, 5; Matt, 2. Mattea and Matt have been relegated to next year’s Jeopardy! Invitational Tournament.

Friday, May 17, Game 1:

In the semifinals, the four players will play in all four combinations, starting with Victoria, Yogesh, and James. Victoria played well out of the gate yet again, a True Daily Double pacing her to the lead after the Jeopardy round. Yogesh found the next Daily Double to leapfrog her; on the final one, Victoria, who had expressed concern about wordplay categories, bet just 3,000 on the “Before, During & After” clue. She got it right, but failed to take the lead into Final Jeopardy.

“Native American Language” was that category: In 1612 John Smith published a Powhatan word list including these 2 words familiar to us today, one worn in pairs & one wielded. Victoria was the only one not to name “moccasin” and “tomahawk”; Yogesh picked up the three-point win, and James got one. 

Friday, May 17, Game 2:

Amy replaced James for the second semifinal—then got in on the buzzer just 29% of the time in the opening round, eventually resorting to wild guesses in Double Jeopardy that left her below zero at the end. Meanwhile, Victoria picked up 11,000 points on a pair of Daily Doubles, and while Yogesh briefly tied the game early in the second round, Victoria bagged four of the round’s six 2,000-point clues, amassing enough for a runaway win.

Yogesh and Victoria played this lame-duck clue in “Also Seen at the Circus”: FDR gets credit for implementing this as a concept in the U.S. & the metaphor was used by FDR Jr. running for office in 1966. Neither Victoria nor Yogesh followed the clues to “safety net,” but Victoria had already locked up three points; Yogesh got one.

At the midway point of the semifinals, Yogesh leads with 4 points, followed by Victoria at 3. One-point James and no-point Amy have a game in hand, though, so everyone will still be in it Monday.

Andy Saunders covers Jeopardy! daily as site administrator for The Jeopardy! Fan. He is also a founding archivist of The J! Archive