Andy’s Weekly Thoughts: May 22–26, 2023

What Is This?

As a way of producing more editorial content and general content for the website, I’ve decided to add a new section: Andy’s Weekly Thoughts, where I basically give my own opinion as to the goings-on in the world of Jeopardy! every week. Normally, this will come out around midday on Saturday.

Benedick vs. Benedict

The week’s biggest controversy in the eyes of the fans was the circumstances behind Ben Chan’s defeat on Tuesday, where he believed that the two lovers in Much Ado About Nothing were Beatrice and Benedict, instead of Beatrice and Benedick. It’s a situation compounded by the fact that several people, including most notably composer Hector Berlioz, transcribed the character’s name as Benedict in his own opera about the two characters. Unfortunately for Ben, the show ruled that Benedict was, in the context of Shakespeare (if you’ll remember, Shakespeare was clearly noted in the name of the category), not the name of the character, and because it’s two different names that are generally pronounced differently, writing Benedict and not Benedick makes the response incorrect. You’ll note that this isn’t the first time a 5+-time champ has fallen to what fans might see as a “spelling error”; 5-time champ Scott Lord lost in 2016 due to his response of “Scherazade” instead of Scheherazade. Stranger things have happened, but I highly doubt we’ll see Ben back in regular play.

On Betting In The Masters Final

Many people saw how Jeopardy! Masters turned out on Wednesday night and assumed that Mattea over-bet in Game 2 of the Final, handing victory over to James. Even some commenters on JBoard suggested that it was such a sure thing that James would bet small that it should have been countered. I absolutely disagree. You might remember that Mattea also led James going into Final Jeopardy! in semifinal #2 on Monday night; in that game, James made a peculiarly large wager that certainly left me at least wondering a little bit. Monday night’s bet out of James was 100% a gambit—it was a situation where he did not have a great deal to risk, as he had pretty much almost guaranteed his spot in the finals already—and it would have put enough doubt in the minds of anyone keeping an eye on his betting tendencies to potentially force a cover bet down the line in a more crucial situation. And as everyone saw in the final on Wednesday, that appears to have worked in James’s favor.

Again, hindsight is 20-20 in this, but the difference between Ken in 2020 and Mattea in 2023—and one reason why I think James won in 2023 and not in 2020—Ken was not afraid to go all-in at every single opportunity—and that includes the first Final Jeopardy! of the two-part final. The extra $8,800 that Mattea left on the table in Game 1 ended up being the difference between having a runaway or not going into Final Jeopardy! in Game 2.

Regarding Friday’s Categories

I knew I’d be poking a hornet’s nest and sticking my neck out a little bit when I expressed my concerns over Friday’s categories. I’d absolutely like to thank many of my regular readers who took my concerns and saw fit to comment things along the lines of, “Thank you very much, I did not know that and I learned something today.” When it comes down to it, Jeopardy! is about learning, and I absolutely appreciate those who took that as a learning opportunity.

Remember: Jeopardy! Is A Zero-Sum Game

Contestants and fans alike are reminded that Jeopardy! is essentially a zero-sum game—one person’s success always comes at the expense of two other players who were defeated in the same episode. Thus, while it’s obviously an incredible accomplishment to have won on the show, everyone should keep in mind that the margins between victory and defeat are often very small and that everyone who makes it onto the Alex Trebek Stage should be celebrated, not just the champions.

On Normal Episodes

One user took it upon themself late in the week to start a Reddit thread decrying the level of play on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. One of the best parts of Harry Friedman’s time as Executive Producer was that Harry would let the great moments happen organically. And sometimes that meant that there would be a string of very normal, nondescript episodes. Not everything needs to be an event. Yes, it’s obviously nice when we get to watch a champion of Ben Chan’s caliber play, but that absolutely does not need to be the norm. We should still be able to watch—and enjoy—three North Americans live out their dream five nights a week.

In Conclusion

Hopefully, you enjoyed these editorial tidbits; again, I expect they’ll be available weekly, usually on Saturdays!

We have many new offerings at The Jeopardy! Fan Online Store! Proceeds from the sale of the “Doctor Oz’s Fast-Acting Snake Oil Elixir” T-shirt are being donated to The Trevor Project:

You can now listen to Alex Trebek-hosted Jeopardy! episodes from TuneIn Radio without leaving The Jeopardy! Fan — listen now!

Become a Supporter now! Make a monthly contribution to the site on Patreon!

Contestant photo credit:

When commenting, please note that all comments on The Jeopardy! Fan must be in compliance with the Site Comment Policy.

If you are going to quote any information from this page or this website, attribution is required.

Have you had a chance to listen to our podcast game show, Complete The List, yet? Check it out! It’s also available on Apple Podcasts.

12 Comments on "Andy’s Weekly Thoughts: May 22–26, 2023"

  1. thanks for sharing

  2. Scott Lord’s loss was in 2015, not 2016.

    The “Scherazade”/”Scheherazade” ruling also has an element of “response must fit the category” analogous to the ruling against Ben. The category of that clue was CLASSICAL MUSIC; that context may have factored into the determination that only the latter was acceptable.

  3. Thanks for this new feature, Andy! I always appreciate your editorial comments. 🙂

    Regarding Ben’s FJ, as I understand it, misspellings are acceptable as long as they are phonetically correct. So I’m curious whether “Benedic” might have been accepted, since it didn’t add the incorrect “T” sound. All hypothetical, of course.

    • Michael Johnston | May 30, 2023 at 9:46 am |

      It may appear counterintuitive that an incomplete (last letter missing) response can be correct while one with an additional but wrong letter can be incorrect, but that is the upshot of the ‘phonetically correct’ ruling. That does seem to mean that “Benedic” would probably have been ruled acceptable.

      • Thanks, that’s what I was thinking, though as you say it seems counterintuitive!

  4. My two cents on Benedict vs. Benedick –

    I do think that the ruling was correct. I also think that Mayim should have done a better job at explaining why Ben’s response was ruled incorrect. Even though that probably wouldn’t stop all of the outrage – an shown by the Emanciptation Proclamation issue in 2013 – that likely would’ve lessened it. I wouldn’t be surprised if some home viewers did not hear a difference between Mayim reading out Ben’s response and her saying what the correct response was. This also might be a matter of who’s hosting, as unfortunate as it is. But either way, that’s my thoughts on it.

  5. JeopardyBrit | May 31, 2023 at 6:00 am |

    I agree that ‘normal episodes’ should absolutely be part of the mix. While it’s great fun to watch multi-day champs like Ben Chan or Hannah Wilson, they generally take the lead early and dominate the game. When the competitors are more evenly matched, there are more changes of fortune during the game and the outcome is less predictable. I’ll happily trade a slightly slower pace of play for that.

    • I agree! While it’s great fun to watch the “masters” play each other, I get weary of the regular games where one player dominates day after day after day. (Although as I’m typing this, I realize I have a double standard—or my tastes have changed—because I loved Ken’s original run back in the day! Maybe the fact that it had never been done before made it more fun to watch.)

  6. I agree about celebrating everyone who participates in Jeopardy, not just the champion of the day. Another player likened it to the Olympics, that you don’t lose at Jeopardy. You get the silver or bronze medal!

  7. Hello Andy. Wonderfull new addittion to your site. Thanks for all the work you do educating ‘poor poor pitiful me’.

  8. Phillip+Blackmon | June 6, 2023 at 12:16 pm |

    I completely agree with your response. I think they were correct in ruling that Ben’s answer was wrong, because there is a difference in pronunciation. That being said, the difference in pronunciation is fairly subtle, and it would have been nice if Mayim had made it more clear/spelled it out.

  9. The Krzyzewski Principle..spell it howver you want . Just make sure you pronounce it Khrushchev-ski or something close to that

Comments are closed.