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.
Hopefully, you enjoyed these editorial tidbits; again, I expect they’ll be available weekly, usually on Saturdays!
Contestant photo credit: jeopardy.com
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