Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Roger, Over and Outtasite

I haven't seen yesterday's Jeopardy yet. But I've read about it, and I've glanced at the J-Archive page for it. And I must say one thing:


In 2002, I set the single day record on Jeopardy, in the process becoming the first player to score $50,000. Since then, if I'm not mistaken, 3 other regular season players have broken the 50G mark, in each case setting a new one day record:

Brian Weikle (2003): $52,000
Ken Jennings (2004): $75,000
and now
Roger Craig (2010): $77,000

(Last season also saw 2 celebrities break the 50G barrier: Andy Richter and Pat Sajak. I think there have also been teen or college players to do it. I'd like to know for sure.)

My record-setting performance relied heavily on gutsy wagering. About half of my score was obtained through Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy. Going into FJ, I led a single opponent 39,000 to 2,000. I wagered for a nice, round number. I don't think I ever seriously considered a much higher wager, although it did cross my mind. Setting the single-day record had been my goal since I started seriously considering getting on the show, and had I known that visualization was so powerful, I'd have focused on being a 5-time champ too!

The key to getting the single-day record is a willingness to bet big. The other three guys to have done it had Coryat scores of around 35,000, which for Ken and Roger was less than half of their ultimate winnings. A good FJ wager will put you over the top, but to get within striking range you'll have to master a Daily Double or 2 also. Roger demonstrated that he knew how to get it done on his first episode. He was running away with the game in the middle of Double Jeopardy when he hit the chemical elements Daily Double. I have to imagine he figured out that the clue would be a symbol and a hint to the name of the element. If you know all the element/symbol pairs, or even most of them, a large wager is the right thing to do. You can put the game away, and guarantee yourself a big payday. Which he did.

He also made it a True Daily Double in the Jeopardy round. Here's another point. If you hit the DD in the first round, you should always bet everything, unless it's a category you feel very weak in. The material is easier, and if you have the knowledge base to get on the show, you will probably know the correct response. And even if you do miss, there's plenty of money in Double Jeopardy to catch up.

Roger, I hope you go far. You're already playing like a champion.


In honor of the occasion, I have put my first game of Jeopardy up on YouTube. It's in four parts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I'd put up the second game, but the disk it's on won't read. (Spoiler: I lose.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

You Gotta Know Your Australian Capitals

So, you're playing in the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions. It's the 4th quarterfinal game, Double Jeopardy round. The categories come up and "Australian Capitals" is one of them. Is the year 2003 or 2010? The correct answer is: both.

I remember watching the 2003 ToC, keeping score as I always do. I believe I got 3 of the 5 correct, all of them from the extra hints in the clue, and not because I actually know what city is the capital of any of the Australian states. I had a mental list of Australian cities in my head from a quiz bowl question I heard a loooooong time ago. That question asked the players to put them in order from north to south. I couldn't do it then, and I can't do it now. But there they are: Darwin, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbaine, Adelaide, Hobart (Perth did not appear in that question, nor would I have remembered it, probably.)

Let's run them down. From the 2003 ToC (all clues today courtesy

For $400:
Its opera house lies on Bennelong Point in Port Jackson Harbour

Easy. Opera house = Sydney. Fun fact, the Sydney opera house opened to the public on October 20, 1973, the day I was born.

For $800:
Named for a British naturalist, it's Australia's northernmost capital

Also easy. The British naturalist in this case = Darwin. Not quite as obvious if you don't know Darwin is an Australian city, but still probably guessable.

For $1200:
This capital of Victoria served as Australia's capital from 1901 to 1927 when the seat of govt. was moved to Canberra

You've got the "former capital" clue here, as well as the very specific "capital of Victoria". I didn't know it was Melbourne.

For $1600:
This capital of Queensland was founded as a convict colony in 1824 & named for a governor of New South Wales

Again, the very specific "capital of Queensland", as well as "named for a person", "convict colony", and "name for a governor of NSW". None of the contestants that day knew it was Brisbane. Neither did I. Mark guessed Cairns, a different city in Queensland, named for a former governor of the state.

For $2000 (Daily Double):
This capital of South Australia is the only Australian capital named for a woman

"Capital of South Australia" (specific clue) + "named for a woman" (lateral clue) = Adelaide. Yep, I got this one, and so did Mark Brown, who had also answered 2 of the other clues. I got it from the "woman" part.

So, that's a hint-filled way to play the category.

Now, I've just finished watching last night's episode of Jeopardy, again scoring along at home. Let's see how I did:

For $400:
In this capital of New South Wales, try the Bridge Climb, an exhilarating trek to the top of its Harbour Bridge

So, in the five clues we've already seen "capital of New South Wales" has not appeared. But the word "harbour" has. In this case, the city is the same, but the harbour is different. It's the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and so the answer again at the top row of the board is Sydney. I missed this; there weren't any clues I could suss out.

For $800:
It lies within the Australian Capital Territory

Canberra isn't really an Australian capital, in the same way that Washington isn't really the capital of the District of Columbia. A lot of countries have their capitals in special administrative areas, as opposed to in one of their states. So, yeah, I didn't get this one right, even though it's just asking "What is the capital of Australia?" If you can't handle that question, you probably won't be playing the ToC any time soon. Jeoaprdy phrased their clue a little harder, as they are wont to do in their championship. Nothing wrong with that.

For $1200
The metro area of this Victorian capital contains more than 70% of the state's population

Here we have "capital of Victoria", with "heavily populated" as a bonus clue. It hasn't changed in the 3 minutes you've been reading. It's still Melbourne, and I still don't know it.
Note that Melbourne is the $1200 clue both times it shows up.

For $1600:
It was named for William IV's wife, who was queen when it was founded in 1836

"Named for a woman" still equals Adelaide. This will be the only clue I get right in the category today as I play along; for the contestants it's a triple stumper, which helps my ego a little bit. $1600 this year is "easier" than $2000 before, but Adelaide still ranks lower on the board with the harder material.

For $2000
Anzac Square War Memorial in this Queensland capital honors Aussie war vets

Maybe you know where the war memorial is, but that part of the clue is basically "frill". The crux is "capital of Queensland", which is Brisbane, which, at $2000, is valued slightly harder than last time, apparently. Not for me, of course. Not knowing it is not knowing it.

So, here are the correct responses, the two times the category has been used in the Tournament of Champions:

2003 2010
$400 Sydney Sydney
$800 Darwin Canberra
$1200 Melbourne Melbourne
$1600 Brisbaine Adelaide
$2000 Adelaide Brisbaine

Pretty similar, no?

But Jeopardy tends to repeat its material every 4 years or so. Shouldn't there have been an Aussie Capitals category in 2006 or 2007 or so?

Yup. There should have been all right:

AUSSIE CAPITALS, from the Double Jeopardy round of the episode airing January 30, 2006. You should do pretty well at this.

For $400
This capital of New South Wales is the home of Opera Australia

For $800
Of all the world's urban centers exceeding 1 million in population, this capital of Victoria is southernmost

For $1200
This city's harbor was discovered in 1839 by John Stokes, surveyor aboard the HMS Beagle

For $1600:
This capital of South Australia was named for a queen, the consort of King William IV

For $2000
This capital was once the government seat of a British colony called Van Diemen's Land

Wait a minute. That $2000 clue looks very unfamiliar. It's also pretty dang hard. It's a two-step question. First you have to know that Van Diemen's Land is the original name of Tasmania. Then you have to know that the capital of Tasmania is Hobart. Well, now you do. All of these clues were correctly responded to by players that day, although Sarah slipped up and said "Tasmania" for the last one.

2003 2006 2010
$400 Sydney Sydney Sydney
$800 Darwin Melbourne Canberra
$1200 Melbourne Darwin Melbourne
$1600 Brisbaine Adelaide Adelaide
$2000 Adelaide Hobart Brisbaine

So, to take a page from mrbungle at the Jeopardy message boards (aka ToC player Ryan Chaffee):

jeopardy pavlov: australian capitals

$400 - $800 - $1200 clues

Sydney (New South Wales)
opera house

Darwin (Northern Territory)
British naturalist

Melbourne (Victoria)
former capital until 1927
heavy population

Canberra (Australian Capital Territory)

$1600 - $2000 clues

Brisbaine (Queensland)
named for governor of NSW
penal colony
World's Fair Expo 1988 (It's shown up a couple of times)
"royal Australian state"

Adelaide (South Australia)
named for a woman/queen

Hobart (Tasmania)
Van Diemen's Land [for Tasmania]

Perth (Western Australia)
gold mine

Perth hasn't shown up in the ToC yet, but it has thrice been a bottom-of-the-board clue using the hints I've listed. It's also pretty "remote", so put that on the list as well.

Your homework: Identify another category that tends to show up every 4 years or so, especially in the Tournament of Champions, and that only has about 8 possible answers. If you need help, turn to page 96 of "Prisoner of Trebekistan".


Monday, February 15, 2010


In the February 1963 issue of Bullwinkle Comics (from Gold Key), that machine that Peabody and Sherman use to travel back in time is spelled "WAY-BAC" (capitalized as in the original comic, although everything Peabody says in the original comic is capitalized). This is as close to a contemporary reference to the actual spelling of the thing I've been able to find:

Bullwinkle and Rocky Number 4 (May 1988, Marvel) spells it WABAC, in bold capitals:

"The Moose That Roared" by Keith Scott from 2001 also uses WABAC. (Thank you's "Search inside this book".)

"The Rocky and Bullwinkle Book" from 1996 also mentions it, but spells it "Wayback" (if my memory serves me correctly).

Until I have some sort of actual, in-show reference to the spelling, I'm going with WAY-BAC, simply because it's the older reference.

Edited to add: even older reference to WAY-BAC, from Bullwinkle 1 (Dell, July-Sept 1962):