JEOPARDY! plus 15 years

What’s made relating the game information so much easier than when I first wrote about it in 2005 is my discovery of something called J-archive, which archives JEOPARDY! games, including mine. So you can read every question, and the order in which it was selected.

In game 1, it was the fifth question before I can finally answer a question, even though I knew three of the previous four.
The category was The Brady Bunch. “Unlike his horse, his sidekick, Pat Brady isn’t mounted for display.” I ring in first: “What is Roy Rogers?” It should have been WHO, but it’s still correct.

At the first commercial, it’s Tom $800, Roger $1100, Amy $1900. However long the commercials are at home is how long there are in the studio. Jennifer had to re-powder my forehead because I was “shiny.

So we get to Old Testament Women, one of the categories I expect to do well in.
$100- Delilah, which Amy got.
$200- for reasons unclear, I said Delilah! I KNEW it was Bathsheba but the brain just picked up Amy’s response.
She asked for OT Women for $300 and I’m still literally shaking my head, beating myself up for this gaffe. The mortification finally passed and I did get the $500 clue.

The score after the JEOPARDY! round, Tom $2100, Roger $2000, Amy $2800. Alex says, “Roger, you’ll go first in Double JEOPARDY!”

The categories are Brahmins, The Untouchables, Television, Put ‘Em In Order, This Is Your Life – Woodrow Wilson, and Literary Crosswords “M”. Well, television should be OK, and maybe Wilson, but this is not looking great.

I start with Television for $200, get Frasier. Television for $400-the first of the two Daily Doubles! And it’s a Video. Score Tom $2100, Roger $2200, Amy $2800. OK, if I bet enough, and get it right, I can take the lead for the first time! I can say, “I held the lead once!” I bet $1200.

Jason Alexander (from Seinfeld) says on screen: “This actor co-starred with me on a sitcom called “E/R” before starring in the medical seies “E.R.” So what do YOU think? I actually watched the earlier show, which starred Elliot Gould, and I also read about it in People magazine after the latter show began.

“Who was George Clooney?” “You guessed right,” Alex said. It wasn’t a guess.

Amy started taking off, getting several responses. I managed to get a couple in Crosswords, and three under Wilson. I put some Popes in order for $400. Then I pick the $600 clue in that category. It’s the OTHER Daily Double!

With the furious back and forth, I was genuinely surprised to find that I was leading: Tom $4100, Roger $7400, Amy $7000. Put ‘Em in Order: the category made me nervous. It could be ANYTHING. I bet a conservative $1000. “Oklahoma statehood, California statehood, Nebraska statehood.” What’s your guess?

One thing I knew: California became a state in 1850, the year after the Gold Rush. Oklahoma became a state in the 20th Century, actually 1907. When did Nebraska become a state? I said, “California statehood, Nebraska statehood, Oklahoma statehood.” That was correct. Nebraska become a state in 1867.

At the end of Double JEOPARDY!, it’s Tom $5100, Roger $9600, Amy $8400. The Final JEOPARDY! category is World Capitals. During the commercials between Double JEOPARDY! and the Final, you have to make your bet. The Final JEOPARDY! clue was: “This city was known as Dong Kihn, and to the Europeans as Tonquin.”

For five seconds, I have no idea even what was being asked. Then I look at the two primary words in the clue Tonquin and Donkin. If you blend them together, you get Tonkin. Tonkin Gulf. Where’s that? Vietnam. And what’s the capital of Vietnam? And all that processing took about 10 seconds.

Tom writes, What is Hanoi? Correct. He bet $1000 and now has $6100. Amy wrote, “What is Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City?” Wrong, no longer a world capital. Then my response is revealed: “What is Hanoi?” At that moment, it didn’t matter what I bet. I stand, poker-faced. $8000, added to my $9600, for a total of $17,600! When my bet was uncovered, there was an audible gasp in the audience; I just exhaled.

I got tremendous applause, more than I could have imagined. There were reasons: 1) I was told by an audience member that WTEN brought a busload of people with them to see the show 2) both of my friends, Judy and Karen, were telling people sitting around them, “Hey, we know him, go root for Roger.” And they DID.

But the second game, about 20 minutes later, did not go nearly so well. After the first round, I had but $600, while Jim had $2,700 and Robin, $2,900, after I got the last question of the round incorrectly. I got only 2 right in the Double JEOPARDY! section, both films of the ’40s. I just couldn’t get in. After a while I started to root for Jim to stay close to Robin; the score at the end of the Double JEOPARDY! round was $2200 for me $5500 for Jim, $9200 for Robin.

I have virtually zero chances of winning. But I get Final JEOPARDY! right, they don’t, I end up in second place, which was a trip to Barbados, which I eventually used on my honeymoon with Carol. Then I sit in the audience, watch a third show, and am melancholy I think I would have done well with those questions.

The seven weeks between the taping and the airing of the show are the worst, with people prodding me for the results. The day before the show aired, I called Amy Roeder, and commiserated together.

I watched the show in my church’s parlor with about 50 other people. It was slightly mortifying.

Every day for the next 35 days, and indeed for most days for the next six months, someone who was a total stranger would recognize me and congratulate me. Just when I think it was dying off, a new wave of folks would remind me they saw my appearance. I was fascinated that when I was in San Diego in September of 1999, 10 months after the show aired, some women from DC recognized me.

Winning on JEOPARDY! means that people think I’m intelligent. I’m probably no smarter than I was before, but I am perceived as such.

As recently as August 2013, people in my office have introduced me to other people as “our JEOPARDY! champion.”

I’m still in touch with Amy Roeder; check out her blog. Still use the lap blanket I got as a consolation prize.

All in all, it was a great experience. I’m still talking about it in no small part because someone will introduce me to another, saying, “”Oh, Roger won on JEOPARDY!” and the second person will say, “Tell me about it.” So I do, here.

One thought on “JEOPARDY! plus 15 years”

  1. What a fun insight into you! Being on the spot makes me freeze even when I know the answer. Despite what you say, I still consider you as more than average smart because you nurture one of the main prerequisites for it- curiosity. Happy Wednesday, Roger!


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