May 23, 2019

Facing James Holzhauer

“There are many ways to prepare to be on Jeopardy: watch the show, figure out a wagering strategy, practice buzzing in with a pen or a toilet paper holder. What you can’t prepare for is challenging a 10+ day champion on a multimillion-dollar warpath, armed with a career as a sports better and a unique strategy honed by past experiences on other game shows.

That champ is James Holzhauer, an instant Jeopardy legend whose 20+ day win record places him second behind Ken Jennings, who currently holds the record for the longest winning streak. Holzhauer’s aggressive betting strategy and impressive knowledge base have helped him earn more than $1 million in the blink of an eye, leading many to call him a wizard who may turn Ken Jennings into a footnote in history.

It all makes for really great TV. It’s also a nightmare scenario for contestants who’ve waited their whole lives to go on the show, only to run into a buzzsaw.

As a three-time Jeopardy contestant in October 2014, I can confirm: Nobody expects a buzzsaw. You don’t find out who the reigning champ is until you arrive at the Culver City Sony lot the morning of your tape day, about two hours or so before the cameras roll. My reigning champ had won two episodes — more than most people win, but nothing compared to Julia Collins, who now holds the third place record for her 20-game streak. I was able to relax a little.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"With many other countries already studying the Asian playbook, the United States and Europe could benefit from doing the same."

"Trump's cursing is one of the most straightforward parts of his appeal... Trump is not the only politician whose profanity has stood him in good stead."

"‘If we get all of this because Netanyahu wants to make Trump happy, that’s fine with us,’ says local council rep in Golan Heights as plans ramp up for ‘new’ neighborhood honoring U.S. president..."

"...there is something worth paying attention to in this latest petition from fans keen to have a creative work made the way that they want it. The comments on the petition are instructive."

"The sunny job numbers and steady growth hide the fact that most people think the economy works only for people in power."

"Like many other Americans, I now wear AirPods all day at my desk to combat the awful tyranny of the open office. Since they don’t cancel noise, they provide me with writing music..."

"The logic of attributing mental states to nonhuman animals is complicated. We cannot use deductive inference, because there are no general rules..."

"As the canon of English literature slowly, gradually opens itself up to books by women and authors of color, Modern Library and Penguin Classics have just launched two new series..."

"Egalitarian couples assume their progressive ideology will carry the day. Sociologists know that it doesn’t.... sharing child care is associated with valuing gender equality..."

"Business Booms for Sephardic Food: Women are leading the way as small businesses bring traditional recipes to the commercial marketplace..."

"With most animal populations, the niches that encase the populations are of constant size. Animal societies growing in a given niche have dynamics neatly fitted by equations with a constant limit or ceiling."

"Now some 200,000 Jews live in Germany, a nation of 82 million people, and many are increasingly fearful.... 85 percent of respondents in Germany characterized anti-Semitism as a “very big” or “fairly big” problem..."