Jeopardy snafu

I’ve been watching the Jeopardy teen tournament (I can actually get a lot of the answers–woot!) and there was this rather arrogant kid Frank. He was smart and good-looking and seemed to be deigning to join Jeopardy. Well, he was in the lead for Final Jeopardy and all the contestants got it right. Well, you know how the leader sometimes doubles the person in second’s total and adds a little and bets that total in order to win by a hair? Frank must have miscalculated becuase he and the former second were in the $20,000s and Frank ended up losing by ~$100.

When he saw in on the monitor he threw up his hands and put his face down on the desk. Poor guy. Poor arrogant Frank. An unassuming nice boy made it to #1 instead.

What exactly made him arrogant?

I’ve always thought if I ever got on Jeopardy that I might end up doing that. I’m good with trivia, but my basic math skills suck.

I jumped to conclusions from his eye-rolling and snippiness. Could be he was just terribly nervous.

He seemed arrogant to me too. I had pangs of schadenfreude when he lost, then felt horrible about myself. I mean, he is a teenager…

Oh, thank goodness. It wasn’t just me.

I constantly am angered by arrogant Jeopardy contestants, regardless of their skill level. You know the kind. The ones with the know-it-all attitude who act like their buzzer doesn’t work right or look like they’ve got turd stuck under their noses. I’m getting worked up just thinking about it.

Don’t mean to pimp my own thread, but that same show was the one in which the younger kid (who ended up beating the arrogant one) audibly said “Fuck” upon missing a question.

Yes, it was a good day of Teen Jeopardy!.

I wasn’t watching closely enough to get the sense that the guy was arrogant, so I felt really sorry for him screwing up like that. I mean, how would you feel, messing up in such a huge fashion in front of millions of people? And not just in a regular game, but in the semifinal for a tournament. He’ll never live it down.

Before I went out to tape, I told everyone I knew that I didn’t care about winning, I just didn’t want to make a complete ass of myself. Fortunately, I acquitted myself fairly well. This guy just experienced every Jeopardy! contestant’s worst nightmare.

A little insider trivia: Alex and other people on the set knew he screwed up before it was revealed. In the break before FJ, the contestant coordinators take down the amounts of the players’ wagers so that the scorekeeper can instantly display the final amounts when the answers are revealed. They also give Alex a card with the right/wrong totals.

So they all knew before the reveal that he was screwed if he got it answer right.

I feel sorry for him.

(I missed the “fuck,” though, and I have a hard time believing, given the FCC’s attitude about profanity these days, that Sony and King World would risk the millions in fines that might result from an F-bomb. “F—” or “—k” maybe, but not a full-blown “fuck.”)

Are they expected to do the math themselves? I always imagined they had access to a calculator (and maybe a little guidance).

Nope. You have the commercial break to figure it out, just as they fiddle with your makeup, producers talking in your ear, etc. It’s hardly quiet. As my basic math skills suck, I ballparked what it would take to win even if I lost FJ. I did indeed lose, as did all of the other contestants. Of course my smartass buddy in the crowd pointed out I could have bet nothing, or the exact amount.

He had a calculator.

As fellow former contestant twickster says over in the other thread,

In my second game, going into FJ, I was in third place and the difference between other two competitors was exactly half my total. The guy who was leading at that point had to wager enough to beat the second place player betting everything. He bet enough to be $1 over her best final score. Which meant that when he got it wrong (we all did) he would have been $1 below my score going in. So my best bet was $0.

If second place had bet everything, I would have won. I was really pissed off that she figured out that if both she and first place got it right, betting everything wouldn’t help her, because he could be counted on to beat her best score, and that if he got it wrong and she got it right she only had to beat my best score to win. Which is what she did.

So with a $0 bet, I ended up in second place, and the first place guy ended up third. (The difference between a four-day Bahamas cruise and three days in Disneyworld vs. a pair of watches!)

I had to figure all this out during the break, and did the math at least three times over to make sure I was right. I was more nervous during those few minutes than at any other time in the two games I played.

BTW, does anyone else recall a contestant screwing up the math like this, at least on such a grand scale, or in a tournament? It seems to me that this incident may create some pressure on the show to help out math-challenged contestants. I believe that at some point they started giving contestants the lead-in to the FJ response (e.g. you’re told in the break to write down “Who is”) because of a few notable losses on the technicality of a response not being in the form of a question. I, for one. don’t think having a contestant coordinator point out a potential math mistake would pervert the purity of the game.

Question: Do the contestants get to see the question before picking a wager?

No. We see it when you do.

Well, actually, months earlier, what with taping schedules and what not. But you know what I meant.

It is possible to be sharp enough to appear on Jeopardy and not be able to do addition and subtraction? Remedial math.

Well, under pressure you can certainly make a simple mistake. We do case study interviews all the time, with Math and engineering majors all the time and they are always making simple mistakes in addition, subtraction, multiplication and the such. Not because they can’t do it, they are just nervous and rushing.

I would question the statement that addition and subtraction with several four or five digit numbers, having to keep many of them in your head at the same time, really qualifies as remedial math. Heck, I’m pretty good at that sort of thing and I’m not sure I’d be able to do it well enough to help.

But, if you read the quote from twickster in post #12, you do get pencil and paper. So you don’t have to keep multiple 4 or 5 digit numbers in your head. You can write them all down.

The reality is that there are about fifty things going on when you’re finally at the wager point. Maybe some folks can do this, but I was so focused on answering questions that I didn’t have a clear idea of how much I had and my opponents’ totals. There’s the calculation you have to make - do I know this category well enough to wager? Am I going for first place, or trying to strategize so I end up with decent cash and hope the leader loses? Then the production staff is doing stuff to your podium, fixing your mic, and all that bollocks. It’s not quiet and you don’t have much time.

Actually, I’m surprised more people don’t screw up with wagering.