Apr 162015

I Lost At Jeopardy

I am that guy that always plays along with Jeopardy. I don’t go out of my way to watch it, but nonetheless, time after time, maybe at home, maybe at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Jeopardy comes on TV and suddenly I am mumbling “What is the Ming dynasty” to no one in particular.

I do pretty well, depending. Some episodes I just totally own the board; I know everything and I know it immediately. No one can stop me. Other days, not so well. So much depends on the categories.

My Shakespeare is only surface deep. My music history is vague. I can name Russian authors, but only three, and that is if I get time to think about it. Science, history, pop culture, sports … all are likely to produce winners. Literature and classics are all losers.

But I digress. This is not about playing Jeopardy in general. This is about signing up to try the big Jeopardy audition test. Which I did. Just because.

As it turns out, Jeopardy producers have a big annual contest online from which they select those who they will audition in person. The test is only offered once per year for each Jeopardy type (once each for College, Teens, Kids, and once for everyone else). This year’s test is ongoing right now: once per night for three nights and that is it for the year. There is only one session left, tonight, at 2200 EDT. You can sign up too if you like but hurry.

I don’t think I would want to actually play on live Jeopardy. The lights, the cameras, the audience, Alex Trebeck … I would be lucky to remember my name, let alone all three of those Russian authors. I expect I would embarrass myself in epic fashion. But it is always fun to just imagine, right? Why not take the test? It’s only fun.

And so I did. I chose to give it a go during last night’s session. I admit to being excited about it all day. Especially yesterday evening as the entry time approached.

You have to log into the Jeopardy site. There was a countdown. For the last 30 seconds, they played the Jeopardy “waiting for your answer” theme.

It was the perfect touch.

Suddenly, it was on. And I mean ON. Fifty questions, rapid fire, 15 seconds to type in the answer, a new question appearing the very moment you answer the previous one.

Thank the gods I wasn’t expected to answer in the form of a question. No time to type. Several times I was typing the last letter of an answer when the timer expired; not sure whether I got the whole thing in time or not.

The questions were all over the place, as one would expect, a variety of topics with no relation one to the next. What I did not expect was the variance in difficulty; they’d threw out a softball every now and then. Not sure what the thinking was behind that.

I did not do well. To be clear, I knew many of the answers. But many I simply did not know.

A few of them were out of my knowledge altogether. I would not have gotten them if I’d had years to think about it. I’m trying to think of an example but I can’t.

A couple I might have worked my way into if I’d had the chance. One asked for a 1700 mile river in Venezuela. I could only think of two South American rivers, and neither was right. By the time I’d worked that out, fifteen seconds was almost up. I just typed Rio de Oro and moved on, even though that is at the complete opposite end of the continent. Sitting here now I can itemize several South American rivers and probably work out which one is the right answer. But this is now, and that was then. Then I was stuck.

One or two were worded in such a way that they threw me off. For instance, one question was long and wandering and mentioned a third-string quarterback by name. Eventually I realized they just wanted to know who won the college football championship in 2015. But by the time I figured that out, fifteen seconds again. I typed Ohio State, but I am not sure how much was actually typed when the timer elapsed.

But the most frustrating, by far, were the ones where I knew the answer but just could not come up with it. Who was Frida Kahlo’s husband? I know that one. Kind of a chubby dude, moustachioed, a famous artist in his own right, I can picture him, they had an on and off again relationship, both cheated on each other, I know all this, but what was his name? Diego something. Diego Garcia? No that is an island. Diego … never mind. Fifteen seconds.

Then again. Clinton’s Attorney General, and the first woman to hold the position. I know that one, I do! Sort of a severe-looking woman, from Florida, wore squarish eyeglasses and pearls, Janet something. Janet Guthrie? No that is a race car driver. Janet … oh never mind. Fifteen seconds again.

And so it went. One I knew followed by one I didn’t know followed by one I wasn’t sure about at all. Question after question.

And then, just as suddenly, it was over.

End of Jeopardy

No score, no clue as to how I did, just a timer before the page will close and a reminder that I am done for the entire year.

Whatever I did is whatever I did. So be it, the finality of it is both brutal and at the same time refreshing: no choice but to put it behind me.

Can you imagine what it would be like to attempt something like this in a TV studio? With all the world watching?

No, the one thing that I truly learned from the Jeopardy test, for once and for all, is that I have no business being on Jeopardy. Ever. Fantasies aside, I am simply not built for that, no matter how I do on the comfort of my own couch.

I still have my couch victories. But they are going to have to be enough.

🙂 😀 🙂

  10 Responses to “I Lost At Jeopardy”

Comments (10)
  1. Check out a UK series called Only Connect… that one is mind-meltingly difficult & will either crush you completely, or make you feel much better about your Jeopoardy performance.

  2. I may have to try this, if time allows (and it won’t). But I tend to clean up on Jeopardy more often than not, too. I was a member of my high-school Quiz Bowl-ish local competition and didn’t fare too badly. I still love Jeopardy because it’s one of the very few game shows left that don’t depend on luck (No Whammies!) and still gives you Cold Hard Cash for your efforts.

  3. Oh, I forgot:


  4. I’m taking the test tonight, for the third or fourth year in a row – wish me luck! 😀

    Spence, sign up and take it! You have nothing to lose, and potentially LOTS to gain!

  5. I wonder if Patrick would consider a Jeopardy style episode of DDOCast? That would be great fun. Geoff vs Samius vs Cordovan would be a good starting lineup. Hmm…..

What do you think?

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