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March 4, 2014

Battle of the Decades preview: 1990s, game 7

Battle of the Decades – preliminary round
1980s 1990s 2000s
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
knockout rounds

To see what happened, click here.

Our second game should be a treat to watch: two TOC champs and a College Champ who nearly broke into the final round of the UTOC.

Ryan Fritz HolznagelRyan “Fritz” Holznagel won four games before taking down the 1995 Tournament of Champions. He was then invited to the first Olympic Tournament in 1996. He is a strong player who is known for wagering strange amounts with his Daily Doubles and in Final, which made things a bit tricky for me in calculating his proper wagers below.

I had the pleasure of meeting Ryan in the UTOC, in which he defeated the crowd favorite, Barbara-Anne Eddy before falling in a tight match to eventual semifinalist Chris Miller.

Dan MeliaDan Melia won five games in 1997 – many by the hair of his chin – before cruising to victory in the following TOC. His final match there was a classic with Bob Harris and Kim Worth; the second day is often cited as the most amusing episode of Jeopardy! ever recorded.

Dan seems to get stronger as the questions get harder, which makes sense, as he’s not as quick on the buzzer as he’d need to be against competitors in regular play.

Pam MuellerPam Mueller won the November 2000 College Championship. But don’t let that charming smile fool you – she nearly made the finals of the UTOC, tripped up by a Latin term against Jerome Vered and Frank Spangenberg. If she gets out of this first-round game, she could be dangerous.


I can see this going in any direction. If the board happens to be tougher, Dan will have the edge, but I’ll be pulling for Pam as a fellow College Champ.

Ryan “Fritz” Holznagel

Ryan had a lock in his second game; he was locked out in the 1996 Olympic semifinals.

Game 1 (11/03/94)

Ryan Russ Yung-Chang
8,400 6,000 -200

Proper wager: 3,600
Alternate wager: 0 – 1,200
Actual wager: 3,773
Verdict: the first of many strange wagers.

Game 4 (11/29/94)

Steve Ryan Brendie
10,000 7,000 1,900

Proper wager: 0 – 1,000
Alternate wager: 7,000
Actual wager: 888
Verdict: playing lowball works out

Game 5 (11/30/94)

David Kevin Ryan
8,000 6,000 2,400

Proper wager: 2,400
Actual wager: 2,400
Verdict: did the best he could

TOC SF (11/20/95)

Bruce Ryan Paul
10,000 7,300 5,100

Proper wager: 7,300
Actual wager: 7,117
Verdict: leaving some points on the table

UTOC Rd 1 (03/07/05)

Ryan Barbara-Anne John
16,111 11,800 7,000

Proper wager: 7,490
Alternate wager: 0 – 1,132
Actual wager: 7,887
Verdict: going for the win

UTOC Rd 2 (04/26/05)

Chris Ryan David
11,600 11,022 9,000

Proper wager: 6,979 – 9,866
Actual wager: 7,117
Verdict: the strange numbers continue

Dan Melia

Dan had a lock in his fifth game and was locked out of UTOC Round 3 by Jerome Vered.

Game 1 (07/18/97)

Patrick Dan Brian
9,100 8,800 3,600

Proper wager: 600 – 1,600
Alternate wager: 1,601 – 5,200
Actual wager: 4,000
Verdict: risks falling below Brian, but it worked out

Game 2 (09/01/97)

Dan Atish Janet
8,400 8,400 3,800

Proper wager: 8,400
Alternate wager: 0
Actual wager: 8,400
Verdict: tied for first and makes the right play

Game 3 (09/02/97)

Atish Dan Karen
8,100 7,500 4,900

Proper wager: 2,300 – 2,600
Alternate wager: 6,300
Actual wager: 7,400
Verdict: a bit much, forcing him to answer correctly

Game 4 (09/03/97)

Dan Wayne Beth
10,100 6,500 3,200

Proper wager: 2,900
Actual wager: 3,000
Verdict: safe enough, since Wayne has to be right

TOC SF (02/04/98)

Dan Fred Claudia
11,000 5,900 4,500

Proper wager: 801
Actual wager: 801
Verdict: good

UTOC Rd 1 (02/18/05)

Dan Jeremy Brian
17,000 9,800 0

Proper wager: 2,601 – 11,599
Actual wager: 2,601
Verdict: the bare minimum

Pam Mueller

College Championship semifinal (11/16/00)

Suzanne Pam Mitali
10,400 6,700 600

Proper wager: 6,700
Actual wager: 6,699
Verdict: needs to get it right; that dollar’s worth nothing

UTOC Rd 1 (03/10/05)

Pam Michael Jay
30,600 16,100 2,200

Proper wager: 1,601 – 27,399
Actual wager: 1,601
Verdict: preserving her cash

UTOC Rd 2 (05/02/05)

Arthur Pam Eric
12,100 12,000 9,400

Proper wager: 6,801
Alternate wager: 2,601
Actual wager: 6,699
Verdict: I’m unsure what Pam was going for here

UTOC Rd 3 (05/10/05)

Pam Brian Phil
14,800 12,600 11,000

Proper wager: 10,401
Actual wager: 10,401
Verdict: capping off a great game

  1. Kelly permalink

    Question about Dan’s first game – you capped his maximum “proper” wager as 1,200 – but the difference between his pre-Final score (8,800) and a double-up from Brian (7.200) is 1,600 (so shouldn’t that be the maximum for that range – or am I missing something else)?

  2. Side note here: I looked at everyone else’s past betting habits before we taped in January, just in case a situation like this came up. Of course you can’t recreate/anticipate all possible scenarios… but as you show here, I didn’t see anything in Pam’s past games to indicate that she might bet very conservatively. On the other hand, I had won from this position before, and I used the same kind of bet in this game. So it made my bet maybe a little more predictable, but it makes Pam’s bet that much more impressive as she went for a new kind of bet in the right situation.

  3. Cerulean permalink

    In her UTOC round 2, Eric would wager a maximum of 9200 to stay above Arthur, so Pam’s wager is safe (just covering by 99 instead of 1).

What do you think?