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April 2, 2014

Battle of the Decades preview: 2000s, game 13

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.

It’s our first game this week with just one TOC champ, and he happens to be a friend of mine – although one opponent might have been my original Jeopardy! crush. (Move over, Amy.)

Jeopardy! Battle of the Decades 2000s Game 13

Tom Kavanaugh, 8-game champion from season 22
Larissa Kelly, 6-game champion, most regular earnings by a female, second in the 2009 TOC
Russ Schumacher, 4-game champion and winner of the 2004 TOC


This will be a close one but I’m going with the personal favorite, Russ. He trailed heading into Final in only two games: tight matches against Vinita Kailasanath and Robert Slaven (who I thought might get a bid to this tournament). He’s a knowledgeable player but conservative enough that he won’t go chasing bad clues, or throwing the game on the line with an aggressive Daily Double – something that might come back to haunt many players given the caliber of clues in this tournament.

Tom Kavanaugh

At one point, Tom had the third-longest streak in Jeopardy! history, amassing 8 wins after Ken Jennings had put up 74 and David Madden won 19. He lost to eventual 6-timer Kevin Marshall in his ninth game after misplaying a Penultimate Wager, and missed snagging a wild card in his TOC (won by Michael Falk).

Tom had locks in games 1, 5, and 6; he wagered to win by a dollar from the lead in games 2, 4, and 7.

Game 3 (01/02/06)

Joan Jamie Tom
13,200 8,600 6,000

Proper wager: 6,000
Actual wager: 5,999

Game 8 (01/09/06)

Marty Tom Carolyn
15,900 14,000 -2,300

Proper wager: 3,800 – 10,200
Actual wager: 10,000

Game 9 (01/10/06) – PENULTIMATE WAGER

Kevin Tom Constance
17,200 12,000 2,800

Proper wager: 3,400 and tank the question!
Actual wager: 5,201
Verdict: I discussed this situation back in October. Getting to 1/2 of Kevin’s total would have set up another clash of heavyweights after Tom’s correct Final response – although, who knows? Maybe Tom would have ended Kevin’s run at one game.

Larissa Kelly

In her six wins, Larissa racked up the highest total for a female player in regular games – even more than Stephanie Jass, who won seven. That’s mainly due to her Chu-like approach to wagering: tight and aggressive. In fact, she, like Tom, botched a Penultimate Wager opportunity in her final regular game because she went too big. She finished second to Dan Pawson in the 2009 TOC.

Larissa had locks in her first two games, and wagered to win (+extra) in games 3 and 6.

Game 4 (05/23/08)

Sara Larissa Will
20,600 18,800 12,000

Proper wager: 5,200 – 6,800
Alternate wager: 15,200 (maybe, at most?)
Actual wager: 18,797
Verdict: going way too hard when a smaller wager would suffice

Game 5 (05/26/08)

Heather Larissa John
17,000 16,800 9,600

Proper wager: 2,400 – 7,200
Actual wager: 16,800
Verdict: again, very aggressive

Game 7 (05/28/08) – PENULTIMATE WAGER

Pat Larissa Nan
12,800 9,800 5,600

Proper wager: 3,400
Actual wager: 8,000
Verdict: no need to take that big of a lead with such downside risk

TOC semifinal (03/19/09)

Larissa Dave Cora
18,000 14,400 5,400

Proper wager: 10,801
Actual wager: 12,000
Verdict: the extra bucks could hurt!

Russ Schumacher

Russ won my Tournament of Champions in 2004, pushing past my vanquisher, Arthur Gandolfi, in the finals. He wagered conservatively in his two appearances in second place. He has a special proclivity to Spam, thanks to his fifth and last regular Final Jeopardy! clue. He also keeps a blog.

Russ had locks in games 2 and 4, and wagered to win by a dollar from first in games 1, 3, and 5.

TOC semifinal (09/27/04)

Vinita* Russ Seth
11,200 9,300 3,400

Proper wager: 1,901 – 2,499
Alternate wager: 3,800 – 4,899
Actual wager: 2,499

UTOC Round 1 (03/18/05)

Robert Russ Bill
16,500 14,400 3,000

Proper wager: 4,200 – 8,399
Alternate wager: 2,101 – 4,199
Actual wager: 2,101
Verdict: putting himself at risk to an “unsafe” wager

  1. Kelly permalink

    With Larissa’s Penultimate Wager in her final game, there was no reason for her to intentionally tank the clue with the recommended wager – a correct response would put her in the lead (which is even better than trailing in a lock-tie, as she would have the options that a leader would with wagering (although the 50% point is of course a good “fall-back”). Even with Tom’s scenario, he would be within reach to win under the scenarios that a 2/3+ trailer could (although arguably he’d have a reason to intentionally miss the clue as the lock-tie point would make the win dependent on him getting the Final clue right rather than Kevin missing it). The time when a tank would strongly be the best way to go is when you’re in the lower half of the crush range (and third has no more than half of first), and you couldn’t get into a better scenario on the upside without locking yourself out if wrong.

  2. Kelly permalink

    I also got to thinking with Larissa’s Penultimate Wager – if she was going to go big she should’ve bet at least 9,400 to get into a crush (exactly 9,400 would in fact probably be the most sensible “big” wager since that would put her leading in an exact 2/3 situation). Her actual wager of 8,000 was too much to keep her alive if wrong, and too little to really improve her chances if right over the best “smaller” wager of 3,400.

    P.S. I made a minor error myself in the last post – an extra parenthesis.

What do you think?