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November 30, 2014

A good J! champ can be hard to find

As I’ve pointed out, since Ryan Alley lost on November 3, we’ve had a carousel of consecutive one-day champs. When Ann Conger returns to defend on December 8, she’ll be the eleventh player at Podium #1 in as many regular games.

According to the data on J! Archive, that’s the second-longest streak of the post-Ken Jennings era. The longest? 14, set in March-April 2009.* There are two other streaks of 11, including one ended by Stephanie Jass.

There are holes in the J! Archive data prior to Season 21, so there could be longer strings out there. Stefan Goodreau made me aware of a 15-player streak between seasons 18 and 19; the first five games are missing from the Archive.

With that in mind, I struck out to find the longest periods of time between various win totals since Ken Jennings lost on November 30, 2004.

November 2014 carousel

Perhaps it’s time for me to remake my carousel video.

One thing jumped out at me: in addition to our still-current streak of one-game champs, we’re very close to setting the record for most games without a 5-time champ. (Update, December 16: we broke it.)

Even more surprising to me: nearly two years(!) passed without a mega-champ between Kevin Marshall and Dan Pawson.

Note about the counting: the streaks start the game after the first champion’s loss, and end when the second champion reaches X wins (excluding that game).

*The ninth champ on that list, Priscilla Ball, had won one game previously, but was unable to return for the subsequent taping session due to illness. The game during this streak, therefore, was her second victory.

Longest stretches without a 3-time winner

46 games

12/21/98 – James Arey (5x)
3/30/99 – Ajuan Mance (3x)

33 games

2/3/06 – Eleanor Ainslie (3x)
4/6/06 – Michael Falk (3x)

25 games

11/3/14 – Ryan Alley (3x)
12/30/14 – Vaughn Winchell (5x)

23 games

6/3/05 – David Rozenson (3x)
7/7/05 – David Madden (19x)

23 games

1/29/07 – Su Kim (3x)
3/16/07 – Scott Weiss (3x)

Longest stretches without a 4-time winner

84 games †

1/18/06 – Kevin Marshall (6x)
6/14/06 – Craig Westphal (5x)

80 games

12/25/06 – Steve Unite (5x)
5/15/07 – Andrew Rostan (5x)

64 games

10/14/15 – Matt Jackson (13x)
1/27/16 – Fred Vaughn (4x)

60 games

12/21/98 – James Arey (5x)
4/19/99 – Helen Petroff (5x)

55 games

1/9/08 – Dan Pawson (9x)
4/10/08 – Deborah Fitzgerald (4x)

54 games

1/26/09 – Matt Kohlstedt (5x)
4/28/09 – Liz Murphy (5x)

Longest stretches without a 5-time winner

115 games

10/14/15 – Matt Jackson (13x)
4/21/16 – Andrew Pau (active)

101 games ‡

11/23/01 – Trevor Norris (5x, retired)
5/22/02 – Ben Tritle (5x, retired)

97 games

6/2/14 – Julia Collins (20x)
1/1/15 – Vaughn Winchell (5x)

85 games †

1/18/06 – Kevin Marshall (6x)
6/15/06 – Craig Westphal (5x)

81 games

12/25/06 – Steve Unite (5x)
5/16/07 – Andrew Rostan (5x)

78 games

1/20/10 – Jason Zollinger (6x)
6/22/10 – Paul Kursky (5x)

77 games

1/9/08 – Dan Pawson (9x)
5/26/08 – Larissa Kelly (6x)

Longest stretches without a 6-time winner

370 games

1/18/06 – Kevin Marshall (6x)
1/3/08 – Dan Pawson (9x)

156 games

6/2/14 – Julia Collins (20x)
4/8/15 – Kerry Greene (6x)

116 games

10/14/15 – Matt Jackson (13x)
4/22/16 – Andrew Pau (active)

111 games

5/29/09 – Justin Bernbach (7x)
1/19/10 – Jason Zollinger (6x)

107 games

1/20/10 – Jason Zollinger (6x)
9/20/10 – Roger Craig (6x)

107 games

5/28/08 – Larissa Kelly (6x)
12/29/08 – Jim Stevens (6x)

86 games

9/20/13 – Jared Hall (6x)
2/25/14 – Arthur Chu (11x)

85 games

12/30/08 – Jim Stevens (6x)
5/28/09 – Justin Bernbach (6x)

†Bob Mesko won 5 games during this drought in two different spans: 1/23-1/25 and 4/17-4/18. He was brought back after a poorly worded Daily Double on a Penultimate Wager likely cost him his fourth win. See Kelly’s note in the comments.

‡Streak from before Season 20, suggested by “Guest” in the comments.

18 Comments
  1. Shane permalink

    Looks like the record of longest stretch without 5-time champions will be broken on Tuesday the 16th. Never even thought about it until finding out about this page.

  2. Kelly permalink

    That 84-game streak without a 4-timer in 2006 is not valid – Bob Mesko won 5 games in that timeframe (but it was split up due to a faulty ruling in his fourth game and then being invited back later).

    • Kelly permalink

      Likewise the 85-game streak without a 5-timer.

    • Thanks for pointing those out, Kelly. I’m going to leave them in with a note, because I was looking at consecutive games with the same player.

  3. Blake permalink

    Was there a worthy streak for a four timer in between catHerine hardee and Vaughn winchell

  4. Shane permalink

    The official number for the recent superchamp drought is 156 games (last 34 games in Season 30, first 122 games in Season 31).

  5. Shane permalink

    If Claudia Corriere ends up winning at least 4 games, would the current 4-timer drought end or keep going like the Bob Mesko situation?

  6. Guest permalink

    If you extend things to the before Ken’s run, there was a 101 game streak without a 5 timer in season 18 (between Trevor Norris’ 5th win in November 2001 and Ben Tritle’s 5th win in May 2002.) For 3 timers, season 15 saw a 46 game drought between James Arey’s 5 day run in December 1998 and Ajuan Mance’s 3 day reign in March 1999 (and for 4 timers, there wasn’t another until Helen Petroff in April 1999, 58 games later)

    • Thanks for the info! I’ll look into them and add them when I’ve verified them. (Should be pretty easy based on TOCers’ original runs, provided they’re all available in the J! Archive.)

      • Guest permalink

        Here’s a few more from that era, just in case you’d want to add them here as well! There was a 78 game drought for 5 timers from September 1996 (Bernie Cullen) to January 1997 (Paul Gutowski), while I counted four more 24+ game droughts for 3-timers between seasons 14 and 19 on J-Archive (28 from Floyd-Kelso and 27 from McCune-Bass, both in 2002; 26 from Harris-Unterborn from 1997-98, and 24 from Currin-McKenna in late 1999.)

        Anything earlier, there’s too many holes from unarchived games, but it’s interesting to compare all of these results!

    • Ben Tritle permalink

      My undying gratitude at somehow being a part of Jeopardy history…cheers!

  7. Ben Tritle permalink

    Suffice to say, on behalf of…well…myself, wow.

What do you think?