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January 27, 2015

The Final Wager – Tue 27 Jan 2015

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Monday’s situation was fun, but this one blew it out of the water.The Final Wager – January 27, 2015

Let’s get right to it.

Christine Kim Jennifer Hindert Brian Quinn
14,000 3,200 21,000

Tonight’s Final Jeopardy! category is:


Those of you who have seen Part Two of my original tutorial will recognize the problem immediately: Christine has exactly 2/3 of Brian’s score.

Back in the good old days, when ties were still allowed, this was easy: Brian would wager 7,000, and Christine could pick between 14,000 and 0.

Now that tiebreakers are in play, however, Brian has a choice to make – and as we saw tonight, it’s a doozy.

Consider this post and video an amuse-bouche.

I might devote a future By the Numbers to this scenario. My gut feeling is the 7,000 wager is now acceptable only if you’re unsure whether your opponent will go big or small, but there might be further restrictions.

What actually happened

When Alex stalled a little before revealing Brian’s wager, I thought we were going to see a tiebreaker. I really did. But then I saw the 1 at the end of his bet, and that was that.

There’s a lesson here: if you think you’re the best player, at least take the Daily Doubles off the board so that your opponent can’t double up on the penultimate clue.

The Final Jeopardy! clue



Correct response: Show


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  1. marek permalink

    ties are no longer co-champions? since when?

  2. aaaa permalink

    THe rule took effect the week of November 24-28, after the most recent TofC. The rule has not been mentioned on air, and probably won’t until a tie happens. A tiebreaker clue will be played to determine the winner for ties as of two months ago. A well earned cyberial cigar dos for Christine, well done my dear(lights Christine’s Portofino)

  3. Ken Huizenga permalink

    I don’t agree with giving Christine Orange for the 0 bet. I would argue that the 0 bet is even better than the 14000 bet which you recommend. Considering that leaders go for the lock-out bet the vast majority of the time it would, in my opinion, be quite rational for Christine to assume that Brian would bet 7001 (which he did). Then, by betting 0 Christine increases her opportunities to win to 4/8…all 4 cases where Brian gets it wrong. (WWW,WRR,WWR,WRW). If she bets 14000 she has only 2 opportunities to win (WRW,WRR). I paused the DVR before seeing the FJ bets and questions/(answers) and suggested this strategy to the people I was watching with. It felt pretty good to see my suggestion become reality.

    Of course, if Brian analyzes the situation and predicts that Christine will wager 0, HE could bet 0-6999 and win 100% of the time if Cristine bets 0, but I think it makes sense for Christine to assume that he WON’T do this and that he will go for the lock-out bet. I look forward to your video as always.

    The counter-argument is that by betting 0 Christine puts herself into a situation where she is no longer “in control of her own destiny” meaning that she would have no chance of winning if Brian bets 0-6999 even if she gets it right and he gets it wrong. Nevertheless, with the significant increase in opportunities to win from 2/8 to 4/8 IF Brian bets 7001 (or more) I think that either 0 or 14000 should be rated as green.

    Ken Huizenga

    • In my book, orange is just as good as green.

      With the institution of the tiebreaker, this is really no different from a situation where the trailer has between 2/3 and 3/4 of the leader’s score: each player has a “small” range and a “large” range.

      As I showed in my Guide to Game Theory installment on mixed-strategy Nash equilibria, assuming coin flips for correct answers, both players should go “large” 2/3 of the time, which is why I give top billing to the 14,000 wager.

  4. OK, who else keeps refreshing every 20 minutes? In my world, there are intense spreadsheet calculations and/or special effects work going into this video for this awesome 2/3 scenario under the new rules. I’m in the 7000>7001, though 7001 and even 0 from first can actually both be justified, depending on what assumptions we make about Christine’s wager.

  5. Sawyer M permalink

    I agree with Ken above; Christine had no reason to think Brian would do anything other than bet to cover, as that is typical even in a 2/3 situation. Furthermore, this is a specific, unambiguous category that everyone would know their own chances of getting it. In any of these three positions I would have wagered as little as possible though as that’s a terrible category for me. I would have guessed Tom Hanks, who had two acting wins but only one of those films also got best picture.

  6. Blake permalink

    I also agree with Ken because there is no doubt that Brian will go for the lockout+1, if I was Christine I would wager 0 unless the category is 100% in my wheelhouse. Also the category of Academy Awards have been really hard for players, around 10% of the time someone answers correctly in that correctly. Even though I guessed Jack Nicholson (As Good As It Gets, One Flew Over The Cuckoo Nest) it is a category which a lot of people think they are correct but they are not due to the many components of the Academy Awards e.g. Awards, Winners from the 30s, a very difficult category. I believe that Christine should have gotten green, everything and nothing are the most reasonable wagers.

What do you think?