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March 3, 2015

Streaks of Futility: Final Jeopardy! edition

Sometime last week, I got the feeling a long time had passed since we’d seen a triple-get in Final Jeopardy! – a clue for which all three players give a correct response. When I ran the stats, I was shocked to learn it had not happened since January 14.

Perhaps it was dumb luck that the display on my MacBook Pro crapped out over the weekend before I could put together a post; on Monday, the streak came to an end after 32 games, including the two-week Teachers Tournament.

Week of MON TUE WED THU FRI
12 Jan 2015
19 Jan 2015
26 Jan 2015
02 Feb 2015
09 Feb 2015
16 Feb 2015
23 Feb 2015
02 Mar 2015

In a previous By the Numbers installment, I analyzed the frequency of right-wrong combinations in Final Jeopardy!. In regular play between December 1, 2004 and January 2, 2015, around 19% of Final clues saw three successful responses.

Assuming that any given FJ combination will be randomly selected, the probability of any 32-game stretch having zero triple-gets is about 0.14%, or around once in 750 games. Fittingly, 32 games tied the longest streak in the post-KJ era.

32 games

Although we had just one three-game winner in our recently-ended streak (not counting the Teachers Tournament), a dearth of triple-gets does not mean no one goes on a tear.

Stefan Goodreau (responses darkened) won his five games at the beginning of this span, going 4/6 on Final.

The week of July 13 was Kids Week; there were also two Celebrity games, in lighter colors.

Week of MON TUE WED THU FRI
13 Jul 2009
20 Jul 2009
14 Sep 2009
21 Sep 2009
28 Sep 2009
05 Oct 2009
12 Oct 2009
19 Oct 2009

29 games

The first two weeks were from the Tournament of Champions won by Celeste DiNucci.

Lisa Klink (darker) won 5 games starting on November 26. She was 3/6 on Final.

Week of MON TUE WED THU FRI
05 Nov 2007
12 Nov 2007
19 Nov 2007
26 Nov 2007
03 Dec 2007
10 Dec 2007
17 Dec 2007

23 games

Jason Zollinger, who won 6 games, won his first game on the commencing triple-get. Another Celebrity game was held January 21, and the College Championship rounded out the streak the weeks of February 1 and 8.

Week of MON TUE WED THU FRI
11 Jan 2010
18 Jan 2010
25 Jan 2010
01 Feb 2010
08 Feb 2010
15 Feb 2010

21 games

Dan Pawson’s third game is the first on this list. Overall in his original run, Dan was 5/10 in Final.

Week of MON TUE WED THU FRI
31 Dec 2007
07 Jan 2008
14 Jan 2008
21 Jan 2008
28 Jan 2008
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