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November 4, 2015

ToC2015: Who’s the bounciest of them all?

2015 Tournament of Champions
Pre-tourney stats: Pre-Final position Forrest Bouncing
Coryat scores
QF preview SF preview
QF1 QF2 QF3 QF4 QF5 SF1 SF2 SF3 F1 F2

In early 2014, Arthur Chu made headlines for his Jeopardy! play. Some viewers complained that he made the show “unwatchable” because of his use of a technique known as the Forrest Bounce.

In the Forrest Bounce, a player hops around the board from category to category, often starting with the high-values clues rather than working from top to bottom. Proponents of the strategy use it for two reasons.

First is to throw their opponents off their game. By going from BIOLOGY to SHAKESPEARE to CROSSWORD CLUES “W”, the other players – including those on the couch at home – often have trouble keeping up with the current category, and get confused as a result.

Forrest Bounce victim

This board has been the victim of the Forrest Bounce.

Second is to find the Daily Doubles. Even if a player doesn’t like the category and wagers small, he’s taking those wild cards out of play for his foes. It’s a way to neutralize those random occurrences where a weaker opponent bets the farm on a single clue and gets lucky.

Of course, the Forrest Bounce often backfires; even for the one doing the bouncing, it can be hard to keep up. Starting at the top of a category usually lets players get into a rhythm and figure out what the category’s really about, information that’s denied to players who start at the bottom.

To be successful, a player also needs the knowledge to back it up; those high-level clues aren’t going to answer themselves. (Alex Trebek, while on The Howard Stern Show a few months ago, referred to weak bouncers as “dickweeds.”)

So who among this year’s Tournament of Champions field tends to do the most bouncing? You probably already know the answer.

Alex Jacob bouncer

To gauge the propensity for jumping around the board, I looked at the number of times players changed categories in each game. (The bare minimum for a single round, assuming all categories are played, is 5.)

As usual, a special thanks to Robert K S and the J! Archive for providing me with the data I could manipulate to derive these stats.

Jeopardy! round

Playerafter 5after 10after 15after 20after 25after 30
Alex Jacob2.004.867.4310.1413.7116.57
Brennan Bushee1.503.676.679.6711.6713.33
Jennifer Giles1.253.505.258.0010.0012.25
Elliot Yates1.603.806.008.0010.2011.40
Vaughn Winchell0.332.334.336.839.0010.33
Andrew Haringer1.503.005.177.338.6710.17
Scott Lord0.332.674.837.008.6710.17
Greg Seroka1.503.254.756.758.389.75
Catherine Hardee0.602.804.806.408.409.40
Matt Jackson1.292.644.075.717.439.07
Kristin Sausville0.332.504.506.508.179.00
Kerry Greene0.712.294.145.717.298.57
Michael Bilow0.332.333.334.676.678.00
Dan Feitel1.002.674.336.007.177.83
John Schultz1.332.333.835.336.677.83

Double Jeopardy! round

Playerafter 35after 40after 45after 50after 55after 60
Alex Jacob1.864.438.1410.4314.0016.86
Andrew Haringer1.503.506.008.8311.8313.67
Matt Jackson1.503.935.868.0010.6413.64
Jennifer Giles1.003.506.008.2510.0012.25
Vaughn Winchell1.002.674.836.839.6712.00
Scott Lord1.503.505.177.009.0011.00
Greg Seroka0.753.135.257.139.2510.50
Kerry Greene1.003.005.297.439.0010.43
Elliot Yates1.203.204.806.409.2010.20
Brennan Bushee1.002.674.676.508.5010.00
Kristin Sausville1.173.004.836.508.679.83
Michael Bilow0.671.673.335.007.008.67
John Schultz0.672.173.675.176.678.17
Dan Feitel1.332.503.504.676.337.67
Catherine Hardee0.402.203.605.406.807.60

Daily Double hunting

Finally, I looked at the clue number on which the three Daily Doubles were found. Players in Alex Jacob’s games found them much, much earlier than with any other opponent. For comparison, the average of Seasons 31 and 32 (through last week) are included.

PlayerDD1DD2DD3
Alex Jacob10.137.942.9
Andrew Haringer14.339.747.5
Brennan Bushee17.339.547.5
Catherine Hardee9.241.853.2
Dan Feitel18.242.554.8
Elliot Yates18.840.648.2
Greg Seroka21.841.855.3
Jennifer Giles25.346.554
John Schultz19.737.752.7
Kerry Greene15.33953.6
Kristin Sausville17.542.349.7
Matt Jackson10.640.447.1
Michael Bilow184049.3
Scott Lord18.339.847.2
Vaughn Winchell1942.253
Average (Season 31-32)17.14151.2
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