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November 5, 2015

ToC2015: Coryat scores & unclaimed value

2015 Tournament of Champions
Pre-tourney stats: Pre-Final position Forrest Bouncing
Coryat scores
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In my third statistical entry on the upcoming Tournament of Champions, I’ll look at how players handled material on the board using some common measures.

The Coryat score is a great way to keep track of one’s improvement over time from home. It’s named for Karl Coryat, who used the method in his preparation for a two-win run in Season 12.

Coryat normalizes a player’s performance by disregarding wagering. The only difference from a player’s actual score is the Daily Doubles: there’s no penalty for an incorrect guess, but a correct response gains only the value of the clue. Final Jeopardy! does not count, either.

The highest possible Coryat score is $54,000.


My Coryat score on November 4, 2003 was $22,000.

When you’re keeping score on the couch, you don’t have to buzz in, so it’s hard to tell how you might do against real competition. One exception is when a clue goes unanswered; if you would have taken a stab in it, you certainly would have added that amount to your total.

Lach Trash is the term many Jeopardy! fans use to describe those clues. Lach Trash (pronounced ‘Lash’, after 5-timer Doug Lach) is the total value of Triple Stumpers – clues that do not receive a correct response, not counting Daily Doubles.

It’s the value that would have been available to you had you driven up with a fourth podium, like Burt ReynoldsTurd Ferguson in the latest Celebrity Jeopardy! skit.

"It's funny, because there's supposed to be only three podiums."

“It’s funny because it’s bigger than a normal game.”

One other measurement that interests me is the value of the clues left unrevealed at the end of a round. There’s no formal term for this, but here I’ll call it LOB, left on board, a play on a baseball term. (I also like $LOB – money left on board – because it looks like ‘slob’.)

Unrevealed clues are usually the result of slow play; sometimes, of course, this could be by design. In any event, they are a missed opportunity for players both on stage and, to a lesser extent, at home.

These days, it feels like a special occasion when players clear both boards. As you might expect, players who target the bottom of the board tend to leave less cash unrevealed, even if the number of clues left is similar.

Here are the average numbers for each player in this year’s ToC field. Thanks again to Robert K S and the J! Archive.

PlayerCoryat scoreCombined CoryatLach Trash
left on board
Matt Jackson24,51438,3009,471714
Alex Jacob20,28636,3147,6001,086
Michael Bilow18,25038,5507,3001,000
Greg Seroka17,92537,4257,6751,325
Catherine Hardee16,88035,5207,8801,680
Brennan Bushee17,93338,1339,1331,567
Kerry Greene14,02938,2868,457714
Kristin Sausville15,56731,9338,2672,267
Scott Lord14,03335,9008,3331,200
Vaughn Winchell16,16735,5338,5332,567
Dan Feitel16,86731,80010,0671,700
John Schultz14,33333,40010,1002,533
Andrew Haringer12,20033,20010,3672,233
Elliot Yates13,60028,04012,6003,840
Jennifer Giles15,65035,2507,7500

I’ve included the term “Combined Coryat” – the total of all three players’ Coryat scores – to allow us to gauge the competition. The difficulty here is a higher Combined Coryat could also result from easier material, and it’s impossible to objectively say whether this is the case.

One item I notice is that Vaughn, Elliot, and John are the bottom three in the LOB category. As you might recall, they formed an unbroken chain of champs; perhaps there was something strange happening with production over those few weeks. I can see how this might lead someone to doubt the consistency of one aspect of play or another.

To compare the players, I set up a few ratios: various Coryat scores (individual & combined) divided by Lach Trash, with or without the unplayed value of clues. These should give a sense of how much cash each player leaves on the table for strong opponents.

PlayerCoryat /
Lach Trash
Coryat /
(LT + LOB)
Combined /
Lach Trash
Combined /
(LT + LOB)
Matt Jackson2.592.414.043.76
Alex Jacob2.672.344.784.18
Michael Bilow2.502.205.284.64
Jennifer Giles2.022.024.554.55
Greg Seroka2.341.994.884.16
Catherine Hardee2.141.774.513.72
Brennan Bushee1.961.684.183.56
Kerry Greene1.661.534.534.17
Kristin Sausville1.881.483.863.03
Scott Lord1.681.474.313.77
Vaughn Winchell1.891.464.163.20
Dan Feitel1.681.433.162.70
John Schultz1.421.133.312.64
Andrew Haringer1.180.973.202.63
Elliot Yates1.080.832.231.71

I’m not going to claim statistical validity on these numbers, but they do line up with what my gut tells me to some extent. If you think there’s a better way to manipulate these data to compare the contestants, I’m all ears!

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