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March 21, 2016

Final Jeopardy! wagering analysis:
Monday, March 21, 2016

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I took a shower before watching Jeopardy! tonight, and it wasn’t until I watched the video that I realized my hair was a bit out of whack.

Note to self: learn to use a mirror.

We’ve got a really fun situation here: Melissa, in second, has exactly half of Steve’s score.

Steve

Stoffle (1x)

Kim

Vu

Melissa

Spencer

13,600 6,000 6,800

Melissa needs to wager everything, but Steve is in a pickle. In a bygone era, he’d just scribble down a big fat goose egg and either win or tie. These days, though, he has to make a choice.

He’ll use this Final Jeopardy! category to guide his decision:

WORLD HERITAGE SITES

But first, I know a lot of you want to hear my thoughts on…

The Penultimate Wager

It might surprise you that I actually liked Melissa’s wager at the end of Double Jeopardy!, with one caveat.

NEWSPAPERS, $2000

Steve

Stoffle

Kim

Vu

Melissa

Spencer

13,600 6,000 8,800
Remaining clues: 3x $400

Melissa wagered 2,000. There are two big differences between this strategy and what contributed to my mental breakdown two Fridays ago:

  • A correct response gives her 10,800, which gives her multiple potential paths to victory (including the ability to safely cover a $0 wager from Steve).
  • She’s not immediately eliminated if she misses.

The only risk was that we’d see one more clue, which Steve could have nabbed to lock the game up. Holding back 200 (and putting the buzzer down for the next clue) would have mitigated that from Melissa’s perspective. But Alex had given two warnings, and Melissa did a good job of stalling during the clue.

This analysis also doesn’t take into account the possibility of a tiebreaker. I will go through the data to see how players have handled this situation in the past, but my hunch is players in the lead are more likely to take their fate into their own hands during Final rather than play a tiebreaker.

Edited to add: here it is.

What actually happened

Steve Kim Melissa
13,600 6,000 6,800
1 5,500 6,800
13,599 11,500 13,600
1 ! 6,800 !
0 !

Tough break for Steve – I can see why his response was so tough to shake, particularly if he’s a baseball fan.

Good wagering all around here, although I’m just a tad disappointed we didn’t see our first tiebreaker. Still waiting…

The Final Jeopardy! clue

WORLD HERITAGE SITES
THE 14th CENTURY CITADEL OF THE HO DYNASTY IN THIS COUNTRY WAS ADDED TO THE WORLD HERITAGE LIST IN 2011

Correct response: Show

The Final Wager – March 21, 2016
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8 Comments
  1. I haven’t seen this episode yet – and being a Couch Commando, guessing now, Steve wasn’t comfortable with the category..Why he didn’t go for the tie if that was the case…

    • Glenn Fisher permalink

      Because without any specific category preferences, he was significantly more likely to win the game (82% vs 75%) by wagering >0. And category preferences are such nebulous things that they’re unlikely to outweigh that difference.

  2. jdgalt permalink

    Your typo, giving Melissa 8,800 at the beginning, makes today’s column confusing as heck.

  3. Poor Steve, I think he may be the first “official” victim of the new no-tie rule… Keith Williams ruined everything!! Side note, the Robert Frost was a Triple Stumper, not a DD…

  4. meansomething permalink

    Frost actually lived on a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire, as well as in a cabin in Vermont. You can visit the NH house, and it hosts a poet-in-residence during the summer. http://www.frostplace.org

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