Has James Holzhauer broken "Jeopardy!"?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by guy incognito, Apr 22, 2019.

  1. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident

    Jersey City, NJ
    It really is a “Bottoms up” game now board wise.
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  2. HGN2001

    HGN2001 Mystery Picture Member

    It's funny, I can remember way back to when I first saw a Jeopardy! show. It was the old daytime NBC show with Art Fleming as the host. There never seemed to be a stated rule that a contestant had to start at the low-dollar amount and work higher, but it appeared for a time that everyone just obeyed that unwritten rule. Then I remember seeing some contestant change it up a bit by going for a mid-range clue while the low-dollar one was still in the category. At that very moment, I wondered why it was that very few ever seemed to grab the high-dollar ones first.
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  3. daca

    daca Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA
    If June 4th’s board been played on June 3rd, we would still be discussing how long James’ run would be.

    But you know what ol’ Dandy Don use to say, “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.”
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  4. htom

    htom Forum Resident

    Montreal, Canada
    Back in season 30 (early 2014) Arthur Chu successfully used a strategy of going all over the board (not necessarily bottom first) to win 12 times, and the reaction was very mixed. But apparently this was simply reusing a strategy Chuck Forrest (maximum 5-time champion of that time) used back in season 2 (1985,) later called the "Forrest Bounce." Back then the strategy was to control the board and to disorient the opponents. From a viewer's standpoint this strategy also seemed to try to find the Daily Double as quickly as possible, which could serve two purposes: that is, not just maximizing your winnings but also taking away your opponent's ability to make a quick windfall with a big bet and a correct response.

    Actively searching for the Daily Doubles is a pretty common modern strategy for the past few seasons anyway (and of course for players behind in the game) but the bottom-up strategy James Holzauer used was something we hadn't seen up to now. But we also saw him deviate from that strategy and try to find the Daily Double clues the few times he fell behind in a game. Or, of course, when the topic was Shakespeare, when it would be avoided altogether.

    A Vulture interview with Alex Trebek from 2018 quotes him as not liking any player strategy that didn't follow a category from top to bottom (especially after the Daily Doubles have already been found, assuming the point of the random jumping was to find them ASAP) since the categories are written to flow in terms of difficulty as the amount increases. I guess he either changed his mind in the last year or simply didn't talk about it any more. But I have to admit that lately I don't really see that progression of difficulty. So in that way the bottom-up strategy didn't seem as much of a risk as it should have been.
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  5. JAuz

    JAuz Forum Resident

    I posted this before, but I don't think I agree with this. Finding the Daily Doubles as quickly possible wouldn't maximize your winnings. To do that, you'd want to find them as the last clues of each round. Now going for the big clues before the DDs is a great idea. Then you can double up those amounts on a true DD bet later on.

    I think the idea of trying to find the DDs as quickly as possible is more of a defensive tactic. Get it out of the way so that nobody (including yourself) can gain much out if it. See the case on Monday where James found it as the first clue of the game. It gave him no advantage.
  6. Al Kuenster

    Al Kuenster Forum Resident

    Las Vegas, NV - US
    Finding that DD on the first clue was a stroke of bad luck. And not getting the other two didn't help.
  7. Veltri

    Veltri ♪♫♫♪♪♫♫♪

    The top down approach is better for viewers which may be why Alex preferred it.
    It's easier for a viewer to understand what "The "I" in Pie" is going for with a gimme $200 question.
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  8. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    How can the first one be a stroke of bad luck when he is going DD fishing? Live by the sword, die by the sword.

    James strategy shortened the game. I think it backfired with Emma. He had a player matching blows who knew to go aggressive because James would. The game was over after the second daily double. It was not that unlikely, more unlikely than likely but not unusual, that Emma would get two daily doubles. I'm sure James knew that.

    Arthur Chu's games were awful to watch, but tactically he was a better player. James was a better player than Arthur, but he was vulnerable to being beaten the way he was.

    One additional factor with James that I have noticed from my athletic days. Playing against a superior player sometimes elevates your own game. I felt that with James, that he gave off a rhythm that others might respond to. That played a factor in his loss. Other players such as Arthur Chu who are more chaotic might be harder to develop a rhythm against.
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  9. James lost how I expected. He had two tough challengers instead of one serious threat and one patsy, which greatly hurt his control of the board. Then Emma got both Daily Doubles.

    The key to beating James was blocking him from the Daily Doubles.
  10. ManFromCouv

    ManFromCouv Employee #3541

    Agreed, it was the combination of 2 strong players like Emma and Jay that prevented James from running the board. And Emma found the DDs. A perfect storm.
  11. I'm glad James didn't come anywhere close to besting Ken's amazing run.

    And I hope Emma has a decent run too, at least 10-15 wins -- she really deserves it (after taking down James).

    I don't know that he intended to come off this way, but I always read James as being a little cocky, which I didn't find very endearing. That, plus his incessant strategies to try and maximize his winnings in just about every way possible, did not come off well (imho). Others probably felt differently, of course.
  12. Anthology123

    Anthology123 Senior Member

    Whenever you gamble, my friend, you'll eventually lose...
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  13. daca

    daca Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA
    He was cocky, but if you want to be winner you have to have some attitude in your game. I think he was very confident in his abilities and there is a very fine line that blurs confidence and cockiness.

    And strategies to maximize winning? I can’t speak for other forum members, but Herm Edwards and I believe that “You play to win the game. YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME! Hello! You don’t just play to play it . You play. To win. The game.“

    Also, Emma should have already lost. If you can’t get Christopher Cross or Gordon Lightfoot, then your range of knowledge cannot be that broad. In addition, she has faced inferior competition (so far, I know it has only been 2 title defenses, but still.). And yesterday’s game 6/5/2019, was one of the worst matches I have seen for a while. Jeopardy is not ever getting a 10.1 rating again with that crap.
  14. tmoore

    tmoore Forum Resident

    Olney, MD
    We'll have to see how Emma does going forward.
    I also noticed yesterday's misses (non-replies) on Christopher Cross and Gordon Lightfoot. (but to be fair, the other players didn't reply either)
    It's at times like that when I feel like I'm too old.
    But she'll probably blow us away on 21st century music, if that comes up when she is still around.

    But there one instance where one of the challengers missed an answer (on a different topic), and she rang in afterwards and got it right, causing a big swing in money earned.
    That was a case where only she knew the answer (since the third person was clearly not trying to ring in).

    The thing with James, he was so fast on the buzzer, and answered so many things right, that often it was impossible to know if the challengers also knew the answer. Usually you can tell when you see other people jerking their arms when trying to ring in unsuccessfully. But I'll be honest here -- I got to the point with James that I stopped looking the challengers.

    She seems like a more "normal" champion to me (by that I mean --> it is occurring a lot more frequently that I know answers that she doesn't).
    But as I said yesterday, James was special.

    As far as inferior competition, the game will only be as good as those who apply. Maybe some of us should apply.

    I'm not sure how many people here who are posting have been regular watchers for a long time. Most games are more like yesterday's was, than they are like when James was around. You might see someone be like James for a day, if they get categories they are good at. The special thing about James is that he was like that "almost" every single day.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
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  15. James had almost complete geographic knowledge. I can't remember him missing a single question related to a place across the world.
  16. tmoore

    tmoore Forum Resident

    Olney, MD
    The only thing I remember him missing of that type --
    was a question that specifically referred to a stream that was nearby a Civil War battle.

    I can't remember the exact clue (otherwise I'd write it out), but the clue led you to an answer of "The Battle of Bull Run".
    James answered "The Battle of Manassas".
    Both of these are different names for the same battle, but "Bull Run" is correct because that is the name of the stream (Manassas is the name of the nearby town).
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  17. daca

    daca Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA
    James’ question was technically correct (from a Confederate perspective); however, as the spoils go to the victors (the Union), it was What was the First Battle of Bull Run?

    From the J archive:
    On July 21, 1861, the Union attacked the Confederates near a stone bridge crossing this creek in the first battle of it

    I’m not trying to typecast anyone, but a 27 yo librarian that went to Princeton is probably not up on 21st century R&B / Hip-Hop / Rap scene. Doubt this will be a factor in any game. If anything, the Jeopardy writers are more akin to music answers from the past than the present.

    And if the Jeopardy producers actually field the same contestants that went against James, she’ll be gone by the end of the week.


    Edit: I watch daily. And when I am not home at 7pm, my DVR handles the duties and I watch later that evening or the next day.
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  18. tmoore

    tmoore Forum Resident

    Olney, MD
    The Civil War question (which you posted here, thanks -- it took me a few minutes to realize that's what you did) specifically asked for the name of the creek.
    The creek is Bull Run. (I live not too far from there)

    I wouldn't typecast librarians either. Also, Princeton has one of the best remaining record/CD stores on the East Coast, which she very well could have frequented. (I lived up there for a while, too, and spent a lot of time in that place).

    21st century music isn't all R&B, Hip Hip, and Rap (and lousy pop), by the way. Have you watched a lot of shows? 21st century music comes up more than you'd think.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
  19. tmoore

    tmoore Forum Resident

    Olney, MD
    That's better than me. We don't have a DVR. Our shows come on at 7:30 PM but I still can't guarantee getting home by then, due to late start of local school, me getting to work late as a direct result of that, and DC traffic.

    I don't think Emma will be around for a long time. We seem to agree about that.
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  20. bcaulf

    bcaulf Forum Resident

    Yeah, it’s been hard watching this type of Jeopardy after that blitzkrieg. Still not used to that presence not being there, the huge white grin, that pace of gameplay suddenly absent, the exhilarating wagers being gone. I guess it’s nice not knowing who the winner will be within the first 10 minutes anymore but still...once you’re so used to seeing something for so long it’s hard to get back into the usual swing.

    Since it (amazingly) took 35 years to get a player with that style and substance (speed, knowledge, wagering skills, character, etc), I bet it’ll be a while before we get another one, unfortunately. I still find it odd that it happened now, in the era of social media flurry, where younger folks like myself start talking about it; even ESPN was covering it. And this time last year I hardly ever watched Jeopardy. Wasn’t until my girlfriend moved in with me last summer where she brought her tradition of watching the show with her family with her. Started watching a little more then intently; really started paying attention once James took the reigns.

    Soon enough my interest will probably start to fade back to its normal level. But it was fun while it lasted. We got to witness a phenomenon in entertainment, competition and pop culture, a one of a kind player and moment. And I’m glad Alex was around for it too.
  21. daca

    daca Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA
    I disagree. I think James Holzhauer is/was a trailblazer in Jeopardy! I am surprised it took 35 years for someone to play the way he did.

    What you have to realize is NONE of the contestants were able to see James’ style of play, until they were actually live in game. James’ last show was taped March 12. Which means all of his 33 appearances were recorded before his first episode aired. I will agree with you on one thing, as all of Season 35 is in the can, gameplay will most likely regress to the boring mean.

    However, as everything is a copycat “league”, I think you will see players in Season 36 emulate James’ tactics. Bottom up, build cash, find the DD’s and build a large enough lead to where you can see the will of your opponents fade before your eyes.

    Time will tell if I’m right. But I like the James style of play better than the historical, ho-him, pick a category and provide the questions to all all five answers, repeat x5, for two rounds.

    After watching Holzhauer, Jeopardy! will never be the same for me starting this fall.
  22. GodShifter

    GodShifter Forum Hot Take Resident®

    Dallas, TX, USA

    HAHA! Extra points for the Herman Edwards reference.

    Can we get a Denny Green “he was who we thought he was!” (changed)
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  23. Spitfire

    Spitfire Senior Member

    Pacific Northwest
    Maybe. I can also see less talented players going down in flames betting big on daily doubles and not knowing the answers. Most players don't have his combination of smarts, buzzer hitting skills and betting nerves.
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  24. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    The Daily Doubles are on average an equalizer. They provide the lesser players a better chance to win than if they didn't exist. If you have less ability, you want a shorter game, fewer iterations. If Holzhauer trains all players to bet big all of the time, he will have actually hurt players like himself on average. Assuming returning for the next show is the primary goal.
  25. daca

    daca Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA
    Exactly. See earlier this week when that one guy hit the DD in Double J and he was not around for Final Jeopardy.

    Knowledge/ Quick Reflexes / Steady Nerves are a rare combination. Even people who say after the fact that I would have bet X, don’t have the fortitude in the heat of “battle.”

    This. This was James’ downfall. As said earlier, live by the sword, die by the sword.

    He answers “What is Albany?” and hits the next clue which was the DD and we are still talking about him today. However, Emma rang in just before him, then got the DD correct and doubled her $9800 score, ultimately allowing her to win.
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