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Charles Lane: "Jeopardy!" It's fun because James Holzhauer is a threat



About an hour ago

Night after night, the winner has "Jeopardy!" James Holzhauer defeated two opponents in the venerable game show like a bedbug. If you read this, his series may be over, but it seems unlikely: on Monday he had won 18 consecutive games and collected more than $ 1.3 million, including the top five one-day results in Jeopardy! "History.

For the masses who have rooted Holzhauer, I have only one question: Do not you see that guy is a threat?

The only thing that's disturbing, being a commentary on American culture, as being grinning, relentless march to victory – regardless of when or whether it ends ̵

1; is that millions of people celebrated it.

People did not seem to care that Holzhauer's strike reflected the same grim, data-driven approach to the contest ( baseball, where he gave us the "shift," "wins over replacements," "momentum," and other statistically valid, but unholy innovations.

Like the number-crackers who now dominate America's pastime, Holzhauer replaces cold and calculates the profit maximization for spontaneous play.His idea is, on the 30-square meter playing field of the show first harder hints on the big money z u find and respond to it correctly. Then he flushes with money for money and searches the finite hiding opportunities after the hint "Daily Double", through which the players can set their own price for a correct answer – and make a big bet. If he reacts correctly, Holzhauer often builds an insurmountable lead before the show is halfway over.

Dizzy and demoralized opponents offer weak resistance as a snowball of profit. With each new appearance on the show Holzhauer's personal algorithms were improved and his lead increased.

In short, this professional Las Vegas player does not play the game as much as the system. What's entertaining about it? And beyond a certain point, what is admirable?

Full disclosure: I'm a failure "Danger!", So you blame me for blaming me for sour grapes. In the episode of September 17, 1991, I finished in third place behind returning Master Randy Kaplan, who again won $ 21,000, and Maureen Fernbacher, a school librarian from Salisbury Township, Pennsylvania single-time record for the era, but far from Holzhauer's highest Score (as of Monday): $ 131,127.

"Jeopardy!" Losing it was memorable, nightmarish, as if he had been caught in a pinball machine for 22 minutes, lights were flashing, bells were ringing, and Randy, always Randy, barked one right answer after the other, until host Alex Trebek shook his then-protected mustache "No." my non-response to Final Jeopardy ("What's"?) "And a production assistant led me to the parking lot, where I blinked in confusion under the hot Californian sun.

I consoled myself not only in the consolation prices (fragrant garbage bags and jeans ), but also in knowing that "Jeopardy!" of the late 20th century was an A Mateur event, open to everyone and every woman, subject to rules that were both written (a limit of five shows for returning champions before 2003 ) as well as unwritten (the participants started with the selection of the simpler and cheaper questions and worked upwards).

Of course could Holzhauer's strategy does not work without his damn-good knowledge of trifles, just as baseball's shifting requires a pitcher capable of hitting thugs. The old rules had his talent but held in human channels. He sets a precedent for further professionalizing "Jeopardy!", A trend that began 15 years ago with 74-time winner Ken Jennings.

If you enjoy slamming thugs up to the tenth of nine, hit a Homer, you'll love Post-Woodcutter "Jeopardy!"

Okay, okay, there's more of you than mine. Spectators like "Jeopardy!" Prodigies, which is why the show promotes them while they use up their prize money reserves. Jennings's Nielsen ratings were 22 percent higher in 2004 than in the same period in 2003.

But consider a historical irony of the Holzhauer run. Shortly after Charles Van Dorens death at the age of 93 years, he struck the air waves. Van Doren was a modest New York academic until 1956 when he made a fist deal with the rating-hungry producers of "21," a network quiz show: they would feed him the answers and tons of money in show for show, as long as that he kept the secret. The inevitable scandal revolutionized the TV games and vilified Van Doren.

Effects include the quirky, backward-looking Q & A format of "Jeopardy!" Even. Creator Merv Griffin sold the show to NBC in 1964, pointing out that there could be no repetition of "21" fraud if the goal of the game was the right one.

Decades later, it's a contestant that could get a game show to sell his soul. This time there is nothing illegal or dishonest. It's just not fun. It's just not "Jeopardy!"


  1091650_web1_Holzhauer "title =" 1091650_web1_Holzhauer "style =" display: block; margin: auto; "src =" https://triblive.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/1091650_web1_Holzhauer.jpg "/>


<p> Jeopardy Productions, Inc. About AP </p>
<p>  Created from video and provided by Jeopardy Productions, Inc., this image shows the "Jeopardy!" – Candidate James Holzhauer in an episode aired on April 17, 2019. At his 14th appearance on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, Holzhauer exceeded the $ 1 million earning limit. </p>
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