Deeper Into Jeopardy! VII: Photography – $400

Arthur Chu continued his dominant play through this week, winning his ninth game on Friday, although he had probably the fiercest competition he’s had so far in buzzer-quick Semret Lemma, who managed to keep the game from being a lock for the first time since regularly play resumed after the College Tournament. Semret kept the game close well into Double Jeopardy! but a gutsy (and smart!) wager by Arthur set him up for a healthy, but not dominating, lead. Best of luck to him and his would-be ousters this week, as we take a look at Friday, February 28th’s sports-history-technology-science Double Jeopardy! category, Photography.

Jeopardy! category: PHOTOGRAPHY (28-02-2014)

$400 clue: It’s the location where the iconic Pulitzer-winning photo seen here was taken

Correct response

The gist: On June 13, 1948, Nat Fein, staff photographer at the New York Herald Tribune knelt in foul territory behind the third base line and took the first sports photo to win a Pulitzer Prize. He’d previously taken photos of luminaries like Albert Einstein, Queen Elizabeth II, Albert Schweitzer, and Marilyn Monroe, but he that day he was assigned to cover a very special event in baseball history. Continue reading

Deeper Into Jeopardy! VI: Islands of the Pacific – $400

The 2014 College Tournament wrapped up this week, which I believe means back to regular programming, and back to Mr. Chu, tonight. For now, we’ll talk a look Islands of the Pacific from Wednesday, February 19th’s Double Jeopardy! round. The reason I chose that category is because I recently read the book Pacific Worlds by Matt Matsuda, a fascinating and very well-written survey of the history of the Pacific Ocean and its place in global history. Highly recommended, especially for people looking to expand their historical horizons into less-well-known parts of the world by most English-speaking standards.

Jeopardy! category: ISLANDS OF THE PACIFIC (19-02-2014)

$400 clue: A brand of water named for this Pacific island nation is bottled at the source, the Yaqara Valley on Viti Levu

Correct response

The gist: Military dictatorships, thug squads, journalistic intimidation, rampant corruption, and international intrigue might not be the sorts of things you’d readily associate with a bottled water company. Continue reading

Deeper into Jeopardy! V: Biology Class – $400

Jeopardy! category: BIOLOGY CLASS (12-02-2014)

$400 clue: By definition, a polypeptide is a chain of these linked together by peptide bonds

Correct response

The gist: Life is full of chains. Nucleic acids are chains of nucleotides. Polysaccharides are chains of sugars (which one contestant offered as an incorrect response to this Triple Stumper). Continue reading

Deeper into Jeopardy! IV: Surrealism – $400

This week, we leave the now-notorious (for some strange reason) Jeopardy! wiz Arthur Chu behind for a few weeks while the Battle of the Decades commences. A warning: judging by my own scores for the past week, this tournament is really hard. But all the more reason to look closer at some of the clues! I was hoping to tackle the Double J! Physics category that appeared on 7-2-2014, since we haven’t had any science yet, but unfortunately, at the time of this writing that game hasn’t been added to the J!Archive yet. So instead we’ll jump into some visual art, something we also haven’t done yet, with 4-2-2014’s Double J! Surrealism.

Jeopardy! category: SURREALISM (04-02-2014)

$400 clue: A surrealist word game produced the phrase “cadavre exquis”, which lives on in the name of the journal “Exquisite” this

Correct response

The gist: “Le cadavre / exquis / boira / le vin / nouveau.” Like a French MadLibs, those absurd words, written in turn by luminaries like Marcel Duchamp, Yves Tanguy, André Breton, and others, (possibly) helped spur on the young Surrealist movement. Continue reading

Deeper into Jeopardy! III: What a literary character! – $400

A slight format change today: I’m going to start hiding the correct response in a spoiler box – just click on it to expand and reveal. This is just going to make it a lot easier for me if and when I decide to change the colour scheme around here.

Jeopardy! category: WHAT A LITERARY CHARACTER! (27-01-2014)

$400 clue: He works for Scrooge & is Tiny Tim’s father

Correct response
The gist: Dickens, with his prolific output, numerous adaptations, and plain old 19th century charm, is a perennial Jeopardy! favourite. A Christmas Carol often turns up around the Holiday season, but it’s far from unheard of at other times, too. The story tells of miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge and the things he sees while taking a tour through alternate realities by a menagerie of ghosts (or that’s how I choose to interpret it, at least). Continue reading

Deeper into Jeopardy! II: Obama-Rama – $400

Jeopardy! category: OBAMA-RAMA (21-01-2014)

$400 clue: President Obama’s father, Barack Sr., was born in this country & was eventually a senior economist in its government.

Correct response (highlight to see): KENYA

The gist: Obama’s namesake father, as we discussed yesterday, was born in Kenya and moved back to that country after going through a divorce from the President’s mother. Although not as famous as his son, Barack Sr. was no slouch himself, earning a Master’s degree in economics from Harvard just before returning to Kenya and marrying his second wife. He eventually earned a position in the Kenyan Ministry of Finance but was fired following the assassination of Tom Mboya, Minister of Economic Planning and Development and Barack Sr.’s boss,  and the subsequent souring of the relationship between Barack Sr. and Jomo Kenyatta, first president and founding father of Kenya (and father of current Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, the two of them being among the easiest-to-remember world leaders given their surname). Barack Obama, Sr. died in a car crash in 1982.

The clue: Another clue, like yesterday’s, whose correct response has probably been propagated more by the birthers than by civic awareness. There are no real clues to help you figure it out if you don’t already know the answer, but thanks to the crazies most Jeopardy! viewers probably do. Even if you’re only superficially familiar with the conspiracy theories, you’ve probably heard Kenya used in connection to Obama’s father as ostensible evidence for the President’s alleged birthplace. I do like that the writers threw in the bit about his being a senior economist, a nice little addendum used to teach while asking.

In Jeopardy!: Again like yesterday’s clue, Kenya’s apparently never been asked about in connection to Obama until last week. Maybe with Obama in his second term the writers are more willing to delve into “controversial” territory with some birther-baiting, or to make oblique reference to such theories? Your guess is as good as mine. Kenya, of course, as a populous and relatively prosperous African nation, has appeared in a good number of clues (171), so you might read up on it if you have a few minutes – the most common topics are the capital Nairobi and safari-type wildlife.

Deeper Into Jeopardy! I: Battle Nations – $400

I’ve come up with a new idea for this blog, which I’m hoping is something that I can sustain writing about more than once every couple months. Among the most amazing things on the entire internet must sit J!Archive, a fan-created and -maintained database of (nearly) every Jeopardy! clue, game, contestant, wager, slang term, and anything else you could possibly want from that show, going back 30 seasons September 10, 1984, the first episode hosted by Alex Trebek. There’s even a Chrome extension that lets you play through the archives games as if you were watching them. But the website’s pertinent feature as far as we’re concerned here is that it’s searchable – put any word into the search bar and it will spit back every clue that word’s appeared in (in part or in whole).

So anyway, my plan for these posts is to taken a category that appeared on Jeopardy! recently*, and dive deeper into one of the five clues every day Monday to Friday. We’re going to look at both the trivia itself and the subject’s history on the show. It should bring up some interesting information, be of some help to Jeopardy! hopefuls like myself, and most importantly, I won’t have to think of topics myself. The correct response will of course be in the explanatory paragraph (in italics), and it will also be below the clue in the same colour as the background – highlight just after where it says “Correct response:” to see it. By looking at how Jeopardy! has used certain bits of trivia in the past, I’m hoping to show how the bits don’t exist by themselves, but relate to all sorts of other topics as well. So let’s launch into the first one with a category that appeared Friday, January 17, 2014: Battles!

Double Jeopardy category: BATTLE NATIONS

$400 clue: Marathon was fought in this present-day country in 490 B.C.

Correct response (highlight to see): GREECE

The gist: While this clue doesn’t make explicit reference to the very first marathon race – when Pheidippides, an Athenian soldier, ran from the plains near the city of Marathon, Greece, to Athens, to announce the stunning Greek victory over the invading Persians – I suspect that’s the path of least resistance to the correct answer for most viewers. The Battle of Marathon was a decisive turning point in the Persian War, and possibly the first point in the war that your average Greeks could have thought without deluding themselves that they might not fall under Persian tyranny. Athens and its ally city Plataea sent around 10 000 soldiers under the leadership of the generals Miltiades and Callimachus to face perhaps two and a half times as many Persians fighting for their king, Xerxes I. Thanks to some clever tactics and, perhaps, the cockiness of the Persians, the Greeks outflanked the larger Persian force and defeated them. (Sparta, who had refused to send troops because of a religious festival back home, arrived the day after the battle, took a look at the battlefield, and congratulated the victorious soldiers.) The Persians boarded their ships and sailed directly for Athens, but on finding that the Athenian army had beaten them to the city, sailed back east. They left Greece alone for ten years, and, having never forgotten their defeat by the Athenians, invaded again in 480.

In Jeopardy!: While “marathon”appears in the J!Archive 134 times, most of those are about athletics – only 16 of them are about the battle, and several of those mention both (interestingly, a couple clues give different distances for Pheidippides’ run, from 23 miles to 25). Ten of the 16 also mention the year 490 B.C., and the number 490 hasn’t appeared in any clues not about Marathon, so if the clue is about a place (or a race) and mentions 490 it’s a safe bet it’s Marathon. Of course, this particular clue just wants you to know a little bit about the origin of the race, since most people are more familiar with that than with the battle.

Two clues about Marathon also mention Aeschylus, the Athenian tragic playwright best known for the Oresteia trilogy, which included Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides. These plays told the story of Agamemnon, the leader of the Greeks in the Trojan War, who returned to his palace at Mycenae only to be murdered by his treacherous queen Clytemnestra, who was in turn murdered, along with her lover, by their son Orestes with help from his sister (their daughter) Electra. That family was a tangled mess (don’t think there isn’t more to tell there, either), but Aeschylus is said to have fought for the Athenians at Marathon, so he shows up in a couple clues about it. His plays show up in many more, though, so don’t forget about him.



* You are watching every episode, right? No? Well, if you’d like to start, I recommend, which lets you store a few hours of TV online, and the free package includes two episodes of Jeopardy! a day (one new, one rerun) that you can watch at any time – but you need to be outside the States or able to trick the internet into thinking you’re outside the States to use it. If you’re not and you don’t have a TV, there are other, less scrupulous ways to watch it, which I trust you can figure out on your own.