Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions: 2022! 😊

The race is on to find Jeopardy! champion for 2022! 👍
The Tournament of Champions started on Monday this week, hosted by Ken Jennings. It’s a multiple-week event featuring some of the biggest winners from the previous season. This year the excitement level is even higher as the tournament features many super-champs. Three of them (Amy Schneider, Matt Amodio, Mattea Roach) with 20+ wins in the regular season got a first-round bye in a nod to their impressive run earlier 👌. The first week couldn’t have had a better ending with Friday winner hitting Daily Double! in Double Jeopardy! round back-to-back, betting it all both times and getting it right! 👏 The first time his score doubled from 5,800 to 11,600. When his next clue selection also happened to be a Daily Double and he announced his intent to make it again a “true daily double” the shock was evident in Ken’s face. By the time I collected my jaw that had dropped to the floor on hearing “true daily double” wager 😂 the contestant, Eric Ahasic, got the response right and his score jumped to 23,200! It’s always fun to see contestants bet big, get it right and win big! It’s a tribute to the quality of other two contestants that the game did not turn out to be a runway for the champ before Final Jeopardy! round. 👍
This year’s tournament may very well be historic in that it features a non-binary person, a transgender, a lesbian, a turbaned Sikh. Fun to see diversity when it results from inclusiveness instead of being in-your-face. 👏 Kudos to Ken Jennings for doing good as host. 👏 When he immediately followed as host after the legendary Alex Trebek he appeared stilted and a little awkward and Mayim Bialik appeared more at ease as the host. Some of it may have been due to emotions as he was close to Alex, some of it nerves stepping into the shoes of a legend and rest of it for trying to stick to the Alex way of hosting too much. In contrast Mayim appeared to be more at comfort in front of the camera. At this time Ken is better as host of the show than Mayim IMHO. What has changed? While Mayim appears to be solid professional Ken brings passion to the job. Whether consciously or through feedback from others Ken has been more Ken and less wannabe-Alex! That passion combined with other p’s (product, participants, presentation) combine for a great watch. 👍 When Ken praises a contestant for responding correctly to a difficult clue it appears genuine. Staying true to himself also means he brings in his own sense of humor. Of course, sometimes it may land well, sometimes it may not (I should know that from personal experience 🤣). Also, some attributes that could have been a disadvantage actually turns out to be a blessing. Ken speaks fast which means when he is hosting all clues are covered in a game pretty much always! I am all for no clues left uncovered in a game and maximizing winning for the contestants. Hopefully the rest of the tournament is thrilling too that the participation of super-champs promises, with a memorable ending for the tournament. Can’t wait to see what is in store! 😊🙏

Ragamalika: S(w)inging in, S(w)inging out!

Ragamalika: S(w)inging in, S(w)inging out!

In Indian classical music a raga is a pattern of notes having characteristic intervals, rhythms, and embellishments. So, there is a structure to it and there is a discipline required to ensure any song based on a particular raga follows the defined pattern. However, even within the structure there is room for improvisation. Singers who are highly skilled and have a flair for improvisation can deftly move from one raga to another (and then another and so forth) and make it back to the original raga seamlessly. I call it S(w)inging in, S(w)inging out! Sanjay Subrahmanyan is one singer who has the vocal chops, mastery of the individual ragas and discipline allied with creativity and improvisation to sing ragamalikas naturally. 👍

As an analogy in a different context think of monkeys swinging on a tree, say a fig tree ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wsotv_N2B5Y ). The way they go about swinging in and out of different branches it appears they were born with those skills naturally. Biting a fig from one branch and then swinging to another branch for bite of another fig is akin to singing in one raga, then moving on to another raga. Why am I comparing singing with monkeys swinging? Just as swinging from one branch to another requires physical dexterity swinging between ragas requires vocal dexterity. There is timing and decision making involved too. Swing has to happen between branches that are strong. If a monkey swings from a strong branch to a twig it can make for an awkward landing to put it mildly. Similarly, the results can be less than desirable if the transition between the ragas is not smooth and seamless. One more factor that needs to be considered is room and ability of those following the leader (accompanying percussionists in singing). Only the very accomplished can achieve that with relative ease.

On another note it’s been raining all day. I don’t mind it as it’s raining ragas too. Continuous supply of strong coffee or tea along with potato and onion fritters would make for a perfect combo for the music and weather. 😀 With wife wanting me to eat healthy, onion/potato fritters idea ain’t gonna fly though. 😢 Hey, improvisation is the name of the game today and I don’t want to fritter the opportunity. I can pop some corn instead! 😉😅

Jeopardy! – Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda!

https://people.com/tv/jeopardy-mattea-roach-winning-streak-ends/

Mattea Roach’s fantastic run on Jeopardy! trivia show came to an end in game aired yesterday (5/6/2022). I did not watch all the games Mattea played but I thoroughly enjoyed the games I watched. Reason being it was good to see a contestant show personality, be authentic, have fun and do extremely well. Rare it is to see vivacity on display on the show and Mattea brought loads of it while playing the game. Her playing style was conservative compared to more recent champions with long winning streaks in that the wager on Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy! were typically to not lose much ground if the response was wrong or pad the lead a bit more if right. The game she lost I would argue that the primary reason for the loss was Mattea was not her authentic self while wagering on Final Jeopardy! Going into Final Jeopardy! Mattea had $19,200 and the eventual deserving winner Danielle Maurer had $11,400. Danielle’s best chance to win was to go for broke, bet it all, get it right and hope Mattea got it wrong. In that scenario if the outcome went Danielle’s way her winning amount would have been $22,800. The next best chance was to be a bit more conservative while taking a risk. The assumption in that choice is that the person with the lead would bet just enough to edge out the challenger (if the response is right) and lose less money if wrong in the hope that the wagered amount increases the chance of not losing. With the target of $22,800 to beat in mind Mattea wagered $3,601 to the $19,200 she had going in to ensure the final amount $22,801 would be unbeatable. Danielle, probably guessing right which way the returning champion would go and/or choosing to be conservative, bet $4,200. Why that amount? A $3,601 wrong bet with $19,200 in hand would reduce the final tally to $15,599 and a winning wager of $4,200 with $11,400 in hand would bump the final tally to $15,600! Which is how it unfolded!

Why do I think Mattea’s defeat was due to her not being her authentic self? The two factors that determine the final wager have to be the category (which is announced prior to the round so that the contestants can decide how much to wager based on their confidence in the category) and a player’s risk tolerance. The category was USA. Given the scores going into Final Jeopardy! round and given her conservative betting nature I think there were two safer options available for Mattea.

1) Bet nothing and retain $19,200 at the end. This would work if the challenger got the final response wrong or got it right but did not wager more than $8,000 to bridge the gap between $19,200 and $11,200.

2) The second safer option for Mattea would have been to wager one $ lesser than her wager of $3,601. In case she got her response right the worst-case scenario would have resulted in both players finishing in a tie with final tally of $22,800 forcing a tie-breaker. In that scenario I would rate the possibility of a 23-day returning champ winning against a first time challenger higher due to greater experience, buzzing speed and the confidence of having being there and done it all 23 times before.

I realize ultimately these are woulda, coulda, shoudas amounting to Monday morning quarterbacking and doesn’t take into consideration the fatigue that creeps in after playing 20+ games. It’s fun to imagine the possibilities though 😊

Permanent Daylight Savings

Proposed change came from Sunshine State
Was it based on actual sunshine state?
The right time say those in favor
Not the right time say those against
They point to the Sun
No wonder there is daylight betwixt!

Other animals must be bemused
Wondering if humans are confused,
Tinkering with time
Time after time
To save time and energy
That’s a lot of spent time and energy! 🙏

Final Jeopardy! category is ‘Recent Phenoms’


https://www.nytimes.com/…/tel…/jeopardy-matt-amodio.html

After a brief hiatus The Raj is back! This time with a piece on Jeopardy! trivia show. More specifically about the amazing run of current champion Matt Amodio who has enjoyed a 33-game unbeaten streak so far. In a summer marked by turbulence Matt is exactly what the doctor ordered for the show. Amid a slew of different guest hosts and controversy about permanent host selection the champ has continued his serene run. With a 33rd win in yesterday’s televised game Matt surpassed James Holzhauer in # of wins in regular season. 👏👏 Moving into sole 2nd place is guaranteed to bring comparisons with the runs enjoyed by #1 Ken Jennings (74-game win streak) and James and will inevitably lead to debates about who is the best. What interests me more is their journey, their style of play and characteristics and other X-factor/s!
1) Similarities between Matt, James and Ken: Encyclopedic knowledge, high intelligence, exceptional memory, interest in broad range of topics, great ability to zero in on correct response by fast elimination, ruthless efficiency, mastery of the buzzer, immense stamina and killer instinct 👌
2) Differences between Matt, James and Ken:One could say they have competed in different eras. When Ken had his incredible run it was before social media became omnipresent. In some ways his run could be compared to a sleeper hit with interest growing as he kept adding to his wins. Both and Alex Trebek were in their pomp at this time. Ken’s approach was traditional (typically starting with low value clues in a category) and cautious, minimizing risks for win. Wouldn’t be surprised if he had a checklist in his preparation, like an engineer 😊
James’ era was pre-COVID and when social media had become all pervasive. So, more visibility and probably more pressure. This was during the time Alex Trebek in his post-cancer diagnosis phase soldiered on admirably without letting the pain show. The James approach can be described as shock and awe effect. Go straight for the big $ clues, relentlessly hunt for the Daily Double and bet it all for maximum gain. The effect was very demoralizing on the other players as he steamrolled them and pretty much locked up the win very early in the game 👌
Matt’s approach is a combination of Ken+James. Similar to James in going for big $ clues early on, try to get the Daily Double and bet it all (in Jeopardy! round) while building up a huge lead. In Double Jeopardy! round, with a comfortable lead, the amount bet on Daily Double just enough to pad the lead (if got right) or not lose significantly (if got wrong). In that sense similar to Ken. He has also improved the process efficiency and cut down response time by starting his response with “What’s” whether referring to a place, person , movie or whatever. It will be interesting to see if in any of his games there have been any clues left on the board due to time limit getting reached. In one respect this run has been different to Ken and James’ in that there have been more than 5 hosts in Matt’s case while Ken and James only had Alex as host. Matt has been able to adjust to the different style and cadence of each host without any noticeable problem 👍
3) The all important X-factor: The secret sauce!
Last but not the least is the X-factor, what Matt shares in common with The Raj 😉 Interestingly both of us worked for the same employer at one time! Matt and Raj were residents of the same town when Matt attended Graduate school for his 2nd Masters degree! From all appearances it seems Matt may also like to laugh heartily like Raj. Alright, that was more of an observation, no points credited. Other than that nothing in common between Matt and Raj 😂

It seems Matt is proud of the fact, and rightfully, that his fellow contestants who have bit the dust so far have all thought he is a genuinely nice guy and impressed by his soft touch even while putting them away. Killing them with kindness 😊 Hooray for Midwest politeness! 👏
To me it’s fun to watch his reaction when he wins. After the game his first reaction is always “Wow, can’t believe I won this game” with a genuine smile and a look of disbelief. It’s a look of pure, unalloyed delight. Akin to a kid having fun and making incredible money in the process. Are there any apparent weakness in Matt’s game? Not really as he is done well in pretty much all categories. Couple of things I have noticed though. In going after big $ clues and hunting for Daily Double/s if another player buzzes in quick and answers right a slight look of anxiety creeps in. Likewise some anxiety when a player has won more than half of money won by Matt before Final Jeopardy! The closest match I remember was his first win when he was up against a 2-time returning champion, and going into Final Jeopardy! both of them had ~ 20K with Matt having a bit more money than the returning champ. Both bet big and got it right and the difference boiled down to Matt having slightly more money to bet and beat the returning champ. Amusing to think the streak could very well have been a non-starter 😆

How to beat the champ?
It’s actually simple. 🙂 Against all bigtime champs you got to beat them at their own game. In other words take it to them. To do that will entail buzzing in quick, going for big $ clues, getting them right (to gain control of the board in terms of clue selection/game flow), hitting the Daily Doubles, betting big on those and getting them right. In short, a near perfect game! 😅 Suddenly it doesn’t sound simple, eh? I am guessing Matt will eventually lose to a player who has more than half his money before Final Jeopardy!, bets it all, comes up with correct answer while Matt gets it wrong.

Now, for the Final Jeopardy! clue in the category ‘Recent Phenoms’:
This person has won phenomenal amount of money, more than million $ and counting, in recent times on a popular trivia game once hosted by the legendary Alex Trebek.
Correct response: What’s Amodio? 🙂
Note: ‘Who is Matt Amodio?’ is also an acceptable response 😁