Season 39 of JEOPARDY!

2022 Tournament of Champions

season 39Season 39 of the game show JEOPARDY has begun. Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik were named permanent co-hosts, replacing the late Alex Trebek. Ken started the season on September 12, with Mayim stepping in starting in January. Mayim is also hosting Celebrity JEOPARDY, which begins on September 25 on ABC-TV. The co-hosts share all.

ITEM: “Some JEOPARDY fans are already upset with Ken. Fans online began to call him out for making an allegedly unfair ruling in favor of reigning winner, Luigi de Guzman, who scored his fourth consecutive victory on Wednesday, September 14.

“The incident in question occurred when de Guzman was answering a clue about a 19th-century British painter, prompting his first response, ‘Who is Constant?’

“‘Say it again,'” Jennings replied.

“‘Sorry, who is Constable,'” de Guzman then stated, with his correct answer being accepted.”

“It is unclear if Jennings allowed him to correct his answer or if he simply did not hear de Guzman.” Though I believe it was the former, this created a huge swing in the game. It was a $1000 clue as the last clue in the first round, which meant Luigi ended with $4,200, Winston Li had $1,800, and Harriet Wagner had $2,000.

Talk about Double JEOPARDY!

“But Jennings, 48, stirred up controversy later in the show when… Wagner provided an answer about a science fiction author, stating, ‘Who is Angela LeGuin—sorry, Ursula LeGuin,’ although her answer was not accepted.

“‘Harriet, you remembered that her name was Ursula, but I’m afraid I’d already began ruling against you when you corrected yourself,’ Jennings said,” about the “rule that allows contestants to change their answers ‘as long as neither the host nor the judges have made a ruling,’ per their website.”

This was even more significant in the game. It was a $2,000 clue, the final clue in Double JEOPARDY. Not only was Harriet’s clue deemed wrong, but Luigi rang in with the correct response. This assured a lock game for the returning champion, $17,800 to $8,600 for each of his opponents.

“But fans on Twitter couldn’t help but notice the double standard in the two rulings, with many pointing out that Wagner corrected herself even faster than de Guzman, calling the JEOPARDY rule unfair for not providing a certain amount of time for contestants to correct themselves rather than depending on when the host begins to rule.” Some fans even suggested that Jennings was a misogynist.

I believe that the ruling against Harriet Wagner was correct. But the judges should have overridden Jennings and also ruled against Luigi de Guzman, whose initial response was clearly incorrect and might not have changed if not prompted by the host. Reportedly, per Reddit, a viewer in the audience said judges did intervene during the commercial break on both rulings but did not change either one.


The JEOPARDY Tournament of Champions, which starts on October 31, is hosted by Jennings, and has format changes. There are byes to the semi-finals for Amy Schneider (40 games won), Matt Amodio (38 games won), and Mattea Roach (23 games won). “These three players will proceed automatically to the semi-final round, meaning they do not have to play in the quarter-final rounds. [Executive producer Michael] Davies explained that this is to make the contest fairer, as Schneider, Amodio, and Roach are so far ahead of the curve’ that they felt it would be unfair to place them in a lower bracket.” Meh. Here are the players.

The 2022 Tournament of Champions will feature six quarter-final games, with the winner of each game advancing to the semi-final round. The nine semi-finalists will then each play their three games to determine the three winners that will face off in the final round. However, the final match will also work a little differently than it did last year.

“This year’s final match will adopt the rules of the 2019 Greatest of All Time tournament” [Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, James Holzhauer]. “The three finalists will play until someone wins three matches. This means the 2022 Tournament of Champions final could take as few as three days or stretch for the full seven days, depending on how the competition shakes out.”

My rooting interest includes Ryan Long, the rideshare driver who got through his first week without his prescription glasses and ended up winning 16 games, most of those NOT getting a bye.

The stars

ITEM: ‘Celebrity Jeopardy!’ Reveals a Brand-New Triple ‘Jeopardy’ Round. “Triple JEOPARDY JEOPARDY contains six new categories with five clues per category. And hidden on the game board are three Daily Doubles.”

It may be okay; I’ll have to see. But it has the potential to change the nature of the game. When NBC brought back PASSWORD this summer, with host Keke Palmer, it was exceedingly amped up. Also, there was too much executive producer Jimmy Fallon, who played every game against a different celebrity opponent. But the game’s play is very similar to the late Allen Ludden days.

Likewise with the $100,000 Pyramid, which has been on for six summers on ABC, hosted by Michael Strahan. The clues may be a bit more risque. Still, the structure is the same as when the late Dick Clark hosted back in the 1970s when the top prize was $10,000.

Alum of sorts

ITEM: I taped the genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are for an extra hour this summer. The subsequent program was The Weakest Link, a game show hosted by Jane Lynch. The best contestant was a woman named Kelly. She noted that she had worked for JEOPARDY and learned some things.

It was Kelly Miyahara, a member of the Clue Crew from 2005 to 2019. She was also the announcer for the spin-off show Sports Jeopardy! She got voted off, not because she was bad at the game but because she was correctly perceived as the greatest threat.

ITEM: Pat Sajak, 75, who recently posed with MTG, suggests he’ll be retiring sooner than later. If so, I think the person to replace him short-term is letter-turner Vanna White, 65,  who filled in for him when he was ill a couple of years ago. Technologically, do they still need a letter-turner?

I’ve long suggested that my wife should play the game because she’s better than I at Boggle, Wordle, and other word games.

JEOPARDY hosts Mike Richards, Mayim Bialik

How to say “Correct” in different ways

Mike Richards Mayim Bialik JeopardyI’m a bit ambivalent over the announcement of the new hosts of the game show JEOPARDY!

Mike “Richards will kick off Season 38 as the full-time host of the syndicated show… [Mayim] Bialik will serve as the host of Jeopardy!’s primetime and spinoff series, including the upcoming all-new Jeopardy! National College Championship. Richards will continue to serve as executive producer of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.”

On one hand, as the EP, Richards clearly knows how the game is played. He helped coach the over a dozen guest hosts who have appeared since Alex Trebek’s death. On the other hand, and many others noted this, it’s not entirely unlike Dick Cheney being in charge of finding a Vice-Presidential candidate for George W. Bush, and deciding he’s the best qualified, though other SONY suits weighed in.

JEOPARDY fans have noted the diverse pool of guest hosts, after which they pick Richards, much to the chagrin of quite a few. Is it his fault that he’s a little dull and looks like a Ken doll? He does have some limited game show hosting credentials:  High School Reunion,  Divided ; The Pyramid; Dailies  and Beauty and the Geek , but over 4000 hours of producing credits.

Many have pointed out that Alex Trebek told TMZ in 2018 his top choice as his Jeopardy successor. “There is an attorney, Laura Coates,” Trebek told TMZ’s Harvey Levin. “She’s African-American, and she appears on some of the cable news shows from time to time.” Whether she was even interested in the job, I don’t know.

The Price Is Right

Richards previously worked as Executive Producer on The Price Is Right. A lawsuit claimed he engaged in “pregnancy discrimination in two complaints filed by former Price Is Right models. He was accused of making insensitive statements and taking other questionable actions around models on the show who became pregnant.

“‘These were allegations made in employment disputes against the show. I want you all to know that the way in which my comments and actions have been characterized in these complaints does not reflect the reality of who I am… I would not say anything to disrespect anyone’s pregnancy and have always supported my colleagues on their parenting journeys.’

“Richards got a notably public boost of support from Price Is Right host Drew Carey. Carey credited Richards with making the show’s famous showroom models a much bigger part of the show. ‘He took them from just bodies on the stage to actual people that audiences could get to know as part of the TPIR family,’ Carey wrote.”

It’s all in the game

Meanwhile, I AM pleased by Mayim Bialik’s role in the JEOPARDY brand expansion, although I’m unclear what that will look like. She was among the best candidates, and I watched them all. And one assumes that most of the guest hosts didn’t want to leave their regular gigs.

Hosting JEOPARDY requires some particular skills. Welcoming the contestants and making as though you care about them in the interview section. Reading the clues and indicating whether the contestants’ responses are right or wrong in a timely fashion, trying to vary them: “Yes,” “Right,” “Correct.”

A good host will tell you about where we are in the game. If someone hits the Daily Double, Alex would indicate that the player could take the lead, or get closer, or make it difficult for their opponents.

The hosts in the last few weeks had the difficulty of having a champion, Matt Amadio, who not only won a dozen and a half games and over half a million dollars, but most of his matches were runaway contests. This means that the outcome of Final JEOPARDY often did not matter.

Some folks are enraged by the choice of Mike Richards. I’m not. I admit that I was pulling for LeVar Burton before his appearance, but he wasn’t one of the better guest hosts, unfortunately. And him openly campaigning for the job, I dare say, didn’t help his chances.

But if Richards’ ratings tank, expect that the hosting conversation will be reconsidered.

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