Night one of the Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time Tournament came down to a mere 200 points, with Ken Jennings claiming the first victory of the first-to-three tournament over James Holzhauer. But night two was a return to form for Holzhauer, who was shut out of all six Daily Doubles in the first night’s two games.
Here’s a quick interview following the first game, just so you know how they’re feeling after the first one before we get into what happened on Wednesday night.
Night two was a light affair between the three powerhouses, though Brad Rutter again struggled to find footing against both Jennings and Holzhauer. The resulting game also brought back much of what we’ve grown to expect from James Holzhauer, who was aggressive and dominant at times during night two of the tournament. His win over Ken Jennings came thanks to being the only player to get Final Jeopardy right in the second game, but it was clearly Jeopardy James’ game to lose on Wednesday as he looked like his old self against two of the greatest trivia players in game show history.
Holzhauer finally caught a Daily Double early in the 800 point slot of Short Story Syllabus, wagering the maximum 1,000 and getting ‘monkey’s paw’ correct. James predictably did well in a college football category, but also got the majority of answers in the Charities and Literally Stupid Answers category. If you watched Holzhauer’s run during his regular Jeopardy! wins, it looked a lot like that. He finished with 9,600 after the first Jeopardy round, with Ken at 3,200 and Brad with a respectable 1,200.
Holzhauer got an art question wrong to start Double Jeopardy, with Jennings attempting to retake the lead on a series of responses as the three searched the bottom of the board for Daily Doubles. Holzhauer found one in the 2,000 slot of Around the World, wagering 13,600 on a question about the second longest port of France. He guessed “La Havre” which was correct, doubling to 27,000 and a commanding lead in the match. Jennings, however, got the next question right and immediately found the second Daily Double, wagering his entire 8,400 on a question Greatest of All Minds. He was right, rising to 16,800.
With half the board still there and no Daily Doubles, Brad tried to get back in the game, but it was mostly James who added to his lead and Jennings trying to keep contact. Holzhauer headed into Final Jeopardy with the lead at 32,400 and Ken at 22,000. Rutter had a distant 7,200 as he continued to struggle with the two Jeopardy juggernauts, but the wagering for the Influential Writing category was interesting.
I'm not sure I can watch regular Jeopardy after this tournament. It's been amazing! pic.twitter.com/xHHd7vw8Hd
— ⭐️Debbie Burroughs (@deb922) January 9, 2020
The answer was The Communist Manifesto, with Brad doubling to 14,400. Jennings had enough time to draw a Soviet hammer and sickle with his correct response, wagering 18,000 and going to 40,000. But Holzhauer also was right, wagering more than 11,000 to put him at a slight lead for the match at 44,314.
Game two of the night started with James again, but Brad found the first Daily Double in the Name the Decade category, getting the 1480s right to move to 1,800. Holzhauer and Co. continued to work from the bottom up, with few mistakes and zero unanswered questions. With the DD out of the way early, the results were much more balanced but Rutter still trailed. Jennings led slightly, with 6,800 while Holzhauer had 6,400. Rutter had just over half that at 3,800.
— Bob Dohr (@BobDohr1) January 9, 2020
The second Double Jeopardy match went downhill right away for one player. Rutter, unfortunately, found the first Daily Double of the round, a question actually about DNA and not Lizzo in I Just Took A DNA Test for 1600. But he didn’t know how many autosomes people have in their DNA and went back to zero. Geography for 1600.
Holzhauer immediately found the second Daily Double in Geography for 1600, pausing for a moment but answering correctly and doubling to 16,800, a full 10,000 points over Jennings. Rutter actually went into the negative points briefly, and Trebek actually ruled one answer incorrectly before he added the final syllable to get it right at one point to further sink him. Rutter’s gotten some extremely bad luck through two nights so far and was essentially playing spoiler the rest of the way.
And once again, Jennings charged back into the game after Holzhauer made a big move. He did well in Pop Culture People and another GOATS question, this time about the Greatest Of All Time. But James prevailed with the lead at the end of Double Jeopardy, with 22,800, Jennings at 21,200 and Rutter at -3,600. That meant Holzhauer was still in the lead overall, 2,914 better than Jennings before the last Final Jeopardy of the night.
The Final Jeopardy category was 19th Century Leaders. Rutter’s score was reset to zero and he was given his 14,400 he scored in game one. Jennings then got the question wrong, losing 3,800 and dropping to 17,400 and a total score of 57,400. Holzhauer got it right and got the win, with 82,414 for the night. It was a huge score and one that gave Holzhauer and Jennings a win apiece, while Brad Rutter will hopefully right the ship and keep pace with what’s been impressive performances by Holzhauer and Jennings through two nights. Holzhauer couldn’t help but poke fun at Rutter after the second game, which hopefully means it’s not all bad news for him in this tournament.
— James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) January 9, 2020
James is funny on Twitter, but if more performances like this are ahead for Rutter, the most monied Jeopardy! player of all time, you’d have no choice but to call that tweet downright mean.