(LOS ANGELES) — “Jeopardy Villain” Arthur Chu once again played for the tie — only this time, he didn’t get it.
Instead, he won for a ninth straight time.
Heading into “Final Jeopardy!” at the very end of Friday night’s pre-taped episode, Chu had $22,400 to his nearest challenger’s $11,400. Chu could have bet $401 or more to ensure victory — but his $400 wager and correct response brought him to $22,800, only enough to ensure a tie if his rival bet everything. Both opponents guessed correctly, but Chu’s nearest rival did not bet everything. So Chu won again.
Chu’s unconventional tactics — including sometimes wagering only enough to ensure a “Final Jeopardy!” tie, picking squares off the board out of the conventional order, usually playing the higher-value clues first and betting big on the “Daily Double” selections that often are found on that part of the display — have made him a hero to some but earned him the sobriquet of “Jeopardy Villain” among the show’s purists.
Traditionally, Jeopardy! contestants play the game board in a particular order, going through the clues in each category from lowest value to highest. And on the “Final Jeopardy!” question, they usually wager to win.
However, Chu has disrupted the normal paradigm, deploying elements of game theory and other unconventional tactics during his matches. He doesn’t bet that extra dollar in “Final Jeopardy!” to ensure victory if he’s right, noting that if he and another player both are wrong in their answers, that dollar could cost him.
He has been live tweeting his matches, and often replies to his haters’ tweets.
In an interview with the longest-running Jeopardy! champ ever, Ken Jennings, Chu said at first he was uncomfortable with hostility against him online.
“It’s natural and human to care what other people think about you,” Chu said. “If I’d not been playing for enormously high stakes on Jeopardy! my natural instincts to try to be nice and make a good impression probably would’ve taken over, I [would have] been shy and reticent and afraid to speak up, and as a result I would’ve lost horribly in my first game.”
But as Chu confronted the haters, he decided to embrace the role of anti-hero — and, in the process, became a hero to many more.
“There were two choices — retreat behind a rock and wait for the trolling to blow over, or consciously engage the trolls, take control of the conversation and own my image as a nerdy rumpled ‘Jeopardy! jerk’ and embrace it. And the latter has turned out to be a lot of fun — and in the end generated a lot more positivity and negativity, though it would’ve been hard to believe that’s how it would’ve ended up that first night of angry people calling me out.”
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