If fans were disappointed Ken Jennings wasn’t competing in the inaugural “Jeopardy!” Masters tournament — which has featured some of the quiz show’s highest-ranked contestants — the disappointment should have largely dissipated by now. The tournament, now in the semifinals, remains a fast-moving, high-wagering and nail-biting affair.
Here’s an overview of the tournament, including recaps on the latest games and a look at the contestants’ current standings.
Who is still in the 2023 ‘Jeopardy!’ Masters tournament?
The following four contestants are competing in the semifinals:
- 38-game winner Matt Amodio, who is No. 3 for most games won in “Jeopardy!” history.
- 32-game champ James Holzhauer, who is No. 4 for most games won.
- Mattea Roach, a 23-game champ who is the youngest super-champion in “Jeopardy!” history.
- Andrew He, a five-game champ who beat Roach during the semifinal round of the 2022 Tournament of Champions to compete against Amy Schneider and Sam Buttrey in the finals (Schneider ended up winning).
Schneider, a 40-game champ who is second behind only Ken Jennings for most games won, took fifth place in the tournament and claimed a $75,000 prize. Buttrey, who won the inaugural professors tournament in 2021, took 6th place and claimed a $50,000 prize.
How the 2023 ‘Jeopardy!’ Masters tournament works going forward
Each episode of the “Jeopardy!” Masters tournament includes two 30-minute games.
Unlike a regular “Jeopardy!” game, the contestants are playing for points rather than money. A contestant gets three points for winning a game and one point for finishing in second. The third-place finisher does not get any points (and in another special addition to the tournament, the show reveals the locations of the Daily Doubles to viewers at home at the start of each round).
Following the semifinals, which runs over four games played on May 22 and 23, the player with the fewest points is eliminated, and the three remaining contestants head to the finals, which will play out over two games on May 24.
The contestant with the most points after the two-game finals wins $500,000 and the Trebek Trophy. Second place gets $250,000 and third place receives $150,000.
Fourth place will be awarded $100,000 after the semifinals.
‘Jeopardy!’ Masters semifinals recaps
Note: Games 3 and 4 of the semifinals air May 23 at 7 p.m. MDT on ABC.
May 22 — Game 1 of the semifinals: Matt Amodio, Andrew He, James Holzhauer
Both games 1 and 2 of the semifinals proved to be unusual for Holzhauer, who in the tournament has typically sealed his win by the time the Final Jeopardy round rolls around.
Although Holzhauer, Amodio and He all had a strong start in Game 1, it was actually He who had the lead going into the second round with 5,600 points. Amodio had 5,000 points, and in a circumstance Jennings noted was “unusual,” Holzahuer trailed in third with 2,800 points.
But it didn’t take Holzhauer long to get his groove back.
Holzhauer immediately landed on one of the two Daily Doubles in the second round and doubled his score to 5,600 to tie for the lead with He. Not much later, Holzhauer landed on the other Daily Double. This time, he had the lead with 9,600 points, and opted to wager all of it on the following clue: “A memorable quote from ‘In the Heat of the Night’ became this title of another Sidney Poitier film in 1970.”
Holzhauer got it right — “They call me Mr. Tibbs” — and upped his total to a solid lead with 19,200 points.
Going into the Final Jeopardy round, Holzhauer had 26,000 points. He, in second, had 15,200 points and Amodio had 8,200. As Jennings noted, it marked the second time in the tournament that the game was not a runaway for Holzhauer.
It all came down to the following clue in the category literature: “In reviewing this novel, Carl Jung said it took place in one single and senseless day “on which, in all truth, nothing happens.”
Although all three contestants appeared to be stumped by the clue, they all got it right: “Ulysses” (Jennings noted that the entire James Joyce novel takes place on June 16, 1904).
Amodio’s wager brought him up to 15,201 points; He — who had 15,200 points going into the Final Jeopardy round — upped his total to 22,000 points. And in yet another unusual move for Holzhauer, the contestant played it safe and wagered a small portion of his points, bringing his total to 30,401.
Holzhauer claimed the first victory in the semifinals, and got 3 points on the board. He, meanwhile, got on the board with 1 point for his second-place finish.
May 22 — Game 2 of the semifinals: Mattea Roach, Andrew He, James Holzhauer
Mattea Roach made her semifinals debut in Game 2 — and really gave Holzhauer a run for his money.
At the start, Holzhauer had control of the game with a whopping 11,200 points going into the second round — Roach, who was in second, had 3,800 points.
But during this game, it was Roach, not Holzhauer, who found both Daily Doubles in the second round. And to give herself a good shot of winning she went big on her wagers.
When Roach landed on the first Daily Double in the second round, she was in second place with 4,600 points. Although she said she doesn’t like making big wagers, she acknowledged that she didn’t really have any other choice but to bet it all on the following clue: “His name is associated with work and this 19th-century British physicist had an occasional day job managing his family brewery.”
Roach came up with the correct response — Joule — and brought her total to 9,200 points. By the time she landed on the second Daily Double, she was in the lead with 16,000 points. She chose to wager half that total on the following clue: “When relative humidity is greater than 100%, clouds can form at this 15-letter point.”
Roach again got it right — supersaturation — and brought her total to 24,000 points. She ended up going into the Final Jeopardy round in first place with 26,800 — 8,000 points ahead of Holzhauer. He was in third place with 6,400 points.
Going into the Final Jeopardy round in second place made Game 2 another unusual game for Holzhauer.
It came down to the Final Jeopardy clue in the category “Historic Ships”: “This 16th-century ship got its name from the crest of patron Christopher Hatton, which featured a deer.”
Both He and Holzhauer came up with the correct response — the Golden Hind. He brought his total up to 12,484 points. In an unexpected move from Holzhauer, the contestant made a safe wager that brought him to 24,700 points — trailing 2,100 points behind Roach.
And then Roach revealed her answer: “What is the Hartford”?
Roach dropped down to 15,999 but got on the board with 1 point for her second-place finish. Holzhauer, meanwhile, added another three points to his total and now has a strong lead halfway through the semifinals.
‘Jeopardy!’ Masters tournament tracker
Following the first two games of the semifinals, the “Jeopardy!” Masters standings are as follows:
- James Holzhauer — 6 points.
- Andrew He — 1 point.
- Mattea Roach — 1 point.
- Matt Amodio — 0 points.