James Holzhauer continues to dominate — but surprisingly doesn’t make fun of Ken Jennings: The latest on the ‘Jeopardy!’ Masters tournament
These 4 contestants are competing in the semifinals of the Masters tournament
If fans were disappointed Ken Jennings wasn’t competing in the inaugural “Jeopardy!” Masters tournament — which features six of the quiz show’s highest-ranked contestants — the disappointment should have largely dissipated by now. Fourteen games in, and the tournament 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 competing in the 2023 ‘Jeopardy!’ Masters tournament?
The tournament’s stacked lineup includes:
- 40-game champion Amy Schneider, who is No. 2 behind Jennings for most consecutive games won in show history.
- 38-game winner Matt Amodio, who is No. 3 for most games won.
- 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.
- Sam Buttrey, who won the inaugural Professors Tournament in 2021.
- Andrew He, a five-game champ who beat Roach during the semifinal round of the 2022 Tournament of Champions to compete against Schneider and Buttrey in the finals (Schneider ended up winning).
How the 2023 ‘Jeopardy!’ Masters tournament works
The first seven “Jeopardy!” Masters episodes features different combinations of the six contestants competing against each other. Each episode 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 (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).
At the end of the quarterfinals, the two contestants with the fewest points are eliminated from the competition. The point values reset for the semifinals, which will play out over episodes eight and nine. Following those two episodes, the player with the fewest points is eliminated, and the three remaining contestants head to the finals, which will play out over two games in episode 10.
The contestant with the most points after the two-game finale 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; and the fifth and sixth place finishers will receive $75,000 and $50,000, respectively, following the quarterfinal round.
‘Jeopardy!’ Masters tournament recaps
Note: Games 1 and 2 of the semifinals air May 22 at 7 p.m. MDT on ABC.
May 17 — Game 13: Sam Buttrey, Mattea Roach, Matt Amodio
Amodio ended up pulling out the victory by a landslide — he finished Game 13 with 31,000 points. Roach, in second, had 10,400 points going into the Final Jeopardy round, per The Jeopardy Fan.
The Final Jeopardy clue: “Twelve years before meeting Stanley at Lake Tanganyika, David Livingstone reached this national body of water in 1859.”
Only Sam Buttrey, who at this point no longer had a shot at making the semifinals, came up with the correct response: Lake Malawi. Buttrey finished the game in second place by doubling his score to 14,000 points.
Amodio, meanwhile, wagered nothing and used the Final Jeopardy round to channel his inner Holzhauer — sort of: “Unlike James, I’m too classy to write a joke response,” he wrote.
May 17 — Game 14: James Holzhauer, Andrew He, Amy Schneider
As usual, Holzhauer dominated during his game and could not be caught — he went into the Final Jeopardy round with a whopping 54,000 points. Andrew He, meanwhile, had 9,600 points and Amy Schneider had 3,000, per The Jeopardy Fan.
The Final Jeopardy clue was in the category “20th-century French authors”: “He said a famous book of his was inspired by a visit to the zoo, where he observed the gorillas’ humanlike expressions.”
Ironically, Holzhauer — who typically has used the Final Jeopardy round to make a joke — was the only one who provided a real answer this time.
His response, “Camus,” cost him 32,608 points — but the game was still his.
Both He and Schneider went the joking route this time, per The Jeopardy Fan. He’s response: “Stop! He’s already dead.”
Schneider’s answer: “Why not 2 points for finishing second?”
At the conclusion of this game, the four contestants competing in the semifinals of the Masters tournament are: Holzhauer, He, Amodio and Roach.
May 16 — Game 11: Sam Buttrey, Mattea Roach, Andrew He
At this point in the tournament, each contestant has two more games to secure a spot in the semifinals, which will feature the top four players. That means the pressure was especially on for Sam Buttrey, who went into Game 11 in last place with two points.
But it would be Andrew He who had the most opportunities to rack up a lot of points — He landed on all three of the game’s Daily Doubles, and betted all of his points on each clue.
The first one came early on, when He was in second place with 1,600 points. He wagered all 1,600 on the following clue: “Of the nine current members of the U.S. Supreme Court, this one has been there the longest.”
He came up with the correct response — Clarence Thomas — and doubled his score to 3,200.
But it was Mattea Roach who had the lead going into the second round, with 6,000 points over He’s 5,200. Buttrey trailed behind with 400 points.
Although He landed on the two Daily Doubles in the second round, it did not work to his advantage — he missed both clues and lost all of his points both times. But what makes Game 11 so remarkable is that He was still able to pull off the win.
Going into Final Jeopardy, He was in the lead with 13,200 points. Roach wasn’t too far behind with 8,400, and Buttrey had 5,600. It was anyone’s game, and it all came down to the final clue in the category “World Cities”: This capital city founded in 1567 was where the founding statute of OPEC was adopted in 1961.”
Buttrey struggled with the clue, ultimately second-guessing himself and crossing out the correct answer in favor of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Roach came up with the right response — Caracas, the capital of Venezuela — and brought her final score to 11,201 points. He also guessed Caracas, and secured his spot in the semifinals. Buttrey, meanwhile, is officially out of the running for a spot in the semifinals.
May 16 — Game 12: James Holzhauer, Matt Amodio, Amy Schneider
Holzhauer has dominated in just about every game he’s played in the Masters tournament — with the exception of one game where he lost to Amodio. Going into Game 12, the pressure was really on for Amodio and Schneider, who were battling it out for a spot in the semifinals.
But Holzhauer’s domination continued in Game 12 — although this time, it had nothing to do with making large bets on Daily Doubles.
Holzhauer only landed on one of the game’s three Daily Doubles, and it came early on, when he had just 1,000 points. He wagered all of it on the following clue: “This midtown Manhattan neighborhood extends from 8th Avenue to the Hudson.”
With the correct response — Hell’s Kitchen — Holzhauer doubled his score to 2,000. He maintained his momentum, having a solid lead over Schneider and Amodio with 9,800 points going into the second round (Schneider, who was in second, had 3,400).
Schneider and Amodio both landed — and bet big — on a Daily Double during the second round. Schneider doubled her score to 8,400 points with the following clue: “This room gave its name to an official art exhibition sponsored by the French government and once held at the Louvre.”
Amodio also landed on a Daily Double and was able to double his score to 6,400. But in the end, much like He in Game 11, Holzhauer didn’t need Daily Doubles to pull off a win.
Going into the Final Jeopardy round, Holzhauer had secured his victory with 30,200 points. That left Amodio and Schneider, who had 12,800 and 10,000 points respectively, to battle it out for second.
The Final Jeopardy category was “Landmarks”: “For more than a millennium, a huge embroidered work known as the Kiswa has been used to adorn and protect this structure.”
Amodio didn’t come up with the correct response and dropped down to 5,599 points. Schneider got it right — Kaaba — and got the second-place win with 13,000 points.
While Holzhauer has typically used the Final Jeopardy round as an opportunity to make fun of Jennings, he opted to go a different route this time, citing a Brad Pitt line from the movie “Troy”: “Is there no one else?”
“Humble, as always,” Jennings said.
Following Game 12, Holzhauer, He and Roach have secured their spots in the semifinals. Amodio and Schneider continue to battle for the final spot.
May 15 — Game 9: Amy Schneider, Matt Amodio, Mattea Roach
Only the top four contestants head to the semifinals of the Masters tournament, making these next few games especially crucial. Going into Game 9, the pressure was on for Matt Amodio and Amy Schneider, who each had three points in the tournament and were battling it out for the fourth-place spot.
Amodio, Schneider and Mattea Roach all had a strong start in a game that covered everything from musical theater to the Western hemisphere. Roach got the first Daily Double of the game early on, and wagered all of her 1,000 points on the following clue: “The role of Glinda in ‘Wicked’ was written for this actress, who received a 2004 Tony nomination for her performance.”
Roach came up with the correct response — Kristin Chenoweth — and doubled her score to 2,000 points. But all of the contestants came ready to play: Going into the second round, Roach had just a 200 point lead over Schneider with 6,000 points, and Amodio was in third with 3,800.
“That’s what ‘Jeopardy!’ Masters play looks like,” Jennings said, congratulating all of the players on a strong start.
All of the contestants continued to play well in the second round, but Schneider took a hit when she wagered — and lost — 5,000 of her 7,800 points on the following Daily Double: “This word meaning ‘narrow-minded’ is in the subtitle of “Middlemarch.”
The answer Jennings was looking for: “provincial.”
Schneider dropped down to 2,800 points.
Amodio later landed on the second Daily Double of the round. He noted that things didn’t work too well for him the last time he wagered all of his points on a clue — he lost all of his points and ended up finishing the game with -2,000. But Amodio decided to try his luck, wagering all of his 11,800 points on the following clue: “A unique way to see wildlife in the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park is to take a sunset cruise on this river above Victoria Falls.”
This time Amodio got it — Zambezi — and doubled his total to 23,600 points. Going into the Final Jeopardy round, Amodio had the lead with 24,900. Roach had 16,400 points, and Schneider was in third with 9,600.
It all came down to the Final Jeopardy clue in the category “U.S. Government”: “Not a department head but of cabinet rank, the person in this post has had an official residence in a 42nd floor Park Avenue penthouse.”
Only Schneider came up with the correct response: ambassador to the U.N. Her wager of 6,801 brought her up to 16,401 points and secured a second-place win. Amodio finished the game in first with a slight lead at 16,799 points.
May 15 — Game 10: James Holzhauer, Andrew He, Sam Buttrey
Although the “Jeopardy!” Masters tournament is a high-pressure competition, the contestants are still visibly having a good time.
Early on in Game 10, Holzhauer missed a clue and dropped down to zero. Shortly after, Andrew He, who had 2,000 points, landed on a Daily Double and joked that he wanted to wager his 2,000 plus all of Holzhauer’s points on the clue.
He was able to double his score to 4,000 by answering the following Daily Double: “At the end of a Thomas Pynchon book, Oedipa Maas awaits the bidding on a stamp collection with this auction number.”
The answer: Lot 49.
Going into the second round, it was a close game between Holzhauer and He, who had 7,600 and 6,400 points, respectively. Buttrey trailed behind with 2,800.
Holzhauer continued to gain an even stronger lead in the second half, landing on the round’s two Daily Doubles. Holzhauer followed his typical strategy and went “all-in,” wagering all of his 9,200 points on the first Daily Double clue in the category three-word place names: “A South American cidade and estado both go by this name.”
Holzhauer doubled his score to 18,400 points with the correct response: Rio de Janeiro.
But one of the more shocking moments of the game came when Holzhauer landed on the round’s other Daily Double and wagered just five of his 23,200 points — what Jennings noted was the opposite of “all-in.” (At this point, Holzhauer had all but secured a victory).
Holzhauer brought his score up to 23,205 points and ultimately finished the game with 24,805 points. He and Buttrey, meanwhile, were tied for second with 8,800 points.
The battle for second place continued with the Final Jeopardy clue in the category “19th-century First Ladies”: “After her husband left office, a minister wrote the White House was “purer because” this First Lady “has been its mistress.”
Buttrey couldn’t come up with the correct response and lost all of his 8,800 points on the clue. Meanwhile He got it right — Lucy Hayes — but wagered nothing, keeping his 8,800 points and securing a second-place win.
And Holzhauer, who could not be caught, once again used the Final Jeopardy round as an opportunity to make fun of Jennings, his friend and former competitor: “If a Ken falls in the forest and no one’s around, does it make a dad joke?”
The joke cost Holzhauer 806 points, but the game was still his.
Overall in the tournament, Holzhauer remains in first place with 12 points.
May 12 — Game 7: Amy Schneider, Sam Buttrey, Andrew He
Bold wagers continued to be the theme of the “Jeopardy!” Masters tournament Friday night — contestants went “all-in” on every single Daily Double in Games 7 and 8, wagering all of their points in an effort to secure a comfortable victory.
The strategy worked better for some than others.
The “all-in” wagering started early on. In the first round of Game 7, Andrew He wagered all of his 4,400 points on the following Daily Double clue: “The Cranberries marked the date of Ireland’s Easter Rising when they sang, ‘It’s the same old theme since this year.’”
At that point, it was a fairly close game. But after coming up with the correct response — 1916 — He pulled ahead of the pack. Going into the game’s second round, He had a solid lead with 9,400 points — Sam Buttrey and Amy Schneider had 4,800 and 4,200, respectively.
Schneider was the first contestant to land on a Daily Double in the second round. Trailing a few thousand behind He, she opted to wager all of her 6,600 points on the following clue: “This rocky isle at the entrance to the Manila Bay is home to the Pacific War Memorial.”
Schneider got it right — Corregidor Island — and took the lead over He with 13,200 points. But it wasn’t too long before He came right back and retaliated with his own bold wager, betting a staggering 15,400 points on the following Daily Double: “While in a prison in Genoa in the 1290s, Rustichello da Pisa began jotting down this man’s account of his ‘travels.’”
He knew the answer — Marco Polo — and doubled his score to 30,800. And from that point on, the game was in the bag. With 37,600 points at the end of the second round, He could not be caught; Schneider, in second place, had 14,800 points.
The Final Jeopardy clue, under the category “New England Women,” stumped all three contestants: “At her funeral in 1936, it was said that ‘the touch of her hand … literally emancipated a soul.’”
The answer Jennings was looking for: Annie Sullivan.
He, who was unable to come up with an answer, didn’t wager anything and kept his 37,600 points for the first place win. Buttrey wagered all of his 8,800 points and fell to zero. Schneider, who wagered 5,000, took second with 9,800 points.
May 12 — Game 8: James Holzhauer, Matt Amodio, Mattea Roach
Before Game 8 began, Jennings noted that so far in the Masters tournament, Amodio was the only contestant to beat Holzhauer.
Amodio wouldn’t end up having the same success Friday night.
For starters, he landed on the first Daily Double too early in the game for it to really make a difference. By the end of the first round — which covered topics ranging from world coins to physics — Holzhauer was in the lead with 8,200 points. Mattea Roach had 4,200 and Amodio had 2,800.
Holzhauer got the first Daily Double in the second round, wagering all of his 9,400 points on the following clue in a category about secretary of states: “I messed up saying I was ‘in control’ in the White House, but earlier I really was as a shaky Richard Nixon’s last chief of staff.”
Holzhauer doubled his score to 18,800 points with the correct response: Alexander Haig.
By the time Amodio landed on the other Daily Double of the round, Holzhauer had 22,800 points. With less than half of that, Amodio knew he needed to bet all of his 9,600 points if he wanted a real shot at winning.
So he went all-in on the following clue: “Slang meaning undergoing the terrible agony of withdrawal from opiates like oxycontin.”
Amodio couldn’t come up with the correct response — dopesick — and dropped to zero. He ended up finishing the game in the hole with -2,000, and was unable to compete in Final Jeopardy.
Holzhauer finished with 24,800 points and could not be reached — Roach, in second, had 5,800. Before the commercial break ahead of the Final Jeopardy round, Holzhauer could be seen walking over to Amodio to shake his hand and pat him on the back.
As he did in the first game of the tournament, Holzhauer used the Final Jeopardy round to take another dig at Jennings.
The Final Jeopardy clue fell under the category “fictional places”: “The dominions of this land ‘extend 5,000 blustrugs (about 12 miles in circumference).’”
Holzhauer’s response: “What’s it like to know James Holzhauer, Ken?”
Roach came up with the correct response — Lilliput — bringing her game total to 5,958 points.
Finishing the game with 23,678 points, Holzhauer is currently winning the tournament with 9 points.
May 10 — Game 5: James Holzhauer, Amy Schneider, Sam Buttrey
Holzhauer may not be the best when it comes to French pronunciation — he struggled to pronounce the pastry “mille feuille” and the phrase “haute cuisine” during Wednesday night’s game. But he continued to prove he is one of the show’s best contestants with his wide range of knowledge and “all-in” wagers.
In a game that covered everything from Shakespeare to classical music to breakfast cereal, Holzhauer landed on two of the three Daily Doubles — and betted everything he had both times. Sam Buttrey got the other Daily Double, and wagered 7,000 of his 11,200 points on the following clue: “Perhaps to kill parasites, some birds encourage angry ants to spray this substance on their plumage.”
Buttrey came up with the correct response — formic acid — and briefly tied with Holzhauer for the lead. But the game’s momentum would soon shift in Holzhauer’s favor.
One of the more dramatic moments of the game came when Holzhauer had 19,000 points and opted to wager all of it on a clue about classical music (the answer was Sibelius).
Doubling his score, Holzhauer secured his lead and entered the final round of the game with a whopping 44,800 points. He could not be caught — Buttrey, who was in second, had 20,600 points.
Unlike his previous game, where he used the Final Jeopardy round to take a jab at Jennings, Holzhauer attempted to answer the Final Jeopardy clue this time around. But only Schneider was able to come up with the correct response to the following clue: “In 303, to celebrate 20 years of his reign, the emperor Diocletian visited this city for the first time.”
Schneider came up with the answer Jennings was looking for: “Rome.” But Buttrey, who didn’t wager anything, was still able to maintain his second place finish behind Holzhauer.
May 10 — Game 6: Matt Amodio, Andrew He, Mattea Roach
Going into the second round of Game 6, Mattea Roach was in the hole with -400 points. Her competitors, Matt Amodio and Andrew He, each had 6,400 and 4,400 points, respectively.
Which makes what Roach pulled off in the second round truly remarkable — Jennings even called it one of the most impressive comebacks he’d ever seen.
By the time she landed on a Daily Double clue in a category about the periodic table, Roach had managed to accumulate 4,400 points. Although she said she wasn’t comfortable with it, she figured she needed to wager all of those points if she really wanted a good shot at claiming a victory. So she wagered all of her points on the following clue: “This radioactive element is named for Nobel-winning American chemist Glenn.”
Roach came up with the correct response — seaborgium — and brought her total to 8,800.
She later landed on the other Daily Double of the round. In the lead this time, with 11,200 points, she opted to wager 7,000 on a clue about the Pan-American Highway.
With those two Daily Doubles under her belt, Roach entered the game’s final round in first place with 19,800 points. He trailed close behind with 15,200 and Amodio had 9,600.
It all came down to the Final Jeopardy clue in the category “Historic Homes”: “This residence is part of an estate that includes Ballochbuie Forest, a remnant of the ancient Caledonian pine forest.”
All three contestants came up with the correct response: Balmoral Castle.
With a wager of 10,601 points, Roach was able to secure her win with 30,401 points. He finished in second with 20,700 points.
May 9 — Game 3: Mattea Roach, Amy Schneider, Sam Buttrey
The third game of the tournament — featuring Roach, Schneider and Buttrey — ended up being one of the tightest matches yet. All three contestants showed off their knowledge of categories ranging from TV to 1920s science and made bold wagers along the way. Each contestant landed on one of the three Daily Doubles, wagered all of their points on the clue and answered correctly, leading to a fairly even match across the board.
Going into the Final Jeopardy round, Buttrey was in the lead with 17,600 points. Roach followed close behind with 16,400 and Schneider had 11,200.
It all came down to the Final Jeopardy clue, under the category “21st-century authors”: “Once a journalist himself, he began his first novel with his hero being fined 150,000 Kronor for aggravated libel.”
Both Roach and Schneider came up with the correct response: Stieg Larsson.
Roach, who wagered 6,001 points, ended up pulling out the win with 22,401 points.
This marked her first win of the tournament, putting her on the board with three points. Schneider, who finished in second with 17,700 points, claimed one point for her win.
May 9 — Game 4: Andrew He, James Holzhauer, Matt Amodio
Game four, featuring He, Holzhauer and Amodio, was also a game of bold wagering. In a game that included categories about coffee, Ethiopia and literature, the competition was largely between Holzhauer and Amodio, who entered the Final Jeopardy round tied for first with a whopping 28,400 points.
Amodio landed on — and correctly answered — two of the game’s three Daily Doubles. His choice to wager all of his points on each clue kept him in the running with Holzhauer, who dominated in his game the previous night and could not be caught. Holzhauer also got his turn to wager all of his points on a Daily Double.
The Final Jeopardy clue fell under the category “Western hemisphere history”: “In 1915, the assassination of President Sam brought Uncle Sam to this country, beginning a 19-year military occupation.”
None of the contestants came up with the correct response: Haiti. Holzhauer wagered and lost all of his 28,400 points with his guess of Nicaragua. Amodio — who also guessed Nicaragua — only wagered 1,000 points and got the win with 27,400 points, putting him on the board with three points.
He, who had 9,600 points going into the final round, didn’t wager anything and got one point for finishing in second.
May 8 — Game 1: Andrew He, Amy Schneider, Matt Amodio
He dominated the opening game of the tournament, in part, thanks to a large wager on a clue in the category “10-letter words”: “Common in French, this diacritical mark gets its name from the Latin for ‘bend around.’”
He came up with the answer Jennings was looking for: “circumflex.”
Going into the Final Jeopardy round, He had a strong lead with 27,800 points — Schneider had 14,200 and Amodio had 8,200.
The final category was “Poetry”: “A colossal head of Ramses II brought to the British museum inspired this 1818 poem.”
All three contestants came up with the correct response: “Ozymandias.”
He, who made a conservative wager of 601 points, became the first winner in the tournament with 28,401 points. Schneider went bold and wagered 14,000, bringing her total to 28,200.
This put He on the board with three points, and Schneider with one.
May 8 — Game 2: James Holzhauer, Mattea Roach, Sam Buttrey
Holzhauer last competed on “Jeopardy!” in 2020, for the Greatest of All Time tournament. In his return to the show, the contestant brought back his signature wry humor and astonishingly large wagers.
Holzhauer’s personality came through before the game even started with his choice of introduction: “A self-described game show villain from Las Vegas, Nevada.” Following the first commercial break, when it was time for the contestants to briefly chat with the host, Jennings recalled how he had played against Holzhauer in the Greatest of All Time tournament (Jennings won).
“I don’t think this happened,” Holzhauer quipped. “I think you’re imagining it.”
“You’re blocking it out,” Jennings responded. “That’s fine.”
But Holzhauer didn’t just come to banter with Jennings. He dominated in his first game of the tournament, landing on all three of the game’s Daily Doubles. His most impressive moment came in the second round, when he landed on two Daily Doubles back-to-back and wagered all of his points both times — bringing his total from 8,000 to 32,000 in a matter of seconds.
Going into the Final Jeopardy round, Holzhauer had a remarkable 40,800 points and could not be caught — Buttrey, in second place, had 12,200.
The Final Jeopardy clue fell under the category “USA”: “Opened in 1909 and less famous than an older neighbor, it connects Brooklyn and Chinatown.”
Having already solidified his win, Holzhauer used the moment to take another jab at Jennings, writing “Stop ducking a rematch, Ken” as his answer.
Buttrey came up with the correct response — the Manhattan Bridge — and got on the board with one point for his second-place finish.
‘Jeopardy!’ Masters tournament tracker
At the end of Wednesday night, the “Jeopardy!” Masters standings are as follows:
- James Holzhauer — 18 points.
- Andrew He — 13 points.
- Matt Amodio — 9 points.
- Mattea Roach — 8 points.
- Amy Schneider — 5 points. (eliminated)
- Sam Buttrey — 3 points. (eliminated)