Part 3

The Show

Day Two


I didn't sleep much better that night, either, but this time I knew what was coming. We found another restaurant from Cyndy's book for breakfast. The waitress was suitably impressed that I was returning to defend my Jeopardy! championship. Bob and Cyndy dropped me off at the studio gate again just before 10:00 and I joined the group of other contestants waiting there. Glenn and Ingrid showed up and handed out name tags. This time mine had the word "Champion" printed on top, which made me a celebrity among the group. 

The morning progressed the same way as the day before, but this time it was much less nerve-racking for me, since I'd been there before and I knew I was going to be up first. Suzanne used my experience of using energy to strengthen my game and got me to give some first-person hints at playing the game. 

Then, suddenly, it was 12:30 and time to get the first show under way. Ingrid took me down to the studio to sign in on the podium computer screen, and then to a waiting area behind the audience seats while Suzanne and Glenn chose my opponents. The stage manager came and took me to the set where the other two, Jim and Kathy, were waiting. 

As before, Johnny Gilbert's voice boomed through the speakers: 

"This ... is ... Jeopardy!

The stage manager pointed at Jim and he started out. 

"Now entering the studio are today's contestants... " 

He pointed at Kathy. 

"A financial analyst from Portland, Maine, Jim Dompkowski." 

And then John was pointing at me again. No problem this time: I was an old pro! 

A teacher from Johnson City, Tennessee, Kathy Hall. 

"...and our returning champion, a programmer and analyst from Mountain View, California, Bill Nyden, whose one day cash winnings total $12,401. 

And now, the host of Jeopardy!, Alex Trebek." Alex came on and mentioned that I had had to wait two weeks to defend my championship while the Tournament of Champions had taken place. Oh, the magic of television: over-night, two weeks had passed. Yesterday had been the week of Halloween, and today was the Thanksgiving week. 

The game went quickly. During the interview, Alex asked me about my fencing career. Again, during the second round, I hit a "Daily Double". This time the category was "China." I thought about it and wagered $1200.

The clue was, "Revolutionary who became the first provisional president of China when the last emperor was deposed." I said, "Who was Sun Yat Sen?" and added the $1200 to my total. There were still two panels left in the category "Plants" when we ran out of time for the second round. 

At the end I was ahead. The category for Final Jeopardy! was "The Census." Jim had $5300, I had $7200. This time I wasn't going to blow the arithmetic! I wrote down $3401 and waited for the break to be over. 

The "answer" was: 

"Three of the six US states that average fewer than ten people per square mile."

I wrote down, "What are Alaska, Nevada and New Mexico?" 

Starting with Kathy, we learned that three of the states were Alaska, Montana and Wyoming. Jim added Nevada to the list, but when it came to me, we found that New Mexico was not on it. The other two states were North and South Dakota. (New Mexico was seventh on the list of least dense states at 10.7 people per square mile.) 

From the top of the world to the bottom (emotionally, I mean). Ingrid and Suzanne rushed me off the set and to the table where I signed a paper saying I'd accept the prizes I'd won, and be responsible for any taxes. I picked up the Jeopardy! Challenger play-along game that was offered (I already had a copy of the computer game). Upstairs to the dressing room to collect my clothes and out the door. They didn't even ask if I wanted to stick around to watch the next game. (I didn't, of course. I just wanted to get away and sulk-- a normal reaction, I was later told.) 

Karen had to return to work, so we arranged to meet later for dinner, and Bob, Cyndy and I returned to the hotel, where we sat around the pool for a while. I ran into Anne Herbst at the pool and we discussed our experiences, and decided that despite the disappointment at the end, it was still the most fun we'd ever had. 

The next day we drove home and thus ended my Jeopardy! experience until the evening of Friday, November 3, when the first show aired.

My home page.
Part 1, Tryouts
Part 2, The Call
Part 3, The Game, Day One
Part 5, FAQ
Clues & Questions - Day One
Clues & Questions - Day Two