Matt Carberry (kingpin248) wrote,
Matt Carberry

The one in the arena...

I spend most of my early weekday evenings Tweeting about Jeopardy!. While it's fun to opine and/or snipe from the sidelines, it was quite another experience to step onto the field of trivia battle and test my own mettle on The Jeopardy! Fan's podcast game show, Complete The List. It's Episode 47, "There's A Reason I Tell My Students That Dates Aren't Important." Here's the show on various platforms:
Beyond the great diversity of the trivia presented, there are several unique aspects of the format that make the game fun to play along with, whether you're actually doing so or just listening along at home.
  • Having written many categories for the show (and having had three of them played), the range of the knowledge challenged is massive, and the category names add another twist. Those names run the gamut between easily deducible (as in a couple of categories in my episode) to entirely opaque (there have been more than a few categories that were total surprises to the players who picked them).
  • The element of defense introduced by "cribbing," or repeating an opponent's response earlier in that pass for half the value. It can be advantageous in a category that you're not strong in... but if you pick a category that isn't what you think it is, you don't have the crib at your disposal.
  • The deployment of the double. It gives a player the ability to drop the hammer in a category (s)he knows, but delaying too long can be a liability; if you don't affirmatively double a round, the final round before the final is automatically doubled. I particularly remember Andy's father getting painted into a corner on a recent episode, having to play a category selected by an opponent at double points.
So, on to my recollections of the episode. If you haven't listened yet and don't want any details, spoiler alert: STOP HERE.

Round 1: Pack 'Em In. Didn't anticipate what it would be, but the reveal put me on firm ground - and so too with my two opponents. I was able to deploy a detail; knowing that the category author was from New Jersey, that's right where I went. After that, it was to small Northeastern states and also knowing that Florida was one of the most populous states.

Round 2: God Save The Queen. I had a suspicion about what this one would be, and when Andy confirmed that, I could not double quickly enough - but had to contain my enthusiasm throughout the category, to not let on to Pat and Troy that I was all over this one. This category was particularly in my wheelhouse because I had intended to submit it right after the game, under the category "Will This Reign Ever End?" (referring to Her Majesty). It was also a nice touch for me to be able to give New Zealand as a response; we recorded three days before I flew out on my last vacation.

Round 3: After a Band-Aid, Do This. Didn't have a great feel for this one, and it showed out of the gate, with me giving my first incorrect response of the game. The magic of editing hides it, but I recall thinking for a few seconds longer before finally pulling Cyndi Lauper. After that, I drew blanks - but playing each pass last, I had two options to crib from, and so I took advantage.

Halftime. Definitely pleased that I was didn't whiff on any of the eight years. The third question (year of "Everything" by the Bangles being released) was particularly an example of CTL strategy I'd picked up from listening to the show; I knew it was the 1980s, but was clueless on the exact year. Thus, give the year than ends in 5 to cover the entire decade, take the half point, and move on - perhaps I might get lucky.

Round 4: The Other Major League. Pat doubled, but I wasn't fazed; I knew I wouldn't drop any points with twenty-two MLS teams to choose from. Among the "portions not affecting game play" that were edited out was a query as to whether a city name alone would suffice; I mooted that, giving both teams in the only metro area that has more than one, and it was nice to get the team from my current area on the last pass.

Round 5: It's Really Hot. My second turn to pick, and this seemed like the least daunting of the remaining four - but even after the prompt was given, I was no means certain that I'd take maximum points, and breathed a sigh of relief that I did.

Round 6: Oh, The Books You Can Write! Ugh. Children's lit. As the intros revealed, both my opponents have young kids - I knew I'd probably drop points here. After giving Horton Hears A Who on the first pass, I dropped into the equivalent to "prevent defense" by cribbing. You can hear it on the last pass through, when I talk about slipping into a tie with Pat. I knew that by cribbing from him, we'd be tied if he was right and I'd have a one-point lead if not. He was right, and so I went to the last question dead even...

Grand Finale. My wager was based directly off standard Jeopardy! theory - which states that if you're tied for the lead, you have two options: everything or nothing. And with Troy only nine points back, the latter was out. The full sixteen it is. I had no idea what "Slowly I Turned" meant; I only just now looked it up and discovered the connection to Niagara Falls. I've been there, but it was many, many years ago; I didn't quite have a sense of how big the drop was. The reveal was deflating... but not as deflating as Pat's response, which meant that even if he'd maxed out too, the tiebreaker wouldn't save me. That said, I didn't step on Andy's attempt to build suspense that I knew wasn't actually there.

It's most fortunate that unlike Jeopardy!, Andy invites previous players back onto Complete The List - hopefully, I'll get another try at it and can improve on my second-place showing. There was another contestant call that I think closed recently; if you're a trivia fan, whenever the next one is, sign up and go for it!

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