With 74 straight wins and millions of dollars in winnings, Ken Jennings has dominated Jeopardy! like nobody else. And he says that the current champ Arthur Chu — who’s been the subject of a lot of scorn lately — has been using a time-tested strategy that’s worked for people in the past.
Jennings’s record-breaking run made him probably the most famous contestant on the long-running show. He’s an expert on how Jeopardy! is played and, in a new piece written for Slate, think that the anger being directed at Chu isn’t necessarily warranted:
There’s an obvious racial angle as well. Chu, a bespectacled man with rumpled shirts and a bowl cut, plays into every terrible Asian-nerd stereotype you’ve ever seen in an ’80s teen movie. Charmingly, he seems to enjoy the role of the scheming outsider. In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, he pitted his own eccentric genius against me, “the angelic blond boy next door, the central casting ‘nice boy.’ “
But in fact, plenty of nice white boys on Jeopardy! have been pilloried by viewers for using Arthur Chu’s signature technique: bopping around the game board seemingly at whim, rather than choosing the clues from top to bottom, as most contestants do.
Jennings posits that it’s this break from tradition that made the quiz show’s audience so mad at Chu. Jeopardy!‘s in the middle of a College Championship series right now and Chu won’t be back on air until Feb. 24. So, we’ll have to wait and see if the animosity for the show’s current top dog keeps going.