Jeopardy! Contestant Is Hated For Playing Like Nobody Else

You think you know how to play Jeopardy!, don’t you? Answer in the form of a question, study your butt off, capitalise on anything that feels trendy, and press the buzzer when Trebek stops yapping, not before. It’s worked for hundreds of people. But a new champion is showing that there’s a better way, using game theory to get an edge on the other folks playing against him. People hate it.

So far Arthur Chu’s won three episodes of the long-running game show, which doesn’t exactly put him in Ken Jennings territory. But it’s not just about him winning, according to The Wire. It’s Chu’s method for beating other contestants that has audiences rooting against him. He relentlessly hunts for the Daily Double clues in each round, clearing out the bottom three rows of the board so that he can get to them before anyone else. Once he gets a Daily Double, he either bets really big or really small. The point is to keep the game-changing opportunity out of oppnonents’ hands. This, of course, undercuts the tension of the game.

Couple Chu’s unorthodox style with incessant buzzer pressing and an odd set of quirks and you’ve got Jeopardy!-holics trashing him for ruining their favourite answer-with-a-question pastime. But if he winds up racking up a hot streak for the ages, chances are we’ll see a lot more players trying out this model on the air.

[The Wire via Twitter]


  • So, he’s playing the game by his own set of rules instead of the ‘accepted’ generic rules, beating people at their own rules and winning? Sounds like a bloody legend to me.

      • The thing about when people violate the ‘spirit’ of the rules but not the rules is you then need to go and make up rules to counter that.

        • I’ve spent the last few years of my life involved in roller derby. There are lots of rules and players and refs are required to know them.

          It is always interesting when people who have spent time studying the rules come up with strategies and new plays that legally abide by the rules.

          • For the longest time I thought Roller Derby was a fake thing made up by Drew Barrymore for a movie, later co-opted into online dating profiles as an implied threat/promise of awesomeness.

            Then I met someone who actually played participated (played doesn’t seem appropriate – you don’t ‘play’ at a cage match) and I had to look it up. That is one crazy sport.

      • did you know that wars used to be fought with two armies meeting on a field on a pre-determined date and then just charging at each other? Then some smarter people started using guerilla warfare and ambushes etc. It’s called being smart, don’t be sore loser.

    • He’s not beating people at their own rules. He’s beating two other contestants who are playing according to the spirit of the game.

      He’s basically bowling underarm. Technically allowed, but it makes him a dick.

      • I like how people are saying that if moneys involved, who cares about the spirit of the game or not being a dick.

      • No it doesn’t, rules are rules and as long as he has adhered to them he has done nothing wrong.

        Any form of competition requires tactics and strategy, and it confuses me when people start babbling on about the “spirit” of the game, especially when the player in question did nothing illegal.
        Is it against the spirit of the game to block a player in chess? No, that’s tactics.
        Is it against the spirit of the game to punch your opponent and throw the board? Yes

        • Of course, the real aim in Jeopardy is to produce an entertaining daily game show. If these tactics are detrimental to this primary goal, I wouldn’t be surprised if they introduce a rule change to prevent the tactic.

          From the audience’s perspective the game is more exciting if the outcome is unknown. The daily double helps here since it is a way for a losing player to unexpectedly take the lead.

          Of course, from a player’s perspective you want to minimise the uncertainty, so trying to unlock these as soon as possible makes sense, and either use them to put yourself so far into the lead you can’t lose, or simply nullify them.

          There are a number of ways they could fix this. One would be to randomly distribute the bonuses over the entire board rather than always placing them at the bottom. Another would be to only place the bonuses part way through the round so they can’t be discovered early.

          • Exactly, you change the rules. You don’t start muffling on about the spirit of the game and how someone isn’t playing right.

            I think there is also the difference between the type of competition. Sports for example, players depend on the sport to live, and so fans are required and sponsorships etc. So in a way, maintaining an exciting level of game play is a must.
            However on a game show, the player is in no way helped or paid by fans or deals, you are there to get something out of the game for yourself and I would have to agree that I couldn’t give a flying bearded turtle how excited the crowd is if I am winning myself a nice chuck of cash.

            The sad thing about this story is that all those shows have a disclaimer that flashes in the credits that reads, “The outcome of this show may have been edited”
            In other words, we reserve the right to cheat when players get too big for their britches.
            Sale of the Century was well known for bringing in people who seemed to know the answers just to dethrone a carry over champion who is doing a little too well.

          • Exactly, you change the rules. You don’t start muffling on about the spirit of the game and how someone isn’t playing right.

            But those two things are related. You start kicking up a stink about them being against the spirit of the rules and that prompts a change in the rules. If people don’t complain until an official rule is broken then the problem, in this case that it makes for really shitty TV, doesn’t get fixed.

          • Yes but in this case the target of hate is the player, not the rules. Why have rules if people can apply completely baseless ideals to it?

            Either the rules reflect the spirit of the game or all bets are off. No use getting upset at someone who is simply playing with all of his pieces

      • Show me a single rule he’s breaking. Also, ‘the spirit of the rules’ is a concept made up by a select group of people who believe a game should be played ‘their way’. When his method works and more people play HIS way, is that not then, ‘the spirit of the rules’?

        • Again, bowling underarm. Playing not to your best, but to prevent other people being able to play to theirs. He’s not smarter than anyone else. It’s a simple strategy. People just don’t do it because it’s not cricket.

          • So he hasn’t broken a rule, he’s merely using a strategy to win is what you’re saying then? And it’s not Cricket, it’s jeopardy 😛

          • There is a fundamental difference to bowling underarm: symmetric gameplay.
            In Jeopardy, the tactics he’s using can be employed by his opponents in response to him using said tactics. It’s self balancing.

            In cricket, you can’t Bat underarm in response, there is no self balancing.

            That said, in the case of cricket, a large portion of blame lies in the rules committees for not explicitly disallowing underarm bowling.

          • Bowling underarm is a terrible analogy. If bowling underarm is so bad and boring and against the spirit of the game, then just make it illegal to bowl underarm.
            It’s in the rules so he can do it.
            That’s like saying “I’m not going to move the queen diagonally in chess because it’s too powerful”. That’s how the game was designed, so play it that way.

            Especially when it’s an official competition with lots of money on the line.
            I can not fathom what goes on in the head of someone who refuses to play by the rules and claims it’s against the spirit of the game. If it’s monopoly in the lounge room with the family, then yeah, stop being an arsehole, but on TV competing for money? Use everything you possibly can.

            If the rules can be manipulated, then change them. The F1s change rules every year to make the competition more competitive and more interesting to watch. In a sport where teams chase ever 1/100th of a second and the pinnacle of engineering, finding ways to make the rules work to your advantage is a daily game.

          • Actually you know what’s a better example. 8-ball. It’s been around for ages and the rules have been ironed out. You can’t manipulate them.
            Now you can play by pub rules and stuff around and pot some balls, or you can play smart and tactically. Snooker the opponent to obtain two visits, or block pockets. Does that make you a dick? In a pub probably (usually because other people don’t actually know the rules). But I guarantee you when they play for money, be it a local pool tournament or the world titles, they play properly and people play smart.
            It’s that simple.

      • If you are referring to Cricket, underarm bowling is illegal. In the past bowling underarm was a legal method of delivery, but after the infamous incident the rules were changed, which seems to fit perfectly with what should happen with this situation.

    • He’s playing smart. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Other people are just jealous they didn’t think of it before he did/ because they can’t beat him.

  • I thought the only rule in Jeopardy was that you had to answer the clue with a question

    I didnt realise there was a rule about how to play the game in allowing your opponents to win

  • Good on him, If I was picked for jeropardy and knew about this method I’m pretty sure I would be doing the same also. Cash is cash

  • legend!

    If they want to change the rules later on that’s up to them, but as long as what he is doing is within the rules, then there is nothing wrong.

  • I call BS on it all, myself. My grandparents loved this show while I was growing up, so I’ve seen way more than my share of it. This article makes it sound like just finding the Daily Double is some kind of instant win. But everyone ‘hunts’ for it, that is a key part of the game. He also has to be answering questions reliably well to either have the money to bet in it, or overcome his other opponents on rounds where it is minimised. The article mentions briefly ‘incessant buzzer pressing’, which I guess means answering before he technically knows the answr? Also not uncommon. As for ‘odd set of quirks’ I dunno, but it borders on saying he has unconscious tics/quirks that manifest and make him unlikable? Not sure that’s his fault or a reason to say he deserves less.

    Ultimately, you don’t win in this game without being able to answer the questions. (Or, I guess, provide a question for the answers, if you want to be picky). And it seems he is able to do that.

    • I watched some of his footage and the guy does know a lot. He simply picks up questions outside his comfort zone and ‘wagers’ $5 on them to deny them to his opponents. That’s not cheating, it’s just strategy.

      Being unsportsmanlike is calling your opponents names or refusing to shake their hands. It shouldn’t apply to playing the game as hard as you can and trying to win as hard as you can, within the confines of the rules. Not giving my opponents a chance to answer’, to me, is just like not giving your opponents the chance to shoot in basketball or not letting them get within range of the goal in soccer. It’s not ‘unsportsmanlike’, it’s playing defense,’

  • Reminds me of the guy who cleaned up on Press Your Luck (US) by learning the sequence of “random” flashing lights, or even the guy on Price is Right (US) who, by watching the show every night, was able to memorize the prices of regular prizes.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!