Meagan’s Musings/Meagan Stilp

I heard once that Jessica Simpson, in the heyday of her career, was asked by her record label to rerecord a song because she sang it too well, making it hard for us regular folks to sing along. With much whining about how the action devalued her talent, Jessica did it. Because, after all, she wanted to make money.

I might have heard this from her mouth on Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica.

She wanted people to like her music, so she sang worse than she actually could. At the time, I thought that was a rather stupid decision, but a recent event has caused me to change my mind.

Arthur Chu.

Being hailed as the “Jeopardy Villain,” Chu is, to put it succinctly, just the worst. I record Jeopardy on my TiVo and competitively watch it every night. Although some categories are way outside my range of knowledge, I am usually able to put in a pretty good showing. With Chu playing, however, I – and the other contestants he has faced for the past (at this point) six episodes – am at a loss.

It’s not that he’s so smart he gets every answer before anyone else has a chance to buzz in. That might be annoying too, but we’ve seen that before (remember when that computer, Watson, played?). No, although he obviously has to be very intelligent and good at random trivia to be a multi-show Jeopardy winner, that’s not the key to his victories.

He category jumps.

If you are not an avid Jeopardy fan, you may be puzzled right now. “So what?” you may ask. “Why not start on the $2000 question and leave those easy ones until the end?”

Why indeed.

By jumping around, Chu doesn’t let his fellow competitors – or the Jeopardy audience – get comfortable in a category. When the subject is, for example, planets, going down the list from easiest to hardest means even those of less educated in celestial happenings will probably answer a question or two correctly. After all, Jupiter isn’t going to be an answer twice and there are only so many planets. But remembering which planet was the answer 10 questions ago can be difficult in the heat of the moment.

Chu also snipes Daily Doubles with his little jumps. He will then either bid extremely low if he is not comfortable with the category, minimizing his risk while taking the opportunity for a big pay-out for competitors off the board, or bid extremely high to pull out of reach.

Jeopardy viewers are not pleased with this strategy. It takes a lot of the fun out of watching. No one wants to see a blowout every night, and most of his challengers haven’t even come close to having a possibility of beating him.

Arthur Chu, however, don’t give a darn. He is making a lot of money – over $100,000 and counting. Unlike our buddy Jessica Simpson, Chu doesn’t need the audience, the competitors or even Alex Trebek to like him. He just needs to win.

Chu’s method has been supported by statistics experts as the best way to win Jeopardy, regardless of whether you’re the smartest of the three players that day. As Chu has pointed out, nothing he is doing is in any way against the rules of the game, it is just unconventional. Until they change the rules he can keep on making people mad and raking in his money.

Hopefully he’ll be stopped soon and other competitors will forget his winning strategy because this is not Jeopardy.

This. Is. The worst.