Jeopardy! GOAT Tournament Match 3 Recap: Ken Jennings Regains Lead with Runaway Win

Jeopardy! GOAT Tournament Match 3 Recap: Ken Jennings Regains Lead with Runaway Win article feature image

VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Ken Jennings

  • Ken Jennings won Match 3 of the Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time Tournament in runaway fashion.
  • He benefitted from his own bold wagering strategy in the first game, as well as Brad Rutter's continued luck in finding daily doubles.

For the third straight night, it was the Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer show on the Jeopardy! Greatest of All Time Tournament. Poor Brad. Poor $4.7 million winner Brad.

But while Jennings and Holzhauer shared the spotlight evenly — they had control of the board for 38.3% and 39.2% of the time, respectively — it would be unfair to suggest that this match didn’t truly belong to Jennings.

For the first time all tournament, the match ended as a runaway, as Jennings clinched the victory before the second game’s Final Jeopardy round.

Because of the not-so-exciting finish, there’s not a whole lot to recap other than Jennings just being really, really good. To be honest, I’m surprised that it took until the third night for there to be such a match.

In any case, here’s what I got out of Match 3:

There were three major turning points in the two-game match. Number one was Jennings finding the last daily double in the first Double Jeopardy round.

Jennings was actually unlucky (again) on the board — more on this at the end — but he did locate a huge daily double, the last one of the first game, allowing him to double the 9,200 points (Holzhauer was at 9,600) he had at the time and leading to the second major turning point: going all-in in the first Final Jeopardy round.

Thanks (probably) to the presence of Holzhauer, all three players have been aggressive throughout the tournament. All 18 daily doubles have been “true” (the maximum amount risked), but Jennings took the boldness to another level by risking all his money in the first Final Jeopardy round despite already holding a 12,000-point lead.

All three players answered correctly, but Jennings’ move — the first time so far that the leader has gone all-in in the first game — gave him a 24,000-point cushion entering Game 2.

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Unlike Holzhauer’s position in Wednesday’s match, Jennings then did have a chance at a runaway, so he was incentivized to keep pushing in the second game. Holzhauer, however, was the one who got off to the hot start.

With 5,000 points in the bank and neither opponent on the board yet, Holzhauer found the Jeopardy round daily double. But for the first time in the tournament, he answered it incorrectly, bringing every player back to an even playing field.

I mentioned that Jennings was unlucky again on the board, and while it’s true that he picked only one daily double of an expected 2.3, he certainly lucked out in how the final two played out.

Somehow, Brad Rutter has located nine of the 18 daily doubles so far this tournament (granted, he does get first board choice after losing a round) despite holding control of the board for only about 21% of the time.

This brings us to the third major turning point(s).

Rutter found both daily doubles in the last Double Jeopardy round, crushing any chance of a Holzhauer comeback. After finding the second, he even turned to Jennings to say, “you’re welcome.”

That turned the match into a runaway, allowing Holzhauer to use Final Jeopardy to say something nice about Trebek and Rutter to say something stupid about the Eagles.

As for the game stats, Holzhauer actually had the most correct responses, beating Jennings 46 to 43 in that regard. He also had the most incorrect responses, though, with seven (Jennings 3, Rutter 2).

The daily-double count once again didn’t really reflect the amount of time each player had control of the board:

  • Holzhauer (47 clues picked, 2.35 expected daily doubles): 2 actual daily doubles
  • Jennings (46 clues, 2.30 expected): 1 actual
  • Rutter (27 clues, 1.35 expected): 3 actual

Jennings has now come in under his expected total in all three matches.

The verdict: Yes, things could’ve gone very differently had the last daily double of Game 1 gone to Holzhauer … but it was also the only one Jennings landed all night.

I also didn’t mention that Jennings’ Coryat score (points with all wagering removed) was still much higher than Holzhauer’s, 35,600 to 25,600 (Rutter 20,800).

It’s hard to make the argument that Jennings didn’t completely deserve Match 3.

In case you missed it:

Match 1 Recap

Match 2 Recap

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