Does it seem to you as well that we've got the same chorus of Vikings around here, except instead of the wonders of SPAM they've taken to extolling proper wagering strategy until their song drowns out all other ways of appreciating a game of Jeopardy!? If so, know that you are not alone!
To be clear about this, I don't have any problem with finding wagering strategy fascinating (takes all kinds, etc.) or with long, intricate discussions of its ins and outs - if I find it boring, I can always skip past it. What I find grating, and harder to ignore, is the increasingly moralistic bent some of the Vikings are taking with regard to the element of gameplay they most prize. There have been several posts since the Battle of the Decades started that have rankled with me, but this post from yesterday's game thread crystallized it for me:
It should be noted that this was not the Vikings' first foray into yesterday's game thread; the fifth comment in the bloody thing, and the second one that isn't a standardized recap of the proceedings read in its entirety as follows:opusthepenguin wrote:Why couldn't this have been a triple stumper? WHY???!!?!? This was probably Chuck's last chance to find out what happens when you don't bother learning how to wager.
It was amazing how fast this turned from an obvious runaway to a game I thought Ken was going to lose. But FJ proved easy and Chuck proved that his quarter-final FJ wager wasn't due to finally understanding how to bet.
Oh well. Maybe Brad will make one of his bad bets tomorrow and lose to Leszek. I can always hope.
To which I can only say, seriously? THAT'S the first thing you want to say about that game? A thriller contest between two of the all-time Jeopardy greats, with both having chances to display their breadth of knowledge and buzzer speed, a spectacular comeback by the underdog, lead changes, two (appropriate!) True Daily Doubles, a third brilliantly judged big Daily Double bet and a cliffhanger finish and you want to discuss, in the snidest possible fashion, an overwager that was not just irrelevant to the outcome but doubly so? Watch the game any way you want, but you're missing a lot of fun if you do it that way.cf1140 wrote:Surprise Surprise. Chuck Forrest made a dumb bet.
As I say, what gets me is the sense that the Vikings consider wagering strategy to be the mark of a true intellectual appreciation of Jeopardy! - that there's something vulgar and fluky about champions who win without making the bets that they, the Vikings, consider to be optimal. The guy who's taken the most flak in the last few months is Brad Rutter, whose combination of utter dominance and non-optimal wagering has brought him in for a ton of quibbling from the Vikings:
lieph82 wrote:Yes, but check out the number of times he's been trailing going in to FJ and the number of times he's made poor wagers. He's an outstanding player, the best of all time by the "count the rings" argument--he may even be better than he was 8 years ago--but he has major weaknesses in his game and is certainly beatable. It will just take a great performance from another player, and an end to Rutter's luck, to get it done.Johnblue wrote:He's won the most money of anyone to ever appear on Jeopardy and it was against top-flight competition. As stated above, he's a machine.
And, most spectacularly, this post:opusthepenguin wrote:Yeah! Like the time Brad was in second place going into FJ in 2002. Third place India Cooper was completely locked out with only $3800 to his $19600. But Brad bet it all! It was a completely moronic and unjustifiable bet. It gave a chance to India even though she made a $0 bet. Unfortunately, Brad got FJ right, so he wasn't hoist by his own petard in that way.lieph82 wrote:How can somebody so good at the game also have such consistently good luck? It's just unfair!MarkBarrett wrote: How many escapes does Brad have left? Tick tick tick...I say his time is coming and he does not collect the fourth million.
But wait. Frontrunner Leslie Frates ALSO got FJ right. Too bad, so sad, friend Brad. See ya. Buh-b.... WHAT???!??!??!!? Leslie bet $0 from first place and cost herself the game?!?!??!
That's the kind of thing Mark's talking about. Brad was beat fair and square, and won from second place despite his over-wager. That was two dodged bullets in one game. One dodged due to an opponent's cautious wager, the other due to a fortuitously gettable FJ that would have been at home in a regular match. If that game had had this most recent FJ, Brad would have finished in third place with $0 and a foolish look on his face. I like Brad, but I still wish Leslie had made the shutout bet and the FJ had been a triple stumper. His over-wager would've handed the game to India Cooper, which would've been priceless.
As it is, he probably didn't learn from the experience. I really really really want to see Brad Rutter and Chuck Forrest and I can't remember who else finally lose due to their poor wagers. If they could lose to Stephanie Jass, who's not too cool to hang out with us and so has maybe picked up a wagering trick or two, that would be even more awesome.
Reasonable people can disagree on the question of whether Brad is the greatest player of all time. There's obviously a hugely compelling argument to make for Ken Jennings, and depending on how this tournament plays out you could see arguments for whichever of the other people wins it - Roger Craig, being otherwise undefeated, would have a particularly strong argument, but I think it's safe to say that the winner's going to have a case.opusthepenguin wrote:Here are a few impractical suggestions:harrumph wrote:What does Brad have to do to be #1?
In sum, Brad has had many games where he totally dominated. He has also had several where he was quite vulnerable. He has played 22 games (if we break out the 2- and 3-day finals into separate matches). He has won one game from third and another from second, in both cases due to poor wagers by a person ahead of him, in both cases despite his own poor wager, in one case due as well to both people ahead of him missing FJ. He has lost 3 games, two of them as the first half of two-day finals, the other decisively to Ken Jennings but we agree not to count it because the third competitor was not human.
- Go back in time to 2001 and not lose the first game of the 2-day final to Rick Knutsen.
- Go back in time to 2002 and not come in second to Leslie Frates going into FJ, only winning because of her $0 bet and despite his own reckless over-wager.
- Go back in time to 2005 and not be in a distant third to Michael Rooney and Steve Chernicoff going into FJ, that required a sole get AND an over-wager by Steve to counteract his own under-wager. (It was at that crucial point, luck, not skill--and luck that overcame his bad wager with a bad counter-wager by Steve--that kept him from being ELIMINATED from the UTOC. Who knows what name we would attach "#1" to then? In 2011, it would've been someone other than Brad who came in a distant third to Ken Jennings in the match against Watson. Brad would be known as a top-tier player who had a real shot in '05. We would all say not to count him out in this tournament. But anyone who suggested in this thread that he is obviously the best J! player of all time would meet a fair amount of skepticism. Why should things be so different because he caught some very identifiable lucky breaks?)
- Go back in time to 2005 and not lose his first game against John Cuthbertson, only surviving elimination because it was a two-day affair at that point.
- Go back in time to 2011 and not come in a distant third WAAAAAYYYY behind Ken Jennings in the second game against Watson. (Ken could have taken his score, subtracted Brad's, and still had enough to keep Brad locked out. If Ken had played as well on the first day of the two-day match, he might have beat Watson. Brad was never in the running.)
Look. Brad is a good player. He's a great player. He's one of the very very very best. In terms of game outcomes, he is clearly #1. He may come out on top this time around too. Or he might, for the very first time in his J! career lose a game when it counts rather than when it doesn't. He might get an UNlucky break from second or third place. If that happens it may cause people to irrationally change their opinion about how good he is. I've already had my opinion changed by the game we're discussing in this thread. I think he has honed his skills considerably since 2011 and, before that, 2005. He is a lean, mean, J! machine. I have yet to see that he understands wagering. That could be where Roger gets him.
What's not reasonable, in my view, is to take an admitted flaw in Brad's game, as even I will concede wagering strategy is, and to try and blow it up into a disqualifier. I think in this kind of discussion, you really do have to look, as Opus is loth to do, at "game outcomes."
This speaks to a fallacy that I think cuts to the heart of my problems with the Vikings. It's the difference between trying to assess someone's potential going forward and trying to assess that person in retrospect. You see this when people discuss Hall of Fame candidacies in baseball. You frequently see people discounting candidates because their statistical record, in one way or another, doesn't fit the profile that you want to see when you're assessing whether a player is likely to sustain whatever success he's had in the past. And when you're trying to assess whether Player A is going to have a good season next year, that might be very valuable.
When Player B has been retired for five years and we're trying to decide whether or not he goes to Cooperstown, these forward looking analytical tools get a lot less helpful. We've got Player B's record. He really did accomplish the things contained therein. He doesn't have to worry about next season, and neither should the person trying to place his career in the proper perspective. To switch analogies, consider the hoary old political cliche that the only poll that matters is the one on election day. Brad's trouble with wagering might be analogous to polls showing him trailing with some key constituency. If he keeps getting elected anyway, perhaps we need to reevaluate whether that constituency is as key as we think it is.
This isn't a situation, as in team sports, where "counting the rings" is going to mislead you by crediting the person you're analyzing with successes they had the assistance of teammates in achieving. Luck is undoubtedly a factor in Jeopardy!, but the only people who have an impact on a contestant's success or lack thereof are that contestant and his or her opponent's. So if someone puts up the kind of glittering record that Ken or Brad has, it's theirs to be judged on. It's kind of crazy that I feel the need to defend the *quality* of Brad Rutter's victories, but even if he hadn't put up nine locks in seventeen wins, including six against TOC-or-better level competition, at some point you have to say that quantity has a quality all its own.
This post has already gone on far too long. But I do want to circle back once more to what truly bothers me about the Vikings. It's the sense they give of having suffered some sort of personal affront when someone is successful in spite of not wagering the way they think they should. It's not enough for Opus that Chuck lost last night - he lost without receiving his proper comeuppance for improper wagering, and so Opus is disappointed. Better, of course, that Chuck open his eyes to the vital importance of wagering strategy, but if he wasn't going to do that the least he could have done was provide a cautionary example for everyone else.
I'm tired of it. As I say, I know that people are going to keep focussing on the wagers, and that's great. But I think, and I suspect I'm not alone in this, that we could do with a little less moralizing about it.