Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

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IronNeck
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Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by IronNeck » Sat Dec 24, 2016 8:28 am

I only started watching Jeopardy regularly in October 2015. I believe it was Matt Jackson's 2nd game. Needless to say, I was a huge fan of his, both as a person and an exceptional champion.

The ToC was only a month later, and before it began, I was lucky enough to find Alex Jacob's games online from his initial run. He was also a great player, and I loved how calmly he made correct, huge DD bets, but I could tell he wasn't quite on Jackson's level. That is, his buzzer reactions were as fast and his wagering every bit as optimal, but his trivia knowledge, while outstanding, wasn't as deep and wide as Matt's.

However, then the ToC began, and Jacob demonstrated a tremendously high level of play in the first two rounds of the ToC, attaining two brutal locks against some excellent opposition.

Even before the ToC finals began, I could tell that he was now playing on the exact same level as Matt Jackson was, and his subsequent performance proved it.

To me, it seemed clear that Alex had continued working hard on his trivia game since his initial run ended in preparation for the ToC, and it paid off in a huge way.

Focus-

Obviously, I don't know nearly as much about past champions as most people here do. Who are some other players who demonstrated a significant improvement in trivia prowess from their initial run to later tournaments? (Doesn't have to be ToC, necessarily)

Would also be interesting to know if the members here who qualified for a ToC felt they had improved or stayed roughly the same by tournament time.

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boson
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Re: Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by boson » Sat Dec 24, 2016 10:20 am

Alex Jacob defeated Learned League champion Scott Blish during his original run... He wasn't winning against just weaker competition then. I'm sure he worked hard to get better in between his runs on the show, but it is a mistake to think he wasn't an amazing champion then.

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Re: Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by MarkBarrett » Sat Dec 24, 2016 10:34 am

boson wrote:Alex Jacob defeated Learned League champion Scott Blish during his original run... He wasn't winning against just weaker competition then. I'm sure he worked hard to get better in between his runs on the show, but it is a mistake to think he wasn't an amazing champion then.
+1

Matt Jackson had the wins and money going into the TOC, but Alex Jacob was right there on the same level even if his stay in regular play was much shorter. Alex played with his foot not always on the accelerator and his light pen not always on point due to his tremendous skill in his initial 7 games.

For regular play to TOC there can be surprise guests in the finals based on how the player did during the regular run. More common is a player to put together a great QF game above what was expected and then to come back to reality in the semis.

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Re: Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by dhkendall » Sat Dec 24, 2016 10:37 am

Re: Alex Jacob: I've always seen him as one who could attribute his success by using tactics from his time as a pro poker player in J! Being a fan of pro poker (but after Alex's time) I could definitely see it, and could almost call what he was going to do in a given situation.

As someone who enjoys playing poker myself I was taking notes for whenever I get The Call, but I also know that I'm nowhere near Alex's level in poker, so their results of my using them in J! will probably not work nearly as well.
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Re: Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by Pendleton71 » Sat Dec 24, 2016 10:49 am

Kristin Morgan would fit this bill. She was a bit inconsistent during her original run but she made the TOC finals.

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Re: Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by WooWho? » Sat Dec 24, 2016 11:01 am

Going way back, you could certainly make a case for Bruce Seymour. 4x regular play champ back in Season 4, winning almost $55K, eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 1988 ToC, but then wins Super Jeopardy! two years later.
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IronNeck
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Re: Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by IronNeck » Sat Dec 24, 2016 11:04 am

MarkBarrett wrote:
boson wrote:Alex Jacob defeated Learned League champion Scott Blish during his original run... He wasn't winning against just weaker competition then. I'm sure he worked hard to get better in between his runs on the show, but it is a mistake to think he wasn't an amazing champion then.
+1

Matt Jackson had the wins and money going into the TOC, but Alex Jacob was right there on the same level even if his stay in regular play was much shorter. Alex played with his foot not always on the accelerator and his light pen not always on point due to his tremendous skill in his initial 7 games.

For regular play to TOC there can be surprise guests in the finals based on how the player did during the regular run. More common is a player to put together a great QF game above what was expected and then to come back to reality in the semis.
I'm not sure if boson read my initial post, as I repeatedly complimented Jacob for being an incredible champion during his initial run. Just not quite on the same level as Matt Jackson, who might be a top 5 all-time champion during Jeopardy's 32 years.

Luckily, there is a more objective way to determine what I consider to be the one area where Jackson was a bit ahead;

Alex's average Coryat in 7 games: $20,286 (phenomenal)
Matt's average Coryat in in 14 games: $24,514 (jaw-dropping)

Incidentally, in the ToC,

Alex's average Coryat: $19,750
Matt's average Coryat: $18,050

Which tends to support my initial claim.
dhkendall wrote:Re: Alex Jacob: I've always seen him as one who could attribute his success by using tactics from his time as a pro poker player in J! Being a fan of pro poker (but after Alex's time) I could definitely see it, and could almost call what he was going to do in a given situation.

As someone who enjoys playing poker myself I was taking notes for whenever I get The Call, but I also know that I'm nowhere near Alex's level in poker, so their results of my using them in J! will probably not work nearly as well.
You don't necessarily need to be good at poker (let alone on Alex's level) to figure out the relevant points that cross over to Jeopardy;

-In poker, if you can go all-in with a 60% chance of winning, you take it and feel very good about yourself.
-If you go all-in heads-up with a 67% chance, that's superb and you've completely outplayed your opponent.
-If you go all-in with a 80% chance, that's superlative. As good as it gets.
-If you think your chances are less than 50% without pot odds (which Jeopardy doesn't have), you fold.

Now, apply this logic to DD wagering, which are answered correctly 65% of the time (and 75+% for players of Alex's caliber)...

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Re: Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by StevenH » Sat Dec 24, 2016 11:34 am

I think that the best example that I can think of off the top of my head is Alan Bailey. He didn't stand out as a particularly strong 5x champion when he won his regular games, but he really upped his game in the 2003 ToC, even though he lost in the semifinals. I seem to remember hearing that he went on a studying binge in between his regular run and his ToC, though I don't know for sure. Also, in the 2003 ToC, I think that Mark Brown and the eventual champion Mark Dawson also showed great improvement, but in their cases I think that they may have benefited more from categories/clues that played more academic than what comes up in regular play.

This one is debatable since he won 11 games, but I would also list Arthur Chu. I didn't think that he was any better than Andrew Moore, Jared Hall, or Mark Japinga during their regular runs, but Arthur looked nearly unbeatable in the ToC and was only stopped by a FJ clue in game 1 of the finals that Ben Ingram nailed and he couldn't pull.

Kristen Morgan is another good example, but I don't know how much of that had to do with being able to get the buzzer timing down.

I would also add Bob Verini, Rachael Schwartz, Michael Falk, Celeste DiNucci, Russ Schumacher, and Vijay Balse to the list, but again, I think that they all benefited from the more academic clues that tend to come up in the ToC.

And if we want to also add in super tournaments, I would add Pam Mueller, Lan Djang, and Brad Rutter's performances in the UToC. Despite what Brad had already accomplished on the show I still think that he had risen to a whole 'nother level once the UToC came around.

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Re: Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by Fleeboy » Sat Dec 24, 2016 5:31 pm

Interesting thread ...

It's a safe bet that most, if not all, ToC participants worked to improve their trivia prowess in the months -- or, some cases, the year or more -- between their original appearances and tournament time. In many cases, alas, it isn't "noticeable" on the screen.

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Re: Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by Lefty » Sat Dec 24, 2016 5:59 pm

I seem to remember Dan Pawson figuring he'd got eleven correct answers in his ToC directly attributable to preparatory study. I'm not sure how many hours he'd put in, but it seems from here a pretty good return.
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Re: Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by IronNeck » Sat Dec 24, 2016 8:18 pm

StevenH wrote:I think that the best example that I can think of off the top of my head is Alan Bailey. He didn't stand out as a particularly strong 5x champion when he won his regular games, but he really upped his game in the 2003 ToC, even though he lost in the semifinals. I seem to remember hearing that he went on a studying binge in between his regular run and his ToC, though I don't know for sure. Also, in the 2003 ToC, I think that Mark Brown and the eventual champion Mark Dawson also showed great improvement, but in their cases I think that they may have benefited more from categories/clues that played more academic than what comes up in regular play.

This one is debatable since he won 11 games, but I would also list Arthur Chu. I didn't think that he was any better than Andrew Moore, Jared Hall, or Mark Japinga during their regular runs, but Arthur looked nearly unbeatable in the ToC and was only stopped by a FJ clue in game 1 of the finals that Ben Ingram nailed and he couldn't pull.

Kristen Morgan is another good example, but I don't know how much of that had to do with being able to get the buzzer timing down.

I would also add Bob Verini, Rachael Schwartz, Michael Falk, Celeste DiNucci, Russ Schumacher, and Vijay Balse to the list, but again, I think that they all benefited from the more academic clues that tend to come up in the ToC.

And if we want to also add in super tournaments, I would add Pam Mueller, Lan Djang, and Brad Rutter's performances in the UToC. Despite what Brad had already accomplished on the show I still think that he had risen to a whole 'nother level once the UToC came around.
Lots of excellent suggestions. Brad Rutter is a definite example, yes; he was only 22 during his first appearance, and unquestionably kept studying and improving after that.
Lefty wrote:I seem to remember Dan Pawson figuring he'd got eleven correct answers in his ToC directly attributable to preparatory study. I'm not sure how many hours he'd put in, but it seems from here a pretty good return.
That is indeed a fantastic return. Doubly so since Dan was a strong champion prior to that, so improving by almost 3 questions per game is terrific.

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Re: Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by Cat Hammarskjold » Sun Dec 25, 2016 12:22 am

Steve Rogitz had one good win and four unimpressive wins in Trebek season 1, and managed to make it to the finals of the first Trebek ToC. I'm not sure why he's never been invited to reunion tournaments since the other two finalists (RIP, Jerry and Bruce) had died before then and I would think that they'd want season 1 representation.
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Re: Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by seaborgium » Sun Dec 25, 2016 2:02 am

Cat Hammarskjold wrote:Steve Rogitz had one good win and four unimpressive wins in Trebek season 1, and managed to make it to the finals of the first Trebek ToC. I'm not sure why he's never been invited to reunion tournaments since the other two finalists (RIP, Jerry and Bruce) had died before then and I would think that they'd want season 1 representation.
I think Steve probably had two impressive wins, netting over $25,000 in his first two games, but his next three winning totals barely broke $5,000 combined. And he was brought back, for Super Jeopardy and the 10th Anniversary Tournament. (Bruce Fauman was in SJ too.)

Jerry Frankel was pretty impressive in the ToC too. Like Steve Rogitz, he barely broke $30,000 (and in fact, only made it that high with a massive Clavin in his fifth game, betting more than his lead from a lock). Although he squeezed into the semis on the last wild card, he came through in impressive fashion in the semis, getting a lock over QF winners Paul Boymel and Ron Black (and then a sole get on FJ to boot), who had won $56,200 and $47,401 respectively in their regular games. I get the impression from what little I've seen of the 1985 ToC that Jerry adapted to the new buzzer rules better than anyone else.

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Re: Noticeable Improvement from First Run to ToC

Post by BobF » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:47 am

I heard Alex Jacob prepared for the TOC by going to pub trivia three nights a week after his initial run.

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