Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

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seaborgium
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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by seaborgium »

StevenH wrote:
seaborgium wrote:Vinita Kailasanath couldn't make the 2003 taping, and Kathy Cassity ended up playing and Faith Love became the alternate. (I've read Kathy's account of her J! experience, and she actually got called to be an alternate, then got the good news a little while later.) And Deborah Fitzgerald would have been the alternate if Joey had been able to make the 2009 ToC taping. I'm pretty sure nobody has shown up specifically to be an alternate at the ToC and ended up playing, though. (It has happened in regular shows, though, like when Priscilla Ball got sick. I suspect it happened during Ken Jennings's run; he mentions in Brainiac that a couple of people he knew from Quiz Bowl came to play and couldn't because they knew him.)
I would have thought that Ken Jennings and Jeff Hoppes had already known each other when they played each other on the show. I guess not?
Well, all I know is Matt Bruce and someone else mentioned by name (which I can't remember now) were in the green room with Ken at some point during his run, and have never gotten their shot. [Edit: Found the book; the other person was one Nick Meyer.]
MinnesotaMyron wrote:
seaborgium wrote: I suspect it happened during Ken Jennings's run; he mentions in Brainiac that a couple of people he knew from Quiz Bowl came to play and couldn't because they knew him.)
One fellow claims that he has been effectively blackballed from the show since then.

(Am I using that word right?)
Ken used the same word about (presumably) the same person. http://ken-jennings.com/messageboards/v ... f=4&t=4231
(The Earl mentioned in that thread is not the other Quiz Bowler, but Ken's friend that auditioned with him.)
Last edited by seaborgium on Mon Jan 20, 2014 6:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by ahirbhairav »

jeopardyfan87 wrote:I know 100% that Gareth Jones was the alternate for the '96 ToC, it was mentioned in Dave Sampugnaro's behind-the-scenes writeups that was courtesy of mindfun.com. Though the writeups aren't actively available; you would have to read them using the Web Archive.

As for other years from what I've seen, here is my perspective to who I believe the ToC alternates were:

1995: Richard Rasmussen, 3x winner ($40,600) after Jim Vercolen's 4x score
1994: Bob Majeska, 4x winner ($33,300) after Rachel Schwartz's $37,499
1993: Steve Saum, 3x winner ($35,001) after David Tiemann's $37,999
1992: Josh Vincent, 4x winner ($58,800) after Bruce Simmons's $63,599
1988: Michael Shutterly, 4x winner ($49,200) after Ron Trigueiro's $49,400
I found a website for Steve Saum. It's saum.cc.

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finishemzoe
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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by finishemzoe »

Hate to be that person to revive an old thread, but I got in touch with Jack Lechner (4x, $33,300) on his LinkedIn account and he confirmed with me that he was the alternate for the 1989 TOC, after Chris Shea's 4x total of $35,202. Waiting on a response from Steve Saum about being the 1993 alternate, which also seems likely.

Paula Massengale was the 1990 alternate since she's the only 4x winner with >$50K from that season to not be in the TOC. Bob Majeska (1994), David Epstein (1991), and Jim Ryan (1987) seem to be probable candidates for the alternate of their years. Richard Landon I would put about half of my confidence in being the 1985 alternate, for I can't find any other 4x winners from that season.

Steve Willis is the top candidate for 1986 based on the info we have, but I would put maybe a 1 in 4 chance on that one. Dan Alves and Rob Lai are allegedly 3x winners from that year as well, but their totals are unknown (last seed was 4x winner Gary Palmer). Dan's first game is $15,700, and Rob's was $6,399. Steve Willis's 3x total is $31,000, so Dan's first game is already more than half of that total. Take that info as you will.

Julie Dunlevy is the assumed 2007 alternate for obvious reasons, but it seems to be unconfirmed or rumored that that season didn't have an alternate at all, from what I remember? I asked Celeste DiNucci just to double check, but I feel confident in saying it was probably Dunlevy. Michael Shutterly of 1988 seems to be confirmed as the alternate on the archive, and I can't imagine anyone having more than $49,200 but less than $49,401 from that season, although one of the 1988 participants told me they don't remember Michael Shutterly. I think he's still a safe bet.

UPDATE (4/26/21): Dan Alves's 3-day total was $36,100, thus putting him above Steve Willis.
Last edited by finishemzoe on Mon Apr 26, 2021 2:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by Robert K S »

finishemzoe wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:00 am
Michael Shutterly of 1988 seems to be confirmed as the alternate on the archive
There is a note on his player page to this effect, and an archivist probably wouldn't have entered that information without convincing evidence, but OTOH, the ToC contestant from that year that I talked to didn't have a memory of there being an alternate on the first day, so it would be nice to confirm. It's entirely possible that the show just didn't have alternates for the first few years of the ToC. More investigation needed.

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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by finishemzoe »

Robert K S wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 9:06 am
finishemzoe wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:00 am
Michael Shutterly of 1988 seems to be confirmed as the alternate on the archive
There is a note on his player page to this effect, and an archivist probably wouldn't have entered that information without convincing evidence, but OTOH, the ToC contestant from that year that I talked to didn't have a memory of there being an alternate on the first day, so it would be nice to confirm. It's entirely possible that the show just didn't have alternates for the first few years of the ToC. More investigation needed.
Yeah this is a fair point, although I don't think one contestant from the tournament over three decades ago is necessarily evidence of an alternate for that year not existing. I feel like I have seen confirmation of his name before outside of this website too, although I can't find that info now. He still hypothetically seems to be the 16th seed for 1988, at the very least.

Jim Ryan for 1987 looks very likely, for his 4-day total of $30,250 is just short of Roger Storm's 4x total of $31,200. Will keep people updated. I contacted Chuck about 1986 as well, so we'll see on that. I have no idea who to get a hold of from the class of '85, so that may take some time. '91 may be tricky too in that regard, but I feel pretty confident about David Epstein being that year's alternate, based on the archive and a stat sheet I found from a Google Groups post from 1996. everyone from 1995 to the present is pretty much confirmed.

according to Steven Grade, Jessica Babbitt was also an alternate for the 2021 TOC along with Elise Nussbaum. I'm guessing they invited two alternates in the event of another unexpected passing similar to Cindy, Larry, and Brayden, or it could be related to the pandemic.
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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by Robert K S »

More likely the latter, I should think: the latter would be enough reason and the former would be so unlikely (2 out of 16 dying!) so as not to be.

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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by SwanShadow »

Robert K S wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 9:06 am
finishemzoe wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:00 am
Michael Shutterly of 1988 seems to be confirmed as the alternate on the archive
There is a note on his player page to this effect, and an archivist probably wouldn't have entered that information without convincing evidence, but OTOH, the ToC contestant from that year that I talked to didn't have a memory of there being an alternate on the first day, so it would be nice to confirm. It's entirely possible that the show just didn't have alternates for the first few years of the ToC. More investigation needed.
I can confirm, as a 1988 ToC semi-finalist, that Michael Shutterly was indeed our alternate. I don't specifically recall whether he was there for both days of the taping -- I would presume that he was, but I can't be sure after 32+ years -- but I do remember him being present.
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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by finishemzoe »

Julie Dunlevy confirmed with me that she was the alternate for 2007. So all alternates from 1995 to the present have been confirmed.

Calling all TOCers from 1985, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1993, and 1994. I'm fairly certain Paula Massengale was the one for 1990, can't find a record of any other player from that season who made over $50k but didn't make the TOC.
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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by Bamaman »

SwanShadow wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 1:20 pm
Robert K S wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 9:06 am
finishemzoe wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:00 am
Michael Shutterly of 1988 seems to be confirmed as the alternate on the archive
There is a note on his player page to this effect, and an archivist probably wouldn't have entered that information without convincing evidence, but OTOH, the ToC contestant from that year that I talked to didn't have a memory of there being an alternate on the first day, so it would be nice to confirm. It's entirely possible that the show just didn't have alternates for the first few years of the ToC. More investigation needed.
I can confirm, as a 1988 ToC semi-finalist, that Michael Shutterly was indeed our alternate. I don't specifically recall whether he was there for both days of the taping -- I would presume that he was, but I can't be sure after 32+ years -- but I do remember him being present.
No real need for him to be there the second day as the six non-SF players would all be able to move up in case of an emergency.

Off topic, but I thoroughly enjoyed the LL Minileague you were part of running.

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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by finishemzoe »

Steve Saum has confirmed with me that he was the alternate for 1993. We're getting closer!
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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by Bob78164 »

SwanShadow wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 1:20 pm
Robert K S wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 9:06 am
finishemzoe wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:00 am
Michael Shutterly of 1988 seems to be confirmed as the alternate on the archive
There is a note on his player page to this effect, and an archivist probably wouldn't have entered that information without convincing evidence, but OTOH, the ToC contestant from that year that I talked to didn't have a memory of there being an alternate on the first day, so it would be nice to confirm. It's entirely possible that the show just didn't have alternates for the first few years of the ToC. More investigation needed.
I can confirm, as a 1988 ToC semi-finalist, that Michael Shutterly was indeed our alternate. I don't specifically recall whether he was there for both days of the taping -- I would presume that he was, but I can't be sure after 32+ years -- but I do remember him being present.
I'm going belt-and-suspenders, since I'm connected to Mike on Facebook, and have asked him to confirm that he was there. --Bob

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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by Bob78164 »

Michael Shutterly reports that not only did he not attend the Tournament of Champions (as an alternate or in any other capacity), he was not even informed of it. --Bob

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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by Robert K S »

Ooh, a controversy!

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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by finishemzoe »

Huh. That's odd. I guess we can maybe assume that they didn't start having alternates until 1989. At least that makes it way easier to determine the rest. 1990, 1991, and 1994 are the only ones from 1989 onward not confirmed.
SwanShadow wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 1:20 pm
I can confirm, as a 1988 ToC semi-finalist, that Michael Shutterly was indeed our alternate. I don't specifically recall whether he was there for both days of the taping -- I would presume that he was, but I can't be sure after 32+ years -- but I do remember him being present.
you wouldn't happen to have pictures or anything, would you? because Michael Shutterly is saying he wasn't present or even informed of it, lol.

Looking at the 1988 class, there WAS another Michael present by the name of Michael Block. Perhaps that's who you were thinking of? It says he was eliminated in the quarters too, so that could explain him not being present the second day.
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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by SwanShadow »

finishemzoe wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 1:13 am
Huh. That's odd. I guess we can maybe assume that they didn't start having alternates until 1989. At least that makes it way easier to determine the rest. 1990, 1991, and 1994 are the only ones from 1989 onward not confirmed.
SwanShadow wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 1:20 pm
I can confirm, as a 1988 ToC semi-finalist, that Michael Shutterly was indeed our alternate. I don't specifically recall whether he was there for both days of the taping -- I would presume that he was, but I can't be sure after 32+ years -- but I do remember him being present.
you wouldn't happen to have pictures or anything, would you? because Michael Shutterly is saying he wasn't present or even informed of it, lol.

Looking at the 1988 class, there WAS another Michael present by the name of Michael Block. Perhaps that's who you were thinking of? It says he was eliminated in the quarters too, so that could explain him not being present the second day.
No controversy here -- just poor recall on my part. To quote myself from The Jeopardy! Book, page 107: "I've got a good fact-based memory, but not a good event-based memory." :D It's possible that I confuse some of that tournament with Super J!, which happened not that long (about a year and a half) afterward. My sincere apologies to Mr. Shutterly for imagining him in a place where he wasn't.

Now, Michael Block I do remember, for a couple of reasons. First, he was one of a small number of folks who qualified for an invitation to the UToC in 2005, but declined. Second, Alex called me by his name accidentally -- on camera -- at one point during the 1988 ToC. My wife and I joked about getting a T-shirt for me to wear to the Super J! taping that said, "I Am Not Block."
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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by finishemzoe »

SwanShadow wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 2:29 pm
finishemzoe wrote:
Sat Apr 24, 2021 1:13 am
Huh. That's odd. I guess we can maybe assume that they didn't start having alternates until 1989. At least that makes it way easier to determine the rest. 1990, 1991, and 1994 are the only ones from 1989 onward not confirmed.
SwanShadow wrote:
Wed Apr 21, 2021 1:20 pm
I can confirm, as a 1988 ToC semi-finalist, that Michael Shutterly was indeed our alternate. I don't specifically recall whether he was there for both days of the taping -- I would presume that he was, but I can't be sure after 32+ years -- but I do remember him being present.
you wouldn't happen to have pictures or anything, would you? because Michael Shutterly is saying he wasn't present or even informed of it, lol.

Looking at the 1988 class, there WAS another Michael present by the name of Michael Block. Perhaps that's who you were thinking of? It says he was eliminated in the quarters too, so that could explain him not being present the second day.
No controversy here -- just poor recall on my part. To quote myself from The Jeopardy! Book, page 107: "I've got a good fact-based memory, but not a good event-based memory." :D It's possible that I confuse some of that tournament with Super J!, which happened not that long (about a year and a half) afterward. My sincere apologies to Mr. Shutterly for imagining him in a place where he wasn't.

Now, Michael Block I do remember, for a couple of reasons. First, he was one of a small number of folks who qualified for an invitation to the UToC in 2005, but declined. Second, Alex called me by his name accidentally -- on camera -- at one point during the 1988 ToC. My wife and I joked about getting a T-shirt for me to wear to the Super J! taping that said, "I Am Not Block."
lol, that's funny. well, I'm glad we got that cleared up a bit. maybe it's safe to assume that your TOC didn't have an alternate then? we've considered the possibility of the earliest tournaments not having them.
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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by finishemzoe »

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/76531876/

it appears Dan Alves, 3-time champion for the 1986 season, had a higher total than Steve Willis ($36,100 to $31,000). Paul Rouffa mentioned his name sounding familiar when asked about alternates for his TOC, but couldn't put a face or memory to his name. More investigation needed but he may be a strong bet as I can't see a 4-time champion with less than $18,400 fulfilling that role, if it existed.

if there WAS an alternate for 1986 however, that definitely calls for more investigation about the 1988 TOC, since everyone assumed it was Michael Shutterly over the years.

going to see if I can find Rob Lai's 3-day total, and then report back if I find something.
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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

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This is a bit of a tangent: that article says he won the last three games of 1985 and lost the January 1 game. It's been said the infamous clip of the player who has failed to phrase her FJ response in the form of a question and loses as a result was from January 1, 1986. There are no close-ups of the returning champ, but what we see of him looks enough like the picture accompanying that article, I'd say.

edit: newspapers.com let me see the full page as a "freeview" so I transcribed the entire article. I don't think it deserves a new post, but I think it should be saved for posterity, so here it is.
Jonathan Mann, Santa Maria Times Staff Writer wrote: SM man pockets $36,100

For the last three evenings of 1985, America watched Dan Alves continue on what appeared to be an endless roll.

As various trivia questions were thrown his way on the TV quiz show "Jeopardy," the Santa Maria missile engineer quickly answered many of them correctly, thereby earning thousands of dollars more than other contestants.

That is, until his adrenaline ran out on the fourth show that aired Jan. 1, and the other contestants were able to answer the questions a little quicker.

"Perhaps I could have been saved by a cup of coffee," he said.

Nevertheless, he still managed to win $36,100 minus 20 percent in federal taxes, enough to pay off both his and his wife's debts plus send his parents to Hawaii for a week.

Alves said it wouldn't have happened had it not been for his wife.

"My wife hounded me into sending a letter," he said.

He soon heard from the production company which invited him to Los Angeles for an interview. He was then culled out of the approximately 30 others who had applied through an audition process.

First he had to take a written test to see how knowledgeable he was. Then he was required to audition in a mock version of the game.

At the end of the process, he was one of six contestants finally selected to actually appear on the show.

Taking two vacation days to make his appearance at the studio of KTLA, channel 5, Alves taped the shows for two days in early September.

"It cost me two days of vacation time, and I obviously made up for it," he said.

Alves attributes his success in the game to his avid and wide-range of reading which he says he has done since he was a child. He also says he has a good memory.

"Funny things seem to stick in my mind," he said.

This combination gave him much self-assurance, for while one of his fellow contestants prepared for the game by reading Trivial Pursuit cards, Alves said he began the game cold, without any preparation whatsoever. He added that his strongs [sic] subjects in the game were technical things, history and movies.

And he was particularly strong on questions that required some mathematical background, a reflection of his job at Vandenburg Air Force Base where he is chief of the flight termination systems branch.

Throughout the taping of the shows, Alves said he remained calm.

"It wasn't my money," he explained.

If he chooses to ever appear on a game show again he will have to wait a while, for he is precluded from appearing on any game show for one year and from Jeopardy for five.

The father of three children and stepfather to three others, Alves served as a reserve officer in the Air Force for 10 years until 1974 when he was discharged. He is presently a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force reserve.
Either the rules for J! eligibility were misunderstood, or they were quite different at the time. Of course, "you can come back in five years" is different when the show is only in its second year. If that was the actual rule, I wonder how long before season 6 they changed it.
Last edited by seaborgium on Mon May 24, 2021 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by finishemzoe »

seaborgium wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 4:58 pm
This is a bit of a tangent: that article says he won the last three games of 1985 and lost the January 1 game. It's been said the infamous clip of the player who has failed to phrase her FJ response in the form of a question and loses as a result was from January 1, 1986. There are no close-ups of the returning champ, but what we see of him looks enough like the picture accompanying that article, I'd say.
Great catch, Stefan! That absolutely looks like him. That would be in line with his first game airing on Friday, December 27th, 1985 as well.
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Re: Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions alternates - who were they

Post by brick »

1991 was NOT Seth Davis, for what that's worth.

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