'Jeopardy!' Is Making History With the First Ever Second Chance Tournament

Jamie Lerner - Author
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Oct. 17 2022, Published 1:16 p.m. ET

If there’s any game that can truly measure the intelligence of its players, it’s Jeopardy! Through a series of answers and questions, contestants do their best to buzz in first with the right answer. While its winner-take-all style seems to play out to a “Survivor of the Smartest” philosophy, there are times when it seems a player just hits a stroke of bad luck. So now, we have the Jeopardy! Second Chance Tournament.

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Basically, one-time players get to come back for a second chance in the Second Chance Tournament starting on Oct. 17, which will be hosted by Mayim Bialik. The producers decided to bring back these contestants for various reasons, but mostly because they are worthy of potentially competing in the lauded Tournament of Champions. So how exactly does the Jeopardy! Second Chance Tournament work?

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The ‘Jeopardy!’ Second Chance Tournament works like any tournament with a bracket.

Just like March Madness or Jeopardy!’s seasonal Tournament of Champions, the Second Chance Tournament will be a bracket-style tournament. In Week 1, which kicks off on Oct. 17, three different contestants will compete Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The winners of each day will go on to compete in a two-round final on Thursday and Friday.

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Whoever has the highest cumulative dollar amount after Thursday and Friday will go on to compete in the Tournament of Champions. In Week 2, a new set of contestants will go through the same exact process until one person qualifies to also compete in the Tournament of Champions. It’s possible that this was a fix for an uneven number of ToC contestants, but it’s likely that Jeopardy! may continue with this tradition.

Contestants for the ‘Jeopardy!’ Second Chance Tournament were chosen for various reasons.

On the official Jeopardy! website, producers share exactly why the contestants were picked to compete for a second chance in their iconic tournament. As far as the Week 1 contestants go, a major theme is that many of them were ahead until the Final Jeopardy question, which typically requires an obscure set of knowledge. Another pattern was that they did well against a Jeopardy! streaker, such as Matt Amodio or Amy Schneider, but didn’t quite make the cut.

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For example, Aaron Gulyas took the lead against 16-game winner Ryan Long, but didn’t know the Final Jeopardy question. Jessica Stephens beat 38-game winner Matt Amodio, but not Jonathan Fisher, who won that game. Jonathan went on to win 11 more games, so it’s fair to give Jessica another chance. Tracy Pitzel also held her own against Matt Amodio, while Renée Russell held her own against 23-game winner Mattea Roach until the Final Jeopardy.

Similarly, Pam Schoenberg even took a lead over 40-game winner Amy Schneider… well, until the end of the game. A few of the other Week 1 contestants just should get another chance. Cindy Zhang would have won her game of Jeopardy! had she bet more money, and Erica Weiner-Amachi had a buzzing mishap during a tie break. Molly Karol lost by $1 to a Tournament of Champions contender and James Fraser had a similar fate as his other cohorts.

Tune into Jeopardy! on your local channel starting on Monday, Oct. 17 to see who takes the ultimate prize.

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