A Quick Primer on Arthur Chu, the Current Villain of 'Jeopardy'
Before we get to Arthur Chu, a quick note: Several months ago, I humbly asked you all to help Shane Whitlock, a childhood friend of mine and a former Jeopardy champion, to win a contest to be named one of the Jeopardy’s contestants in their Battle of the Decades Tournament. Shane was vying to be the fan favorite of the 90s, and good news: He won! His episode will air on Wednesday, March 5th. I am assuming that Arthur Chu will not be a part of the Battle of the Decade’s Tournament, so I don’t think Shane will have to face him.
Who is Arthur Chu, anyway? If you’re like me, Jeopardy is one of those things on the periphery of your pop-culture knowledge: If something huge happens, we’ll hear about it. Otherwise, it’s not something we spend a lot of time thinking about. Well, something huge has happened in recent weeks, and that’s Arthur Chu, arguably the most famous Jeopardy contestant since Ken Jennings. Through last night’s broadcast, he’s won eight consecutive shows and racked up $238,200 in winnings.
How has he managed to continue such a successful streak, leading up to a Final Jeopardy round last night in which he was $38,000 ahead of his closest competitor? By using Game Theory, or what others might call: Being an asshole.
Basically, since the beginning of Jeopardy, contestants have followed a fairly predictable pattern. They choose a category, go down that category in a predictable manner, and then move on to the next category. Chu’s approach is different: He bounces around the board in an attempt to land all the high-value questions first and, more importantly, secure the Daily Double for himself. In that respect, it’s as much about keeping other contestants from getting the Daily Double as it is getting it for himself (in a recent show, for instance, the Daily Double was in a category he has little knowledge of, Sports, and he bet only $5 and didn’t even offer a guess).
But more than that, Chu also beats on his buzzer throughout to squeeze in as many questions as possible, often interrupting the otherwise unflappable host, AlexTrebek. It’s that abrasive style that has earned Chu the title of Jeopardy villain.
He’s not exactly Mr. Charming.
He also doesn’t necessarily play to win in every game, either. He has made wagers in Final Jeopardy designed to tie with another player he sees as lesser competition, ensuring that the other player will return with him the next day. It’s smart, but a move that can be seen as insulting to other players.
Still, Chu is not breaking any rules, and the guy could employ all the game theory in the world and it wouldn’t matter if he didn’t also know the answers to most of the questions. His strategy makes him a notorious Jeopardy champion, but his trivia knowledge makes him a notable one.