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12.30.2004

Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions 

Apparently 150 former Jeopardy champions will compete for the right to face Ken Jennings. Here's how it's supposed to go:

First round: 135 players in 45 matches. Losers win $5,000.

Second round: 45 winners from round 1 + 9 contestants who were given byes, 18 matches. Losers win $15,000.

Quarters: 18 winners from round 2 in 6 matches. Losers win $25,000 or $50,000 (?)

Semis: 6 winners from quarters in round 2. Losers win $50,000 or $100,000 (?)

Finals: 2 winners from Semis + Ken, 3-game match. Winner gets $2,000,000, 2nd place gets $500,000, 3rd place gets $250,000.

Obviously the format of the tournament is somewhat of a stunt -- Jeopardy doesn't want Ken losing early. From the point of view of the contestants, it's not completely clear whether this format is favorable to a straight ournament where Ken has to fight his way through just like everyone else. In the current format, it's harder for the other contestants to win, but there's no chance of a strong player getting shafted by the draw and losing to Ken in round 1. In a straight format, players would have a better chance of winning the whole thing but also a 8/149 (about 5.4%) chance of drawing Ken in one of the first 2 rounds.

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