‘Jeopardy!: Amy Schneider Claims Victory Over Ken Jennings Amid ‘Masters’ Disaster

Amy Schneider and Ken Jennings
Spoiler Alert
Jeopardy! Inc.

The semifinals have just begun on Jeopardy! Masters and it’s already a nail-biter. On Friday night’s episode, the match point slates were wiped clean for the four semifinalists — Victoria Groce, Yogesh Raut, James Holzhauer, and Amy Schneider — which meant they all had an equal chance coming into this leg of the competition to advance to the finals.

However, one contestant got off to a very rocky start indeed, and it remains to be seen whether they’ll be able to bounce back from such a severe stumble. Here’s a look at everything that happened on the first night of Jeopardy! Masters semifinals.

Game One

This game saw James Holzhauer (or “dʒeIms,” as he wrote his name), Yogesh Raut, and Victoria Groce in competition.

Things got off to a bright start for Groce, who previously led the pack in the initial rounds. First, she got the first Daily Double (wagering and winning $3,600 on Stanford Benet being the scale that “was co-developed by psychologists at a U.S. university & in France” in the “Intelligence Briefing” category). Then, somehow, the esoteric subject of her dress — the ginkgo tree — was one of the answers for the round. Plus, her daughter was in the crowd to root her on as she remembered her first one-win appearance on the show when the now-college-aged girl was a baby.

By the half, Groce was well ahead of the others with $9,800 to Raut’s $2,600 and Holzhauer’s $3,800. Double Jeopardy, however, was a Raut rout.

Raut got the first Daily Double of the round, bet all $8,200 he could, and correctly guessed in the “Ancient Lit” category that The Wasps was Aristophanes’ other animal-titled work with The Birds and The Frogs. Groce got the second but made another surprising mistake with her wagering; instead of going all-in, she bet just $3,000 of a possible $13,800 on the “Before During and After” category, despite having the mouthful of a correct response — “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter S. Thompson twins — to the clue, “Carson McCullers novel about a gonzo journalist who hits the road with bandmates to sing songs like ‘Hold Me Now.”

That moment of self-doubt would come back to haunt Groce in a very big way because, instead of having a healthy lead over the others before Double Jeopardy, Raut was ahead with $24,400, while she trailed with $18,000, and Holzhauer took up the rear with $13,000.

In the Final Jeopardy category “Native American Language,” the clue was: “In 1612 John Smith published a Powhatan word list including these 2 words familiar to us today, one worn in pairs & one wielded.” Holzhauer was the first to correctly guess, “What are moccasins and tomahawk?” adding just $98 to his total for $13,098. Groce then got it wrong (substituting hatchet for tomahawk) and listing $8,001 in the process, leaving her with $9,999. Raut then got it right and sealed his victory, adding $11,601 to his total for $36,001.

With that, Groce lost and received no points for the first time in the competition.

Game Two

Groce regained her stride in the second game, however. She returned, alongside Raut, to face Amy Schneider, who was the biggest beneficiary of the tabula rasa, since she had to fight for fourth place (and, thus, semifinal qualification).

Once again, Groce got the first Daily Double, and this time, she wagered it all, since she was already running the category, “I’ll be Bach.” )With $5,000 on the line, she correctly guessed that Brandenburg was the answer to this clue: “In 1721 Bach dipped into the masterpiece bin & dedicated a series of works to the margrave of this.”

Heading into Double Jeopardy, she again had a major edge; her $11,800 was lightyears ahead of Raut’s $4,000 and Schneider’s $-200 scores.

Before the second half kicked off, though, Schneider had a very big announcement to make. When asked if she was still writing, she answered in the affirmative, but added, “I did want to get something in real quick first because last — during the quarterfinals we talked about your 15-game streak of [getting] ‘Queen Bee’ on the New York Times Spelling Bee. And in the interim, I have now stretched my streak to 20 games. How you like me now, [Ken] Jennings? Who’s the greatest of all time now?” What a flex (especially given that midpoint score)!

In the second round, Raut found the initial Daily Double yet again, betting all $7,600 for the chance to take the lead in the category “One-Word Movie Titles.” Guessing Network was no sweat for the “movie buff,” in answering this clue: “This Sidney Lumet drama is set at the Union Broadcasting Systems.”

His lead didn’t last too terribly long, though, and history repeated itself yet again as Groce found the second Daily Double of the round and declined to wager it all — albeit, just a bit more than last time — putting $6,000 of her available $18,000 on the line. This time, it worked out in her favor, as she correctly guessed In Medius Res was the right response to the “Say It In Latin” clue: “This narrative device is in contrast to beginning a story ab ovo (‘from the egg’).”

With $27,800 to Raut’s $13,200 heading into Final Jeopardy, she simply could not be beaten. Meanwhile, Schneider didn’t even make it to the Final Jeopardy round because her ending score of $-3,000 took her out of contention altogether.

The Final Jeopardy clue, in the category of “Also Seen at the Circus,” was “FDR gets credit for implementing this as a concept in the U.S. & the metaphor was used by FDR Jr., running for office in 1966.”

Perhaps surprisingly, neither contestant correctly answered the question. Raut, who wagered all but one dollar, incorrectly guessed “Big Tent,” while Groce just did her usual “High Nora!” greeting and bet 0, ending with what she came into the round with. (The answer? “Safety Net.”)

With that, here’s the standing leaderboard of the semifinals so far, with Holzhauer and Schneider both owed two games in the second half of the semifinals to Groce and Raut’s one game.

1st = Yogesh Raut – 4 tonight (two games), 4 total
2nd = Victoria Groce – 3 tonight (two games), 3 total
3rd = James Holzhauer – 1 tonight (one game), 1 total
4th = Amy Schneider – 0 tonight (one game), 0 total

Jeopardy! Masters, Semifinals Night Two, Monday, May 20, 8/7c, ABC