Game One Recap...  Ben Tritle

Where did I leave off? Oh yeah, I was told I'd play the King of the Hill. Great. Where was Faith Love and her "101 ways to off a tournament player" when I needed her?

All due respect to Brian though, because Kathy was not happy about playing the king either, and Brian did all he could to basically say, "Hey I'm in the same boat", which was true. It was actually good that we hadn't seen any of his games, because I could approach playing him from the standpoint that all he had was a number. I even said as much to him, and Brian, being the professional he was, understood.

It should be mentioned at this point that I became extremely human in distinctly two ways while waiting in the Green Room.

1) I had decided to go with the no-jacket outfit for my first game. The shirt and tie were bought within 48 hours prior to the tournament. At some point between the rehearsal, the interviews and the notice of who would play, I noticed mammoth sweat stains. Pretty, I know. I wasn't aware of it until about an hour before the game, and immediately went into pocket mode?trying to minimize the appearance by keeping the arms down. Thankfully, my repeated mental thermostat finally cooled me down enough that I could move my arms freely about my body.

2) Yes, I am ashamed to admit this, but I think any LIB members would need to know that this WAS NOT a strategy. Before going out on stage, I noticed my fly was down. Yes, it's true. The Globe will likely have an article next week saying "JEOPARDY CONTESTANT CAUGHT WITH ZIPPER DOWN". There is NOTHING that will ground you faster than the reality of heading out to a studio of 200 to tape a show seen by 12 million knowing that you were within one hundred feet of FINAL jeopardy.

So, we go out to the studio, I survey the audience for my guests and then suddenly get the feel of the new podiums. We had all played the rehearsal game, but at that moment, the middle podium was my real estate for the next forty minutes. The fact that that was how I started my original run didn't escape me. I was hoping for a repeat.

Early on there was a stopdown after the Crossword Clue about Gary Moore's show. I was so concerned about my enunciation that I may have over enunciated the response. Alex initially called me correct, at which point on the show tonight, there was an awkward edit. That's because after saying I was right, he immediately raised a brow and said I was wrong. He thought I had pluralized "Secret". Listening to the show today, I'm surprised he heard it that way, but it wasn't the first time in the tournament that he would experience this. Even after 10 minutes (possibly longer) of listening to the tape over and over, they decided to credit me, but as they queued up the tape, Alex remarked from behind the podium that it still sounded the same as he originally thought.

Point of Info: If I had the dunce cap, I would have put it on after I said "Rocks". That was stupidity WITH a college education.

Failure has a funny way of coloring your perspective. Even right after the game, I just felt like I hadn't had the chops for it. In retrospect, while not burning up the board, I was surprised that I did hold my own, and basically made bad choices, two of them serious, and two of them stupid. I should never have rung in on that $2000 clue about Athol Fugard. I blame my college E Comp lecturer; we read one of Wole Soyinka's books, and I thought "well, he's African, let's take a shot that he's South African". As for the one that truly cost me the game, it was the clue about Sister McAuley (sp?) that I responded with London instead of Dublin. Had I put more effort into realizing the name was Irish, I would have had the Daily Double as well. Brian did what he was supposed to do in his situation betting $200, as much as it sucked for Kathy and me. I did know "Dead Man Walking" and had been itching to go for a true Daily Double.

As for Final Jeopardy, I've said before that my brain only allows for one option, and for me it was outer space. I even considered just putting "What is Space" as a response. But that seemed too generic. Even though I was fully aware the timing was off, it has always been my opinion that, especially when betting the farm, write something down. I don't think people truly appreciate that Alex allowed me to save face as he did by allowing me to verbalize the response after the damage was done. It was a subtle, but true display of respect that I appreciate more than anybody could understand.

Kathy must be acknowledged for the outstanding competitor she is as well. She fought hard and was ahead of Brian as well. Brian and I for some reason just rang in faster in that second round. Even up to the last two clues, when Kathy was still mathematically able to get out of the red, she was ringing in hard, and Brian's confidence was just too much to overcome. Kathy has become one of my best friends from the tournament, as has Brian, and we spent a lot of time in the audience like three old codgers watching the subsequent games saying "you know, in *our* game, we didn't have these cheese ball clues" (Note to others, we didn't really think they were cheese ball, but we had the benefit of seeing every single game, and two of us kept analyzing which game we SHOULD'VE played).

I take several things away with me from this: I was in the lead for more than half the game, without the benefit of any Daily Doubles; if I had one or both of the ones I knew, Brian would've been sweating far more than he had. I played a decent, though not brilliant, game.

I can also take with me the fact that, despite my poor choices, Brian had to beat me in the game. I didn't let him win it, I was right in there, and I had some tough breaks. I knew far more about Nuns than I realized, and were it not for Brian's timing, I would've had the Canterbury Tales clue as well. That would have changed my betting strategy somewhat, as my magic number was $16,000.

So there it is, I lost my game, zeroed out. But you know what? I have never enjoyed having my ass handed to me in such a remarkable fashion. As much as I wish it weren't me in that game, to witness Brian playing and displaying his ability of all things trivial was a thing of beauty, truly.

But, Brian, since you have a couple of bucks to spare?