Game Six Recap...  Brian Weikle

Wednesday morning, semifinals taping day! We're not leaving for the studio until 10:00 (or was it 10:30 - Alan feel free to put in the right time). So I could
get a good night's sleep, sleep in late, have a relaxing morning, right? Wrong! Someone near my room was having a party or something, so it was well after midnight by the time I got to sleep. Then, I was up before 6 as usual. It's tough to sleep late in California when your body is on Central time. Oh well, make the most of the morning.

I started off with a $23 (including tax/tip) breakfast buffet at the hotel. When
I taped my first shows back in December I started that day with a $24 waffle, so I figured this was a good omen.

Then I had some shopping to do. My packing planning had left something to be desired. I had brought 2 suits, which I was ok with wearing twice each, but only three shirts, so I realized that if I made the finals I would have to repeat a shirt. After sweating through much of the previous day, even though I got the nerve-wracking part out of the way early, I didn't really think repeating a shirt was an option. So I bought a shirt in the hotel gift shop; you can see me wearing it on Monday's show. Of course, I didn't know at that point if I would even make the finals, but I wanted to be covered just in case.

Then I paid a visit to the airline ticket office in the hotel. After my Louie
Anderson sighting on the flight down, I wanted to try to upgrade to first class again (hey, I made the semifinals and wanted to reward myself) or at least get a better seat assignment. Even though I got to the office shortly after it opened at 9:30, there was already a woman there ahead of me. She was trying to get a replacement for a lost paper ticket. (Who gets paper tickets anymore? I don't think I've used one since E-tickets came into being.) Her problem was complicated by the fact that (a) the ticket was not hers, it was her daughter's and (b) her daughter was in Iran at the time. Needless to say I didn't have time to wait for this one to get resolved, so I went back to my room and dressed for the show.

I don't remember too much about what happened that morning at the studio, other than it was a lot quicker than the day before had been. No promos or interviews to shoot, no local TV people cluttering up the green room. Just get in, get makeup, do the rehearsal and start the taping. Of course, none of us knew what the matchups would be, and I honestly hadn't given it a lot of thought. I figured that by winning my quarterfinal game with the second highest score, I had maybe "earned" the right not to have to face one of the other top scorers in the semis. Of course, all nine of us are strong players, so I knew there would be no gimmes. Finally Maggie was ready to tell us the first matchup. She asked if anyone wanted to guess. Nobody did, although I almost said "I'm going first again, aren't I?". Somehow I knew, and I was right. Maggie announced the first group as "Brian, Mark Brown and Max". Uh oh. Mark Brown? No disrespect to Max,
but Mark was the one guy I didn't want to face. He was VERY impressive in his quarterfinal, even if he didn't know how to pronounce Laocoon. That was the only weakness in his game that I saw, and I figured I would be in for a fight.

And I was right.

When the categories for the first round came up, I felt pretty good. Limericks looked promising; I tend to do well on word-play categories. Also the sports category rated to be good for me. The other categories didn't look great, but I figured I could tough it out.

Turns out I was right. Limericks was pretty good for me, but Mark was just all over the board. No disrespect to any of the other players I've faced, but I knew right away that Mark was the toughest opponent I'd faced to date. (I think Ben and Kathy would tell you they didn't play their best games in the
quarterfinals.) Max was also very strong, seeming to always ring in just as I
was starting to get a rhythm going.

I came out of the first round trailing by quite a margin. Mark was helped by the DD (a very easy question IMO). I knew we were in for a battle.

2nd round categories. Norse, great! Double-talk, should be good. Opera, OK. After that...??? Design? Kennedy Center Honorees? No idea what Notorious would be..I hoped it wasn't the movie. Actually I was hoping for the Duran Duran song but didn't like my chances there.

Max started off well in Opera, including a DD, and once I finally got in (on
Fidelio) I went right for the Norsemen. I am one, you know, by ancestry.
Something in the Gandalf clue threw me off, but otherwise I did very well there. The DD helped; I thought that was much too easy for a 2000 clue, but I wasn't about to complain. That category pulled me into the lead.

The rest of the round was back and forth (and forth; I don't know how to express that with 3 people). At one point I had opened up a decent lead, but Mark came storming back. Things really change fast in DJ. The Kennedy Center did me in; I rang in with a really poor guess on the $1600 clue. It shot my confidence for the Cole Younger clue; I knew it was one of the Younger brothers but wasn't sure which one. It all came down to Design; we were tied going in.

I came up with William Morris from the theatrical clue, had never heard of the wallpaper guy. That gave me the lead at the end. All three of us were kicking ourselves for not coming up with escutcheon. I was just very happy to be leading going into FJ.

Then the category came up. It's too bad they didn't have the cameras on us; I reacted very visibly, putting my head in my hands and almost sobbing "Oh, no". My mother (who was in the audience) reported that Mark had a similar reaction. It was my worst nightmare: the game was on the line, and a movie question was coming up.

My first thought, of course, was betting strategy. The standard bet from the
lead, of course, is to cover the possibility of the 2nd-place player doubling
his score. But..this is a bad category for me, and they both know it. Maybe
they'll stand pat and hope for a triple stumper. That would suggest that I not bet anything. But there was some chance I'd get it right; I'd hate to get it right and lose because I didn't bet. OK, bet to cover Mark doubling his score.

Cue the Jeopardy! Music..here's my thoughts as the time ran down. "Ok..Marion Davies..I know her, she's the one with Hearst. I saw that Cat's Meow flick with Kirsten Dunst...what was the name of the movie company? Maybe if I'd paid attention to the dialogue instead of drooling over Kirsten Dunst I would remember. Think hard...do you remember? No. Man, that Kirsten Dunst is fine. Ack...time's running out. What magazines did Hearst publish? No idea. What sounds good...ok go with something that sounds Hollywoody. Variety is good; it's probably not right but at least it's an answer that I can write before time runs out. I just blew any chance I ever had with Kirsten Dunst by getting this wrong, but I probably didn't have much chance anyway. Sigh."

Time's up. Max...wrong, with a big bet. Interesting. Mark..wrong..what's the
bet???? I'm gonna win! I'm gonna win! What an adrenaline rush! As soon as I saw Mark's bet I knew I'd won it, whether Variety turned out to be right or not. I also knew I was very lucky; it was a gettable clue that either of them could have come up with. They also could have bet differently, knowing that I hated movies as a category, but they didn't.

This was a game where it was too bad that there could only be one winner. Mark and Max both played fantastic games, and both are great champions. If the three of us played ten games, we'd probably each win three, with maybe a tie in the tenth game. It was that close; they are that good.

It was neat to get to sit in the little director's chair to watch the other
semifinals. It was weird being chaperoned the whole time. I couldn't get up to throw my empty water bottle away without someone following me. It was pretty clear that as a finalist I was in for a whole new experience.