Game Eight Recap...  Travis Troyer

As Ben Tritle recently reminded me over e-mail, I rode a rollercoaster of
emotions after my Quarterfinal. I went from disappointment, to resignation, to relief, to nervous anticipation, to near cardiac arrest, then finally to
excitement. I honestly was in shock that my Jeopardy experience was not over yet. However, my favorite part of that entire afternoon was seeing Max and Eric's reactions to knowing that they had advanced. If you look up joy in the dictionary, you're going to see those two faces.

It was nice not having such a long wait the next morning this time. The
atmosphere in the Green Room and then in the audience was so comfortable, because we all had really gotten to know each other well. I remember distinctly sitting next to Mark D. and then next to Trevor waiting for the shows and just being floored by what they knew on the other shows. I was glad that opera, Neil Simon, and Movie Industry History made their appearance before I was on, because I knew I would be toast if they had been my categories.

Watching the other two Semifinals made me realize how lucky and privileged I felt to have made it this far. Then, knowing that I would face Trevor (who just impressed me with how much he knew from the 2nd Semifinal that we watched) and Eric (who impressed me with his Quarterfinal) compounded how overwhelmed I felt going into the match. Yet with all this, a certain calm came over me. I was happy that I had even made it to the Tournament, happy that I survived through my Quarterfinal, and no matter what, happy that I had made it this far. No matter what I did, I wouldn't regret my experience.

The Jeopardy round was quite neck-and-neck the whole time. The categories were much easier for me than in my Quarterfinal, and all three of us were really holding our ground. To top that, the three of us were quite jovial and joking with each other. I still to this day will attest that Eric's butt wiggling was the distraction that led to my ultimate demise! Seriously though, the playful atmosphere completely set my mood and my mind frame for the rest of the game. I was just having fun. I was proud to get the Tappan Zee bridge clue, just because one of my closest friends from college is a Civil Engineer in NYC, and she would have killed me had I missed that. The category "Girls with Guitars" was a god-send, but Trevor and Eric were amazing on the buzzer.

When I saw the categories for the Double Jeopardy round, I kind of knew that I'd be pretty silent on the buzzer. My knowledge of classical music extends about as far as Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus," and I don't think I've used a 5-syllable word in my life. Overall, I cannot express how impressed I was with Trevor and Eric in this round. A lot of times I felt like a spectator just asking myself, "How did you guys know that?" 5-syllable words? Famous battles? Amazing. There were a few memorable moments for me. It was fate that I would mess up on the "prohibitionist" clue. My parents own a liquor store, and it would have been incredibly bad karma for me to get a question about banning alcohol. Then, getting the Vivaldi clue in Classical Composers was quite gratifying. I know nothing, I repeat nothing, about classical music. However, during my Senior Week, someone had a Vivaldi CD, and I just remember being intoxicated and screaming to the whole town of Ocean City, MD how much I loved Vivaldi. And parents thought that Senior Weeks were detrimental to their children?

By the time Final Jeopardy rolled around, I knew that my chances were slim. Trevor and Eric were just way too good. Trevor is one of the fastest people on the buzzer (it must be something in that Arkansas water), and Eric knew some of the most esoteric facts. But when I saw the category, Final Jeopardy became a personal quest. You see, when I was originally on, geography was my bread and butter. It's the subject I always loved in school (hey, I even wrote a poem in 7th grade rhyming world capitals) and I always seemed to do well in it. That was shattered in my Quarterfinal. When I missed Krakow, I felt like geography had abandoned me. It was like this little child I nurtured had left home and wasn't coming back. I then realized that Final Jeopardy was my shot at personal redemption.

When the clue came up, this rush of excitement came over me. My child had come home to roost. The name "Sampiao", the date in 1999 ... it had to be Macau. I always remember studying China in middle school and feeling kind of sorry for Macau. You see, I've always been a fan of the underdog in sports, and I always felt in our Anglo-centric society that Macau was the underdog to Hong Kong. You never hear about it, you never study it. If China were the Jackson family, then it's like Hong Kong is Janet and Macau is LaToya. And I always felt just a little sorry for LaToya, like I did for Macau. I started writing down Macau immediately and I think I finished right when Alex finished reading the answer. Well then, now I have 30 seconds of dead time. I guess I'll just bob my head back and forth. I was honestly so into the moment that I didn't realize what I was doing. It was consolation to me this week that it appeared that Max and Jill were both kind of moving their heads to the rhythm of the song, so at least I wasn't the Lone Ranger. As the answers were revealed, I felt sure that both Eric and Trevor would get it. When Trevor's answer was revealed, my heart honestly sank. I was so happy for Eric, but Trevor had played such a great game too that you just wish it didn't end like that.

In retrospect, I have a tremendous respect for all the competitors after
watching the games this week. All three games were decided at the end, and I feel that is a testament to what kind of players were there. It's such a cool feeling to know that not only are these people intelligent, but they are also incredible humble and down-to-earth. My two 30-minute shows on Jeopardy have given me a lifetime of wonderful memories. Not to mention a new fiancée too ;)