Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

Ken Jennings playfully poked fun at the contestants on Wednesday’s (December 13) episode of Jeopardy‘s Champions Wildcard semi-finals after a “confusing” clue left all three players stumped. But some fans think the host was unfair to reject their responses.

The episode saw a showdown between Ed Coulson, an economics and real estate professor from Dana Point, California, Emma Saltzberg, a campaigns director from Brooklyn, New York, and Tyler Vandenberg, a Marine officer currently serving in Stuttgart, Germany.

All three returning champs were fighting to advance in the Champions Wildcard, the competition where previous brief champions from Seasons 37 and 38 are battling it out to earn a spot in the upcoming Tournament of Champions.

But there was one clue early in the episode that caused somewhat of a stir. Under the $400 clue in the “Science” category, Jennings read, “Ocean sediment may be made up of coccolithophores, these tiny organisms, 6 billion to the square foot.”

Jeopardy, Inc!

Saltzberg was the first to buzz in with the guess, “Plankton,” but Jennings wasn’t satisfied. “Be more specific,” the host asked, but Saltzberg wasn’t sure what he was looking for, simply responding, “Oh, no.”

Vandenberg decided to try his luck, answering, “Phytoplankton,” but again, Jennings wasn’t willing to accept. “Be more specific than that…” he said, but Vandenberg was drawing a blank.

“Zero for two,” Jennings continued before offering the question to Coulson, who quickly replied, “Not a chance.”

“Ed’s scared off,” Jennings quipped before revealing the correct response “Algae, that’s the type of plankton we were going for.”

Jeopardy, Inc

Despite Jennings’ mocking, some viewers felt that he was unfair with his ruling.

“Phytoplankton (and frankly just plankton) should absolutely have been accepted for coccolithophores,” wrote one fan on the Jeopardy! Reddit forum. “I have no idea what they were thinking prompting for “algae” as somehow more specific.”

Another said that Jennings’ “be more specific” was “confusing because in this case it seems Tyler may have been too specific. From what I can tell, all algae are phytoplankton but not all phytoplankton are algae.”

“I said phytoplankton originally, and then when Emma buzzed in with plankton and Ken asked her to be more specific, I was almost certain I was right. Can’t blame Tyler for thinking the same thing,” added another.

One fan reasoned, “I think the phrase “Ocean sediment” may have been the key factor because phytoplankton are free-floating organisms. Algae can be floating or attached to the ocean floor.”

The plankton drama wasn’t the only controversy on Wednesday’s episode, as a Daily Double clue during Double Jeopardy! also sparked some debate.

This time, Coulson bet $6000 on the final Daily Double, which read, “This effort to boot a juror can be peremptory or for cause.”

Coulson struggled to come up with the answer (“Challenge”), and, this time, even Jennings admitted, “It’s a tough one. That’s hard.”

“The phrasing was imprecise,” wrote one commenter on Reddit. “Any trial lawyer knows challenge is done during voir dire (jury selection), so it would be to boot a jury panelist or prospective juror. Once a jury is impaneled, a juror would be “excused” not challenged.”

“As someone that works in a law firm, voir dire was the only thing that came to mind. I would have never thought about the answer being “challenge,”” said another.

“I appreciate it that Ken pointed out how sneakily tough it is,” wrote another fan.

In the end, it was Vandenberg who advanced in the tournament, winning the episode with $36,800 after shockingly wagering his entire $18,400 in Final Jeopardy.

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