Do People Really Dislike Jeopardy Champ Arthur Chu Because He Hits the Buzzer Too Hard?


Let’s talk about something completely trivial for a bit: Arthur Chu, the polarizing Jeopardy! champion currently on a 7-game winning streak. Caitlin Dewey explains why so many people don’t like him:

Since time immemorial — read: September 1984 — “Jeopardy!” has followed a simple pattern: Contestants pick a category; they progress through the category from top to bottom; they earn winnings when they, through their hard-earned and admirable intellect, get the questions right.

Chu has turned that protocol upside down … and shaken the change out of its pockets. For one thing, he sometimes plays to tie, not win, thereby guaranteeing he brings a lesser competitor to challenge him the next day. He skips around the board looking for Daily Doubles, gobbling them up before competitors find them, in the process monopolizing all the high-value questions. Most unforgivably to many, Chu tries to squeeze in the most questions per round by pounding the bejesus out of his buzzer and interrupting Alex Trebek.

It’s the bolded comment I’m curious about. I understand why people could be annoyed by Chu skipping around the board so aggressively. Aside from a sense that he might be taking unfair advantage of his experience vs. a pair of newbies, it makes it a little harder to follow the game at home. I also get why some people might not like the idea of playing to tie. Both of these complaints may be overstated—Chu isn’t the first guy to go searching for Daily Doubles, and playing to tie only affects a few seconds of game play—but I understand them.

That said, what’s up with the complaint that he tries to ring in aggressively? That doesn’t even make sense. Everyone tries to ring in aggressively. Being fast on the buzzer is one of the cornerstones of the game. It might even be more important than knowing lots of answers. (Pretty much everyone who makes it onto the show knows lots of answers.)

So where does this come from? Am I missing something?

POSTSCRIPT: I myself initially found Chu a little annoying, though mostly for his affect more than his actual game play. But I’ve warmed to him just because he’s so damn good. He’s a serious buzzsaw at the game, and it’s hard not to admire that. I noticed last night, though, that the other contestants were starting to mimic his strategy. I wonder if that will be his undoing before long?

WE'LL BE BLUNT:

We need to start raising significantly more in donations from our online community of readers, especially from those who read Mother Jones regularly but have never decided to pitch in because you figured others always will. We also need long-time and new donors, everyone, to keep showing up for us.

In "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, how brutal it is to sustain quality journalism right now, what makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there, and why support from readers is the only thing that keeps us going. Despite the challenges, we're optimistic we can increase the share of online readers who decide to donate—starting with hitting an ambitious $300,000 goal in just three weeks to make sure we can finish our fiscal year break-even in the coming months.

Please learn more about how Mother Jones works and our 47-year history of doing nonprofit journalism that you don't find elsewhere—and help us do it with a donation if you can. We've already cut expenses and hitting our online goal is critical right now.

payment methods

WE'LL BE BLUNT

We need to start raising significantly more in donations from our online community of readers, especially from those who read Mother Jones regularly but have never decided to pitch in because you figured others always will. We also need long-time and new donors, everyone, to keep showing up for us.

In "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, how brutal it is to sustain quality journalism right now, what makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there, and why support from readers is the only thing that keeps us going. Despite the challenges, we're optimistic we can increase the share of online readers who decide to donate—starting with hitting an ambitious $300,000 goal in just three weeks to make sure we can finish our fiscal year break-even in the coming months.

Please learn more about how Mother Jones works and our 47-year history of doing nonprofit journalism that you don't find elsewhere—and help us do it with a donation if you can. We've already cut expenses and hitting our online goal is critical right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate