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"Final Jeopardy" and one champion’s strategy for defeating Watson


Journalist and two-time Jeopardy champion Greg Lindsay blogged an excerpt from Stephen Baker’s recently published book Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything,  recounting Lindsay's experience sparring against Watson and his strategy for approaching the match.  

Click through to see how he fared against Watson.  The real question, of course, is will Ken Jennings or Brad Rutter take a similar all-or-nothing approach?

...Lindsay came with a clear strategy to defeat Watson. He quickly saw that Watson mastered factoids but struggled with humor and irony, so he steered clear of Watson-friendly categories. He figured Watson would clean up on Name that Continent, picking out the right landmasses for Estado de Matto Grosso (“What is South America?”) and the Filchner Ice Shelf (“What is Antarctica?”). The category Superheroes Names through Pictures looked much more friendly to humans. Sure enough, Watson was bewildered by clues such as “X marks the spot, man, when this guy opens his peeper” (“What is cyclops?”). Band Names also posed problems for Watson because the clues, like this one, were so murky: “The soul of a deceased person, thankful to someone for arranging his burial” (“What is the Grateful Dead?”). If the clue had included the lead guitarist Jerry Garcia or a famous song by the band, Watson could have identified it in an instant. But clues based on allusions, not facts, left it vulnerable.

More important, since the currency they were playing with was worthless, he decided to bet the maximum on each Daily Double. If he blew it, he lost nothing. And since he wasn’t on national television, his reputation wouldn’t suffer. As he put it, “There’s no societal fear.” 


More:  Final Jeopardy