'Hero-Villain' Jeopardy! Contestant Returns to Game Show Feb. 24


When a contestant is leading going into Final Jeopardy!, many players will wager to have twice the second-place player's total plus one dollar, Williams said. Chu left off the extra dollar, offering a tie to someone willing to wager everything on the last question.

"Surprisingly, this is the correct approach to maximize his probability of returning the next day, which is the only goal of playing Jeopardy!" Williams said.

Chu does a number of other things that play to his advantage, Williams said.

"For one, he selects seemingly random clues around the board. This can be confusing to the other players, who are used to working the categories from top to bottom. It's tough to switch gears from Shakespeare to World Capitals to Botany in rapid fire, but Arthur does a good job handling that," Williams said.

Part of Chu's strategy is looking for the Daily Doubles -- clues on which a player can wager any or all of his total.

"When he finds them, he tends to wager a lot, if he's confident, or a nominal amount, if he's not," Williams said. "While wagering $5 on a Daily Double might seem like a waste, it has the benefit of taking it out of play for the other contestants, who might use it to their advantage."

Chu's style of play is "radically different" from that of most players, who go from top to bottom on the board, Williams said.

"Jumping around the board is confusing to the other players, but can be especially jarring for viewers at home, most of whom are just interested in the trivia aspect and not the strategy and game theory behind the game," Williams said. "From Arthur's perspective, he's got one shot to win a lot of money, and he's doing everything he can to give himself the best shot of doing so. This is why there's a disconnect between his near-flawless play and the negative reception many fans have given him."

As for his winnings thus far, Chu said he hopes to donate some of it to a research foundation to find a cure for fibromyalgia, a disease that his wife, a novelist, suffers from, but he is still trying to pin down the right organization. He said he also wants to save money to raise a family in the future.

Though Chu said he is not a "genius" and shouldn't be applauded for his Jeopardy! strategy, the "one thing" he may deserve credit for is "being willing to look up what the experts were saying, have an open mind about it, be willing to study it and appreciate it and then be willing to radically alter my own actions to match it."

"I'd say there's a life lesson in that -- a lot of 'genius' in games and in life doesn't really come from being innovative or having some amazing new idea," Chu said. "It comes from finding out who the existing experts are, taking the time to really understand what they're doing and being willing to put in the effort to actually do it. It's something that you'd think would be more common than it is."

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