You would think with a blog post titled like this, I'd be sharing some sort of good news or -- at the very least -- the absence of bad news. Alas, such is not the case. This is more in the "absence of good news" category. You see, today is 18 months since December 8th, 2007. And that means it's 18 months since I went to a contestant tryout for Jeopardy. And 18 months is the length of time you're (potentially) in the contestant pool after trying out. "The Call" never came, so, by my reckoning, as of today, I'm out of Jeopardy.
The good news is that I can try again, starting whenever they do on-line qualifiers again. In January 2007, I took the on-line qualifying test. I'd pretty much forgotten about it by the time October rolled around and I got the email inviting me to come to an in-person tryout in December.
The tryout itself was a very cool experience. There were probably about three or four dozen people there in total. There was a somewhat lengthy introductory period where the staff went over the procedure and filled us in on things like the "18 month rule." While you're potentially in the contestant pool, you're not allowed to start trying out again. So, the 2008 and 2009 on-line qualifiers were out for all of us.
The two apparently-main focal points of the tryout were a written test and a mock game. When I'd done some research before the tryout, the impression I got was that getting about 75% of the questions on the written test correct would give someone a fair shot of eventually getting "The Call." My recollection is that I knew I was probably very close to that, give or take a few percent either side. Only two questions truly vexed me. Many I knew outright, a handful I didn't know and had only a barely-reasonable guess, several others I put down a reasonable guess on. Two, though, I knew I should know, but I just couldn't come up with. It wasn't a "King Kong" moment (inside joke for old Region 7 College Bowlers) but it was frustrating to have to punt on both of those as time ran out.
While I obviously didn't get to have the evaluators' perspective, my personal impression of the mock game was that I did well. I answered some questions, used the buzzer gizmo appropriately, and think that I was relatively pleasant during the "pretend Alex is getting to know you" piece of the mock game. There was never a moment where I thought to myself "OK, I just blew it there."
On the whole, the Jeopardy tryout experience was very positive. The evaluators tried to make everyone feel at ease and I left feeling that I had done essentially as well as I possibly could have on that day, with those questions. I didn't get The Call, but I don't have any regrets. If they have on-line tryouts again this coming winter, I'm sure I'll try again and wait and see if I can once again put myself possibly in Jeopardy.