The 37 years Alex Trebek spent as the host of “Jeopardy!” saw every type of contestant imaginable try their hand on the show. But whether they put forth a comically bad performance or a completely dominant one, there was one thing that bothered Trebek to no end.
Jumping around the board. Of course, there is no rule saying you can’t pick any clue that you want. You are free to choose whatever value in whichever category you’d like. For the late Alex Trebek, though, that was not a particularly wise move.
In a 2018 interview with Vulture, the longtime “Jeopardy!” host talked about why this “out-of-order” strategy bothered him so much.
“Why are they doing that? They’re doing themselves a disservice,” Trebek said. “When the show’s writers construct categories they do it so that there’s a flow in terms of difficulty, and if you jump to the bottom of the category you may get a clue that would be easier to understand if you’d begun at the top of the category and saw how the clues worked.”
In true Alex Trebek fashion, he was bothered by something because he felt that it put the contestants themselves at a disadvantage. How selfless can someone be? That being said, he understood full well that it wasn’t his place to weigh in on a player’s strategy during the game. As long as it was within the rules, it was okay by Trebek.
“I like there to be order on the show, but as the impartial host I accept disorder,” the late “Jeopardy!” host continued in the 2018 interview.
The Pioneer of the Bothersome ‘Jeopardy!’ Strategy
All the way back in the mid-1980s, a young Alex Trebek had the pleasure of hosting a game that featured a contestant named Chuck Forrest.
Forrest is a “Jeopardy!” legend. He earned that title after becoming one of the first contestants to jump around the board. It wasn’t just that, though. Chuck Forrest employed the strategy to massive success and made it viable for those who followed.
“He jumped all over the board in an obvious attempt to throw off his opponents. It worked. They never adjusted. But, you may remember, Chuck didn’t win the championship that year. So go figure,” Alex Trebek said in the 2018 interview.
And while this type of strategy certainly bothered the iconic “Jeopardy!” host, he didn’t look at it as a reflection of their character. In fact, he mentioned that he loved all of the big personalities that passed through the show over the years.