An Unexpected Winning Streak

No, not the Pirates' current 10-game streak, but Ken Jennings' unprecedented dismantling of the competition on Jeopardy!. Mark Goldblatt at the National Review Online writes: "Jennings is quite simply better at what he does well than any human being I've ever seen. He's better at Jeopardy than Michael Jordan was at basketball, than Wayne Gretzky was at hockey, than Bobby Fischer was at chess. The only comparison that comes close is Secretariat during his Triple Crown rampage."

Goldblatt is right, but not because Jennings is so smart or knowledgeable. A lot of the questions on Jeopardy! these days are pretty easy. Jennings is so good for other reasons. One, he is incredibly quick on the buzzer. There is a rhythm to the buzzer, and it usually takes new players a little while to get the knack. That's why the returning champion almost always gets the first few clues at the start of a new game. (I learned this first-hand as a contestant three years ago.) Two, because (like MJ and Bobby Fischer) he intimidates the hell out of his challengers. Watch the show. You can see it in their eyes. Very few of them can match Ken's rhythm, and so far, none have been able to match it for long.


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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