Is Jeopardy! champion Arthur Chu a master of gameplay strategy or just a really clever guy?
The 30-year-old Chu is currently being lauded and scolded for his unique style of winning on the venerable TV game show.
Chu’s method: Instead of choosing a specific Jeopardy! category and completing the clues from top to bottom, he bounces around the board to find the all-important Daily Doubles.
During his recent four-game winning streak that has so far netted him $102,800 (U.S.), Chu also employed an offbeat betting strategy in which he wagered odd amounts on Daily Doubles and calculated his Final Jeopardy! wager to tie the game instead of win (although he kept winning anyway).
Chu readily admits to CNN that he learned his game strategies online in chat rooms like JBoard.tv. He also scrutinized former Jeopardy! champion Keith Williams’ blog The Final Wager, which he claims he used as a “tutorial” for his one Final Jeopardy! strategy.
And history recalls that Chu isn’t the first person to jump around the Jeopardy! board. Former champ Roger Craig, who holds the standing record for single-day winnings ($77,000), also employed the erratic strategy.
For that matter, so did the IBM computer system named Watson when it played the game (and won) in 2011.
“Everything I have done has been done by past champions,” Chu said in a recent CNN interview.
More specifically, Chu’s game strategy is known as the “Forrest Bounce,” named after former contestant Chuck Forrest, who first tried it way back in 1985.
“It’s looking for Daily Doubles,” explained Chu. “Trying to get those early on because those are very, very important. They can turn the course of the game around. Trying to get as much money as I can without leaving money on the board.”
And moving fast and decisively is key to the Chu method: “If they cut to commercial and there’s still clues uncovered, that’s money you left on the table,” said Chu.
In recent weeks, some Jeopardy! purists have called Chu a “villain” and say his unorthodox strategy is spoiling their post-dinner time watching of the syndicated program. All of which seems to bounce off the resilient insurance salesman and aspiring actor.
“Some people are actually offended,” he said. “My response to them would just be: It’s a game and we’re playing for real money. Ultimately it’s $10,000 or more every time you win a game of Jeopardy! And my primary concern up there was taking home the money for me and my wife.”
And now that Chu’s winning streak has everybody talking, it’s possible other contestants will start playing the same way.
“Either more people will do it and change the way Jeopardy! is played,” said Chu, “or if they really don’t want Jeopardy! to be played that way, they can actually make it against the rules and change the game.”
Chu returns to Jeopardy! on Feb. 24 following the upcoming Battles of the Decades tournament.