With this game, my run on Jeopardy! ends, one win shy of making it to the Tournament of Champions.
From start, this game was a fight. I had Stewart pegged as dangerous from early in the day; he was confident, calm, smart, and fast. Lisa, despite being quiet, turned out to be a pretty tough opponent herself. The three of us traded clues through the first round, with the both of them outbuzzing me on a very regular basis. I caught the DD, but I only had $1400 in the bank, so my True Daily Double wager was a lot less satifying than my one in the previous game. My struggles with the "Fun With Elements" category in this round were not my among proudest Jeopardy! moments.
We entered Double Jeopardy! in a fairly close game. I had a good run on the buzzer to start the game, enhanced by picking up a couple of rebounds off of Stewart, whose brain went blank a couple of times. (Stewart's a foreing service officer, he damn well knows, "Kabul.") I found the first DD with a huge lead and proceeded to underwager $4000, since I already had a lock game and the extreme vagueness of the category scared me a bit; I should have wagered something more like $8000. From there, though, Stewart simply took over the game. I got in on three of the remaining 15 questions, missing one of them, Lisa hit two of them, and Stewart took the rest of them. He made a couple of big misses, a couple of big hits, and finally, with four clues remaining, found the last Daily Double. (In a bit of irony, the correct response to the last clue before the reveal of the DD was "awkward," the most appropriate adjective to describe my camera appearance; I was outbuzzed by a tiny fraction of second.) Steward still trailed me, with about $11,000 to my $17,000, so he made exactly the correct strategic move: He wagered $10,000. He provided the correct response to the clue, and took the lead from me. Stewart's DD hunting had depleted all of the high-value clues, so what remained was insufficient to let me recover the lead, and for the first time, I entered Final Jeopardy! in second place.
As I was making my Final Jeopardy! wager, I noted that I was four-fifths to Stewart, so I very carefully wagered $9799. This amount made it so that I'd win no matter what if Stewart made a rational covering wager and he missed. It was, in essence, the largest wager I could make in this case; I could easily have wagered less. Although thought out carefully, was a huge mistake.
I completely forgot to take Lisa into account. She had $5600, and had she wagered everything and responded correctly, she would have had $11200. As this is considerably more than the $8401 I'd be left with in the event of a miss, she would have won handily had Stewart and I both failed to respond to the Final Jeopardy! clue correctly. Oops.
As it turned out, the wager didn't matter. Though I managed to come up with a non-idiotic response to Final Jeopardy!, it was incorrect, while Stewart gave the correct response. (Lisa, FWIW, also missed.) I took second place.
There were many places in the game where a small change could have won it for me. Had I outbuzzed Stewart and answered a couple more high-valued clues, I would have held my lead even against his huge DD wager. Had I gotten in on the clue immediately before the DD, I would have selected the DD myself and put Stewart away with a $6000 bet.
Of course, aliens could have landed on the set and proclaimed me Prince of the Galaxy; that didn't happen, either.
Jeopardy! was a fantastic experience, though. I fulfilled a lifelong ambition by becoming a Jeopardy! champion. I met some interesting people on the set, and got to know many more interesting people as I joined the Jeopardy! community online. I earned enough money to buy some improvements and furniture for our new house, as well as a new camera and some other photography stuff. While I will be forever a bit heartbroken about losing that last game, it was, taken as a whole, kind of awesome.