Originally posted Thursday, July 10, 2019 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Of the 15 folks playing in 2019’s upcoming “Tournament of Champions,” three are from Georgia, a nicely disproportionate representation: Alan Dunn of John Creek ($120,802), Steven Grade of Atlanta ($115,501) and college champion Dhruv Gaur of Gainesville ($100,000).
Naturally, one or more may end up facing off against James Holzhauer, the Las Vegas professional gambler who blew away the competition this season with a combination of bold betting, Daily Double hunting, precision buzzer pushing and broad trivia knowledge. He won 32 games in a row and fell just shy of passing Ken Jennings’ record earnings when Emma Boettcher beat him. He finished with $1.462 million.
Boettcher, a Chicago librarian who won three games total and pocketed more than $97,000, was specially selected for the Tournament of Champions as well so a rematch with her and Holzhauer is possible.
The two-week event starts November 4 with the winner pocketing $250,000. The show airs at 7:30 p.m. on weekdays in Atlanta on 11Alive.
Dunn, a software development manager, said in an interview that he hopes he doesn’t have to face Holzhauer in the first round. (The 15 are randomized in terms of who faces off against who in the first rounds week one.)
“But he clearly is beatable,” Dunn said. “Emma did it. Like most Jeopardy games, it’s a matter of what the game board looks like. Do I know the answers right away or do I have to noodle them around in my head?” he said.
Dunn is a fan of Holzhauer and likes his sense of humor.
He said his tennis partner quizzes him on pop and rock music, a weakness. And he said he has to know the “Jeopardy” “Pavlovs,” meaning if an answer has the phrase “Welsh poet,” odds are solid it’s Dylan Thomas.
He is looking forward to the taping in September and is heartened that Alex Trebek is doing well while being treated for cancer.
Grade was the final five-game winner right before Holzhauer arrived. He was a former competitive swimmer and once got smoked by Michael Phelps.
In an interview, he said he is excited to have a possible shot at facing off against Holzhauer, win or lose. Since February, he said he’s been spending as many spare moments as possible to study and prep. He didn’t feel he was totally ready the first time around but hopes he will be come September.
Now a sports consultant, the 33-year-old Grade’s dream goal if he wins $250,000 is to set aside a few bucks to go to New Zealand with his wife and take a VIP tour of “Lord of the Rings” movie sites.
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