Two metro Atlantans in biggest ‘Jeopardy’ Tournament of Champions in 19 years

Suresh Krishnan and Justin Bolsen are vying for $250,000 with 25 others
The 2024 "Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions" features Suwanee's Suresh Krishnan and Canton's Justin Bolsen among the 27 contestants. JEOPARDY



The 2024 "Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions" features Suwanee's Suresh Krishnan and Canton's Justin Bolsen among the 27 contestants. JEOPARDY

“Jeopardy” is offering up its largest Tournament of Champions since 2005 with 27 competitors, including two from metro Atlanta: Suresh Krishnan of Suwanee and Justin Bolsen of Canton.

Krishnan, a 47-year-old networking engineer, last year won six games in a row, automatically qualifying him for the tournament.

Bolsen, a 19-year-old sophomore at Brown University, took home $100,000 last year as the victor of the Jeopardy High School Reunion tournament.

Krishnan is competing on opening night Friday, Feb. 23. In Atlanta, the show will broadcast on 11Alive (WXIA-TV) at 7:30 p.m. Bolsen will appear on Tuesday, March 5. [UPDATE: He lost in part because he missed two key Daily Doubles.]

Krishnan, who came to Atlanta nine years ago, is a relative latecomer to the game. He said he discovered “Jeopardy” in his late 20s a few years after he came to the United States from India. His best subjects, he said, are business, geography, world history and science. His weakness is pre-1990 pop culture, in part because he grew up in India.

He spent months prepping and talks trivia with his two children, ages 11 and 15, who are in Academic Bowl competitions.

Krishnan was thrilled to meet host Ken Jennings for the first time while taping Tournament of Champions a few weeks ago. Mayim Bialik was the host when he was on the show last year and while he liked her, he said Jennings is special because he is one of the greatest players in “Jeopardy” history, having won a record 74 games in a row back in 2004. (Bialik has since been removed as one of two rotating hosts. Jennings is now the solo host.)

“Ken understands us more,” Krishnan said. “He put us in a comfortable position. And he’s gotten better as a host. Look at him from last year to this year. He’s now more at ease. He can be snarky when a player is snarky. And he knows most of the answers. If you miss something and he says he would have missed it, too, that makes you feel better.”

Expanding the field meant lowering the bar to anyone who won three or more games as well as winners of wildcard tournaments, the High School Reunion tournament (Bolsen) and Celebrity Jeopardy (Ike Barinholtz).

The tournament is a simple “knockout” format like March Madness with nine first-round games, followed by three semi-final games. Jeopardy has not announced how the finals will be set up.

Bolsen, at age 19, is the youngest player in the tournament and he is aware that places him at a disadvantage.

“A lot of these people are old enough to be my parents,” he said. “’Jeopardy’ is a game of life experience. I don’t have that level of life experience. The other players have seen things I have only read about. I just traveled outside the country for the first time a few months ago.”

And naturally, the difficulty level of test questions in Tournament of Champions is far greater than what he faced in the High School Reunion tournament.

“At the college level, we get questions geared to a younger audience like pop culture for Gen Z,” Bolsen said. “I’ve had to learn topics like 1950s television. My grandma has helped me learn the names of stars of old movies.”

But he just enjoyed hanging out with fellow “Jeopardy” geeks. “Hearing their life experiences and insights has been incredible,” he said.

And he had a semi-direct connection to Jennings: his best friend’s father roomed with Jennings in Spain for six months more than 25 years ago.

This current tournament is structured differently from the traditional Tournament of Champions, which included only 15 players. The five quarterfinal winners made it to the next round. Four players who lost with the highest score totals became wild-card players for three semi-final games. Then there was a two-day, two-game finals round to crown the winner.

“Jeopardy” also had an Ultimate Tournament of Champions in 2005 that involved 145 contestants going back 21 years.

Krishnan said the old format meant the opening round players had to be sequestered from each other to avoid knowledge of how the other games went since that could influence how they bet. Since the new setup is a pure knockout format, that issue didn’t come into play, so producers allowed the players to mingle from the start.



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“Jeopardy,” 7:30 p.m. on WXIA-TV (11Alive) in Atlanta