Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The $199,000 Answer: Who is Joon Pahk?

The oft-intersecting worlds of crosswords and game shows have been colliding for roughly the last week or so. Joon Pahk, B division winner of the 2010 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and also a constructor, has been making regular appearances on "Jeopardy!" and thanks to broad general knowledge and kamikaze wagering on Daily Doubles, has amassed $199,000 over his first seven appearances on the program. (Opponents found both Daily Doubles in the Double Jeopardy! round on Tuesday's program, but Pahk still made it a runaway.) As early as his second or third appearance on the program, Alex Trebek was already making comparisons to Ken Jennings, the show's all time money winner. Pahk can't say if he's still taping the show or how much he's won, but he's been reporting nightly on his adventures to his Facebook friends after the show has aired. Nancy Shack has been making his appearances available on YouTube; later today we'll post a complete list of links so you can track his progress.

It's generally held that the best showing by a crossword personality on a game show prior to Pahk's run has been that of Stanley Newman, the New York Newsday crossword editor, who won $112,480 (about $177,000 adjusted for inflation) on the 1991 program "The Challengers", hosted by Dick Clark and produced by game show master Ronnie Greenberg. (Yes, Jennings competed at Stamford in 2006 and won C division and rookie trophies - that was also the year I won the D trophy - but he hasn't been back to the tournament.)

There have been a number of other crossword and other puzzle folk who've been on "Jeopardy!" including Ellen Ripstein, Stella Zawistowski, and Scott Weiss, whose crafty wagering enabled the show's first and only three-way tie. Comment if you know of others and I'll add them to this post.

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