Fletcher congratulates Jeopardy! Champion Andy Tirrell

Andy Tirrell on Jeopardy!What a thrill this one is, readers. There was naturally a lot of excitement around here recently when we learned that Fletcher’s own Andy Tirrell, a 2011 MALD and 2017 PhD alumnus, would appear as a contestant on last night’s episode of Jeopardy! I was particularly tickled by this news as Andy is a good friend of mine from my own MALD student days. I’ll never forget the many (MANY) hours we spent in our Design, Monitoring, & Evaluation class working group picking through logframes, terms of reference, and other peacebuilding programming minutiae. Suffice to say it was a delight to receive this news, and not entirely surprising. Andy seems like someone well suited to Jeopardy!

We live in an era in which there are a lot of people who have become well-suited to Jeopardy!, though, and Andy had the tall order of facing one of them. Chris Pannullo, the game show’s most recent super-champ, was on a 21-match winning streak, and was starting to be mentioned as the next potential James Holzhauer, Amy Schneider, or Matt Amodio. Pannullo was particularly known for his preternatural ability to sniff out Daily Doubles, and showed off that weird skill immediately by finding a Daily Double on the VERY FIRST CLUE OF THE GAME. It was a rough start, and it got rougher as Andy found himself in an early hole. One could see that he hadn’t quite mastered the buzzer timing in the early going, and he found himself in the negative after the first round. Host Ken Jennings even had to offer some slightly-condescending-sounding encouragement heading into Double Jeopardy.

Talk about a tale of two halves! Andy pretty much took over from that point. Pannullo gave him some help by botching a $6,600 Daily Double guess, and Andy nailed one of his own. They spent the final handful of questions trading the lead, and Andy found himself only a few hundred dollars behind heading into Final Jeopardy.

But “Plays” as the Final Jeopardy category? Seemed a dicey proposition. Here’s the clue:

A 1609 story in which an exiled king of Bulgaria creates a sea palace with his magic may have inspired the plot of this play

The best I could come up with was Brigadoon, a guess at which my wife rightfully scoffed. Pannullo didn’t fare much better, going with The Little Mermaid. I should have known by Andy’s confident scribbling that he was in good shape. He turned out to be the only contestant to come up with the correct answer of The Tempest. 

So congratulations to Andy, your new giant-slaying Jeopardy! champion! Looking forward to seeing him put together his own run up the standings.

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