Jeopardy/Watson night 2: when it stops being fun

The second night of the three-night Jeopardy “man versus machine” battle aired last night, and after a while it really stopped being interesting and felt more like a bloodbath.

[Spoiler Alert]

A bloodbath, that is, for the human contestants. Watson, the IBM supercomputer that can understand normal conversational English, totally dominated Jeopardy champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

Last night, the three contenders continued the game that was started yesterday, competing in both a Double Jeopardy and Final Jeopardy round. During Double Jeopardy, Watson could not be stopped.

The computer’s dominance with the buzzer allowed it to ring in with perfect timing, effectively shutting out Rutter and Jennings for the vast majority of the game. At some points, Jennings and Rutter could be seen visibly annoyed or frustrated.

Watson picked up both Daily Doubles and answered each correctly. Meanwhile, of the couple times Jennings or Rutter did actually manage to beat Watson to the buzzer, they were usually on low-value clues. Both seemed to try to buzz in on every possible question even if they didn’t know the answer – which became apparent when Jennings managed to buzz in first and then take an obvious guess. He was incorrect.

Watson did answer one question incorrectly, saying “Picasso” in response to a clue that was looking for a specific art period. Jennings and Rutter were unable to make use of that opportunity, though, as they both provided incorrect responses as well.

In Final Jeopardy, Watson was so far ahead it really didn’t even seem fair. Jennings was sitting at $2,400 while Rutter had $5,400. Watson was sitting high with well above $30,000.

However, Watson managed to get the Final Jeopardy answer wrong, but it wagered less than $1,000. Jennings and Rutter both answered correctly.

The second game will air in its entirety tonight, and scores from both games will be combined to determine the winner. Watson will be entering tonight with a more than $25,000 head start.