Canadian 'Jeopardy' champ Mattea Roach on her strategy playing against other top dogs

TORONTO — Mattea Roach, the second Canadian you think of when someone mentions "Jeopardy," says her time with the franchise may not end with this season's tournament of champions.

The fifth-winningest contestant in the quiz show's history is back on television for the pre-taped tourney this week, and she'd jump at the opportunity to do it again.

"I will continue going back for as long as they're willing to have me because it is so much fun," she said in a phone interview before her semifinal game on Friday.

"Playing 'Jeopardy' is some of the most fun that I have had — definitely in my adult life, probably in my whole life."

If she wins Friday's match, she'll go on to the finals, a best-of-seven series that starts on Monday.

Earlier this week, Roach won a special exhibition game against her fellow super-champions Amy Schneider and Matt Amodio, who have the second and fourth longest streaks, respectively. There was no money on the table, but Roach said that didn't impede her enjoyment.

Roach said nothing's set in stone, but there have been murmurs in the halls of quiz show power about the possibility of more special tournaments that could see the return of past super-champions.

The now-24-year-old Haligonian-turned-Torontonian came to trivia prominence earlier this year when she won 23 consecutive games — and a total of US$560,983.

At the time, she was a law school tutor, but things have changed in the past seven months.

In addition to the cool half-mil she won, Roach has parlayed her "Jeopardy" fame into a gig hosting "The Backbench," a politics podcast on the Canadaland network.

When she returned to the Alex Trebek Stage (named after the top Canadian associated with "Jeopardy") to film the tournament, her strategy changed, too.

"I knew the other players who were going to be there, whereas during your regular-season run, you don't know what you're going to be facing before you go down," she said.

"With a tournament like this, everyone's kind of a known quantity."

She knew that some of the people she could face played a more aggressive game than her style of starting with the lowest-value clues and working her way down the board.

They tend to start by choosing high-value clues in an effort to build up money before hunting for the Daily Double.

"I knew that if I was going to be against a player like that, I would probably not be able to get away with playing the more traditional style, or it would be an uphill battle for me," she said.

"So the thing that I tried to work on was working myself up to making those bigger wagers and getting comfortable with playing the board more aggressively."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2022.

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press