Editor’s note: This is the final installment of a series about a Santa Monica man’s experience on the game show ‘Jeopardy.’

Alex Trebek seemed genuinely impressed by Scott Richard Lord’s success when he introduces the Santa Monica man on last Tuesday’s edition of “Jeopardy!,” but it’s clear early on that the contestant’s second game isn’t going to be a walk in the park.

He’s in last place heading into the first-round break, and his prospects look particularly bleak later in the first round. He even drops into the red on a photo-based question about the 1930s performer who kicked off the Swing Era. (It was Benny Goodman, not Glenn Miller; although to Lord’s credit the two musicians look somewhat alike.)

Heading into the second round, Lord trails leader Jake Smith by $6,400. But he doesn’t fret, even as Smith’s cushion balloons to five figures.

Needing at least 50 percent of Smith’s total by the end of the Double Jeopardy round to stay in contention, and trailing Smith by $14,800 with only one category left on the board, Lord comes through in the clutch. He offers correct responses to four of the five questions in “Princely Nicknames” to pull within striking distance.

In the final round, the contestants are asked to identify an Oxford student who surveyed castles in 1909 before returning a few years later for “less peaceful activities.” Lord, who had risked all of his $13,200, doubles his score with the correct response, T.E. Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia. Lord’s dramatic, come-from-behind win is secure when Smith reveals his incorrect response, Winston Churchill, and his wager of $3,500.

Somehow, some way, Lord ends up with a two-day total of $55,401 and survives to play another game.

“In the earlier rounds we were worried about him,” Trebek said later. “He was trailing badly but came on strong at the end. And that’s what you have to do on this show.”

 

 

Running away with it

As it turns out, Lord doesn’t need those kinds of heroics in his third consecutive game, which aired July 22. He jogs through the first round but sprints in Double Jeopardy, all the while showcasing his knowledge of music, Watergate, Jules Verne and female Nobel Prize winners, among other topics.

Lord clinches victory with more than twice his opponents’ totals heading into the final round and produces the correct response anyway, giving himself $18,000 for the day and a three-day total of $73,401.

 

Shorthand goes a long way

“Watch out for Scott,” Trebek warns Lord’s opponents before the show that aired July 23, and the semi-retired attorney lives up to the hype when it appears that he’s secured another runaway. But his errant pronunciation on a question about professional tennis player Maria Sharapova gives opponent Erin Saelzer a chance to catch him.

In the final round, the contestants are asked to name the college founded in 1875 whose mission is “to assist individuals in their quest for perfect and eternal life.”

Saelzer correctly guesses BYU but spells it incorrectly (“Bringham Young”) on her answer board, costing her $5,000. Lord, meanwhile, simply writes “BYU” to win. With a wager of just $401, he finishes with $20,001, a four-day total of $93,402 and a chance to keep playing.

 

Cruising altitude

Midway through the first round of the show that aired July 24, Lord isn’t looking like a four-game champion. He has no money and to this point has been outplayed by first-place contestant Sam Suarez, who has quickly racked up $6,200.

But once again, Lord climbs back into contention. He takes a lead on a $2,000 question about Anschluss, a term that refers to the Nazi occupation of Austria in 1938, and enters the final round with $13,600, just $200 behind opponent Tracy McCarthy and $800 down from Suarez.

It all comes down to the final round in which contestants are asked to identify the airline that advertises a 7-night stopover at no extra travel charge for a Boston-to-Brussels trip.

Lord offers the correct response (Icelandic Airlines) but wagers just $1,000, which is enough because McCarthy and Suarez both guess Air Belgium. Lord now has $108,002 after five games.

 

Facing the music

Lord wishes he could have his final answer back.

It’s the show airing July 27, he has $8,000 after two rounds and he’s trailing Suzanne Vito by $4,800 entering the last portion of the game.

When Trebek reveals the final category, “Classical Music,” Lord decides to risk everything. And he knows the answer to the last clue … almost.

Asked to name the 1888 suite that is named after a woman and whose first movement is titled “The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship,” Lord writes “Scherazade.” But he’s missing one syllable. (“Scheherazade” is the right answer.)

Vito guesses incorrectly but wagers only $3,300, leaving her with enough cash to win. After the game, Trebek walks over to shake the contestants’ hands. Lord shrugs. His run is over.

jeff@www.smdp.com

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