A Cayman contestant came agonisingly close to Jeopardy glory last week, only to have victory snatched away in the most controversial of circumstances.
Basia McGuire, who works for the National Trust of the Cayman Islands, was within a shout of winning until the very final question, which was under the category of Phrase Origins. The clue was ‘a two word adjective for going against accepted speech or conduct.’ Mrs. McGuire’s answer of ‘counter culture’ fit the question perfectly, felt most observers, but controversially the answer on the card was ‘politically incorrect.’ Unfortunately, this took the Cayman contestant from 4,700 down to a single point. The question also stumped both other contestants – Chris O’Toole of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and eventual winner Jason Shore of Plano, Texas.
“I was annoyed about it but when I talked to my dad on the phone after he was livid and said only a linguist could answer it correctly,” said Mrs. McGuire.
“I was worried I was going to make a total fool of myself but at least everyone else got it wrong too. I thought it was a reasonable answer, but, oh well.”
The National Trust employee revealed that she had gone through a lengthy selection process to appear on the show, which aired on Monday, 3 December.
The filming went extremely quickly for the show, she said, but in the game there seemed to be more time to think about strategy than people might expect.
“You [think whether] you know the question, whether you want to answer it, how many points you have, what you need to get ahead – when you are playing you seem to have more time to consider all these things. It seems quicker at home but when you are there it can feel like an eternity.
“You lose yourself in the process and don’t have as much time to get nervous but it gives you time to contemplate wrong answers,” explained the environmentalist.
On the day, there was a section about fish, which obviously went down well with Mrs. McGuire due to her expertise in the area.
“I was deliriously happy that something came up that I actually knew something about, but then there were other sections where I realised I knew the answer, like one on Las Vegas. I’d never been there before but my husband, Ryan, had and all these names of casinos started popping into my head out of nowhere.
“It is surprising what you know. But some things you also go completely blank on, too.”
It’s in the game
Mrs. McGuire said that the experience had been a unique one, which was tricky to prepare for.
“I am sure that there are people who research really heavily before going on; I read some reference books. I think a lot of it is how good you are with the buzzer. If you have slow reflexes you are in trouble,” she said.
“It is a game, like any other – there are so many elements to it that you are not aware of when you are sitting at home. It’s not just answering the questions. A lot of people who do the show are quite quiet and bookish so nerves play a part. I was so nervous I don’t even remember half the time I was there,” said Mrs. McGuire.
Mrs. McGuire is an avid fan of pub quizzes, which she said were ‘a different environment, more relaxed.’
“But it’s the same thing – you either know the answer or you don’t. I did not try to learn anything new to go on the show; it’s more about practicing remembering what you already know as opposed to overloading your brain with even more facts.”
The Canadian native was the first person from the Cayman Islands that the production team could recall trying out for the show.
“They thought it was cool and I won a prize for being from the farthest away – a Jeopardy video game. They were envious of people who get to live in the Caribbean and were very interested in the National Trust. Hopefully I put in a good word for Cayman on the show.
“Everyone at home has been emailing me and congratulating me. People have been so happy to see me on TV. I’ve been on Skype with family, there were watching parties in Toronto, Windsor, Ottawa and even here where it was so cool to have friends watch it when it aired. They were laughing when I messed up and booing the other people – it was funny,” she said.
As to the future, Mrs. McGuire concluded that she was open-minded about the possibility of trying out for other shows.
“At first I said I would never, ever put myself through anything like that again but once I had the opportunity to look back it was cool and I thought, why not. Maybe it’s Ryan’s turn this time to go on something like Wheel of Fortune.
“The whole experience was something I never expected to happen which is the coolest part of all.”