Who is Arthur Chu?
A 30-year-old compliance analyst and voice-over performer from Cleveland, Ohio, Chu’s four-day winning streak on Jeopardy (total: $102,800) has brought trivia fans and game theorists into the same room – but, like a junior high school dance, at opposite sides.
He returns today for his 5th appearance.
Chu’s tactics on the show includes a hovering thumb over the buzzer (pressing before Alex Trebek completed the sentence) and the “Forrest bounce”, first executed by Chuck Forrest on Jeopardy in 1985, which forgoes the established method of following through with one category from top-to-bottom and instead hunts around the board to find and clear Daily Doubles. (Chu wagered the minimum of $5 in categories he did not know.)
The carpal-tunnel buzzer-blitz is to prevent the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire chit-chat drag: to get through as many questions, and as much monetary winnings, as possible. The “Forrest bounce”, as noted in a Slate article by Ken Jennings (the Jeopardy champion only defeated on his 75th appearance), has been used a few times between Chuck Forrest and Arthur Chu: by David Madden (2005), Roger Craig (2010-2011), and IBM supercomputer Watson (2011).
And, even more so than how Chu is smashing what the viewers expect of the game itself in his “unsportsmanlike” behavior, he’s also targeted for his rumpled, nerdy looks. The Jeopardy “villain” is easily targeted for the lowest common denominator of racial epithets: his haircut, his “chinky” eyes, his size, his clothes, his masculinity. What, nothing about his celebratory dinner of dog meat?
Chu has been giving as good as he’s gotten on Twitter.
He’s also refreshingly self-aware in interviews:
“The unspoken rule is that if you’re on Jeopardy, you should be in a suit and tie, you should be genteel, and here I am, I’m poorly dressed, I have a bad haircut, I’m intense,” he says. “Well, the fact is it’s ludicrous: I’m an out of shape, nerdy Asian guy who’s become a ‘sports legend’ because I’m good at a trivia game. What do I have to apologize for? This is the only time in my life I’m going to get to do something like this. Of course I’m going to milk it! If I don’t, it’s back to a life of office jobs and being a nerdy Asian guy.”
Here’s a question: Why go on game shows, if not to win?
Damn if you do, and damn if you don’t. But I know which one I’d rather choose.