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  • Julian Reynoso

Canisius Professor Went on Jeopardy!

A few weeks ago, one of our Canisius College professors, Dr. Stephen A. Chanderbhan, appeared on the popular trivia television show known as Jeopardy! The episode aired during the week of Jan. 10. According to Chanderbhan, there were five tapings for each episode, and of those five, his was the second. Chanderbhan performed well, making second place.

He described how the night went: “I only successfully buzzed in twice: once a correct answer for $800; the other an incorrect answer for -$600. I stayed at $200 for a very long time. I was having trouble with my timing on the buzzer — the folks on set told me I was buzzing in too early and, thus, locking myself out from the system. Meanwhile, Amy Schneider kept answering questions right, building an insurmountable lead very early on in Double Jeopardy.”

After this came Chanderbhan’s proudest moments during the show:

“Later in Double Jeopardy, though, I managed to get several answers right in a row. My proudest moments were (1) getting a $2000 clue in ‘12-Letter Geography’ (The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace is in YAMOUSSOUKRO, the capital of Cote d'Ivoire — even Ken Jennings, later Amy Schneider, commented that that was a really hard one to get and they were impressed I got it) and (2) getting a Daily Double in ‘D-D-S’ (each answer starts with a D, ends with an S, and has a D in the middle somewhere) — the answer was ‘Dardanelles,’ the straits along which the port of Gallipoli is located.”

Chanderbhan answered seven out of eight questions correctly out of those that he successfully buzzed in for. He found some questions to be right up his alley, like geography, and even others that he was not so well versed in, like literature and movies. By the end, Chanderbhan scored $9,500 by the conclusion of Double Jeopardy and received his second place title.

Chanderbhan has been a long time Jeopardy! fan, having had trivia nights with friends in the past and often watching it during dinner with his wife, Rita. It was during one of these dinners where Rita had taken notice of Chanderbhan’s aptitude for answering the questions on the show. Believing that he would have a fighting chance if he were on the show, she encouraged him to take the online test needed to get on Jeopardy! Even though he originally did not anticipate being selected as one of the contestants, he still took the test and wound up with an incredible result. Chanderbhan had taken the test before but did not get selected. This time, however, after he took the test, he was invited to do another test over Zoom in early August. Before the Zoom test, Chanderbhan was called again, this time to participate in a mock game and interview over Zoom with the Jeopardy! producers to see if he would show well enough on TV, where he would be told afterwards that he would be in the contestant pool for 12-18 months.

The reactions to this were overwhelmingly positive and encouraging, Chanderbhan remembered. He and his wife were very excited to see that he got selected. The call for his results came while he was in the car one day: “I was driving home from work when, over Bluetooth, I saw a call coming in from Culver City, CA. Once I saw that, I knew it must be Jeopardy!” When Chanderbhan was first selected, he was directed not to tell many others, so he only told his chair, dean and the vice president for academic affairs — since he would have to miss work — as well as his parents, who were ecstatic for him to be on the show. According to Chanderbhan, the reaction he received from his friends after announcing to them one week before his appearance was unbelievable:

“So many friends and acquaintances from all stages of my life — from grade school through my life at Canisius — dropped me notes of support and told me how excited they were to watch. The outpouring of acknowledgment, let alone how positive it all was both before, during and after the show, was overwhelming (in the best way).”

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