Ithaca, N.Y. — Just 10 days after a woman from Ithaca appeared on Jeopardy!, a fellow area resident also competed on the popular national T.V. game show.


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Scott Blish, of the Tompkins County town of Newfield, won $2,000 and came in second place in the Jeopardy! episode aired on Friday, April 17. On April 7, Jan Schwartzberg, who works for Taitem Engineering in downtown Ithaca, also appeared on the show.

“It was a very positive experience,” says Blish, a technical writer who also directs quizbowl tournaments.

Blish says he plans on using the $2,000 to take his 6-year-old son and wife on a Caribbean cruise out of Florida next year.

Blish lost to Alex Jacob, one of the best Jeopardy! players ever. Blish says he knows Jacob from an online game that the two play online. Blish’s record in that online game gave him hope that he could beat Jacob, he says — but it was not to be.

“It just wasn’t my day, though,” Blish says. “It’s going to be tough for someone to knock him off.”

Blish says he’s watched the show since “the Alex Trebek version started in 1984.”

“In a way, I’ve been practicing for it all of my teenage and adult life. I played quizbowl in high school at Edison in Elmira Heights, in college at Cornell, and have stayed involved in it by serving as a quizbowl tournament director and question writer,” Blish says. “…So just by osmosis, I’ve managed to not rust too much.”

Though Blish lives in Tompkins County, he says he introduced himself as being from Elmira Heights — “because most of my friends and all of my family still live in the Elmira area and I thought they’d appreciate it,” he says.

Blish, right, with Trebek

As for the famous host, Blish says Trebek “was perfectly pleasant.”

“He’s not incredibly outgoing and chatty with the contestants off-camera, but he can’t be. He’s had access to the game material and knows what the answers are going to be,” he says.

“They can’t really have him hanging around with contestants off-camera and keep to proper standards and practices. Jeopardy is very stringent about that.”

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.