Answer: Area Has 2 Seeking Teen 'Jeopardy!' Title

By Sue Anne Pressley Montes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 31, 2006

Caroline Bartman does not think she has an encyclopedic mind.

"I wish," said the 17-year-old from Northwest Washington.

Nor does Caroline Jones think her memory is anything special.

"I remember what I'm interested in," said Jones, 17, of Silver Spring, "and if I'm not interested, I'm not going to remember it."

But soon, the two Carolines will test their memories before a nationally televised crowd as they compete in the annual "Jeopardy!" Teen Tournament.

Bartman and Jones beat more than 7,000 hopefuls from around the country to land their spots in the contest, to be taped in January and aired in February. They and 13 other high school students will compete for a $75,000 grand prize and the not-inconsequential title of "Jeopardy!" teen champion.

Bartman, a senior at National Cathedral School in the District, and Jones, a senior at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, do not know each other, but they have several things in common. Each competes on her school's It's Academic teams, learning through appearances on local TV how to throw out quick answers to questions about minutiae. They think that that experience -- coping with nerves, learning how to work the buzzer -- has made the current challenge a little easier.

Each tried out for "Jeopardy!" on a whim, first taking the online contest and doing well enough to qualify for the next level of competition, the practice rounds last month. Bartman traveled to Chicago for that phase; Jones, to New York.

"I was a little nervous," Bartman said. "There were all these kids taking a 'Jeopardy!' test, and everybody was nervous. They were good at talking to us about it, though; they said it was just a game. I guess everybody realized in a room with a lot of smart kids in it who have watched 'Jeopardy!' all their lives, it could've gotten kind of ridiculous."

Jones said the practice rounds were fairly easy. A question that stumped her momentarily sought a six-letter word for silica, used in watches. "I skipped it at first, and all of a sudden, it dawned on me -- it was quartz," she said.

Although Jones plays down her memory power, she is a well-known trivia buff, said her mother, Stephanie.

"Since she was a little girl, she's had a brain that remembers everything," Stephanie Jones said. "Neighbors use her as a reference."

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