Berkeley student finishes second in Jeopardy! round, $17,400 to $15,401

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When Alex Trebek announced the final Jeopardy category, there was still a chance UC Berkeley junior Kevin Shen would win the game. Responding correctly, he launched himself into first place. But the lead was only temporary. Outsmarted by a woman from Princeton University, Shen received second place in a preliminary round of the Jeopardy! College Championship tournament.

In Wednesday night’s episode, Kevin was trailing in third place at the end of round one, but we were still confident our Berkeley boy would pull off an underdog story. He had answered some impressive questions, illustrating his knowledge of Latin and proper etiquette.

In round two, Kevin bet $2,400 on a daily double. His clue? “It’s what the U.S. Naval Observatory calls a timepiece regulated by the natural vibration frequencies of cesium particles.” When he answered correctly — “What is an atomic clock?” — we at the Clog became even more hopeful.

During the Q&A conversation, Kevin illustrated the savvy background that made him a successful computer science and math major here at UC Berkeley. He told Trebek about creating a computer casino game that caused his high school friends to rack up imaginary debt.

Kevin is the first student who has represented UC Berkeley since Elise Burton in 2007. Only a freshman at the time, Elise said she didn’t do much to prepare for the show because she had a ton of homework to do. She made it to the quarter finals and won $5000. An even cooler fact? The fourteenth season of Jeopardy! College was held at Zellerbach Hall.

Although he will not automatically head to the semifinals, we could see Shen again if he wins a wildcard spot.