Game day and game-day faces
The returning champion I played on the first day was this impressive guy named Andrew Pau. Previously, he won six games and $170,000 -- a ton of games, and at a very high clip. I had a pretty low average score, but that's also how I played the game. I tried to make small talk with Andrew -- he was a music theory professor at Oberlin, and I sort of studied music theory in college. I think he was pretty worn out and understandably not interested in making small talk with someone like me. He had been on set for two days, gone home to Ohio, then come back. It was all very intimidating.
Before the first game, we rehearsed. You go on stage and they show you where to look, where the cameras are, how the buzzer works, how to write your name in, and then they bring up an old game for practice. Producers make you call out the categories in a specific way: you can't just to say, "400"; you have to say part of the category name and the dollar amount. Alex is not at the rehearsal. You have very little contact with him. After rehearsal, they pull names out of a hat for who from the current contestants will play. Of course, I'm up against Andrew.