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While it initially looked like a rout, the humans clawed their way back during the first round of Jeopardy! and forced IBM’s supercomputer to tie for the lead.

The first segment of the long-anticipated two-game Jeopardy tournament between former Jeopardy! champions, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, and Watson aired on Feb. 14. Watson and Rutter both had $5,000 on the board and Jennings trailed behind with $2,000.

“I had a good feeling at the end of the first show,” said IBM’s David Ferrucci, the lead researcher and principal investigator on the Watson project in a post-game analysis posted on the company’s A Smarter Planet blog. “I thought: Everybody will realize the computer is competitive,” he said.

The first day’s final scores revealed only part of the story. Rutter made the first selection, and beat Watson to the buzzer to answer the question. After that, Watson dominated the round up to the commercial break, buzzing in with 11 correct answers out of 15 questions, including the Daily Double (it wagered $1,000 for Literary Character APB). The second half of the round started with $5,200 for Watson, $1,000 for Rutter, and $200 for Jennings on the scoreboard, but Jennings and Rutter beat Watson to the buzzer several times during the course of the round. Most of the wrong answers during this round were also Watson’s.

Viewers who expected the computer to get every question right were treated to several of Watson’s wrong answers in the second half. Unlike a human player, Watson can’t adjust its answers to what other players say and answers whatever it picked as its top answer during initial processing. After Jennings incorrectly answered “20s” was the decade in which Oreo cookies were introduced, Watson answered with “1920s.” 

"Watson is very bright, very fast, but he has some weird little moments,” Trebek said.

For more, read the eWeek article: IBM’s Watson Ties for Lead on Jeopardy but Makes Some Doozies.