PLD junior competes in ‘Jeopardy!’ Teen Tournament

Author: Tammy L. Lane • First Posted: Friday, February 18, 2011

Idrees Kahloon debuts Tuesday Feb. 22 in the Teen Tournament. (Photo: Tammy L. Lane)

CATEGORY: Outstanding students.

ANSWER: Captain of the academic team and president of the Culture Society at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.

QUESTION: Who is Idrees Kahloon?

Idrees is also among the 15 students from across the country competing in the two-week “Jeopardy!” Teen Tournament, which runs through March 2. He debuts on the Feb. 22 episode.

“Ever since I was 4 or 5, I told my mom I’d go on ‘Jeopardy!’ and win something. About a year ago, I decided to actually try it,” he said.

Beverly Smith, facilitator of the Math, Science and Technology Center at Dunbar, described the junior as a quiet leader.

“Idrees is very calm and in control, especially during academic team events,” she said. “I believe he performs well on the quiz show because he has worked very hard to attain the levels of knowledge needed to be competitive. It also helps that he is confident and very articulate.”

Idrees, who cannot reveal how he fared on “Jeopardy!” until after the show airs, hedged on talking about the categories that came up on the board. If physics was one, he was in luck. He is doing research with Dr. Gang Cao in the physics department at the University of Kentucky, investigating the bulk spin valve effect. Um, yeah.

Physics also happens to be his favorite subject in school.

“It really deepens your understanding of what goes on around you,” said Idrees, who this month earned first-place honors for his Energy and Transportation project in the district science fair.

The Teen Tournament was taped in December on the Sony Pictures Television lot in California. The grand prize is $75,000. The runner-up receives a minimum of $50,000 and the third-place finisher pockets at least $25,000. Semifinalists take home $10,000, while contestants eliminated in the first round get $5,000 apiece, according to Susie Eun, a spokeswoman for “Jeopardy!”

Was Idrees star struck when he met the celebrity host?

“The studio is actually not that big. There are only a few rows. You see the lights and see Alex Trebek and you get kind of nervous,” he admitted. “Now when we see it on TV, it’s déjà vu because we’ve seen it all.”

And how does “Jeopardy!” compare to Dunbar’s academic team contests?

“The formats are obviously similar, and you’re introduced to a field of knowledge that both competitions share. You’re more used to working under the pressure under similar circumstances, so you’re geared toward doing well,” Idress said.

“The subject matter is a lot more esoteric than what you’d expect,” he noted of “Jeopardy!” “It’s definitely a transition you have to adjust to.”

CATEGORY: The inner circle.

ANSWER: An adjective describing something that is understood by or meant for only the select few who have special knowledge or interest.

QUESTION: What is esoteric?

On the air:

Catch “Jeopardy” at 7:30 p.m. weeknights on WKYT-27, cable channel 9. The Teen Tournament airs Feb. 17 through March 2.


Idrees won his first game handily, but then was eliminated in the semifinals.


Teen tournament – with contestant videos, match-ups, a photo gallery and more!



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