Kurt Fritzsche

NORTH ATTLEBORO - Local Jeopardy fans might notice a familiar face Wednesday on the long-running game show.

North Attleboro native Kurt Fritzsche will be a contestant on the show's Dec. 17 episode.

While Fritzsche can't disclose how he did on the show - you'll have to watch the episode to find out - he said he did enjoy the experience.

"The biggest wow moment was walking onto the stage and being bathed in the blue lights that you see on TV. It's a very, very surreal feeling to be a part of something that Jeopardy fans feel is hallowed ground," he said.

Fritzsche, 40, now lives in Loveland, Ohio. He is the son of Bob and Holly Fritzsche, who still live in North Attleboro, and is a 1992 graduate of North Attleboro High School.

It was almost a year ago that Fritzsche, a Navy veteran and medical device engineer for Johnson & Johnson, took the online test to qualify as a contestant.

The odds are fairly long - more than 100,000 people take the test every year. Of those, only 3,000 are invited to in-person auditions, and only 400 are chosen to be on the show each season.

"The test is 50 questions, and you have 15 seconds to answer each one. Conventional wisdom is you need to get 70 percent correct to pass," Fritzsche said. "Everyone who passes gets put into a lottery drawing to move on in the audition process."

While he had taken the online test once or twice before, Fritzsche was invited for the in-person audition process for the first time this year.

He headed to Chicago in March, where he took an additional written test and played a shortened version of the game with other potential contestants.

"Then, they say 'Thanks, don't call us, we'll call you,'" Fritzsche said.

Potential contestants are on the list for about 18 months, and were told not to expect a call until at least July. Fritzsche got a call Sept. 30 that he had been invited to compete.

Four weeks later, Fritzsche was flying out to Sony Picture Studios in Los Angeles.

"It was everything I had hoped for, and then some," he said. "The contestant coordinators did everything they could to make it feel like it was a big deal.

"They did a great job at helping us keep calm and getting us to crack up to ease the tension. They really made us feel like we were part of the family."

Taping of multiple episodes began on a Monday, and the contestant pool was told that at least two people would not be able to play until Tuesday's taping.

Fritzsche was one of the people held over, so he ended up watching seven episodes before getting a chance to play.

"It was nerve wracking," he said of the wait. "Watching seven shows, there were categories that I would have loved and could have dominated, but there were also categories that I was quite happy to have others deal with," he said.

Fritzsche said he prepared for the show watching Jeopardy religiously and visiting websites that keep track of frequent categories.

"They'll point you to things that are common categories, like Shakespeare, geography and U.S. presidents," he said. "I also made sure I was familiar with the way they do word play.

"Sometimes they'll bury enough information in a question that even if you don't know the answer, you can tease it out from a word or a pun they use."

Fritzsche plans to watch the show with his family: his wife Bridget and their children Juliana, 8, Lauren, 6, Ryan, 3, and a few friends.

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