James Holzhauer, Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings are the stars of the ABC primetime tournament kicking off tonight. "But there is something more than usually significant about this event, given not just the status of the competitors but also the state of host Alex Trebek, who made his pancreatic cancer public in March, bringing — I’m going to say millions — of viewers along into his yet indeterminate endgame," says Robert Lloyd. "When speaking of it, he has balanced hope with realism, honesty with caring for his fans. He’s said that he will stay 'as long as my skills have not diminished,' but he has also indicated that he’s got a farewell speech ready in his pocket." Lloyd adds: "As the human embodiment of the show, Trebek has the knack of seeming actually to know the answers and more to all the questions — or the questions to the answers, in Jeopardy! parlance — independently of whatever information the writers have supplied him. But he never sounds superior to a player who might get something wrong: While winning demands a wide range of knowledge, there is nothing elitist about Jeopardy! An amused decorum, a puckish dignity reigns. There’s room for humor but not for attitude. This demeanor extends to the players, who dress the way people used to dress when traveling by air. They do not panic. They do not exult in winning, nor do they pout in losing. Whether this behavior is encouraged, or a natural outgrowth of the game itself and the sort of people it attracts to play it, is all the same. Jeopardy! contestants have the quality of being at once everyday people and a little out of the ordinary — our neighbors, our nerds."