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Hollis Hills quiz kid makes Jeopardy! debut

By Rich Bockmann

This college student who grew up in Queens fulfilled a lifelong quiz-show dream when she appeared on “Jeopardy!” earlier this week.

Who is Laurie Beckhoff?

The Hollis Hills native shined as she competed on the game show’s College Championship this week, and although she did not advance to the next round, Beckhoff did the one thing she seemed born to do.

“My parents were watching it before I was born,” she told TimesLedger Newspapers before her episode aired Tuesday evening. “We always watched before we’d sit down for dinner. It’s kind of something I’m just so used to, knowing how to play the game.”

Beckhoff, a sophomore studying English and political science at the University of Chicago, said she had tried three times to get on the show’s Teen Tournament without success, but for her the fourth time was a charm.

The Townsend Harris alumna held her own against contestants from University of California-Los Angeles and Duke, finishing the show’s first round in second place.

She told host Alex Trebec that an interest in the “Harry Potter” book series led to studying the foundations of fantasy and science-fiction through Arthurian legend.

“I really like Gawain,” she said, referring to the Knight of the Round Table who, despite his virtuous acts, places self-preservation above honesty. “He’s a complicated character.”

During the Double Jeopardy! round, Beckhoff was trailing the game’s leader when she hit the Daily Double with the clue, “In 1922 King Victor Emmanuel III refused to proclaim martial law to stop this man’s march on Rome.”

Beckhoff hesitated and looked unsure of her answer when she replied with the correct answer “Mussolini,” earning herself another $1,000.

When it came to the Final Jeopardy! category, “Social Media,” all three contestants knew that the most retweeted Tweet of all time was from Nov. 6, 2012, which began with “four” and ended in “more years,” and although Beckhoff could not close the gap to advance to the next round, she did come away with a $5,000 prize.

She told TimesLedger she is not eligible to appear on the college tournament again, but if she made her way onto one of the show’s other iterations, she would jump at the chance.

“It would be fun to eventually be on ‘Celebrity Jeopardy!’” she said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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