THE STALL: The Most Dangerous Strategy in the Schmoedown!


Ben Bateman is one of the most formidable opponents in the Schmoedown, based on purely on his knowledge of cinema. But he’s also the undisputed master one of the Schmoedown’s most dangerous and deadly moves… The Stall.

“The Stall” is the strategy in which a player waits until the last possible second to reveal their answer, sometimes even burning off JTE rules in the process. It’s not the same as trying to think of an answer and getting it right in the end, it’s what some players do when they’re confident of the answer and want to a) be damn sure that they’re right, b) build suspense for the audience, and c) annoy the other players in a form of psychological warfare.

Many players have employed The Stall in the past, but Bateman has raised it to an art form, employing the strategy for most of his questions in Round 2 and Round 3, until it becomes nearly impossible to tell the difference between what he thinks is a tough question and what he thinks is an easy one. It’s hard to strategize against Ben Bateman because, by committing to the stall, it’s not always clear which categories are his weak points. (As strategies go, it’s a close cousin of John Rocha’s various iterations of “Oh boy” whenever he gets a category that isn’t necessarily in his wheelhouse.)

But there’s a downside to The Stall, and astute audiences may have noticed that it almost backfired in this week’s match between Ben Bateman and Jeannine the Machine. In Bateman’s last question he employed the stall, and then – at the last possible second – revealed his answer: “Travolta and Sam Jackson.”

He won the game, but he very easily could have been challenged. Partial names are rarely accepted in the Schmoedown, and there’s more than one actor with the last name “Travolta.” It’s relatively clear that he knew the correct answer but players have been dinged on technicalities before and this could easily have been one of those times.

So although The Stall once again worked out for Bateman, we did get a glimpse of just how badly it could potentially backfire if a player gets cocky and burns out their time for the purposes of showmanship. If Bateman’s answer had been rejected on a technicality, he would have been forced to answer his five-point question (generally much more difficult than a three-pointer), and he wouldn’t have had as many JTE rules to assist him. The match, and potentially the whole singles tournament, could end up going in a much different direction.

Whether you love The Stall for its suspense, or if you just want the players to play the danged game and stop toying with all our emotions, it’s not an easy strategy to implement and the downsides are potentially enormous. Will it continue to work out for Ben Bateman? Will other players start adopting this strategy on the regular? And will there come a day when an opponent gets so frustrated by The Stall that they fly into a fit of rage?

Repeat the question?



  1. The fact it annoys people is it’s most important feature. It potentially can take people out of their game. “I’m gonna wipe that shit eating grin off your face”. I felt like Rocha tried to do it in the FF/Korruption match…which depleted the JTE Dan coulda used to write O. Russell. If that’s close to accurate it is an example where it might have backfired.


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