Jeopardy! Is experiencing a renaissance of super-champions. Amy Schneider has followed shortly after Matt Amodio, and she shows no sign of stopping. What are these champions doing that others are not? Well, there’s a secret trick to success, and it’s incredibly simple.
It’s Not Easy
Jeopardy! is really hard to win. That may sound obvious, but it puts into perspective just how impressive long-term champions are. Until 2021, it was extremely rare to see someone win five or more shows. Schneider’s 38 days and counting reign is good enough to tie James Holzhauer for second all-time. It’s pretty extraordinary because contestants have to prepare for everything from TV theme songs, to science and anagrams.
One key to victory is mastering the buzzer. You can’t answer if you don’t buzz in in time. Super-champions have an advantage, for they’re more experienced with the buzzer, but every contestant gets a chance to practice before their actual game. Jeopardy! has produced a video demonstrating various winners’ techniques. Ken Jennings suggests waiting for just half a syllable from the end of the query until buzzing.
History Repeats Itself
For all the buzzing techniques in the world, however, the only surefire way to get better at Jeopardy! is to watch and study Jeopardy!. Specifically, study categories that have been asked in the past. 12-time champion Austin Rodgers told the New York Post about J! Archive. The website has over 30 years’ worth of Jeopardy! clues.
It turns out clues about certain subjects tend to come up multiple times. Rogers says, “It tells you that if ‘Cubist’ comes up, the answer will almost always be ‘Picasso.’” The site even includes a search function to help point these connections out. Other champions have used the website to help fill out gaps in knowledge. Rogers would also intentionally practice his dexterity using a thumb exerciser just to master the buzzer.
What Does Holzhauer Say?
Holzhauer is still one of the great Jeopardy! Champions. Notorious for his big bets, he was the fastest contestant in the show’s history to earn $1 million. He told his strategy to The Atlantic: “Play fast, build a stack, bet big, and hope for the best…In my mind, playing a seemingly risky game actually minimizes my chances of losing.” His technique may not work for everyone, but there’s no denying his results.
The world has its eyes on Schnieder to see just how far she can go. Studying her games on J! Archive will surely help the next great super-champion.
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