‘Peril!’ contestants reveal secrets of winning game show
With 30 games under his belt, “Jeopardy!” Contestant Amy Schneider has enjoyed a string of successes, winning over $1 million and ranking among the top four highest-earning contestants in the game.
But, like the previous Jeopardy! reveal the contestants, winning isn’t just a matter of Mensa-worthy intelligence.
Deep dives into databases, advanced ringing techniques, pattern recognition, and even children’s books all help play the game.
“If anything has been on television for 35 years, it comes with a lot of trends,” Austin Rogers, a 12-time winner who walked away with $411,000 in 2017, told The Post.
The 43-year-old Spanish Harlem bartender said once he found out he was going to be on the show, he studied 11 hours a day for two weeks before he appeared.
His go-to guide: the J! Archive, which preserves over 48,000 game board clues from episodes dating back to 1985.
“I would open random games [on the archive site] and play them in my head. I’ve noticed what comes up the most. If a question says ‘artist in Iowa,’ it has to be Grant Wood,” said Rogers, whose book “The Ultimate Book of Pub Trivia by the Smartest Guy in the Bar” (Workman Publishing) was released Feb. 22. “And if it says ‘Thornton Wilder’, the correct answer should always be ‘Our Town’.
Unfortunately, it was a hard-learned lesson: “Somehow [Thornton Wilder] was the only ‘Final Jeopardy!’ answer that I was wrong,” Rogers said. “But luckily I did well enough throughout the game to still have won.”
The J! Archive also offers a search function, through which users can see which answers are repeated most often in the show. “It tells you that if ‘Cubist’ pops up, the answer will almost always be ‘Picasso’,” said Rogers, who only discovered the feature after his run was over.
Jeffrey Williams, a Los Angeles TV editor who appeared on one of the late host Alex Trebek’s final episodes in December 2020, took the advice of James Holzhauer – a Las Vegas gambler who won some 2.4 million dollars in the show in 2019.
“I took a tip from Holzhauer and bought some children’s books on world history and geography and presidents,” Williams told the Post. “Holzhauer correctly pointed out that if you understand how clues are written, understanding the topics at the child level provides clues large enough to put you in the stage of an answer.”
Rogers recommends aspiring contestants take note of the show’s frequent pop culture references. “I’ve watched film adaptations of well-known works that often appear in ‘Jeopardy!’ : ‘King Lear’, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, Bible documentaries,” said Rogers, who hosts trivia nights at the Brazen Head bar in Boerum Hill. .
He also focused on memorizing superlatives—the longest rivers and tallest mountains—as well as state capitals. “There’s no excuse for a ‘Jeopardy!’ competitor not to know these answers,” he said. “They are easily memorized with mnemonics or songs.”
In order to memorize minerals on the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness – Talc, Gypsum, Calcite, Flourite, Apatite, Orthoclase, Quartz, Topaz, Corundum, Diamond – Rogers thought of this mnemonic: “The geologist can find a mineral quickly with correct data. ”
Williams, who trained 90 minutes a day for three months, said he used J! Archive for “seeing holes in my knowledge. It showed me that I don’t know much about Nobel laureates. So I went down a Wikipedia rabbit hole on that one – and took advantage of the appearance of a category called “Premier Nobel”. This also helped me to understand where the clues were leading. You start to notice puns in the clues, which guide you to the correct answers. You go realize that clues are more than just trivial questions.
For example, Williams recalled, “In the World Capital Bingo category, the index was ‘G, 1812: Not named for a DC college, this capital of Guyana, formerly Stabroek, gets its new name. . The answer is, “What is Georgetown?” You know that as soon as you hear DC college that starts with G. I don’t need to know anything about Guyana’s history.
But before you can show how smart you are, you have to buzz past your competitors. Rogers, who swapped cocktails for club soda and cranberry juice during his two weeks of cramming, focused as much on the physical as on the mental.
“I walked around New York with a thumb exerciser in my hand; it is normally used to rehabilitate the fingers and has a resistance similar to “Jeopardy!” buzzer,” he said. “I listened to episodes on my phone, practiced humming and sounded like a fucking weirdo.”
Williams, meanwhile, studied a book called “Secrets of the Buzzer.” The best advice, he said, “was to relax your arm in order to speed up the ringing.”
His other tip: “Buzz as the host says the last syllable.”
Although he only participated in one episode, Williams is grateful for the experience.
“I lost and I still think it’s the best,” he said, still savoring his “shiny moment” of racing the “Shakespeare” class. “In 20 years, when I can qualify again, will I take the ‘Jeopardy!’ [application] test? Good grief, I will! And I’ll take performance-enhancing drugs to increase my reflexes.