What happens when a sports writer ends up on Jeopardy! and gets no sports questions?
Tyler discussed his training strategy for both the trivia knowledge and buzzer technique he needed to compete.
“I tried to basically learn a base level about as many different things as I could,” Tyler said. “I worried about less about the things I was strong at, and tried to focus on things where I was weak.”
Tyler also leaned on the experience of former contestants and diehard fans.
“There’s a couple of really good websites where you can just quiz old Jeopardy! questions,” he said. “So I would just use that to get comfortable with reading clues, buzzing in, and answering questions at speed.”
And Tyler explained crossword puzzlers also have a leg up in Jeopardy! competition:
“A lot of Jeopardy! questions are written like crossword clues, so if you’re good at crosswords and you sort of understand how their clues are constructed, I was able to get a lot of right answers just by using what was in the clue and making a decent guess. It was all just about trying to establish a base level of knowledge so I could talk like a middle-schooler about a thing. That was really it.”
Most viewers may not think about buzzer technique. But Tyler said it’s the biggest talking point when he speaks with former contestants.
“At the end of the day, you’re going to buzz well if you’re comfortable,” Tyler explained. “The speed thing, I tried to train … I would watch the game every day.
“And I would stand up and play with a few pens taped together, and I would stand and actually physically as if I was on-stage.”
Beyond how to buzz, there’s also whether to buzz at all.
“My whole strategy was don’t buzz unless I know it or unless I have a really strong guess. Because I didn’t want to beat myself. Some people get so anxious about buzzing in that all they want to do is be first, and they might not have the answer right. That hurts you more than not buzzing at all.”
Tyler may be a soccer expert and the editor behind ESPN’s growing digital coverage of the sport. But he’s also a hardened veteran of the world’s most famous trivia game.
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