Top 10 Jeopardy Tips from Someone Who Didn't Expect to Become an Expert

Trebek_Connery It's a big month in the Jeopardy! world. Later this week I'll post my interview with Stephen Baker, the author of Final Jeopardy: Man Vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything, an inside account of IBM's building of Watson, the Jeopardy!-playing computer that takes on all-time J! champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a three-day battle February 14-16. And this week is the big one for Jeopardy! aspirants: the once-a-year window for taking the online test that begins the qualification process for the show is February 8-10. (You have to register ahead of time to take the test, but there's still time.)

As I've tried not to bore you with too much (although those who know me might feel differently by now), I somehow won a lot of times on Jeopardy! in December. So for those who might be considering trying out this year (see #1 below), and for those who manage to make it past that round, I'm taking the liberty of offering my top 10 Jeopardy! pointers. Take these not as the diligently planned and executed maneuvers of a master Jeopardy! strategist, but as some things a player who didn't really have much of a plan at all learned along the way. (For more systematic advice, I recommend Bob Harris's Prisoner of Trebekistan and Jennings's Brainiac (which I have to confess I still haven't read!), as well as Karl Coryat's classic advice page and these two pages by a contestant who lost a close game a couple days after me but clearly had the chops to go much further if the breaks had gone differently (see #10 below). And Final Jeopardy turns out to be very useful as well, revealing the strategies that Watson's creators used, as well as the surprisingly similar, data-driven preparation of Roger Craig, who had a record-breaking run in September.)

Apologies for this not-directly-book-related material, but I figure there are a few other Omnivores out there who might like to test their knowledge, and perhaps this will help (I know a few of the pointers below helped me):

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