Everyone has a hidden talent. For some it might be wiggling their ears or being able to recite the alphabet backwards. My hidden talent is Jeopardy! . Yes, the game show hosted by Alex Trebek where contestants answer trivia in the form of a question is my hidden talent.

I have one of those memories where trivia stick like flies on flypaper. I might not remember when your birthday is, but I can tell you random bits of knowledge that I’ve picked up over the years.

I first discovered my love for the show about four years ago and have been working on developing my technique, knowledge and strategy ever since. I have spent many nights attempting to play along with the television and shout out answers before the contestants. I even try to tally my score so I can make my own bets during double and final jeopardy.

It takes more than just memorizing random trivia to win, you have to understand how much you know, how much you think your opponents know and how much money you can risk in order to win the game.

I have watched too many people not bet anything in final jeopardy and answer incorrectly only to win because their opponents betted too much or too little. I watch Jeopardy! the same way most people watch sports. I don’t enjoy watching teams fight over a ball, but I understand the love for the strategy even if the strategy itself is lost upon me.

My own homespun strategy for Jeopardy! is simple. When a clue appears on screen, I find the answer quickly by connecting strings of thought to discover the right answer. In this theory, I am able to use the process of elimination on open-ended questions. This is is derived from Occam’s razor: the simplest explanation is often the correct one.

If I assume that the question will have the most obvious answer, then I can reform the question to one easier to navigate. For example, in show number 8047 one of the clues read, “1944's "Absent in the Spring" is one of the non-mystery novels she wrote under the name Mary Westmacott.” The important parts of this clue is “non-mystery novels” and “1944”. From this I can conclude that the author in question is a famous mystery novelist who published work in the twentieth century.

Therefore, my answer is Agatha Christie, who is the most famous mystery writer from that time period and Agatha Christie is the correct answer.

The catch with this strategy is that it has to be completed in a manner of seconds and only works when the answer follows Occam’s razor. I don’t recommend this strategy for others but it works for me. I am no Ken Jennings or James Holzhauer. I highly doubt my name will be in the Jeopardy! Hall of Fame (Yes, this is a real thing) but I might be able to impress people on trivia night. 

Morgan Holder is an intern at the Jackson County Sentinel. She can be reached at morgan.holder@jcsentinel.com.

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