What was your buzzing strategy?

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Samer
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What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by Samer »

This came up in the thread from my show, so let me ask, for those of you who've been on the show: what was your strategy for figuring out exactly when to buzz in?

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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by seaborgium »

I played from home for months before getting the call, getting myself accustomed to pushing a button a lot when Alex finished a clue. Once I was on stage, doing what I did at home worked so well that I didn't consciously concern myself with exactly when to start pressing. Winging it worked fabulously for me, but I suspect my two costliest losses on the buzzer (final clue, game 5, went into second place; final clue, ToC finals, lock tournament averted) were (at least partially) adrenaline-caused failures of timing that a more cerebral approach might have possibly prevented. Then again, such an approach might have prevented my successes.

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MarkBarrett
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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by MarkBarrett »

At home after getting the call I watched games on tape and practiced standing up and clicking a pen. When watching live games and keeping score I would just pinch my pen at the proper time while in a writing grip.

I had seen and heard things about the lockout timing being anywhere from .20 to .50 of a second. Using a stopwatch I was easily able to get multiple clicks in faster than .20 which at the low end of the timing would still mean being locked out.

That told me not to click as fast as possible, but to get a rhythm of multiple clicks a touch slower.

When it was taping day and rehearsals I did not feel comfortable with the clicker up in the air or resting on the podium. With no prior planning I went with my arm locked to my side straight down for a thumb click. That worked and felt fine.

In game play I decided to try the lights first before attempting zen timing. Years of video game playing had me thinking my reaction time should be all right. I was 41 at taping and that method worked well for me knowing I would never be too early.

I don't know how my opponents were attempting to ring in. The contestant coordinators instruct players to wait for the lights. If all the players are trying it that way and you are the best of three in doing it that way then it is not necessary to go for the more anticipatory timing that risks being locked out for being early.

Of course there are going to be many players who are not going to follow that instruction and playing off the lights is a recipe to disaster. If I had been in a game where I had to go zen I would have waited for Alex to finish the clue and then repeated the last syllable or last word to myself to discipline myself for a pause.

I never was in a position where I needed to use that method. Instead, I would speed read the clue, memorize the last word and stare only at the lights while ignoring the clue box. Having watched J! for all of Trebek's run I was very familiar with his reading pattern and I did not have to read the clue along with him to know when it was done. Also, years of keeping score at home had me used to looking at the clue quickly and then looking down to mark things on my scoresheet.

After my games I estimated that I was in first on 65 - 70% of the clues I attempted over my two games. The buzzer was friendly. The material and my knowledge base? Not so much.

What works for one person may not work for someone else. Future contestants can practice all they want at home, but nothing equals the real thing. Be ready to adapt and use the rehearsal time to get comfortable with a method. If you run into some of the hot players from this week then best of luck to you.

Another practice technique I used was while watching TV was to do a practice click with a pen or just thumb to react to each time the screen changed. It was a way to make couch potato time a little more valuable. No matter what was being watched there was anticipation and reaction in play. Each time there was an edit jump there was something to do.

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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by markrunsvold »

My timing method was straight out of the KenJen/Bob Harris playbook. Zen, as Mark called it. When I lost the feel, I'm almost certain I was being overeager. When I had it, the players waiting for the lights stood no chance. I rested my buzzer hand on the podium, but this position seemed to get less and less comfortable as time went on. There's a good chance I would have benefited from some adjustments in my last game or two, both to my timing and to my grip. Hard to turn my back on something that had worked so well before, though. The Jeopardy!, she is a brutal game.

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thejeopardyfan
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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by thejeopardyfan »

Am I remembering correctly?: Didn't Ken and Brad look like they were just pressing once on the buzzer when they rang in? (not over and over) Brad did say at the unofficial Jeopardy! reunion that the lights often didn't come on before he successfully rang in.
And speaking of video games, I've been striving for perfection on Guitar Hero hoping that will help. (And oh yeah, I love it, too.) Am I fooling myself?
Last edited by thejeopardyfan on Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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alietr
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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by alietr »

markrunsvold wrote:The Jeopardy!, she is a brutal game.
You seem to have handled her admirably nonetheless.

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mam418
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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by mam418 »

During most of my first game, I didn't even look at the lights. I had the zen, just waited for Alex to finish reading, waited half a beat, and rang in. (According to NJCondon, who was sitting behind the contestant coordinators and could see their screens, waiting for his chance - I had it down pretty good that day.)

Tried to do the same thing during the second game, but between changing podiums (the clicker never felt as good as the middle clicker did), the boards not falling my way, and playing someone (Ben Sack) who had been specifically practicing his buzzer timing (he even developed some sort of computer program to time himself), I just never quite got the mojo back.

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thejeopardyfan
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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by thejeopardyfan »

Did any of you former contestants try holding the buzzer behind your back when you were on the show? I practiced playing standing up, and this felt natural. But of course I didn't have a podium in front of me.

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MarkBarrett
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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by MarkBarrett »

thejeopardyfan wrote:Am I remembering correctly?: Didn't Ken and Brad look like they were just pressing once on the buzzer when they rang in? (not over and over) Brad did say at the unofficial Jeopardy! reunion that the lights often didn't come on before he successfully rang in.
And speaking of video games, I've been striving for perfection on Guitar Hero hoping that will help. (And oh yeah, I love it, too.) Am I fooling myself?
Players are instructed and checked on multiple clicks. That does not mean you have to do it during regular play. You can go for "the one true click" and then add more clicks if necessary. Ken and Brad in their recent competitions probably found that one click was it and no lights meant someone else was in.

As I mentioned in my previous post, rapid fire clicks can lock you out as it can be done under the lock-out penalty time. Multiple clicks are fine; just do it a little slower.

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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by seaborgium »

thejeopardyfan wrote:Did any of you former contestants try holding the buzzer behind your back when you were on the show? I practiced playing standing up, and this felt natural. But of course I didn't have a podium in front of me.
I didn't do it on the show, but I thought it was a good idea. I practiced while standing after I got the call, and I found it got uncomfortable after less than half an hour. Of course, your body is not mine and things are probably different for you. Whatever stance you take, you should make sure it's stable (your arms remain in one position so that ringing in is the same move every time) and sustainable (you can do it for the periods of time the show requires you to, without getting fatigued).

Despite the stability factor, I ruled out supporting myself on a podium because a set change was imminent and I didn't want to have to physically adjust to a new podium if I lasted past the season finale. I decided that my optimal buzzing position was holding the buzzer in my right hand, holding my right wrist in my left hand, and letting this arrangement hang in front of my waist.

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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by NJCondon »

I talk about my buzzer strategy here. tl;dr I went of the lights, and relied on my video-game-tuned reaction times. Worked pretty well, although Stewart outbuzzed me at critical moments a couple of times in my last game. I suspect that, up against the buzzsaws of the ToC field, I would have needed to rely more on timing and less on the lights to have a chance as staying competitive.

As for the grip, which I didn't discuss, I used an index finger press with the outside of my buzzer hand resting on the podium beside the screen. I don't remember what I did with my non-buzzing hand (I'd have to look back at my recordings to be sure), but I think it sat loosely on the podium as well. I have a tendency to grip tools or interfaces (steering wheels, writing implements, video game controllers) too hard, so I made a conscious effort not clench my buzzer hand.

And mam418 was, indeed, right on top of the buzzer on her first game; the other two players were very often in early.

I would strongly advise any waiting players to watch Maggie's monitor during gameplay; it conveys how pervasive and damaging early buzzing is in a particularly visceral way.

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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by Samer »

NJCondon wrote:I would strongly advise any waiting players to watch Maggie's monitor during gameplay; it conveys how pervasive and damaging early buzzing is in a particularly visceral way.
Could you elaborate?

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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by NJCondon »

Samer wrote:
NJCondon wrote:I would strongly advise any waiting players to watch Maggie's monitor during gameplay; it conveys how pervasive and damaging early buzzing is in a particularly visceral way.
Could you elaborate?
I didn't keep statistics on it (went by way too fast, plus I was continually distracted by the terrifying possibility that my name would be drawn for the next game), but my impression was that people rang in early several times as often as they rang in late. There were some players in some stretches who were in early on nearly every single clue that they attempted. Again, salt as appropriate for possible confirmation bias, but I don't recall a single contestant who was consistently late on the buzzer. Watching those lock-out lights go on over and over and over again really rams the point home in a way that my talking about it probably doesn't.

Surely I'm not the only nosy one who watched that monitor (I know at least two other players who were watching it right along with me); can anyone else back up my observations?

I would dearly love to see a season's worth of data from that monitor, but I strongly suspect that such records are not being kept. Pity, that.

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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by mam418 »

NJCondon wrote:Surely I'm not the only nosy one who watched that monitor (I know at least two other players who were watching it right along with me); can anyone else back up my observations?
Maybe when Maggie D's game airs (i keep checking the players 'this week' for her), she'll find the boards. I hope so, she was very cool. I'm guessing she was one of the others watching with you?

(Explanation for everyone besides Nick - Maggie was the other contestant that didn't play in the tuesday games the week we taped, Nick and Maggie were held over to the next day, but Maggie didn't feel well that next day and was apparently going to come back on a different taping day.)

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alietr
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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by alietr »

I will say, Nick, that one of my biggest disappointments about the old board being gone was that we didn't get a chance to discuss your games. I was sure from the run up that you were TOC-bound.

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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by NJCondon »

mam418 wrote:
NJCondon wrote:Surely I'm not the only nosy one who watched that monitor (I know at least two other players who were watching it right along with me); can anyone else back up my observations?
Maybe when Maggie D's game airs (i keep checking the players 'this week' for her), she'll find the boards. I hope so, she was very cool. I'm guessing she was one of the others watching with you?

(Explanation for everyone besides Nick - Maggie was the other contestant that didn't play in the tuesday games the week we taped, Nick and Maggie were held over to the next day, but Maggie didn't feel well that next day and was apparently going to come back on a different taping day.)
I know that Maggie taped this season, but I don't know exactly when her ep/eps will air. I'm looking forward to seeing them, too.

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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by NJCondon »

alietr wrote:I will say, Nick, that one of my biggest disappointments about the old board being gone was that we didn't get a chance to discuss your games. I was sure from the run up that you were TOC-bound.
Yeah, that timing was a real bummer. I got to talk about them with a few folks over at The Jeopardy! Fan (thanks, Jeannie!), the WWTBaM Bored, and on my own site, which was good. It wasn't quite the same, though, without the whole crowd around.

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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by jepkid97 »

If you watch my show, it was clear that I just tried to be as aggressive as possible. It worked, but I looked ridiculous doing it.
markrunsvold wrote:My timing method was straight out of the KenJen/Bob Harris playbook. Zen, as Mark called it. When I lost the feel, I'm almost certain I was being overeager. When I had it, the players waiting for the lights stood no chance. I rested my buzzer hand on the podium, but this position seemed to get less and less comfortable as time went on. There's a good chance I would have benefited from some adjustments in my last game or two, both to my timing and to my grip. Hard to turn my back on something that had worked so well before, though. The Jeopardy!, she is a brutal game.
Again, that's better than trying to kill the buzzer.

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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by markrunsvold »

NJCondon wrote:
I know that Maggie taped this season, but I don't know exactly when her ep/eps will air. I'm looking forward to seeing them, too.
I think the taping day after my second one was the last of the season, which would mean she'll be on next week (she wasn't at either of my tapings).

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paul5562
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Re: What was your buzzing strategy?

Post by paul5562 »

I didn't try to do any practicing or replicate the actual gameplay (e.g., standing up watching J! or having bright lights on me) other than clicking a pen while watching. I didn't want to form any bad habits that would hurt my chances on the actual game.

I did find this article by former J! contestant Michael Dupee very helpful -- "How to win on the Buzzer" (http://www.pisspoor.com/buzzer.html). Although I didn't go as far as to build my own "buzzer" some of the suggestions I found invaluable like resting your buzzing hand on the podium in a comfortable position and then just adding the buzzer in. I found that resting my hand down on the podium with my wrist on the edge was a very natural and comfortable position and hopefully contributed to my buzzing in success during my wins.

I did find that the "zen" feeling faded a little bit -- especially during the later games in the day -- and that I had to adjust my reaction time to compensate for the drain of an entire day of tapings.

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