A Love Letter to Amy Schneider
Congratulations on one of the best runs in Jeopardy! history
Like so many other households across the country, Jeopardy! is an important part of our evening routine. I’ve been a Jeopardy! fan for a long time: I’ve played the video and board games, created a drinking game around Kids Week with my friends (don’t expect to watch more than two), and I devoured Claire McNear’s fantastic book, Answers in the Form of Questions: A Definitive History and Insider’s Guide to Jeopardy! right after it was released. I even keep a Jeopardy! calculator on my phone in case I want to keep score as I play along with the episodes. Hell, I even channel a little bit of it in the bi-weekly trivia nights that I host.
You get the point. You don’t need my Jeopardy! fan resume. I probably wouldn’t even be in the 60th percentile of Jeopardy! fans. Especially because I don’t watch it as much as I want to — life gets busy.
But I have been habitual about putting it on lately thanks to Amy Schneider, a 40 game champion whose streak ended last night.
I’ve completely fallen in love with Amy’s gameplay. Those that love Jeopardy! have the players that they felt some sort of connection to (we all loved Austin Rogers) and Amy was my favorite kind of player to a tee. Don’t get me wrong, I love when a contestant plays dangerously (James Holzhauer) or when a contestant jumps all around the board (Arthur Chu comes to mind, even though this move is credited to Chuck Forrest).
But my favorite is when a player is just really damn smart. Finishing categories, one at a time, sweeping them. Just cooking up the other contestants on the way to a smooth victory and an untouchable Final Jeopardy. If my calculations are correct, over 35 of Amy’s 41 games were runaways by Final Jeopardy. Some folks get bored watching a player sizzle up the competition game after game, week after week. Not me, I was mesmerized.
She seemed to have no weaknesses, answering correctly about 95% of the time she buzzed in. She found all three Daily Doubles ten times and I would’ve bet money it was more. I watched her dominate in the most niche of categories (she’s great with wordplay) and even take a wild guess with the best of them.
I also loved how much Ken Jennings loves her. As the winningest player of all time, Ken has become the face of Jeopardy! since we lost Alex. He was always impressed by her versatility, runaway games, and gameplay. Ken won 74 games in a row, he can’t be an easy man to impress when it comes to Jeopardy! runs.
But then again, only Ken won more games in an initial run than Amy. She’s now in second place in consecutive wins and fourth in regular season winnings. Both of those feats put her the top woman in either category.
And that representation has been so important. Amy is a trans woman. She talked about her girlfriend on national television. And she undeniably kicked ass in a competition of smarts for months.
And I’m not the only one that loved Amy and found her representation so important:
Amy, I’ll miss you. The streak had to end at some point, but I could’ve watched you play for much longer. I look forward to watching you in the Tournament of Champions later this year and I hope you’ll stay in the lives of Jeopardy! fans for a long time.