Rhone Talsma Explains How He 'Schneidered' Amy

Sunday January 30, 2022
Originally published on January 28, 2022

He thought he was going to be "Schneidered" (to use a term he coined); instead, Rhone Talsma "Schneidered" Amy on "Jeopardy" on Wednesday, January 26. The Chicago librarian with the coolest glasses and quick buzzer reflexes ended Amy Schneider's 40-day run on the show, making her the second-longest running "Jeopardy" champion, behind current host Ken Jennings.

But who is Talsma? Newsweek writes that, according to his LinkedIn page, Talsma is a multimedia librarian at Chicago Ridge Library who completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women's and Gender Studies from Illinois' DePaul University in 2015. He then went on to earn a Master of Library & Information Science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2018.

"I am just so.. I'm still in shock. I am so overwhelmed. I just came on here. This is my favorite show, and I was just excited to be here. I had no intentions of winning anything, just wanted to do my best. And I, you know, I was excited to see maybe someone else slay the giant. I just really didn't think it was going to be me, so I'm thrilled," he said in a post-victory interview that "Jeopardy" posted on YouTube.

The moment that changed everything in the game came during the game's second round when Talsma wagered $15,000 on a Daily Double. Asked where he got the courage to bet such a large amount, Talsma said: "I just decided in the moment I needed to bet on myself and bet on my knowledge. I felt good about my chances, and, yeah, I was just like, 'I'll just go for it.' " He gave the correct question to the answer about the name of the Latin goddesses of vengeance ("What are the Furies?")

On Twitter, he praised Schneider while acknowledging his achievement. "As @Jeopardamy's run unfolded before us over the past two months, it became obvious that this was more than just me slaying a giant — I slayed an undeniable legend, someone destined to have a unique & profound impact, especially on queer and trans communities everywhere."

Talsma made quite an impression due to his yellow-framed glasses, which, he explained to Vulture, he bought from a company called Nihao Optical. "I have a lot of accessories in this color, so I thought, 'Why not?' I took a risk, and the second I put them on, I was like, 'This is the look! It's my new signature look!' A month after I got the glasses, I auditioned, and people certainly commented on them during the audition. I do feel like they got me there, on some level. It's a nice way to stand out."

Because the show is filmed months in advance, when Talsma arrived at the studio he had no idea who Schneider was. He actually beat her in early November, a week before her first appearance. But he learned through a fellow contestant that Schneider had won close to 40 games beforehand. While challenged, he also felt she was vulnerable.

"Since Jeopardy! films five episodes a day, I watched Amy play two games before I taped my own episode," he told Vulture. "She crushed them. I mean, I think those were the two most dominant performances in her run. She destroyed them all. I was shocked by how good she was. So I was watching her and thought, 'She's beatable. Random chance plays a huge role in the game. Inevitably, something will happen and she's not going to make it.' Even though I wasn't going into my game thinking I'd beat her, I had that mindset of, 'Well, someone might beat her. Maybe not today, but it will happen eventually.' I was paying attention to her strategy and decided when I went in that I was going to play differently than she was."

He described Schneider's strategy as tending "to play from the top of the board to the bottom. She runs those categories, and she's really good on the buzzer. I realized during rehearsal that I wasn't half bad at the buzzer myself. I also knew that if I could stay within a decent range of her and find a Daily Double and make some money on that, and if I could get into Final Jeopardy with more than 50 percent of her money total and get Final Jeopardy right while she got it wrong, it would be my path to victory. And that's exactly what happened. [Laughs.] I bet all of my money on a Daily Double and got it correct, and then it became Amy's first non-runaway game in quite some time. The Final Jeopardy category was 'Countries of the World,' and I could've written the clue. It was so in my wheelhouse that it felt like destiny or fate. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it was my knowledge base. I didn't know for sure that I won until the last second when it was revealed that Amy didn't get Final Jeopardy correct. I had 30 seconds to celebrate at the end of the episode."

He added that he was glad to have let go the idea of winning beforehand. "I was so Zen-like and happy. I ate a nice lunch beforehand. I was maybe projecting confidence more than I realized. A lot of people told me after I won, 'Oh, I had a feeling about you, you seemed so confident up there.' I didn't have that feeling at first, but my mindset was so comfortable because I didn't care. I thought I was destined to lose, so I just did my best. I wasn't putting that pressure on myself and wasn't as hard on myself as the other contestants who played against Amy. I didn't jump in and guess; I only buzzed in when I knew the answers. I stayed calm as much as possible. I was biting her heels like a little dog the whole time."

Watch his post-winning interview posted by "Jeopardy":