Category Archives: Quizzing

The first Archimedes moment

Eureka!

This word has something to it doesn’t it? You wouldn’t ever say it out loud because you would sound too pretentious but it is the perfect word to describe a brainwave. One can almost imagine what Archimedes would have felt like.

If you are a quizzer and a there is a question on the screen which your team absolutely has to answer and you are chewing your lip and thinking hard, eliminating some answers and trying to test your guesses and suddenly it strikes you. You just know the answer you have on your mind is right. You practically shout it out, knowing fully well that you have won your team those crucial points. That is an Archimedes moment.

A look at a map of the USA suddenly reminded of my first Archimedes moment. Quizzing was always fun and there was this occasion when I was in competition for a chance to represent my school at a quiz. The prize was big and the competition was tough. There was a contest among the aspiring in which I ended up as a finalist along with another guy who had the reputation of being brilliant at quizzes. The teacher asked us one question after another and there was a tie, which naturally led to a tie breaker.

The question was, “Which American river takes its name from its original name Misha Sipokni, which means river beyond age?”

There was no time to think. If he answered correctly, he would win. I rolled the word around my mouth and suddenly had an image of Huckleberry Finn. That clinched it. I blurted out Mississippi and as it turned out, I was correct. That moment made my day. All I could think of after winning was going home and telling my parents how brilliantly I deduced it.

What happened in the inter school quiz you ask? Well let’s just say I ran out of my Archimedes moments. But the one which made it possible for me to go to another school and take a shot at a big prize will remain special.

Anybody else remember their first Archimedes moment?

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The quizzing continues

I love quizzing. For the longest time however, my quizzing was restricted to the ones organized in Space, Nirmaan and Technobreak in SPCE. But in my final semester in SPCE, I and Chinmay decided enough was enough. Over a hot cup of tea near Pokhran, while going to Jaisalmer on the 2008, IEEE trip, we decided to formally start a quiz club in college which would provide a platform to avid quizzers and novices. We wanted to expose people to the classic Infinite Rebound format and get rid of the idea that quiz elims have to necessarily be paper rounds. And by God we did.

SPQC is larger than ever (so they tell me). Everyone has taken a huge liking to it, so much so that a larger venue is being considered. For me, it will always be the one thing that carried me through the week. I never missed a session and only 8000 miles of separation made me bunk. But I try to retain close ties to it, which is made easier by good folks like Chinmay, Dimple and Kirti who keep me up to date with the latest on that front.

My class especially loved the quiz sessions. To be honest, we fairly dominated the quizzes in the first season thanks to stalwarts like Deepak, Divyanshu, Jinju, Rahul and Heston. But then again, an SPQC quiz is never about winning. It is about that sharp intake of breath one draws when one discovers the answer to a question. It is about being amazed at the quirky stories behind the origins of innocuous words and phrases. And it is about the special feeling you get when you are stumped by a quiz and there comes a question, the answer to which you instinctively know and impatiently wait for the question to be passed to your team when you triumphantly shout it out and feel that warm glow inside when you realize that you have just won your team 10 points.

Having passed out, my classmates and I miss the sessions, but we try to remain involved. For the recently held FACE Mega Quiz, Rahul and I took some time out and made the following quiz. Rahul was able to take some time off from work and assume responsibilities as quizmaster. Divyanshu also managed to secure a seat in the audience. Some questions from Jinju and a connect by Adithya “Anna” Iyer completed the quiz.

I am told that it was a huge success so all is well in the jungle. But a quizzer never rests on past laurels and so preparations are already underway for a quiz in the even semester. But until then, I leave you with the elims and finals of the FACE quiz.

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Quiz questions that screwed me over

I know it is bad to keep grudges. It does not solve anything and is generally pointless. And I normally don’t. But as every quizzer would agree, there are some times when you feel so done in by an ill formed question or by an uninformed quizmaster, you just want to beat their heads in with a shovel. Thankfully I have never taken those extreme steps till now, but more often than not, the questions remain vividly imprinted into your consciousness. In the many quizzes I have participated in, there were surprisingly only two occasions on which I have felt outraged and helpless in the face of that rule “Quizmaster’s decision is final”. Here they are.

A) Nirmaan 2006.
It was a music quiz. Yours truly and K. R. Ganapati aka Jinju were partners and made it to the final round.
The question was: Who was the lead singer for Led Zeppelin?
The question was to some other team, the members of which had no clue but knew the name Jimmy Page and gave that as their reply.
The quizmaster, super excited for some reason says, “You are absolutely right!” Me and Jinju exchange looks of absolute horror. Had he ever heard the name Robert Plant?

B) Same music quiz, 5 minutes after horror moment 1
Question: Where was Freddie Mercury born?
For some reason, I had just read the Wikipedia entry for Freddie Mercury the day before and I KNEW he was born in Zanzibar and practically shouted it out.
The quizmaster looks at me and says “Pass”. The team next to me says “Mumbai” with glee in their eyes and again Mr. super quizmaster says “You are absolutely right!”
At this point, I tell him, “Dude, you really want to check out wikipedia”. But no.
The quizmaster’s decision is final.

Those 2 questions robbed us of 30 points. We came third. The team that came first, the same who claimed Jimmy Page was the lead singer for Led Zep, won by a margin of 20. 2000 Rs.
Team “Freddie Mercury was born in Mumbai” came second, 10 points ahead of us. 1000 Rs.
Imagining hanging the quizmaster in the quad over a shark tank, priceless.

I am sure that some people have imagined a similar fate for me over the years, and I accept that some of my questions were annoying and bad. All apologies. I know how it feels.

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Staying Grounded

Every once in a while something happens to you that makes you feel really really happy that you are what you are. It can be a secret admirer, a great song you composed which everyone loved, the thought that someone cannot get enough of your blog or as it happens to be in my case, a couple of quizzes you totally owned.

Well it doesn’t always happen that the person in question immediately starts walking three feet in the air and gets that superior smirk on his face, but sometimes it does. The trick is to remember that no matter what you do, there is always someone out there who can do what you did with so much more ease.

So in spite of the fact that I know my quizzing quotient is pretty average as compared to some, I like to get that fact drummed into me, which is one of the reasons why I try to attend every quiz organized by the Bombay Quiz Club. Now these guys are everything I would love to be- professionals from every sphere who make sure that they take time out for their passion and always make an effort to attend every quiz on the planet. And organize some too.

The Bombay Quiz Club meets once every 2 Sundays with one of the members organizing the quiz for the day. They follow a league system with the members scoring a certain number of points according to their team’s position in that quiz. Slowly the leaders emerge and the top 8 become seeded players and from then onwards they have a clever randomizer software which makes sure that there are no two seeded players in each team and whoever has the maximum points at the end of the season wins the league.
In Chinmay’s words, there are usually a hundred questions asked out of which you recognize 7, mumble out something related for about 3 can guess the answer to 2 and out of that one answer turns out to be correct and that’s the thought that keeps you happy throughout the day.

I went for the quiz for the first time in August 2008 and got lucky the first three times. Because of strong partners I ended up finishing first in the first 2 quizzes and second in my third quiz. I was really happy because I felt I had it in me to join the elite league of “Super-quizzers” when the fourth quiz came along. Well many of the seeded players did not turn up and to my horror, I was made a seed.

No points for guessing what followed in the toughest quiz of my life as we were utterly humiliated and stood so far back in the points tally that suicide seemed to be the only honourable way out of our collective shame. But I remain grateful because the quiz made me realize with painful obviousness that far from being a great quizzer, I just get lucky a lot of times and sometimes the luck just runs out. I took back a valuable lesson that day and if after that I ever felt the need to show off, I remember that fateful day and sober down pretty fast.

Its important to be proud of your achievements but it is even more important to realize your limitations and work towards improving yourself. So anyone out there with the same problem could do with a session at Bombay Quiz Club.

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Making a quiz is fun

I am gearing up to host my first quiz and setting questions is an exhausting process. I have been working for 2 days and I have only set 10 questions. But I love every minute of it. I have to take care that the questions have enough clues for the people to be able to work them out but not so easy that they come up with the answer right away.

A good quiz is one in which the people have the answer on the tips of their tongues but need a bit of coaxing to get it right. Even if they do not get it, when the answer is revealed, they ought to be surprised at its simplicity. At least that is how I like my quizzes.

I want the whole experience to be perfect. The quiz is to be held on February 5 hopefully and is open to all students of SPCE-SPIT. For anyone outside who wants the questions just for the heck of it, do leave behind your email addresses and I will mail it to you by Monday for sure. I will be grateful for any feedback about the questions.

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Won a Quiz!!!

I went to the Bombay Quiz Club’s open quiz on sunday, just to get an idea about the kind of questions asked in good quizzes. I reached the place in Santacruz well in time and one of the founders of the club took my name and used a randomization software to asign me a team.

There is a league system in place and there are 6 seeded players. 1 of them was Sumanth who was in my team. 8 teams were formed with people coming late geting added to teams at random. There were 5 people in my team including myself, Sumanth, Dhananjay and 2 other guys whose names I didn’t catch. There were 49 questions with each correct answer getting 2 points and with infinite rebounds.

When I stepped into the room, I thought I would just be sitting there with my moth open and watch some awesome quizzers at work. But to my surprise, I actually knew some of the answers which others didn’t. I was also able to work out some of the answers and was an asset to my team rather than a liability. At the end of the quiz we had the most points and I won my very first Quiz at BQC!!!

The quizzers there are way ahead of me butI guess with experience I will improve. I hope to make this a regular practice and will see if this win was just a fluke or whether I really know something.

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