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Friday, April 14, 2006


Long before reaching what is surely the middling stages of Alzheimer’s , I had caught on to the fact that the most foolish can ask more than the wisest can answer. Well, Vibhendu and I got a chance to prove just that when we did our version of the March Open Quiz at the PSPL grounds last month.

It was always difficult to consciously avoid doing precisely what one has railed against, again mostly as it is easier to advise than act, compounded by the fact that I do not see myself as a QM any more than I see myself as a marine biologist or an astronaut. In fact, I will just pull up before saying I actually hate setting questions—once was a cherished pastime but now a mere reactive essay on the lines of Link Singhania, New York, a bottle of rum & Bradford FC to yield a singularly appalling answer in 15 Park Avenue.

My most vocal detractor of the past year stayed away citing work. Yes, work… software… Sunday.!

I don’t like reading out questions. It showed. The elimination round questions were painstakingly eviscerated with shrapnel clues and had loads of time to unravel workable material, which many teams did including very impressive showing by a school team and another which surprised us by missing out ones that most got but cracked ones that others did not. Another testimony to my long-held theory that anyone, but anyone could do well enough if topics and questions have width and depth. Statistics will tell us that the qualifiers ranged from clocking sixty all the way down to thirty six percent, in itself a decisive show of strength by the teams that did well.

Delayed action on my part ensured that I would not be able to experiment with my scoring system, and had to resort to the Industrial Revolution system of scoring. The first three questions were given a miss by the teams on stage but snapped up effortlessly by the audience. My own wholly personal and biased take on the teams reads thus:

Team 1—Kunal S & Niranjan P—began slowly, expectedly devoured many on first take and kept up the verbal barrage throughout. Answered almost the entire range and finally won on a question that both V & I misheard. Some justice done as they had towered over others in the elims.

Team 2—Ganesh H & Ramanand J-As is their wont, allowed all other cars to start before leaving the security of the starting blocks and heaving Ho themselves. Didn’t quite catch up on the others but would rate the performance very high based on the quality of their gets. I almost fell off when they answered Anais Nin to a Lit question when it had specifically mentioned a “he” but didn’t have the heart to tell G H that. After all, it was still a much better guess than others managed !

Team 3—Meghashyam S & Anirudh K- A disappointing effort and no matter what M S says, they were far more capable than they revealed. I thought that they did not expect too much of themselves and also that they endeavoured to double-guess me based on their knowledge of my likes, a move that evidently backfired.

Team 4- Shivaji M & Siddharth N - For me, this was the best performance, at least in the first half, as they repeatedly got questions that others veered off on, and stayed focussed to reach the right direction, if not always the destination of the answer. Their staying alive through the course contributed immensely to the competition, and maybe their additional chair gave them avenues that others missed out on.

Team 5- Abhishek N & Shamanth R- Their comfort level with seating arrangements on stage ( no chaird required !) matched their comfort level with the questions as they had a very good first half. Their getting almost all sports questions right and the nailing most on first attempt belied the range and quality of this team. Got two Lit toughies and were pipped to the post. A very creditable performance indeed.

Team 6- Sudarshan P& Salil B—It would appear that they had an off-colour showing and I did expect them with their set of strengths to have done better collectively. Still, numerically, they didn’t fare badly at all.

Team 7- Audience –
A very knowledgeable and watchful set of people and were able to reason out most of the questions that got passed on to them. A special mention of “Anna”, Tanmay the school whizkid and Suhas who between them snaffled up most of the goodies.

So that was that—we made an honest attempt to cover subjects that we considered important and interesting, stayed away from areas that would have been easy and meaty for us and incomprehensible and distant to others, worked hard on seeing that each question was framed as best as possible and made our share of blunders in all spheres.

Statistics will be appended, if my customary tech-fervour holds. And No, I won’t insert snide remarks against the IR system even though I am as unconvinced as ever !


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