Vantage point

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

The long break in blogging came about due to a quiz fest I attended at IIM Indore called Nihilanth. It featured six quizzes and was an invitational event with only the 7 IITs and 6 IIMs participating. Here are a few soundbytes from the Indore visit

- Lack of quality practice for over a year has left my quizzing skills barely half of what they were. I reached the finals of 4 quizzes - Entertainment quiz, General Quiz, Lone Wolf Quiz and for the first time in my life Busines Quiz!!! However in all quizzes my team or I could not get into the top 3. The second IIML team however stood 3rd in the Biz quiz. I am wondering whether the decline of my trivia quizzing skills is related to the upsurge in my Biz-quizzing skills :-P.
- The IIMI guys pulled off a phenomenal challenge by successfully organising this event in the "middle of nowhere" (as someone succinctly put it). Out of the 13 instis, only IIMK was absent, and considering this event was being organised for the first time in an infrastructurally challenged town like Indore, this level of participation is phenomenal.
- One place where the IIMI guys goofed up was the selection of quizmasters. IITs and IIMs maintain a high level of quizzing standards. So one was expecting the first IITIIM quizfest to have great QMs with amazing original questions. However 3 out of the 4 QMs were not up to the mark. Siddhartha Basu's general quiz was tepid, but then the reasons for inviting him are obvious. No one calls him to fests for quality questions, but for the celebrity status he has and the subsequent pull with sponsors he grants the event. Joint worst with Basu was Gautam Ghose. He is an IITK-IIMC alumnus, but he studied there at least 30 odd years ago. That is why he probably finds the concept of infinite rebounds too complex to employ. The biggest disappointment to us all was that in an IITIIM quizfest there were 4 quizzes out of 6 that did not follow the infinite rebounds method.

Short break to explain the "Infinite Rebounds"(IR) system - It is a system which has 2 main conditions -
a) Direct as well as pass questions have the same number of points
b) The team that has just scored will be the last team to get a chance to answer the next question. i. e if team 2 was asked the question, but if team 4 answers a question when it passes, then the next question goes to team 5. This has been universally accepted as the fairest method since it evens out the luck factor.

Ghose conducted 3 quizzes using the archaic direct-pass method. All quizzes in Pune, even the tiniest ones are conducted using the IR system, and to have all the IITs and IIMs battling it out in a direct-pass is like playing the World Cup with a tennis ball.

What made it worse was the quality of Ghose's questions, which was appaling. Not even 5% were original and some of them were so are a few examples

* In the "Western audio" round, for one question he played the familiar starting music of Highway Star. I started thinking what the question could be, wondering if I remembered the video, the funda behind the song etc. However after the music stopped, Ghose asked "Identify the pop band". All the participants were aghast and yelled in chorus "POP??????" and he says "yeah, pop, rock whatever". The guy for whom it was a direct said "I resent the use of the word pop, the band is Deep Purple". Deep Purple is also the colour we all had turned in disgust on hearing a question like this in such a quiz.
* There was a round straight out of Antkshari in which you had to identify the song on the basis of the intro piece. One team actually got "radha kaise na jaley from lagaan"!!!!
* There was one particularly horrible question. The visual showed the Mercedes Benz logo and the picture of a rock band and we were supposed to connect the 2. I couldn't identify the rock band, so I thought I should give a funny answer and say "Maybe the band is the Eagles and the connection is that in a line in Hotel california, Merc Benz is mentioned...", but then I said to myself "You dont want to be the laughing stock of the place by giving such a lame answer even in jest" so I passed. A guy after me gave the answer and turns out it was right!!!! Yeeeesh, that question was so lame it needed a leg transplant.

There were a lot more questions that were even worse. The only decent questions were from a second hand source like the quiznet. Funnily, when he was talking to us later, saying that we could invite him to our isnti if there was quiz in our fest that had to be conducted, he actually said "I never copy paste questions, I work hard on them". Yeah right!!!!

But I guess I should be mild in my criticism. I guess it is difficult to come up with newer questions at that age. Identifying a song by Deep Purple may have been a good question in the 1970s but it just doesn't cut it now.

- Arul Mani's 2 quizzes were quite decent, but somehow I expected more from him. Most of his questions were again old ones. But then he had been given category quizzes to conduct - Sprits quiz and Science-Tech quiz, so his options were limited. However I was sad at the selective range of sports that his quiz covered.

- The best QM at the event was Satyajit Chetri who conducted the Music, Entertainment, Lit, Arts (MELA) quiz. His questions were original, he used the IR format, and it was fun thinking about the answers. Hardly any of them were the "you know it or you dont" types and were always guessable if you thought hard enough. Later I came to know that he is a blogger too. He is Beatzo on LJ. Go to his blog to check the elims questions and you will see how good they were. My personal favourite - Number 18 which I can't stop raving about. One teeny tiny crib about Beatzo though. There was one question in which he played a song "Dil se mere door na jaana". I knew the whole funda behind the song. But suddenly he changed his mind and asked the question to the audience instead. No one there knew fact no one among the finalists knew it except for me. But he hadn't asked it to us and though I knew the answer I couldn't get the points. Getting the points won't have made a difference to our standings, of course, but still, I think it was a finals quality question, not an audience one. Great quiz there and the only one I had fun at.

- Lately I have realised that I have more fun conducting a quiz rather than participating in it. Lately I have also been thinking that I can be a very good QuizMaster. In fact I think that I am a better QM than a quizzer. This does not mean that I think myself as a poor quizzer, but it means that I simple think of myself as too good a quizmaster :-P. So made my first pitch to an insti at Nihilanth offering to conduct their quiz. I will be sending them a sample of my questions today and if they do like them and decide to hire me, it will be the beginning of my freelance quizmastering career. :-)

- About the city of Indore, the roads and the facilities there are so horrible that they make Lucknow look like a European city by comparison. My bones are yet to recover from the travel on MP roads. It is sad to see the city of my birth in such shambles. In this maze of lunar surface roads, I suddenly realised I couldn't feel any bumps. I saw we were on a 6 lane cement road in Indore city!!!!!! How the hell did this happen, I wondered. Maybe it was a road that politicos use. But later I came to know that the reason is not selective efficiency by the administration, but the determined efficiency of people. The people in that locality got tired of the bumpy road, and decided to pitch in a few thousand rupees per household to build a road. What resulted was a high quality road which does not have a single bump. This is another small demonstrative experiment to show that India is ready for libertarian policies. When you yourself have invested in building the road, you will make sure the best contractor builds it and does a darn good job of it. It is your money so you spend it well. The administration doesn't think of taxpayers' money as their own and spend it on making shabby roads.

Coming back to Lucknow was a pleasure in more ways than one. :-)

Iti revakhande nihilanthpuraney prathamadhyaya!