Wednesday, August 30, 2006

BQC quiz on 17th

Ladies, Gentlemen and boys,

The next instalment of the BQC has been confiemed. Details as follows ...

Venue : Cathedral high school , Colaba.
(Thanks to Arvind K for fixing the venue) Instructions on how to get there will follow in a couple of days ...

Time and date : September 17th , Sunday. 11 am to 3 pm...

Quizmaster details will follow in a couple of days ...

Pencil it in your calendars; attendance compulsory (as usual)


Sunday, August 27, 2006


This is from the mailing list:

Sinister shadows shroud the World,
Death-knell signal doom,
No magic shall shield thee,
Sheer knowledge be thy saviour.
Let the war begin.....

Armageddon-2005 witnessed a congregation of the best business quizzing brains from across the country. The onstage finale saw Amit Pandeya (QuestaSoft) and Kiran K (Qualteam) vanquishing the likes of Mitesh Agarwal and Ajay Kasargod (Sun Microsystems / WYSE Technologies), Rohan Khanna and Gajendra Kothari (Accenture / UTI AMC), Gururaj and Vijay (JWT / JP Morgan), G Sreekanth and Sabyasachi (TCS) and Arvind Khusape and Aniruddh (SBI / SIES) to clinch the coveted title.

The torchbearers of hardcore biz quizzing are back with Armageddon 2006, and promise to unleash a whole new world of knowledge excellence.

The quiz will comprise of a Written Elims from which the Top 6 teams will go through to the Finals.

Following are the details:

Date & Time:
10th September at 12 noon

Team Members:
Two per team
(A Team can comprise of participants from two different institutions / organisations)

Entry Fee:
Free for students and Rs. 150 per team for corporates

Mulund College of Commerce
Sarojini Naidu Road,
Mulund (W), Bombay - 400080

First - Rs. 25000
Second - Rs. 15000
Third - Rs. 10000

Spykar gift vouchers worth Rs. 5000 to all teams in the finals.

For further details:
Samruddhi - 09833524561 or

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Readers Shop Quiz

Quizzing, quizzing everywhere... not a question in sight...

After what seemed like a drought, there came the oasis bang in the middle of the desert. 2 quizzes in 2 weeks seemed like manna from heaven and the group promptly convened at a quaint little place called "The Readers Shop" in Santa Cruz for a "mostly Literature" quiz to be conducted by William Shakespeare... err... sorry... Pradeep Ramarathnam.

The ambience of the venue just added to the quiz as the contenders sat around in cane chairs or on the mats lying on the floor to answer the prelims. Questions included the names of a lovely Portuguese princess connected to monkeys, a famous elegy, a fictional town which has given readers plenty of joy and some googlies along the way.

Prelims were done and the BQC members strolled around the shop, browsing through the sizable collection and awaiting the results... 6 teams made it to the finals, where it was revealed that Godot had finally arrived in Czechoslovakia. While some considered making the pilgrimage to meet him, others battled Col. Kurtz and lit bonfires to put out human vanities...

At the end of the ritual, when the smoking pipe had been exhausted, Amit and Aadisht had created a Guinness Record for holding their breath for the maximum length of time, as they saw the quizmaster ask question after question and their lead being cut down to a grand total of 1. Runners-up were Rajiv and Ravi who were hungry for more questions, but had to settle for vadas and samosas. Third place went to Rishi and myself, with Rishi wishing he had one more chance to light a fire...

All finalists were given complimentary gifts and the coffee was brought out to celebrate an enjoyable evening...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What is a good quiz question?

This from inquizitive mailing list:

Dear all,
following a recent post with five questions, I replied to the quizmaster with my suggestions regarding the style of the question. I thought I'd share my opinion with all of you too, and have taken the permission of my original correspondent.
The example question was originally put as:
> Which modern technology is named for a 10th century Danish king?
I suggested that it might be re-written taking into account this King's ancestry (being the son of King Gorm the Old), or the name of his wife (Gunnhild), or that the conflict with the German Holy Roman Emperor caused him to build the Danawirk fortifications, or that he was responsible for spreading Christianity, or that he was also technically King of Norway, or that his bones are still preserved walled up in a pillar at the cathedral at Roskilde, or that he met his death during a rebellion led by his own son.
Or one could mention something about the "modern technology" - for instance that the identifying logo is based on the runes of the King's initials, or that it was pioneered by a Swedish company, or that it was inspired more by the potrayal of the historical King in the Swedish novel Red Orm (later editions translated the title as The Long Ships) etc.
The core question might well stay the same, but the quizzing I knew and loved during my college days was full of trivia which promoted lateral thinking. Even if I wouldn't be able to answer a question, my interest would be piqued and I would tend to learn more - then and later - than if a dry fact were sought.

I completely agree. The joy of answering a question from clues is a victory of problem solving over knowledge. While one of the joys is getting to know some trivia or connection as part of the question or the answer (as pointed out in the mail above), there is also the joy of inspired guesswork based on some clue which sparks off a lateral connection in your mind.

Let me illustrate through an example. In the last BQC quiz that I attended, Gaurav had a theme round. 6 questions, the answers of which all connected to one common theme.

The answer to the first question was Mirabai and the answer to the second question was Comedy of Errors. This is when another team got the answer. We had to go for the theme at that moment itself and risk getting -2 points. However, unless we went for it, the other team would have taken the lead from us. My philosophy of quizzing these days is go for it. I did.

I knew that Comedy of Errors had been made into Angoor in the 70s. Sanjeev Kumar acted in it. However, I could not imagine what connection Sanjeev Kumar had with Mirabai. Hence, I went to Mirabai. The piece of trivia I knew about her was that M.S. had acted in the movie. However, I could not find any connection with Angoor. Somewhere in my stomach Gulzar came up. Some quiz question somewhere. Gulzar probably directed Meera. I don't know why. Then, I realised that he could have been the director of Angoor. Then I realised that he probably is. Since it was Gaurav, it had to be a popular culture connection.

I wrote Gulzar. It was correct. All because of some lateral connection.

Anyway, the question now is what makes a good quiz question? Two things we have talked about are:
  1. Should have clues which enable 'working out', lateral thinking, problem solving...
  2. Should be enriching - have interesting facts, make people find out more about a book, a film, an event in history. I remember reading Umberto Eco due to quizzes I attended in school. The way to do this is to make the question a reflection of ourselves, our tastes.
I can think of one more criteria:
This question should not be too long and definitely should not be a string of factoids. Any question which takes more than 30-45 seconds to tell is probably too long. Any more and it reflects either of two things: a) the quizmaster is lazy not to frame the question properly and thus rattles a huge set of facts. b) the quizmaster hasn't been able to prioritise properly and thus presents all the facts.

What else? By the way, are these criteria correct? And don't you think I have way too much time?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Uno What?

Bombay Quiz Club

After the longest time, the Bombay Quiz Club reconvened with many fresh faces, none of which had been illegally modified to evade the law. Driven by vicious pro-Housie, anti-quizzing sentiments, we moved from the outskirts of Mumbai to the YWCA's excellent facilities in suburban1 Colaba. There were 25 extremely enthusiastic people. Evidently our public martyrdom has attracted many people to our cause.

The quizmaster was that well-known public servant Gaurav Sabnis. The quiz was intended to be a solo event; indeed, the prelims were attempted individually. But then, in order to ensure maximum participation, we decided that the top 6 scorers should pick a team for the finals. Everyone qualified.

The finals comprised more than 50 questions, both AV and dry, with a decided emphasis on Hindi/movies, local mythology and cricket. It was a closely contested quiz till the very end, until Dhoomk2, Naveen Venkataraman and Rohit Bhat emerged victorious, proudly waving their bloodstained standard above a mound of bodies2. Aadisht, Sanjeev and Kartik and Amit Varma and team also did well, cracking some tricky visual connects. Some good questions involved a combative chief from an Asterix comic, some unusual books in a very strange library and three award-winning movies which we know for different reasons.

More than half of our horde, ravenous and exhausted, then completed the afternoon's ceremonies by consuming roast oxen- or at least, truly enormous steaks- in Cafe Royal. It is possible that the vegetarians had the better deal: their sizzlers contained some intriguing looking mushrooms. Here's a picture of us at lunch:

All pictures courtesy of India Uncut, Pieter Brueghel, Goscinny and Uderzo.

1. At the behest of some members, the bits of Colaba that are more northerly than other bits have been defined as suburbs.
2. This is only partially true. That is, the parts that are true are the parts that are not about body parts.