Evening had dissolved into night, and the lights on the Divli Lawn had come on while Rajiv's quiz Fourplay was still in progress. Now, with the full glare of the spotlight on three people, it was time for the main event, the SEQC Mastermind finals. After four months of intermittent competition, 27 contestants had been whittled down to the last three -- Abhishek Jha, Amit Shet and Vidyadhar Gadgil.
I could see that all the three were a little nervous. Despite the informality of SEQC, and the bonhomie with which we treat each other, the Mastermind competition had certainly managed an atmosphere which was in keeping with its pedigree.
Abhishek, by virtue of the first two letters of his name, was up first. His chosen topic for the finals was 'The Life and Works of Chetan Bhagat'. He did quite well, ending with a score of 11 correct answers and 1 pass. Next up was Amit, who had deviated from the trend of his earlier topics ('The Cricketing Career of Sachin Tendulkar' and 'The Films of Aamir Khan') and gone with 'Booker Prizes' as his topic for the finals. It was perhaps not a wise choice, as its scope was quite large, and this reflected in Amit's score. At the end of his specialised subject round, Amit had 7 correct answers with 2 passes.
Gadgil, too, had gone in a completely unexpected direction with his finals subject. In his first round, he had opted to be quizzed on 'Indian Writing in English' -- very much his thing -- and then, in the semis, he had chosen 'The Films of Satyajit Ray', also not an unexpected topic. For the finals, when he asked for 'Jethro Tull' I was completely taken aback, not having expected this to be an area of interest for him. The crowd eveidently felt the same way, for there was quite an audible reaction when his topic was announced.
But Gadgil was well prepared. By the time he was through with Jethro Tull, the competition was more or less int he bag. With 17 correct answers and 1 pass, he was a clear 6 points ahead of Abhishek, and that was always going to be too much of a mountain for the young man to climb, especially given that Gadgil had also consistently gotten high points in the general knowledge rounds at the earlier stages.
When the dust had settled at the end of the general knowledge rounds, the finalists had finished in the same order as their position at the end of the specialised subject rounds, with each of them further widening the gap between themselves and their predecessors. Gadgil's cumulative score of 27 was the highest in the entire championship -- you know what they say of champions raising their game on special occasions.
Victor came on at the end, entertaining us with funny observations and enriching us with life lessons. Finally, he gave away the trophies, beautiful black pyramids reflecting the design of the SEQC Mastermind logo, which Tallulah and Rajiv had got constructed. The evening was a pinnacle of SEQC's second year of existence -- now let's see what heights we climb in our third year.
Winner: Vidyadhar Gadgil (specialised subject: Jethro Tull) -- 17 correct answers in the specialised subject (SS) round + 10 in the general knowledge (GK) round = 27 total
2nd: Abhishek Jha (The Life and Works of Chetan Bhagat) -- 11 (SS) + 8 (GK) = 19 total
3rd: Amit Shet (Booker Prizes) -- 7 (SS) + 6 (GK) = 13 total
For pictures of this evening, see the post below.