Independence Day saw a massive gathering at the International Centre Goa (ICG), but it wasn't for any speeches or flag-hoisting. It was for the Incredible India Quizzes conducted on the day, organised by the Sunday Evening Quiz Club (SEQC) in partnership with ICG, and supported by the Department of Tourism, Goa. The turn-out for the Schools edition, held in the afternoon, was overwhelming, and the organisers were indeed overwhelmed for a while. But after the initial confusion, things sorted themselves out, and a great event ensured that everyone -- organisers, participants and hangers-on -- had a rip-roaring time.
Close to 150 students, in teams of two, took the written elimination test. From those, six teams made it onto the stage for the finals -- Shukr Usgaonkar and Aditya Prabhugaonkar from Sharada Mandir School in Miramar; Jatan Rodrigues and Joel Vaz from Don Bosco, Panjim; Raj Kunkolienkar and Anusha Pai from Mushtifund High School, Panjim; Shubham Tiwari and Akash Kulkarni from People's High School, Panjim; Jayant Karn and Ashray Adappa from Dhempe HSS, Miramar; and Shashwat Salgaonkar and Akshay Rege from Mushtifund High School, Panjim.
Teams on stage in the Schools edition contemplate a question, as Annie tries to appear in control of things.
A close-fought battle ensued, with each team notching up points initially. The quiz had been put together by Aniruddha Sen Gupta, who was conducting both editions. The Schools edition had six rounds on different subjects highlighting India's diversity and complexity, from History and Places through People and Life to Sport and the Arts. A special feature was the topically-named 'Tryst with Destiny', under which each team could choose one of the rounds as its Tryst with Destiny, and gain double points for every question it answered correctly during that round. The Mushtifund team of Shashwat and Akshay chose wisely, and shot ahead of the rest by garnering 60 points from three correct answers on questions related to Places in India.
Despite the best efforts of the other teams, their lead remained unassailable till the end. Eventually, they finished on top, with Jayant and Ashray from Dhempe HSS pipping Shubham and Akash from People's High School to second place -- by recognising Aamir Khan dressed in drag in the film 'Baazi' on the last question of the quiz.
An audience member picks up a prize.
Immediately afterwards, the Open edition followed, with participation open to all. This version too saw a huge response, with more than 60 teams of two in the fray. The six that made it onto stage were the mixed team of Nitya and Sabulal P.C.; the all-woman team of Anjali Sen Gupta and Venita Coelho; Mahesh Prabhu and Leroy Veloso; Dhruv Usgaonkar and Aaron Lobo; Rajiv D'Silva and Harsh Bhatkuly; and Milind Joshi and Sudhir Rao.
The Open edition about to get under way.
The Open quiz had a more complex structure than the Schools edition. After two rounds of straight quizzing came a round where teams chose subjects off a grid. The 'buzz-and-grab' feature of this round, which allowed teams that knew the answer to steal it away from the others, lent excitement to this round. Then followed another couple of straight rounds, but with a twist -- the 12 questions were all linked through a theme, which the teams had to try and crack as they struggled to answer the questions themselves. Only two of the teams -- and a few members of the audience -- figured that the questions were related in sequence to 'Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha...' and that the theme was therefore places mentioned in the national anthem. The final round was a visual connect round on the buzzer.
A sizeable audience watches the Open quiz progress.
Experience with quizzing, particularly on buzzer questions, showed clearly during the contest, and this edition turned out to be rather one-sided. Rajiv and Harsh, Goa's foremost quizzing team which has won laurels at the national level, swamped the opposition, winning by a margin of 240 points to the second-placed Anjali and Venita's 60. Dhruv and Aaron took third place, 10 points behind.
At the end of the hectic but exciting evening, Nandini Sahai, Director of ICG, gave away the prizes -- trophies and cash prizes -- to the top three teams in each of the editions.
The top three teams from the Schools edition (above) and the Open quiz (below), display their pickings, as ICG Director Nandini Sahai, Programmes Manager Arjun Halarnkar and Quizmaster Annie Sen Gupta join in.