This Master, Mind It! competition has lived up to the excitement that its format – that requires both a canny choice of specialised subject and strength on general subjects – can generate. The Round 2 matches, effectively the Semi-finals, saw another series of nail-biting finishes and unexpected performances. At the end of the day, the line-up for the finals is solid and exciting.
The kick-off was a little chaotic. From well before the event, I had been getting scheduling requests from people. Some needed to leave early, others needed to arrive late. A bit of juggling had had to be done with the schedule to adjust it to the individual requests. Part of that was the plan to start earlier than usual.
But well, you know how the best-laid plans go. Participants for the first Match were – barring for Viola who had a 6pm bus to catch to Bangalore – a little tardy. With Viola's need in mind, we kicked things off only 15 minutes behind schedule, fully prepared to do Viola's sets by themselves, and get around to Ajey's and Tejan's when they arrived. As it was, Ajey came in while Viola's specialised subject set was getting under way, and so we proceeded in the normal vein, but with two participants. Ajey put in a strong performance to knock Viola out, but the outcome of the match was put in abeyance till Tejan made his entry. When he did, his score was well below Ajey's, who went through to the Final.
Before starting on Matchh 2, we did a short demo round with Dr Chandrashekhar Rao, who was in town and eager to give the format a shot. He scored a full 10 in his chosen subject of Classic Hollywood Comedy.
Match 2 began one-sidedly, with Harsh striking up a large lead over Ameya and Sahil in the specialised subject sets. But the general knowledge sets almost tilted the balance. Needing to get just 2 points to win, Harsh displayed some serious brinksmanship by scoring exactly that in his general knowledge set.
The third match also was close, with the three participants finishing on sequential scores of 8, 9 and 10, but Gouthami couldn't pip Srijit at the post, finishing with just 3 points in GK when she only needed 4.
In Match 4, Rajiv, Gadgil and Sanjay all showed great class in their respective specialised subjects, scoring 7, 8 and 7, respectively. The general knowledge sets, though, opened up big gulfs, with Rajiv finally showing the class one expects of him to finish on 14 points, the highest score of any participant in both the Rounds so far.
So, the finals, scheduled for Sunday January 15 – during QuizStock – will feature Ajey, Harsh, Srijit and Rajiv. Promises to be great fun!