Sunday, September 28, 2008

SEQC Quiz 5

This weekend, the SEQC jamboree moves to the Novas Conquistas for the first time, with Quiz 5 being held in the sleepy temple village of Mardol. Those Mardolkars not used to their Sunday evening peace and quiet being shattered by a score or so of loud-mouthed quizzers will just have to grin and bear it, one fears.

Date: 5th October 2008.
Time: 5.00 pm.
QM: Ameya Mardolkar.
Flavour: General, as usual.
Who can participate: Everybody and his uncle.
Venue: Ameya's place, Mardol.
How to get there in six easy steps:
1) Start car/bike/preferred mode of transport.
2) Get on NH 4A to Ponda. (Assuming you're driving from the Panjim side)
3) After the Kundaim plateau, take the road that forks off to the right towards Mardol/Mangeshi.
4) Drive straight to the famed Mahalsa Temple.
5) Take the next right that goes to Madkai.
6) 200 mts later look out for the familiar figure of Ameya waiting on the road.

Alternatively, check it out on wikimapia and work it out yourself.
If all else fails, call Ameya on 9823171842.

If anybody needs a ride from Panjim/Porvorim, call me on 9890141715 or Anjali on 9860089733. If there are enough takers we can even hire a bus, with the added incentive of Annie putting up a 'One for the Road' quiz en route. What can be more tempting?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Goa mein quizzing bhi hota hai kya?"

Herald, 10 September 2008

by Vidyadhar Gadgil

Big-ticket quizzing finally arrived in Goa with a regional round of the renowned Tata Crucible Quiz being held at the NIO auditorium on a wet monsoon evening on 10 August 2008. Over 20 teams participated in the preliminary round, with six – Savoir Faire, HLL, Betts India, Splash Communications, Cajetan Vaz Consulting and Synapse – qualifying for the final round on stage. Savoir Faire won, by a wide margin, bagging the first prize of Rs 75,000 and qualifying for the national finals. Synapse came in second and took home the prize of Rs 35,000.

The victory of the Savoir Faire team of Harshavardhan Bhatkuly and Rajiv D’Silva came as no surprise, given their enviable record at the national level. They won the regional finals of the Brand Equity Quiz at Pune in 2006 and 2007, as well as the regional finals of the Tata Crucible Quiz in 2007. In the 2007 national finals of both these quizzes, they came a narrow second to the team from Deutsche Bank.

Harsh and Rajiv are an unassuming pair and wear their success lightly, though they could be pardoned for blushing a pretty red when the quizmaster at the Tata Crucible Quiz, Giri Balasubramaniam aka ‘Pickbrain’, said that it was the track record of Savoir Faire that prompted Tata Crucible to include Goa in its list of venues for regional rounds this year. He went on to say that the reason that teams from other parts of the country did not venture to try their luck in Goa (which is permitted by the rules of the contest) was probably that they did not want to pit their wits against this formidable team!

“I’ve been actively involved in quizzing since my college days,” says Harsh “but it was participation in the Wiz Biz quiz organised by the Goa Institute of Management that got me seriously hooked. Some time later, I met Rajiv and we became partners in a media firm that we set up. He’s another quizzing brain, and we were able to notch up a long winning spree at Wiz Biz.”

Rajiv continues, “By then, we got ambitious – nay, audacious – and decided to take a leap at the national scene. We went to Pune to participate at the Brand Equity quiz in 2004. Among the seasoned quizzers of TCS, Infosys, Thermax, Renaissance and a host of 40 other teams, an unlikely Goan duo qualified on stage.”

Though they only came in third that time, and the next, 2006 was the breakthrough year, when they won the regional finals in Pune. In 2007 their reputation was established when they won the Pune regional finals of both the Brand Equity Quiz and the Tata Crucible Quiz. In both these quizzes they came a narrow second to the team from Deutsche Bank in the national finals.

Are they going to win the nationals this time? “Let’s see,” says Harsh, “we’re keeping our fingers crossed.” So are we, and maybe this year will see a Goan team winning the national finals of one of these prestigious quizzes. “It’s been a long journey since the time quizmaster Derek O’Brien mockingly asked, ‘Goa mein quizzing bhi hota hai kya?’ in Pune in 2004,” reminisces Rajiv. Well, that is certainly a thing of the past due to the efforts of Savoir Faire.

What about the overall quizzing scenario in Goa? “Quizzing interest in Goa is sporadic,” says Harsh, “with quizzes conducted by the Rotary, Lions Club, etc. Then there are the various quizzes organised by colleges and schools. But quizzing is a 365-day affair and can’t be viewed in isolation. Consequently there is an utter lack of quizzing culture in Goa.” Rajiv adds, “We also want to inculcate a quizzing culture, especially among students with the Monginis Quiz. There is a lot of enthusiasm at the school level but this wanes by the college level.”

One initiative on which the duo are pinning much hope is the Sunday Evening Quiz Club (SEQC) started a few months ago. “We got together with a few other quizzing enthusiasts and started this once-a-month Sunday evening quizzing event. Basically it’s a mix of people seriously involved in quizzing along with some enthusiastic newcomers and with this we hope to take quizzing in Goa to a new level.”

According to Harsh, what has made things easier for quizzing enthusiasts is the advent of popular shows like Kaun Banega Karodpati? and Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hain? “These shows have brought quizzing into people’s drawing rooms, which is a good thing. Quizzing is no longer seen as an esoteric pastime. One problem, though, is that the prizes are given too much importance. Of course, money is great, I love it too, but that is hardly the primary purpose of quizzing. Mastermind India, the most prestigious quiz of all, had a negligible amount as prize money, but I’d much rather have their trophy adorning my mantelpiece than all the money from more popular shows!”

One of the members of SEQC is Aniruddha Sen Gupta, who had been a semi-finalist in Mastermind India. “There is a totally intellectual, nerdy tag that is attached to quizzes, which is misplaced. It probably dates from the time when most quizzes took place on radio, like the grandfather of them all, the Bournvita Quiz Contest. But now technology has made it possible to have more innovative quizzes, with use of audio, video and graphics. Also, good quizmasters devise quizzes where you work out the answers. Due to corporate sponsorship there has been a proliferation of business quizzes. This is a good thing,” says Aniruddha, “but corporates need to be more open about sponsoring general quizzes.” Aniruddha, along with some friends, has a group called Quizvaddo, which has organised quizzes for schools and clubs in Goa.

With Savoir Faire having made a splash on the national scene, and a variety of initiatives planned for Goa by various enthusiasts, quizzing in Goa is set to look up, and it will not be long before some other teams from Goa are rubbing shoulders with Savoir Faire at the national level, making Goa a name to reckon with in quizzing.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Chirag lights up SEQC (with more than a little help from some newcomers)

A hugely enjoyable evening once again, thanks to some grand hospitality from Tallulah and Rajiv, and an extremely innovative quiz devised by Rajiv. SEQC Quiz no. 4 saw the largest participation ever, with 23 participants matching their wits against Rajiv and each other. It was great to see a large number of new members and here's a big welcome to them all! We missed Maneesha, who probably had something else to do or forgot that she had promised to turn up with some people from Synapse.

Chirag Mutgi, long-standing SEQC member, mounted a quick smash-and-grab raid from Bangalore, and along with his team members Pravin, Renuka and Luis waltzed away with the honours in his first live appearance. This team pulled ahead in the 'Six Degrees of Separation' round and never looked back.

Kudos to Rajiv for devising a quiz that had something for everybody, from the newbies to the veterans. It worked perfectly to maintain the interest of all the participants and tested their imaginations. Chirag showed here that a hyperactive imagination (okay, let's call it creative thinking) can be a great plus in quizzing. Or maybe that team was more QUI than the others, showing that 'influences' are a great help in helping one to connect things and see things in a holistic light...

Apart from the 'influence' which everybody quizzed under, Tallulah and Rajiv provided some great snacks and a groovy ambience. There was plenty of fun and laughter and out-of-the-box thinking. A little discipline among the participants next time may be a good idea though. How about double negative points for answering out of turn?

Rajiv quizmastered brilliantly, controlling an unruly group that often questioned his decisions. Everybody remember, the decision of the quizmaster is final! Ve haf vays of making you stop talking!

This brings me to a proposal that I tentatively mentioned yesterday: given that the quizmaster puts in a lot of effort, shouldn't we be awarding the quizmasters 4 points (with retrospective effect) rather than the meagre 2 points we are giving them now?

Okay, now for some 'dogging': the questions varied tremendously in difficulty level, making the quiz a little patchy, and bringing in a rather large slice of luck. The 'Six Degrees of Separation' in which we were asked to make six connects between two people/organisations ranged from the blindingly obvious to the extremely tenuous/far-fetched. Also, there seemed to be a little too much of Western pop culture in the questions.

Let's see what Ameya has for us in Ponda on 5th October, which is the date for SEQC Quiz 5. If Ameya's One-for-the-Day samples (which we had over 20 of before work pressures forced him to quit sending them out) are any indication, we should be in for a treat.

A thought here: seeing the quizzes we've had till now, when it's my turn to be quizmaster, I'm going to come out with a traditional quiz – a series of questions to be answered within a strict time frame. No video, audio or graphics. After all, it was the Bournvita Quiz Contest which first introduced me to quizzing in the 1970s. Every Sunday at 1 pm we would put on Vividh Bharati and have a barrage of questions to answer. So how about one like that? Nerds of the world unite! Be warned, don't ask me to be quizmaster!

And, finally, here's wishing Harsh and Rajiv luck in the Tata Crucible national finals. Are they going to be telecast live? We're all rooting for you. SEQC ka naam roshan karo!