Archive for August 2010

IIFT, Kolkata – Open General Quiz Review

August 31, 2010

Sipping My Fair Lady at Moulin Rouge, Park Street, Kolkata with a bunch of students from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, I wished I could spend atleast one more day in the wonderful city. The open general quiz conducted by us (QuizMonks) had concluded an hour ago and it was celebration time. We huddled in one corner of the restaurant and spoke about the quiz, questions, Kolkata quizzers, films, music, Calvin & Hobbes, Facebook, MBA, jobs and much more.

Earlier during the day, casual conversations with the students brought out the perceived image of Kolkata being quite a lethargic city. Shops pull-down shutters in the afternoons for naps, auto-rickshaws ply only fixed routes and quizzes (usually) don’t begin on time. This was partly right as the participants started filing into the auditorium only by 4.30 pm, an hour after registrations began.

Much different from Mumbai and its chaotic lifestyle, Kolkata is really one of those cities where people are pretty much at-their-own-pace. They don’t seem hurried and certainly not hassled. But, the auditorium was soon buzzing with participants switching seats, shuffling around, greeting each other and planning local quizzes and quiz club meets like one big happy family.

Lethargy or not, what we witnessed was a high spirited bunch of quizzers – agile and enthusiastic. Much like Chennai and Bangalore, school kids, college students and 40 plus uncles and aunties all played an active part in the extravaganza. A sight that we rarely see in Mumbai. I can recollect only one ‘uncle’ in Mumbai who is a passionate and a regular quizzer. One hardly ever sees school students at open quizzes.

The prelims went off well with all the 30 questions getting cracked by some or the other team. With a highest score of 22.5 and a cut-off of 16, six teams joined the two college teams that had already qualified through the online prelims.

When three of the first four questions in the finals went unanswered, Dhananjay and me were a little concerned that the quiz might turn out to be ultra-tough. But when the likes of Jayashree Mohanka and Souvik Guha grace the stage, you can’t expect an ordinary quiz, can you? The lead changed hands quite regularly in the initial phases and with almost 1/3rd of the quiz done, it was Charanpreet Singh & partner who led, albeit by a slender margin. The duo seemed quite surprised and jocularly asked, “Can we stop the quiz at this stage?”, prompting peals of laughter from the teams and audience alike. Unfortunately for them, the show had to go on and the doyen of Indian quizzing, Souvik Guha, decided to join the party. With some intelligent guesses and some matter-of-fact answers, he and Dr. Soubhadra Chakraborthy steered clear of others and won in a canter followed by Jayashree Mohanka & Sounak Chakrabarti on second spot.

I personally look forward to ‘high adrenaline moments’ in a quiz – when a participant cracks a bloody tough one or when the crowd appreciates a good question. And the Kolkata quizzers gave us those ‘moments’ and more! What is most delightful is that people seemed to genuinely enjoy themselves like they were on a picnic. Bantering at a co-quizzer’s lame guess to helping us correct elims sheets; participating with the objective of having fun and not being desperate to win are some of the traits that distinguishes Kolkata quizzers. One could sense a certain purity in their love for quizzing, a richness in their knowledge base, a lightness of touch in their delivery of answers and a nimble energy raging within them.

The students of IIFT, Kolkata organized the event with utmost perfection. The venue, the screen, LCD projectors, sound systems, mics were all spot-on. No technical glitches, whatsoever.  Right from receiving us at the airport to conducting the event to dropping us back at the departure lounge, Jagadish Sahu and his team of students were meticulous to the final detail.

And then the dinner with Sukrit, Sandeep, Ankit, Chaitanya and Jagadish was the icing on the cake. Add to that the almost-celebrity treatment that Karan Rampal, our official ‘guide’ for the trip gave us. Aah, what a weekend! This was one satisfying quizzing experience (unlike this disaster). Here’s hoping the quizzing culture of Kolkata remains as energetic and vibrant as ever.