HT InQuizItive 2006

The Hindustan Times InQuizItive 2006, the annual HT quiz (sponsored by Canon this year) was held today at Talkatora Stadium. As usual, it was conducted by one of my fave quizmasters, Siddhartha Basu, and his team from the Tree Of Knowledge (ToK). Suneet Tandon, as usual, was the MC, and there was a rare appearance this time by Anita Kaul Basu this time. Frankly, she handled it much better; and left Suneet Tandon feeling unwanted. Here’s the whole story….

May I know why is this school sending teachers / bus drivers / any other officials who DON’T know where the venue is? If they’re thinking of losing ‘this crazy kid too interested in quizzing’ (i.e., me), then it won’t be this easy. The team consisted of the President of the Quiz Club, Abhishek Mitra, and me, the Vice President. Only one team allowed at HT InQuizItive. Anyway, we did reach the venue, somehow in time, and had an amusing moment (I’m sure the auto driver thought that too) when our teacher asked him for a bill (she wanted to show it to the school I guess)! We registered, and went in to usual carnival-type atmosphere it has every year with 210 teams participating, and many schools sending in their cheering teams (ironically, always the ones with no hope of winning). My buddy, Ishaan of DPS RKP was right there, and it brought back those feelings of disappointment, anger and shock which I felt at not getting through there this year, because we both REALLY wanted to go to quizzes with each other. It’d have been a really strong team, both being the most experienced quizzers in their respective schools. It goes back to a older era (not when dinosaurs ruled, not THAT far back) when I became champ at CBQC 2004, and he came second. We’re really good pals, and yes, I wanted to participate with him.

Coming back on track, first there was the judgment of the cheering teams and the banners (there was an embarrassing one from some school, which said ‘Read only Times of India’ that was promptly taken down by the HT reps), and the usual screaming they’re asked to do. The same boring old song they play every year (Vande Mataram, by AR Rehman…ugh), in a continuous loop, to get the adrenaline levels high. Irritates me every year. Then the usual ads and promo videos for HT (again, the same every year…you’re getting my point, aren’t you?).

After a bit of dilly-dallying, we got down to serious business, the quizzing part – we had the written prelims for the Delhi finals. 25 questions, 15 minutes, no options given. Not surprising, this is what happens at every quiz (I’m trying to make a point for DPSVK quizzers here…). And it was tough. We both attempted all, and thought then it had gone really well. We fully expected to get through to the finals, where the top 6 teams make it. To our horror, we didn’t. All these years that I’ve been quizzing, I had an inkling about whether I’d make it or not, and this time I fully expected to go through. Later, as we found out from ToK researcher (after some pestering / flashing of badges), we were tied among the top 6 teams at the same overall score, and got out because of ONE tie-breaker question. That hurts; losing outright is one thing, making it so close and then going out, completely different. Happened to the exceptionally brilliant duo of Adarsh and Sohail from Sanskriti School (who made it to Delhi, and then national finals here) last year in the Times of India Fun-da-Mental Quiz (this one, by Derek o’ Brien, another of my faves) when they didn’t make it through to that quiz’s Delhi final, because of one tie-breaker.

I saw a cheering team from my old school, and also the team. They were once under my guidance there; this time it was a different case. I had an interaction with them, and came to know the quiz club there is falling apart. Expected. Without me.

Siddhartha Basu then conducted the Delhi finals, which had Sanskriti, DPS RKP (Ishaan and Tejas), Mothers International (Krittika, so far the only girl quizzer I’ve come across, she was there in CBQC 2004, at position 4, if I recollect correctly; and one guy who I don’t know), St Columba’s, Somerville School (dunno how THEY got through), and I don’t remember the last school. The rounds were good, but the scoreboard ended up pretty one-sided, with St Columba’s winning (on a tie-breaker; they got a Canon 4-megapixel digicam), and Sanskriti second (they got a Canon multi-function printer). The rest were gathered at the bottom on pathetic scores, except Mothers. Somerville, as far as I remember, didn’t get anything on board. And my pal, Ishaan too crashed out. Like last year, there were problems in the scoring system this year too, with the teams on stage having to point out to ToK that they were wrong about the scores. Funny, isn’t it, all the CBQC 2004 people there (me, Ishaan, Krittika) crashing out; we were also there in JSTS, me ranked highest among the three.

There were numerous audience rounds during the quiz, in which we both won some (knapsacks; shirts; toffees worth 500, 500 paisa, that is). Better than the non-qualifying stage teams, they go home with nothing. Eminent cop Kiran Bedi dropped in for a few minutes (chief guest), and was asked to conduct an audience round. Before she got the quiz card, she (very foolishly, in retrospect) told the audience that she would only ask the questions to which she herself knew the answer. The look on her face, when she was actually handed the card, was worth watching; she stood there for about two minutes, clueless. The audience, so well-behaved, especially us participants, lost no time in whispering ‘please go ahead and ask the damned questions for us, we know you aren’t a quizzer’. Siddhartha Basu came to her rescue, assisted her in asking two questions, before she suddenly felt the urge to go to her office for work, and scampered. There were some fun moments, with the St Columba’s cheering team sitting behind us screaming ’42’ for each and every answer. There were teacher questions, which had better prizes (and frankly, made us the participants ROFL at the answers they gave; so teachers, we know that you aren’t that good at everything, so need to smirk when we can’t in class). St. Columba’s cheering team got a toaster, courtesy a grateful teacher (of some other school) whom they’d told a correct answer. They ended up debating later what they’d do with the toaster, with some telling they should donate to school canteen, some saying to a teacher, etc. I chipped in, and suggested they could take it apart, and keep a screw or a spring or a metal sheet each, as a memento. Must accept they had a sense of humor.

The national finals were scheduled later for the day, and had the top teams from Delhi, and the regional winners of Chandigarh, Lucknow, Indore, Jaipur and Bhopal. The regional rounds had been conducted earlier in the respective cities. Our teacher was eager to go back to school right then. But we both didn’t want to, partly for the fact there was a chance of us getting more audience prizes, and mostly for the fact that we didn’t want to face the students. We told her that we were highly interested in gaining knowledge and experience for future quizzes (also very true). We didn’t wait much for her answer really, and went back to our seats (‘Actually, ma’am there was so much noise there, we couldn’t hear you…’). The national finals were electrifying; the last round a buzzer one with +100 -100 possibility. St Columba’s emerged champions (and thus, also got a digital camcorder from Canon), Chandigarh team coming second.

Second quiz of the year, hit counter still zero. Good that we are making it close; a good rank at Columbian; almost through at HT InQuizItive 2006, but that is NOT good enough for me. Which makes my priorities clearer. To devote this year primarily to training a new team at DPSVK.

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