Monday, June 13, 2005

Maha!Quizzer - Bombay Round

Venue : Sophiya College,Mumbai
Date : 12th June, Sunday.
Time : 10 to 11:30 am
Organizers : Karnataka Quizzing Association (KQA)

Maha!Quizzer was a unique format consisting of 150 written questions to be answered in 1.5 hours at the same time at 5 locations around the country(Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Trivandrum and Mumbai). There were prizes for local winners and the title of Mahaquizzer was to be bestowed upon the person with the highest score in all 5 cities.

The only problem was that when a quiz is conducted across geographical boundaries care needs to be taken about the scope being truly fair to people from all the places involved. There were many questions which were very south-centric - for eg. we were asked about a certain mountain range you pass while going from trivandrum to bangalore or something like that. Another complaint was the sport. All the questions involved niche sports and their rules. There were no cricket-nostalgia questions or sport questions that did more than scratch the surface. Most questions were like - "this sport involves an arena of 2 x 15 m and is governed by ...."

The high point of the 'quiz' were the hindi film questions. They were really well set. Also lots of questions on literature-arts-architecture-language. Some of these questions were really good but some however bordered on the arbit. Overall a written 'exam' is never fun and KQA needs to come up with a better format if they really want their Mahaquizzer. Maybe take some tips from Siddharth Basu and Co. at UC.

(Also KQA seems to be getting afflicted with the problems of big associations. When you hear the words 'it's a policy decision not to hand out empty elims sheets' you know that something is wrong)


Kunal said...

Arre, but who wom?

Kunal said...

I mean "won".

Anonymous said...

I would like to counter a few of the statements made about the quiz. The point that many questions were South-Centric is totally not right as the number of questions in a quiz comprising of 150 questions pertaining to the South were very, very few - a handful or so and besides, they were nicely balanced with other questions such as on Hindi films as you say which North Indians have a distinct advantage over.

The point that the quiz wasn't fun is also an inconsiderate statement. It was a different kind of fun. And comparing a superbly researched, well balanced quiz to a quiz that is tailored for a totally different medium with it's own demands (UC) only does injustice to the people who have attempted something totally innovative and have spent money out of their own pockets. (The event was not sponsored by anybody.)

All in all Maha Quizzer was a great event, an event conducted for truly passionate quizzers by quizzers themselves without a tinge of compromise. I am in no way affiliated to the KQA and had initially been very skeptical of the whole Maha Quizzer concept. Having experienced it I must say it was truly a unique event.

The KQA is apparently coming out with a souvenir which will contain the entire set of questions asked at the Maha Quizzer and in order to attract people to buy it, they had decided to avoid handing out the "elims sheets" as you call them. This can be considered fair since they have spent upwards of 65,000 out of their own pockets to finance the event.

The sports questions all had relevant clues and were highly workable and not merely fact based. The question you have mentioned was about fencing if I remember correctly and had relevant clues like it was played on a mat. Of course hind sight creeps up on looking back at the questions, but let us be fair to them. Another question was the one about the Canadian person who had degrees in theology and science who was asked to study the supposed ill effects that basketball had on the heart and came out with a clean chit for it. This one was a nice twister and seems it was Naismith himself who did the study. Wasn't this a good question? Other good ones about Table Tennis, Curling etc., come to mind.

"Maybe take some tips from Siddharth Basu and Co. at UC." is a really cheap shot at the organizers of such a superior quiz. Why does everything have to be boiled down to compete with something popular? Remember the adage, popular does not mean good and good does not mean popular. And UC even by the standards of the idiot box has not been a roaring success. It is being rotated out this season to make way for the dreck of quzzing - the ludicrous KBC. Television as a medium encourages homogenized fare which becomes bland and terribly dated in time. Why should quizzers have to follow the norms of something which is designed merely to be superficially entertaining?

All in all, Maha Quizzer was a good if not brilliant event and I am looking forward to the future editions. I hope many more will feel the same way.

I apologize to having made such a lengthy and opinionated answer to a probably well meaning blog post. I took the intiative to reply in such a fashion because I felt that the poster was making unfair comments about a sincere and genuinely good event. I wish to remain anonymous so as to avoid any bitterness regarding this. I genuinely appreciate the efforts of the posters on NotesAndStones and it is after great thought decided to put out this decidedly pointed comment. May be the author wasn't entirely serious about the statements made in his post, but I feel that a blog which portends to take quizzing seriously should not fail to provide positive feedback where it is due.

Ramanand said...

Hi A,

first, you don't have to be apologetic about your dissent - I think people here wouldn't mind it. So secondly, we'd prefer if people didn't remain nameless.
Anyway, it helps to know all sides, not just any "two". Most of us from Pune weren't there, so we don't know who was more accurate :-)

Kunal said...

Dude, Ramanand's right, you don't need to apologise for disagreeing with a post here (unless you are abusive, which you weren't).

Re: The Mahaquizzer souveneir, I guess if the organisers had given that as a reason for not giving out elim sheets, that would have been better than saying its a "policy decision". In Pune quizzes, we make it a point to give them after a quiz to whoever asks, so someone pleading "policy decision" seems very weird to us.

Again, as Ramanand says, we weren't there, so we can't say.

Perhaps if the KQA can be persuaded to have a Pune round in the next edition...

Abhishek said...

K - As for who won - to be frank I really don't remember the name. As for who became the MahaQuizzer maybe the Souvenir will contain info about that as well.

I would not like to get into arguments and counter arguments with nameless persons - so this is my opinion and anyone is quite free to disagree and say so - maybe Gaurav and Amit who were there can also comment so as to give a full rounded picture of the event.

As for UC - that was my mistake not stating explicitly that i meant the UC cross country challenge about which i heard good reports.

"author wasn't entirely serious about the statements made in his post" - believe me - i was.

Gaurav said...

Hmmm....I seem to have entered a raging debate.

I don't know about Amit's opinion, but I must disagree with Nagraj here. I loved the quiz, and was pleasantly surprised to see that most questions were in fact workable and had me going "ahhhhhhh....should've got that" when I heard the answers. So as far as the quality of the questions is concerned, no complaints.

The complaint I have is about not giving out a copy of the questions later. If the souveneir reason is true, then i can understand it, but if people thought the questions were arbit, it is because they did not have them to re-read and then evaluate. If you recall them just from memory, that too when you attempted 150 in 90 mins, they might seem arbit.

An excellent example is the supposedly "southie specific" question that Abhishek mentions. He remembers it as being a question that "asked about a mountain range going from trivandrum to bangalore or something". Actually it was an excellent question. It described a fort, not a mountain range, there were more clues, and the answer was Jinji. Now of all the people, we Maharashtrians should not crib about a question on Jinji being asked. After all it is a vital part of Maratha history taught in our schools. But from whatever Abhishek recalled, the question did not seem impressive.

Another complaint I have is the scoring. Amit was positive he got 39 right (he even wrote down the 39 when the answers were being checked) but they graded his sheet 34. Even my sheet was graded different from what i actually thought I scored. However neither of us were even close to 58, the top score, so we didn't pursue the matter further.

Wrong scoring in a quiz really irritates me (as you guys saw in the VIT quiz), because it is a basic thing.....kinda like dragging your bat when you complete a run.

So to conclude another long comment, Mahaquizzer was fun, and I hope they even have a Pune round next year.

Gaurav said...

Oh yes, the winner was a guy named Manish who works in Pinstrom. The "ladies winner", a concept I don't quite agree with, was also from Pinstrom.

You might say they stromed the quiz.

amit varma said...

I agree with Gaurav, it was a good quiz, but the South Indian questions were a bit irritating, because I felt those were essentially blanks for me, no chance of getting them. (What the hell is Jinji, btw?) Also, I was a bit surprised that the next-best score after the winning score of 58 was 45, with all the regular quizzers bunched closely behind that. It was a strange margin. But leaving aside the questionable organisation at the local level, I enjoyed the quiz.

Pleiades said...

Oh yeah, the quiz with the "ladies" winner.
And errrrrrrm... I forget the prize. What was it? A blender? :-/

Abhishek said...

actually a good reason for me being a bit critical might be not having the questions in detail. And i still say the questions were really good - but compared to a normal quiz this format wasn't fun - but the need was such that another format was not quite possible. So as far as the format goes it wasn't exactly fun but very few alternatives, and yes definitely a round in poona next year - as for the 'ladies champion' thing i don't mind as long as it is publicized in all the right places ;-)

Gaurav said...

Jinji was one of the capitals of the Marathas, aming other things, and was the place where Rajaram fled to escape from the invading Mughal army.

Samanth said...

You will all be interested to know that some of the "Southie" questions were extremely difficult even by Southie standards. There was one about Kuvempu, for example (the only Jnanpith awardee to have a university named after him), that I recall being answered by possibly three or four people in Chennai and Bangalore combined. That levelled the playing field to some extent.

The overall Maha!Quizzer title was taken by Anustup Dutta of Bangalore, who made 60.

I agree with a point that somebody raised about sports; one KQA member who helped set and conduct the quiz told me that they wanted to include other sports which were otherwise neglected in quizzes. Fair enough, but to not have one cricket question in 150 does not indicate a balance at all - something he acknowledged readily and noted for the next edition.

Something that was refreshing about this quiz, though, was the extra focus on science and in particular the history of science. The topic is really grist for a LOT of very fine questions, but too often it is ignored these days in favour of film and music. So in some ways it was a throwback to quizzing before Google Images - quite nice, that.

Anonymous said...

Going on a tangent from the Jinji question - I believe Ginger takes its name from the fort Jinji.

Gaurav - and others who are into Maratha history - if you haven't done so already, check out James Grant Duff's History of the Mahrattas; it should be available in Crossword. This is by far the most authentic and unbiased account of the rise of the Marathas.The part dealing with 1810 onwards seems a little biased as by then, the author was part of the East India Company army.

--- Shrirang

teiresias said...

This is on the subject of the Mahaquizzer organizers not giving out the copies of the questions and answers at the quiz venue. There seems to be some misunderstanding regarding the reason for this - it has nothing to do with the future sales of KQA souvenirs, which in fact were available for sale on the day of the Mahaquizzer itself and thus do not contain these questions. It was announced clearly (at least at Bangalore) that the questions and answers would be hosted on the KQA website so that people could download them at their leisure. The promise is now fulfilled and you can find the complete Mahaquizzer questions at the KQA website - The answer key is also provided as a .pdf file for download and reference.
This also enables people from other centres to get a flavour of the questions, and if they so wish, to take part in the contest on their own, attempting the questions over 90 minutes. I think everyone would agree this is a far better idea.
By the way, the KQA souvenir 2005 is a lot more than just a souvenir, and at Rs. 50, is the best-value quiz book in existence. It has 1000 superb and well-researched questions set by some of the best quizzers and QMs from across the country. Pick it up if you have the chance.