The following is by a now expat member of the group, Nupur, who was at COEP a few years ago. This also reminds me that the story of the BC quizzing scene was last told until the mid 90s. We need someone to push it till '97 as there are many of us who can take the story ahead from there :-). This post is a little provocative for members of that era, so comments are more than invited.
I think the Boat Club Quiz Club was strategically flawed.
These are my views on what I had experienced 2 years ago at the BCQC and I think I kind of understand why there was a major dip in the QC population (and popularity?), in the year 2002. These are my views on what I think was going wrong. I do not know how true it is now.
Explaining the answers: I think this was the #1 reason why many people lost enthusiasm to attend the QC.
Lets take an example.
(I recall this one clearly)
The question was: "What comes in 6 'flavours'. Top, Bottom, Up, Down, Charm and Strange".
The answer was 'Quarks'.
Now this was a 2-3 times repeated question. So the seniors knew it. And they waved it off even before the answer was given . "Ya ya, chalo next question", they said.
I looked around and at the new students, and saw a bewildered, lost and helpless look on their faces. They, obviously, had no idea what was going on! I turned to the QM immediately and said "Please explain it to these guys!!", but it went unheard in the conversations around me.
This is an oft repeated mistake the QC did. The QC was so in-itself, everyone expected the new students to 'pull themselves up to the seniors'. No help was offered, though.
This led to a lot of people losing enthusiasm to come for the QC. I think that the QC could be more sensitive to the new comers and gather a larger crowd. One could argue with the Quality over Quantity issue, but then, the more the merrier right? And once the answer is explained, if someone still doesn't get it, then they will filter out automatically. But one must make it a point to get the answer out AND explain it if possible. I have been, many times, put off completely because some answers (like connect questions) were not explained.
Teams: Newcomers or "kaccha players" were made to team up with the really really good Quizzers, with the view that they will learn something.
In fact the effect was the opposite.
The amateur quizzer never gets a chance to think, since the experienced quizzer has already got the answer even before he finished reading the question. Also, suggestions/attempts made by the newbie, get shot or go unheard by the better quizzer (and this leads to a lowering of self confidence while attempting questions..... its actually a vicious circle, get it?).
Money: I have NEVER won a prize. I am not a good quizzer, just really enthusiastic. But now when I look back at the way some BCQC quizzes were conducted, I feel that I should have protested. No its not the money obviously, it's the principles. The participants had to put in Rs 10 per head or so (I remember Swapnils quiz had Rs 50 per head). The top 3 teams got all the money.
Now I know where I stand. I am never going to win a quiz. Never.
So why should I pay when I know the money is going to someone else? and more often it goes to the people who decide to keep a fees for the quiz! So if I was a regular quiz winner, what difference does it make to me if I put in a couple of tenners? I will get it all back (and more) sometime or the other! Of course, this reason is not a crowd deterrent, but yes, I have felt disdain sometimes, over a period of 4 years.
Here I feel compelled to insert a comment (which was sent to Nupur earlier): "I would like to dispel (and I think you would agree) any notion readers may hold that money was involved on a regular basis. The purpose was merely to make occasional sessions at the BC more competitive and most importantly, provide people with a chance to set first-rate quizzes, because that was the time only collegians got to organise official events. I rather think that met its purpose and lifted an otherwise moribund time to more purposeful pursuits. We haven't done it in a long time now, mainly because now there are many more quizzes being organised which take care of that. As you may recall, participating was totally voluntary, and the amount won was usually and promptly spent on refreshments for the participants. It was just a token issue and nothing was really intended there. People who haven't been to the BC may not quite get the setting. (And I'm not mistaken, the fee at Swap's wasn't as high as that - I don't think any quiz in Pune then would have charged that much, let alone a poor, amateur grouping :-) " :: Ramanand
Female repellent: The less said the better. It took me 2 whole years to get friendly with the QC. First 2 years, no one made any effort to mix around with the few girls (read me) who used to attend. And yes, if a girl answers the question, all heads turn "huh! she got it right??!!". But that's more male mentality than QC. So forgiven (temporarily).
But I must mention that I never felt that any extra effort was taken to make the girls feel comfortable. In case someone at the QC is reading this, and feels that they did try, do let me know.
Politics: Frankly and thankfully, there wasn't much of this at the QC, because we all wanted the QC to stand through all the storms, and thought of it above and beyond ourselves. Yes, we do have the occasional story's a couple of guys had cooked up for the chakravyuh (yes, you two, if you're reading this, I knew it all along :-) )
Looks like the effects of the first 2 points have reflected in the fact that there are hardly any students from COEP itself in the QC. Most are from other colleges.
I believe that the QC could have been more assertive than aggressive. They were aggressive towards the learners (what I was all along); its just that I persisted because nothing else in COEP was even close to as value adding as the BCQC, I felt. But I also saw a lot of talent move away because of the attitude of the QC.
And no, I don't have anyone in mind while writing this. :-).
If you were at the BCQC and feel differently, please feel free to email me at nupurgtATgmailDOTcom
Nupur also wrote in to add a comment sent to her by one of the BCQC seniors: "This is what I feel should be done : [The post] revealed the disadvantages of not having a structure to the BCQC. We are failing to realize in our quest to keep the BCQC informal, that it is very important to document facts and information (that's why the notesandstones blog has finally come up). We need to keep a database of who all attend the QC, who all took a quiz, when, how, where, Who won? etc. If not all this, we should AT LEAST have a database of people who have attended the BCQC in the past."