Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Telecom GrandMasters Quiz

Harsh Ketkar and Arnab Pal of VIT won the Telecom GrandMasters Quiz organised by Symbiosis Institute of Telecom Management on 5th Aug 2005. Here's what Harsh has to say:

Telecom GrandMasters Quiz was a national level Business quiz, with over 600 participants taking part, corporates and students alike, in the written eliminations round. Five teams were selected; two corporate teams and three student teams. The corporate teams were from Computer Associates, Bangalore; and from Avaya Software, Pune. The other student teams were ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad; and Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies, Pune. Our team from VIT was the only undergraduate and engineering college team.

The questions were mostly easy. Some were repeated, but the easy nature was compensated for by the buzzer and rapid-fire rounds. I'd give it a 6/10 on the toughness level. Plus there was a crossword round, and a gambling round, where you had to play for 10 or 20 points, and lose 5 or 10 for the wrong answer. At least two rounds had negative marking. We fared a bit badly in the logo round, and the B-school blokes were good at that. But the others were okay. We managed to lead all the way through, in the end the difference between us and the number two team narrowed down to 25 points, from a peak of around 50 points.

One more thing: those SITM guys pamper you like as if you are competing for a gold medal at the Olympics. We were kept in a VIP room just before the quiz, served water, and a volunteer took care of our baggage. On stage, there was a bottle of Aquafina, two glasses, and a bowl full of toffees. After the quiz, they had arranged for snacks; chicken sandwiches, pastries (Pineapple and Black Forest), coffee, tea, wafers and cheese sandwiches. One hell of an ego massage!

Harsh Ketkar

Monday, August 29, 2005

SCOE Pinnacle Quiz

Organised by: SCOE Electronics Department.


1st: Puranjay Parchure and Kunal Sawardekar (Fergusson)

2nd: Siddharth Dani and Kunal Thakar (VIT)

3rd: Anupam Akolkar and Abhishek Nagraj (VIT & COEP/PIET)

Also: Kapeesh Saraf and Vineet Bhatawadekar (COEP/PIET), Unknown Team (VIT)


- The quiz was quite decent, more so because it was a fiirst effort for all those involved. However, any goodwill the new SCOE junta might have earned today wassquandered by all the delays and technical snags.

- The finals questions were ok, but the scoring system made it unnecessarily arbit. They had a weird funda that the first two rounds had forty mark questions, the next two sixty mark questions, the next two eighty markers, and the last four had one hundred mark questions. However, the difficulty level never really varied, and we got some real sitters direct in the seventh and eighth rounds, which was chiefly responsible for our victory. Oh, and they had D&P, so you had X per direct answered, and 1/2 X per passed question. The scorers really had a good time inthis quiz.

- There was a wall of secrecy around the elims answers, and they have not yet been disclosed.

- The quiz followed the usual SCOE Electronics Department tradition of having an acrostic for the answers on the elim sheets. However, since the acrostic was the name of Richie Benaud's autobiography, it helped no one.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Resonance 2005, MESCOE Sports & Entertainment Quiz

11th Aug 2005

1st: Siddharth Dani & Salil Bijur (VIT)
2nd: Arvind Iyengar & Nitin Satyamurthi (MESCOE)
3rd: Anupam Akolkar & Anand Ayyadurai (VIT)
4th: Abhishek Nagaraj & Kapeesh Saraf (COEP)
Joint 5th: Anirudh Kasbekar & Arnab Pal (VIT), Rahul Phadnis & Mihir Kulkarni (MIT)

Quiz setters: Karan Oberoi

Report: Resonance '05 was the IEEE organised event in MESCOE where the quiz was one of the sub-events. The quiz was a purely 'Sports & Entertainment'. The elims were rather long, with 50 questions, mostly from western entertainment. The elims questions were decent: many original, some were recycled, some lifted straight away, some really obscure.

The finals began with 2 separate infinite rebounds rounds of entertainment and sports each. Anand & Anupam took a lead in the Ent round when Arvind and Nitin caught up in the Sports round. Siddharth and I scored in the connect the pictures round that followed next. The connects were extremely trivial eg. Connect pictures of Austin Powers, a martini, the logo of Aston Martin (with the words) and Timothy Dalton. Ans: James Bond. There were some (Da Vinci Code, Schindler's List) where the answer appeared clearly in the picture clues. For all of them, though the connect could be obtained by 2 clues, the explanation of the other details were given points. The next round was the audio round with buzzers (rather, banging of desks) and the clips being mostly dialogues from movies or voices of sportsmen (Ian Smith, Pat Symcox). The last round was called 'Cryptic', something like the one in Chakravyuh, where a team got to answer subsequent questions on a topic (for increasing points) after the first answer they got.

Some cribs as usual: Improper distribution of half-points is always a volatile issue, and there were plenty of disputes where half-answers and scoring was concerned. The topics in the Cryptic round could have been better. Some of them were Apoorva Agnihotri and pool/billiards championships. There were plenty of Pg. 3 type questions in the entire quiz that required knowledge of ex-girlfriends and love interests of singers, actors and sportsmen. Now this may be a fair topic for some and 1-2 in a quiz are OK. About 10-12 of such questions? I don't think so.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

My first Parnab Quiz

(Mirrored on my personal blog.

Parnab Mukherjee (you can see a picture here). That one name is guaranteed to make any serious quizzers blood boil. In his many years of conducting quizzes, he has chalked up a reputation for many things. He's been accused of embellishing his resume, lying about his education, unfairly influencing the outcome of quizzes and having a 6-year old alter ego. In fact, as the saying in quizzing circles goes, the "b" in his name (pronounced "Por-nob" in Bengali) should be left out, because his quizzes are so obscene. But all that is hearsay. I am now in a position to give you the dope on Parnabda first hand because today, I have had the infinite pleasure of actually attending a genuine 24-karat Parnab quiz.

When Salil told me that Parnab was conducting the SCIT Business Quiz, I knew I just had to go. Yes, the quiz was in a remote corner of Pune, and that the organisers were charging an obscene 100 bucks per participant*, but how often do you get to see India's best bad quizmaster perform? I found me an equally enthusiastic partner, and after spending a lot of money on petrol and the exorbitant entry fee, we were there. The quiz, as usual started late (I suspect this was Parnab's fault more than the organisers'). Almost an hour after the indicated time, in walked the great man himself. He then proceeded to conduct the elimination round without referring to any notes whatsoever. In fact, the questions were so off-the-top-of-his-head that he asked a volunteer to write them down so that they would remember them when it was time to check the answers. In theory, such paperless quizzing is what makes him (theoretically) great quizmaster. In theory. Communism works, in theory. But I digress. The elims were extremely so-so. Many of the questions were only tenuously related to business. We didn't do very well at all. We calculated we scored 6 out of 25, and there were many teams who said they'd scored 7s and 8s. We reconciled ourselves to watching the finals fromthe audience seats, and partook of a (really good) repast at the SCIT cafeteria.

We got back to the auditorium 15 mintes late, when they were just announcing the qualifiers, and we found that Ganesh and Salil had qualified for the finals. To our great surprise, so had we. We took our seats on stage, and the long (and allegedly false) introduction of the quizmaster began. This time, they left out the bit about him attending Penn State and Princeton (where he studied Econometrics under John Nash, no less). This may be because of the aforementioned schools' unreasonable reluctance to acknowledge their association with Mr. Mukherjee, but we'll let that pass for now. We will let the fact that several other unsubstantiated claims were made pass. We will even let the fact that Parnabda has really long, scary fingernails pass, and get on to the point of this article, the quiz.

The quiz was, in a word, weird. The questions, as in the elims, were asked without reference to any notes. The answers, too, were given without reference to notes. This rather unfortunate coincidence has led to uncomfortable questions about some of Parnabda's facts. However, since many of the questions were on topics that no one present had ever heard of, we were not in a position of actually challenging the great man. The only complaint I have to make about his four normal rounds is that they were either extremely arbitrary or extremely easy.

The two Parnab Special rounds, of course, were a different story. I call them "Parnab Special"s because I am sure no other quizmaster in the world has either the pizaz or the maaz to attempt them. The first of these Parnab Specials was the newspaper round. The gist of the newspaper round is that you get a newspaper, you choose you a page, and Parnab asks you a question that appears on the page. We chose the front page of the newspaper assigned to us (the 9th July issue of The Hindu). Parnab agreed, and began giving us a lot of gas about couriers, Meghdhoot and the Indian Postal Department. Then, changing subjects with aplomb (and leaving us wondering about the necessity of the aforementioned gas) he asked us the name of the two leading characters in Whatchamacallit, a book by Kalidas. Confused by the explanation of the round given us by Parnab, we mumbled some answer. Parnab smiled and told us that the correct anwer, Shiva and someone else. And how did he link it to our assigned newspaper? Very simple. In a obscure corner of our page, was a tiny 2 sq cm ad for Neelkanth Jewellers. And Neelkanth, as any idiot knows, is one of Lord Shiva's names. Simple, no? The outsatnding brilliance of this question left me stunned, and I didn't really listen to the questions asked the others, but my partner assured me that they were equally astounding.

But the showcase round, as in any other Parnab quiz, was the speciality round. Speciality rounds feature in many Indian quizzes, but the twist in Parnab's version is that you can choose a topic of your choice, off the top of your head, and he asks you a question off the top of his. Your topic can be as obscure as you wish, in fact, he encourages obscurity. However, having been warned that Parnab punishes obscurity, I chose the most general topic I could think of, History. On being prodded to narrow my speciality, I chose Western History. He smiled, and asked me the British Prime Minister who preceded Margaret Thatcher. He gave several clues, saying that the man in question was a Tory, an ex-businessman, and a founder of the New Labour tradition that Tony Blair belongs to. I answered James Callaghan, because although his biodata did not correspond with what Parnab gave in his clues (he was a Labour Party member who used to be a civil servant), he was Thatcher's predecessor**, and that was the question. Parnab disagreed, and said that the answer was Edward Heath. Now Heath, although a Tory, was not Thatcher's predecessor as PM. Nor was he ever a businessman. But such is Parnab's amazing stage presence, his supreme self-confidence, and his extreme pig-headedness that I did not attempt to dispute the answer. He went to the other teams, who had chosen such amazing topics as Heinz and Campbell Soup. Parnab rose to the occaison and asked superlative question, which of course we were unable to answer. Afetr this round, the quiz finished (to the great relief of all involved) and to our greta surprise, we finished third. Due to extreme mental anguish, I fail to recall the names of the winners and runners up, but they did well, and I do not grudge them their extra prize money. I was just glad that the ordeal was over, and ran home.

Thus ended my first Parnab quiz. Will I ever attend another, given the opportunity? Of course I will! This was the most entertaining quiz I ever went to. Parnab truly lives up to his reputation of being overconfident, obnoxious, and the best bad quizmaster in India. What a guy!

PS: I have an idea about an interesting meme. I have included links to every previous anti-Parab article I could find. How about, every time anyopne writes about Parnab, they include links to all the previous articles, so that we have all the relevant opinions and evidence in one place? The next person to write about Parnab, please try it out.

* Before I get any hate mail form SCIT junta, I'll just clarify this. The fee was for all ten-twelve events in the fest, and so wasn't all that exorbitant. We felt it was bad because we had to fork out that much for just one event. I'm sure the guys who took part in multiple events found it reasonable.

** See the list of British PMs here.