Friday, December 29, 2006

BCQC January Open Quizzing
Supported by Landmark

Landmark Books We kick off 2007 with an early bout of serious quizzing, this time with a College quiz and the other regular features. Here are the details:

Common Details
Date and Time: 7 January 2007, Sunday
Venue: Dewang Mehta Auditorium, "Bhageerath", Persistent Systems Pvt. Ltd., Senapati Bapat Road, Pune
(nearest landmarks: the building is behind Domino's Pizza; this is the same road as the main Symbiosis college, ICC Trade Towers; ~5 kms from Pune railway station; 2 kms from Pune University Circle)
Contact for info: 98810 00957 (Shamanth), 93244 45248 (Ramanand), contact-at-bcqc-dot-org
Fees: none - just show up and you can take part.
Registration: on the spot.
Prizes: courtesy Landmark, Pune.

Quiz 1: Open quiz for College Students:

Organised by: Akhil and Apurva

Flavour: General
Team Size: Upto three per team
Restrictions: none; unlimited number of teams per college, mixed teams allowed
Reporting time: 8:45 am. (The quiz will be from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm)
(Definition of college student: student from 11th standard onwards. School students welcome to take part if interested. Impersonators will be impounded :-))
Registration: call/email. On the spot entries also welcome.
Eight teams in the final

Quiz 2: Open quiz

Organised by: Gaurav Sabnis
Flavour: General
Team Size: Two per team
Reporting time: 1:30 pm. (The quiz will likely last upto to ~6 pm)

Quiz 3: Audience theme quiz
Theme: "Assassinations" + "India at the Olympics"
Organised by: Ramanand
When: In the break between elims and finals
* We'll be as strict with the timings as we can, so please show up on time
* Prizes for both main quizzes
* Everyone's invited!
* If you don't have a partner, don't worry - just show up and you should be able to find someone like you who needs to pair up. At worst, you can take the elims solo.
KQA's "Go Ogle" online quiz

(Message from KQA's Arul Mani)

The KQA will hold Go Ogle, its annual online quiz on 1st January 2007. The quiz is set by Arul Mani.The rules are given below.

Rules: Open to all solo contestants, irrespective of age or location.

Prior registration is required. Please email us (kqaquizzes at your name, age, address and other contact details by 30th December 2006.

The quiz will be posted at our blog http://community. livejournal. com/kqaquizzes

The quiz will be available for access from 1700hrs IST on 1st Jan and will be taken off at 2100hrs IST.

Participants will attempt the quiz at the blog. Those who do not have a livejournal account may post reponses anonymously. Such entrants must however leave their name (and email i.d used while registering) at the bottom of the entry. Unsigned anonymous entries will not be considered.

No participant is allowed more than one attempt at the quiz. Attempts at skulduggery will result in disqualification. The results and answers will be announced on 2 January 2007 at the blog. Two prizes will be given out, to winner and runner-up respectively. The prizes will be named in a day or two.

For some idea of what last year's quiz was like, go to http://community. livejournal. com/kqaquizzes/ 3634.html

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Mod Mod Infinite Rebounds

Ages ago, I'd written a post on Infinite Rebounds as part of a series discussing scoring formats in quizzes. That post has a couple of errors which came to notice in time, and is slightly obsolete now. This current post aims to correct those errors and record the current set of conventions that are followed in IR (at least in the BC circles). This post is also partly aimed at perhaps reaching a consensus on how we should run this method here - it is after all the most popular form of conducting a quiz in these parts - so as to avoid the usual raised eyebrows just before the finals of a quiz begin when the quizmaster announces his nth variation.

Infinite Rebounds a.k.a. Infinite Bounds (IR) is one of the algorithms to answer the timeless quizzing question of "who gets the next question?". One answer is in these commonly agreed conventions is IR:

(Some terms and abbreviations:
* Q{n-1} : the previous question which has been completed
* Q{n} : the next question which is to be asked
* S: the team that successfully answered Q{n-1}
* P: the team that started Q{n-1}
* Normal passing direction: The usual passing order that a quiz begins with i.e. A->B->...->F->A...
* Reverse: F->E->...->A->F...
* S-1(P-1): the team seated "before" S(P) in the Normal passing direction
* S+1(P+1): the team seated "after" S(P) in the Normal passing direction

Rule 1. Q{n} after Q{n-1} was correctly answered: The choice of the team to receive Q{n} depends on how Q{n-1} was answered. If Q{n-1} was answered correctly by a team S, Q{n} goes to S+1.

* IR attempts to keep things "fair" for all teams by keeping the number of attempts on questions as equal as possible. "Equality" not only over the entire length of a quiz, but also over short windows of time. In IR, this means that at any point, no team will have an unfairly greater number of attempts at questions than any other team.
* We know that the fairest possible system is for all teams to simultaneously attempt all questions. But this is not possible for all questions in a stage-final-format, and so every algorithm needs to address where a question starts and how it passes. Here 'fairness' means for teams to at least attempt almost, if not exactly, the same number of questions. For this, one needs to also convince oneself that theoretically there is no difference between attempting a question on the direct or on a pass.
* In earlier systems like Direct-and-Pass, some teams could enjoy several more attempts than others in a single round. Perhaps over the length of the quiz, the teams may have similar number of attempts, but in a local window, this will not be true.
* A Team is not penalised for sitting next to a "good" team that gobbles up all questions before they can get to it.
* IR always increments the next question marker, ensuring that no team can get an attempt again unless all teams after it have had one attempt since.
* We can state the fundamental principle of IR as: "keep the number of attempts equal". Earlier, we thought it would make sense to re-start next to the team that last got points. But on reflection, this is not quite correct.

Rule 2. Q{n} after Q{n-1} was not correctly answered:
(Before modification) If Q{n-1} went through unanswered, Q{n} will go to P+1 i.e. the team next to the one that started the previous question.
(Modification 1) If Q{n-1} went unanswered, Q{n} goes back to P i.e. the same team with which the previous question started.

* Earlier, it was felt that no team should start a question twice in a row. However, if we want to keep the number of attempts equal, then here the old rule violated the principle. This is because the team that started the last question is now pushed to the end of the new cycle. Unless the question is unanswered by the rest, this team loses an attempt while the others gain one.
* Applying the modification ensures that at any given point in the quiz, no team can have more than 1 additional attempts over any other team in the final. (Having "1 more" means that the other teams will attempt questions to square the count before this team can increment its count.) In the previous system, this could not be ensured. In fact, data shows that a difference of 2 or more is often seen with the older system.
* This modification is as simple to run, and more importantly, it does not penalise a team just because the quiz-setter asked a tough question that none of the teams could answer.
Rule 3. Next question after partial points:
(Before modification) Sometimes a question is made up of multiple sub-answers. Suppose such a question Q{n-1} is attempted by all teams, some of which who give partial correct answers. At the end, the quiz-master awards partial points to those teams with correct contributions. In this case, who gets Q{n}? Previously, the question would be awarded to the team next in passing order to the last team to get points.
(Modification 2) Here, since all teams have attempted the previous question, the question heads back again to P.
(There is no consensus on this point)

* Again, the previous system believed in re-starting next to the team that last got points. Instead, if we appeal to the spirit of the principle of equal attempts, Q{n} should go back to P, as everyone's had an attempt on the previous question.
Rule 4. Next question after round reversal: A question is asked and completed. The order of passing now reverses. Who gets the next question? If modification #1 is implemented and if the last question was unanswered, then Q{n} goes back to P. This is a trivial case. In all the other cases, there have been several variations here and no consensus has really emerged. The variations:

* Q{n} is given to S-1 (or P+1 in case no modification is applied) and the passing is in Reverse
* Q{n} is given to S+1 and the passing then Reverses
* Breaking with IR here, Q{n} starts at the other extreme i.e. Team F (assuming the previous half started with Team A)

* It seems to me that each of the above rules have their pros and cons, and hence their respective advocates. None of these seem to be able to give any firm guarantees, so I think this much dissimilarity in number of attempts can be tolerated. Perhaps the best way is to toss a coin and pick the starting team in each segment randomly. Random is better than Bad :-)

The rest of the 'philosophical' aspects can be read in the previous posts. I hope to bring out the emphasis on the "equality in number of attempts" to help guide all minor quibbles. Of course, there is no intention of imposing some kind of standard, but perhaps leading to a convention that say most open quizzes in Pune and even Bombay can adopt. My personal basket of conventions would be to include both the modifications on points 2 and 3. Hopefully, quizmasters will think clearly about the options available to them instead of making an arbitrary and dogmatic choice. Of course, there are those who say IR is dogma :-), but it's the best we've got at the moment, is it not?

Kindly comment on issues.

P.S.: I remarked that "theoretically, there is no difference between attempting a question on the direct or on a pass". This is not quite true. In fact, practically, there is a difference between all teams when they attempt. The earlier you attempt a question, you have less to work with from answers previously given, but you also benefit from lack of "Forward Bias" (example embedded in this post). But overall, does it matter? I think not.

P.P.S: Apologies for the use of short-forms etc. etc. - all in the name of brevity (esp. if you consider the size of this post!).

P.^3.S: Special mention of Arnold D'Souza (as promised) for independently re-discovering modification #1 in Pune circles :-)

Monday, December 18, 2006

November 2006 BC Regular Open Quiz - QM's (Samrat's) views

A tightly contested quiz, decided on the last few questions. I was surprised seeing that only 3 out of 60 Qs were left unanswered. Though I believe in setting workable and not too difficult questions, but this was a superb performance by the teams by any standards. Hats off to the quality of the teams. Plus it helped that there were 3 member teams. It definitely improves the chances of getting the answers right.

Anand and Vibhendu were somewhat disadvantaged by losing their partner in the middle. It didn't strike me at that time, or we could have arranged a replacement from the 10th-11th team in qualifying, as those guys missed out by only 1 point and they were also newcomers to BCQC.

The differential point system was not appreciated by the teams in general. My rationale for having it was that it is not possible to set questions of equal difficulty level. And in quizzes I have seen people crib that the other team got a sitter and they after getting a toughie also get same points. So I decided to put Qs in buckets of 4 pointers or 6 pointers and try it out. But after the experience of this quiz I also feel that there isn't much merit in continuing with that in future quizzes. As simple and difficult levels are so subjective, and especially in a eclectic and polymath gathering as these Pune Open quizzes are. It is simply not possible for any QM to get it right. So just mix "your" simple and difficult questions, have equal points and hope that the randomness of IR will neutralize the effects.

There were some issues regarding the distribution of points for the connect. Teams felt there was some arbitrariness in awarding of points. In my opinion I did it to the best of my understanding. Teams felt that the break-up should be specified in advance, but in most of the connects it is not possible to be so clear, plus saying that sometimes dilutes the question. So I feel teams should just give it their best shot and leave the rest to the judgement of the QM. And as standard practice QM should not give clues midway, and not comment on part right answers.

The first two teams performed superbly, answering some good ones directly as well as on passes, and deserved their positions, though it could easily have been reversed. The rest of the teams were also at their heels all the time and had their moments.

We had more people in the finals this time, but the purpose was not served exactly, we wanted more new people, but it was just a re-hash of the old hands. It seemed to be an extended BC and BQC gathering. The 10th-11th team if they had qualified would have brought some new blood, missed out narrowly. Hope their time will also come.

Overall it was an enjoyable quiz for me, seeing the enthusiastic and lively teams battling it out in the right spirit, with a decent and supportive audience.

:: Samrat

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Appy Fizz - Champions of the World quiz by ESPN Star Sports

Preliminary Round - Mumbai
Date: 7th Dec. 2006
Venue: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai.

1st - Symbiosis Law (Suvajit Chakravarti + 1(pls to put hand up))
2nd: Aniket Khasgiwale and Abhishek Nagaraj (in supporting role)
3rd: NMIMS, Mumbai.

The thing that peeved/flabbergasted me most about this quiz was the fact that ESPN Star (and the whole wonderful troupe that comes along) had decided to conduct a nation-wide college only (under-25) quiz on the extremely narrow theme of 'World Cup Cricket'. Now, the rights for the WC, as everyone knows, are not with ESPN-Star and the timing of this event could be only to co-incide with West Indies 07.

Anyway, after the journey to Mumbai, we turned up at the venue to find a surprisingly low number of teams who had turned up (about 25). Considering that we had come to know about it only the day before, it appears that the standard publicity machinery had not been exploited to its full extent by the organizers (perhaps deliberately?) other than Harsha Bhogle doing a Mahaan-of-sorts in the TV advt.

The round itself was a 30Q written-only style, with ESPN School Quiz type factual World Cup questions. Vinod Kambli was present to lend the now-mandatory celebrity quotient (and duly forgot who was the highest wicket-taker at the 96 WC, one in which he was an integral part if the team.)Suvajit and co. cracked it getting all 30 right, while we and the team from NMIMS got 28. The organizers told us that the top 6 are likely to go through, thus putting cut-off margins at about 22/23.

This is going to be held in 4 cities (Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata being the others) with the top 24 going through. The top 3 from each centre go through immediately, with the others are chosen at the discretion of the organizers. The finals, we are told, is to be held in Delhi sometime in January.

Appeal to fellow BC Quizzers:The writer is in the hunt for DVDs/VCDs/Books dealing exclusively with any of the cricket WCs. Esp. on the wanted list are DVDs containing all the matches/highlights from a particular WC. You can email me at : abhishek AT bcqc DOT org if you can help us out in this regard.

Sample Qs: (wording might not be exact) (Answers in comments)

1. He participated in the first 3 world cup finals in 75,79 and 83 and retired from International cricket in the year 1996. Name him.
2. Name the man of the series of the 92 world cup.(hint: His team did not reach the finals)
3. Name the only player in India's 83 squad who did not get even a single game.

November 2006 BC Regular Open Quiz - Report

Date: 3 Dec, 2006 (Sunday)
Venue: Dewang Mehta Auditorium, PSPL
Set and Conducted by: Samrat Sengupta

Quiz Final Results
(60 questions)
1st: Shamanth Rao, Kunal Sawardekar, Meghashyam Shirodkar (E): 62
2nd: Rishi Iyengar, Sumant Srivathsan, B.V.Harishkumar (A): 56
3rd: Amit Varma, Ravi Venkatesh, Kunal Thakar (B): 50
4th: Anand Sivashankar, Vibhendu Tiwari, Siddharth Natarajan (F): 41
5th: J. Ramanand, Abhishek Nagaraj, Salil Bijur (C): 35
6th: Shivaji Marella, Ganesh Hegde, D. Dharmendra (D): 25

(3 out of 60 questions went unanswered)

Quiz Elim Results (out of 32 questions)
First 6 Teams cutoff: 14.5
(in order) Shamanth-Kunal S (20.5), Rishi-Sumant (20), Ramanand-Abhishek (19.5), Anand-Vibhendu(17.5), Amit-Ravi (16.5), Shivaji-Ganesh (14.5)
next 3 cutoff: 13.5
(in order) Meghashyam-Siddharth N (14), Harish-Salil (13.5), Dharmendra-Kunal T (13.5), (just missed out: Biju + Chandan, Akhil + Apurva, both 12.5)

BC Theme Attic Quiz: "Tintin and Asterix" by J.Ramanand


* A very good elims set was provided. The finals were quite enjoyable too.
* Some of the questions in the finals were a tad too easy; I personally didn't like the division into sets of 4 and 6 pointers as these distinctions are v. subjective and not easy to pull off. Some of the 6 pointers tended to be "either you know it or you don't" which made them tougher and hence possibly worthy of a larger value, but in some cases, it wasn't appropriate IMO. Anyway, this is just my opinion and the quiz setter should not need to conform to standard thinking!
* Appropriately for a Samrat quiz, the non-"U-rated" questions were in full flow, and it helped a lot of the on-stage commentary :-) - was a lot of fun. The routine Samrat-isms helped too.
* The split of points in connects was a little ad-hoc; suggestion to Samrat is to try and figure out the exact split required while setting the question and explaining it to the teams beforehand.
* A look at the elims and finals scores above will show that while 2-member teams wrote the elims, 3-member teams sat in the finals. The explanation is as follows: we wanted to try and get more participants on stage. However, the usual method of having 8 teams or inviting 3-member teams at the outset was not preferred (the former because of concerns on the time that could be spent in passing questions; the latter because we wanted to avoid polarisation into a few very strong teams). Instead, the top 6 teams after the elims made it to the final, with each the 6 members of the next 3 teams in the elims randomly assigned to one of the first six. This way, we had a 3 member final. (This system, BTW, was proposed by Samrat.)
* Great performances by all teams, esp. the winners, who got some tough ones. We also had quite a decent turnout (27 teams), including some of the school kids (5 school teams) who stayed back.

* If you want a copy of the elims and finals, please send me an email or leave a message in the comments. The ppts are rather large and it will take some time for them to be collated and sent out.
* If you have any comments on the contents/conduct of the quiz, please leave a comment behind. Newcomers especially, please let us know what you thought of the quiz and if there's anything we can do to encourage your presence in these quizzes.
* We'd be interested in knowing opinions about the 12+6 system of finalists. This can work easily for these kind of open quizzes where there's not much at stake and where the aim is to enable more participation and finalists. More formal quizzes with prizes etc. may not be able to implement this, for finalists may not feel inclined to share space with a relative stranger.
* I couldn't note down the elims scores, so if anyone remembers, let me know.
* Thanks are again due to PSPL, especially the security and auditorium staff for the great support provided throughout the day!

Sample Elims questions:
1. This medical condition takes its name from the Greek word for "Waterfall". Which one?
2. Which company had the tagline 'Geography is History'? (Unfortunately they became history)
3. If Jeux de la Francophonie is French then what is the English counterpart?

Update: Samrat's views on proceedings.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

November 2006 BC Open Schools Quiz - Report

Date: 3 Dec, 2006
Venue: Dewang Mehta Auditorium, PSPL

Schools Quiz
Set and Conducted by: Shamanth Rao

Quiz Final Results
(42 questions)
1st: Ruchik, Shantanu, Siddharth - Muktangan Eng. School. - 75.5
Joint 2nd: Aadim, Sarvesh, Omkar - SPM - 75
Joint 2nd: Samrat, Satyajit, Mayuresh - Muktangan Eng. School - 75
Other Finalists: SPM English, SPM English, Abhinava

Quiz Elims Results
Cutoff: 20/30
(Further details to be updated later)


* The quiz was attended by about 17 teams (about 50 kids). The number was a little lower than expected (especially in comparison to the workshops) given the lack of restrictions, but this can be attributed to it being a Sunday and not being an event pushed too much by schools who would issue fatwas for more competitive events. However, about half the teams were appearing in a BC quiz for the first time and as some of the top teams from the previous school quiz were not there (mostly Tenth students), a lot of new faces got a chance to shine.
* The finals were very tight, with the last question deciding the fate of quiz leading to a win by the merest of margins, 0.5 points.
* The response was positive and there were enquiries about the next quiz, so enough incentive to keep going on. There were certificates for all finalists and prizes for the top 3.