Sunday, June 29, 2008

Landmark Pune Quiz 2008 - Report

Date: 28 Jun, 2008
Venue: Nehru Memorial Hall
Conducted by: Derek O'Brien
Turnout: ~250 teams

Open Quiz Final Results
1st: Rajiv Rai, Sumant Srivathsan, Vibhendu Tiwari ('Travelling Pillsburies')
2nd: Anand Sivashankar, Meghashyam Shirodkar, Amit Garde ('Aam Junta')
3rd: J. Ramanand, B.V.Harish Kumar, Niranjan Pedanekar (full name for the effing record!: 'Encyclopiidith: The Factually Harassed')
4th: Suvajit Chakraborty, Sayak, Abhishek ('Symbiosis Law School - Questionable Characters')
Other finalists: 'W.G.Disgrace' (Govind Grewal, Mukund Sridhar, Pradeep Ramaratnam), 'Softwariyaan' (Ramanathan, Abha, Jai), 'Infosys-SHA' (Harshal, Siddharth, Abhik), 'Demon Barbers of Fleet Street' (Venkat, Raj K, Maitreyi)

Best Corporate Team: Infosys-SHA (Pune)
Best College Team: Symbiosis Law School
Best School Teams: 1st: Army Public School, 2nd: Muktangan
Quizzer of the Year: Ramanand (Other finalists: Anand S, Suvajit, Rajiv, Mukund, Ramanathan)

Quizzes like these make you wonder why we quiz. At last year's edition, a mix of curiosity, high stakes, and competitiveness accompanied most of us (it was the first Landmark quiz in these parts, after all). Since then and especially after yesterday, the answer is quite clear: we go to these quizzes for the big denomination vouchers.

For it's hard to derive any pride at doing well at a sub-zero-content quiz where performance can be a function of pure luck. Last year's experience did leave us wise enough to lower our expectations close to -273 degrees K. What we didn't expect was an elimination round of pristine silliness. Several multiple choice questions ("what prevents bad breath better: mint or chewing gum?") left people tossing coins to decide answers. I know I am a jaundiced 'intellectual-quizzer' type who doesn't get the fact that these are populist questions, the answers to which probably everyone in the hall has heard of. But even the least bilious quizzer there would probably agree with me on the almost complete un-interesting-ness of the elims. Whatever good there was, was buried under insipid framing and very little time to ponder.

I am generally in favour of 'pole position' points (i.e. the elims toppers begin with some points relative to their performance so far), but I hate the Landmark system of multiplying the difference by 5. Derek tried to justify this saying this gives the top teams some buffer in case they have a couple of bad rounds. But the magnitude of this buffer almost always completely shuts out the bottom teams, because three rounds later, the bottom two leave. There is no prevention of skew.

Anyway, that was the least of the problems. In several cases, two consecutive questions were either too easy or too tough. Since, a direct-pass system was followed, some teams either made points in quick succession or had little opportunity to do so. I'll admit that my team was lucky in the first half of the team, pushing us into the lead.

We led until the penultimate round. There were four teams left as the round (all connects, and in what would be crucial, 15 points per answer) commenced. We led Aam Junta by 5 points, and Travelling... by about 25 points (IIRC). "Aam Junta" got a question showing a visual of Deepika Padukone. Asked to give a "three word" answer, naturally, they said "Om Shanti Om". They got half for that (taking the lead), while "Travelling Pilsburys" completed the answer to get another 7. We then get the (routine) toughie for that round (Carla Bruni singing, and the arch to Champs Elysees). No one scores. Then "Questionable Characters" get a question with a (very obvious) "BuDDhaa" connect (clip from Navin Nischol's "BuDDha Mil Gaya", muted song from "Sangam", Rakhi Sawant in "BuDDhaa Mar Gayaa" - yikes). They got most of it right, but no halves. TP completed it to get all 15. They then got one of those chestnut-of-chestnuts (the kind that sits on Ravi Shastri's Audi reading "Midnight's Children"): connect the cover of 'Catcher in the Rye' and 'Mark David Chapman'. With that 15, TP made 37 in the round, catapulting them to the lead. We couldn't be blamed for being more than slightly nonplussed as we left the stage :-)

The last (buzzer) round was tight, but TP held on, despite some good answering by Anand for Aam Junta.

There are many words to describe the "brain of pune" round (I had already called it "silly" last time), so perhaps we should just pick 'lousy' and 'atrocious'. 12 questions, each with just two options, such as choosing between "fact or fiction" or "who was born first, Indira Nooyi or Kiran Shaw" or "which is taller, the Qutub Minar or the statue of Christ the Redeemer", +5/-10 (no value for risk). Like last year, I answered just one question right to win, while Anand (and Suvajit) came 2nd by doing nothing, while the rest were fobbed off by the negatives. Simply awful. I'm going to have to lobotomize myself next time if I win.

I suppose we ought not to complain, given the luck we'd had in the elims (some of the elims' 'coin tosses' spun for us) and in the first 2/3rds of the finals (we got some sleepers like the questions on Hollywood, Barack Obama, the by-now cliched 22 yards chain). It's just that different teams got different returns for roughly the same amount of luck. I think most of us finalists were slightly embarassed by what we had just participated in.

On the positive side, there was a good turnout (it was roughly the same as last year, though it seemed greater), and vocal too. We saw some good answers by Aam Junta, and many from the audience (including the Katarias, who were terrific). Derek was more bearable than I have ever encountered, and dare I say, even entertaining with his wisecracks. Last year, we had complained about how none of the teams that finished 4-8 got any prizes, so it was good to see that was not the case this year. Also, credit is due to Landmark for continuing to put together a quiz of this scale in these parts.

But as a quizzer, there was hardly anything to be happy about, bar the mercenary prizes. From what I have heard and read about the Chennai Landmark quiz, they seemed to have struck a balance between populism and asking interesting things. I really don't think it shouldn't be that hard to achieve. The large adoring masses may not have seen better, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be able to "get" better quizzes. I know that some of the smaller quizzes we do on the circuit tend to be insular and tough, but "even" we can see that there's a path in the middle. Perhaps the worst indictment of last year's Pune Landmark quiz was that try as we might, some of us couldn't remember too many of the questions or events of last time (Niranjan even insisted that it was just a two-member event last time :-)). Apart from some of the painful moments, I suspect a similar fate awaits the 2008 Landmark quiz.

Update: 3 July
Anubhav and Vijay have patiently recorded the elims here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Landmark Pune Quiz 2008

Landmark Pune are organising a quiz on the evening of 28th of June, 2008 at Nehru Memorial Hall.


* Teams of upto 3 members.
* Venue: Nehru Memorial Hall, Camp, Pune
* 28th of June 2008, 3pm.
* Quizmaster: Derek O'Brien

* Prizes

(All prizes are in form of Landmark Gift Vouchers)
- First place – Rs. 30000
- Second place – Rs. 15000
- Third place – Rs. 9000
- Best corporate team – Rs. 6000
- Best team name – Rs. 3000
- Best school team – Rs. 6000 (students of upto class 12 are eligible)
- Best school team runner up – Rs. 3000 (students of upto class 12 are eligible)
- Quizzer of the year – Rs. 5000
- Plus attractive audience prizes.

* Registration needs to be done in advance. The organizers will be assigning seats, and so it is recommended that you register early so as to avoid last minute crowding.

* To register, walk into Landmark (Next to Dorabjee's), Moledina Road, Camp, Pune anytime before the 28th of June. You can register for your friends just as well. You could call 40068888 for details.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Shrirang Raddi on Mastermind

One of the founding fathers of BC quizzing, Shrirang Raddi, is participating in this year's edition of Mastermind. That probably makes him the only person to have participated in both the UK as well as the Indian versions of the show (if you know of others who have done so, let us know).

It is worthwhile to note that Shrirang (who also won the Brand Equity Quiz in 2000-01) was the highest scorer (nationwide) in the written qualifiers for Mastermind India 2002. Due to a series of toxic events, he did not progress beyond Round 1 of that edition (subject: "Poisonous Snakes of India").

Which is why we're happy to report that the venerable senior has cruised into the next round of the UK version (subject: "The First Kashmir War 1947-48"). Tally-Ho! and Yoicks! to him for the next round.