IITM Open Quiz

OK this post is coming up a full four days too late, but it doesn’t matter. Extreme NED at work which has spilled over to personal life, and a few lazy days have contributed to the delay.

Anyways, the last day of the four day weekend last weekend (i took monday off) was spent going to madras for the IIT Madras open quiz. For a bit of a background, the first edition of this was held a month before I graduated from IITM, and I was one of the quizmasters, along with Bofi, A Mani and Shamanth. There were two major factors that led to the formation of this quiz. Firstly, IITM didn’t host an open quiz, and hence the amazing potential for setting questions that existed in this vast campus used to be spent exclusively to set college quizzes. And more importantly, Shamanth and I had never hosted a major quiz during our IITM career, and this was a good opportunity to make amends.

At some vague quiz somewhere you might encounter the question “what is common to Hindu barbers and the Bangalore-Madras Shatabdi?”. The answer is that both don’t work on Tuesdays. Taking the Lalbagh instead meant that we could wake up an hour late, but more importantly, gave us a whole hour less to have lunch (lalbagh leaves at 0630 and reaches at 1200, while the Shatabdi leaves at 0600 and reaches at 1100). There was also the small matter of buying breakfast, as the Lalbagh A/C didn’t have the free food as against the Shatabdi where stewards kept serving your every half hour.

And what the hell happened to Rail Neer? That brand of bottled water that had been launched with so much fanfare by Lalu? It was nowhere to be seen either on the platform or in the train. There was a host of arbit “brands” – blue, swan, torrent, etc. all with a small label of “bottled specially for IRCTC”. Not enough. Give me Rail Neer.

Madras is in the process of constructing a metro. Flying train it is called locally. Part of it is operational and mostly empty, leading to extremely low frequency of operation. There is a special station for this in front of Central called “Park Town”, which looks shady enough to promote several “unholy” activities. Anyways we took the flying train from here to Mylapore (referred to in railway lingo as Tirumailai – holy peacock as

?explained – this was going to become significant later on) after which I took an auto to Adyar to meet kodhi and


?and baada for lunch.

?and we are like this wonly (who, incidentally, accused madras quizzers for mugging too much. Remember the incident on the train to Landmark? I immediately pointed that out and they said that it was nothing compared to the amount madras quizzers mug) went for lunch somewhere nearby in Mylapore itself.

Three years away and I seem to have forgotten madras. I had to go to Odyssey and i told the auto guy ‘adyar depot’ mistakenly thinknig the bus stand in front of Odyssey is Adyar depot. Think that’s adyar terminus. And I thankfully quickly realized my mistake when teh guy turned onto LB road from top of the adyar signal flyover. It was an extra five minute walk. There wasn’t much time for lunch and I had to settle for a dosa and an uthappam. Auto from there to SAC at IITM, and I tried to be too cute to direct the guy on the short cut to SAC through the lib (i’d never used it in my IITM days) and we promptly got lost. Reached 15 minutes after scheduled start time, and the quiz was about to begin.

SAC was full. The only times I’d seen it fuller was for inauguration and convocation. Not a seat was empty. And the only place available seemed to be the galleries. Special quota for old quizmasters, i shouted to Pota, one of the quizmasters for the day. We were asked to settle down on the floor right up front. Perfect, I thought, as I kicked off my floaters and settled down.

It is a matter of great pride to see that something you started has grown. And grown the IITM Open Quiz has, in the last five years. In the first year, we didn’t have much time and just settled for a convenient Sunday. The next year onwards, though, the organizers had “captured” the October 2nd national holiday slot. And it had evidently worked. The Hindu reported that over 1300 people took this year’s quiz. More than double the 600 that attended when we did it.

It is not uncommon in quizzing that you mention some good funda to someone during casual conversation and then it gets asked in a quiz. There was a question in the prelims about Parvati turning into a peahen and doing penance and some place named after that. None of us had ever heard of this legend. And that’s when Udupendra’s translation of holy peacock came into good use. This was evidently an aeroplane paandi question (there were two more in the prelims).

Apart from the odd bits of aeroplane paandi, the prelims was by and large good. We qualified fairly comfortably, while there were a few upsets, with quite a few usual suspects missing out. The finals were long and largely excellent, easily the best finals I’ve sat through for almost a year. Most of the things were workoutable, there weren’t too many questions on vague domains, and no team was running away with it. The only blot was the points system for the long visual connect, where the team answering first could win upto four times the number of points awarded for a normal question. This would prove to be decisive in the end, when QED, the first to crack the LVC, edged us by 1 point for second spot.

An LVC is a strong concept I agree. Special rounds deserve more points I agree, just for that audience value if not anything else. However, awarding up to four times the normal points for a single question is a little too much I guess, and places undue importance on the special round, especially when the rest of the quiz has been lowscoring.

The quiz was followed by what is the now usual IIMB meetup. Baada had to run to catch a train but the rest of us were there. And just enough transportation (one car and bike for 7 of us) to move us. But Madras has a severe dearth of eat out places. It being the evening of a national holiday doesn’t help. Most places are bursting at the seams, and there is a long waiting time. We finally settled down for a half hour wait at Cream Center where we had chaat for starters and Mexican for the main course. And extremely strnog ice cream soda for dessert.

An excellent end to a strong long weekend. I remained on a high till the following afternoon. And then I went to work.

PS: Having unusual team names can sometimes be counter-productive. Of late we have been calling ourselves NED (short for No Enthu Da). On the morning of IITM Open, I wanted to change the team name to Technoplast, following a Business Standard headline that Technoplast had taken over NED Energy, but then got shouted down.

Yesterday, JK asks me “so is NED happening for the Bangalore Landmark?” . I didn’t know what to say!??

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