While University Challenge lasted all of two seasons in India, it gave rise to some memorable memes. For example, our episode against Hindu College (2003-4) gave birth to the term “chimpanzee question”, which has since been shortened to “chimp”. Enjoy the etymology here:
Two rounds later, we got thulped by KREC (featuring Mukka, Ganja, Peeleraja and Rajat). I’m unable to find the video of that, but I clearly remember this question from later on in the quiz, at a time when we were well behind.
Shamanth (pictured above in the featured image of the YouTube video) buzzed and gave a long answer about the woman whom Edward VIII married. It didn’t matter – Quizmaster Basu wanted the name. The question passed to the opposition, and Mukka immediately buzzed and said “Wallis Simpson”.
Unlike Chimp, this didn’t catch on, but briefly at IIT, we used “wallis simpson” as a generic term in a quiz where you give most of the answer, but not the full answer, which means the team next in line can then “cash” on your descriptions and take the points.
I guess the term was too long (“chimp” became a thing because “chimpanzee question” got shortened to “chimp”). Also, unless you are interested in British monarchs, Wallis Simpson is “floyd” (a fairly vague funda). That said, it’s appeared enough times in quizzes to be called a “peter” (from “repeater”).
Anyway, here is a picture taken of the IIMB team after we had won Nihilanth in 2005. Shot by Pota, we later decided that in this photo we look like a band. And that the band would be called “Peter Floyd and the Chimpanzees”.
Speaking of Wallis Simpson, the nomenclature just didn’t catch on, but the concept has always existed in quizzing. I got reminded of it last week, and thought it can be rather “strategic”.
Since the pandemic, the world has been flush with online quizzing league. I had steadfastly refused to take part in them, forever maintaining that for me “quizzing was a social activity”. Recently, though, I happened to go for a few quizzes with Kodhi (top right in this pic, with his fist to his chin), and he convinced me that I should give it a shot. FOMO having been lit, I signed up for a league called “B612” (that the league is seemingly named after my birthday further encouraged me to sign up).
The league is two weeks in. I won my first round fairly easily (and it left me so stimulated that I couldn’t sleep half that night), and then had a really bad day in the second round last week.
Maybe it was because the quiz happened at 6pm, just after I had returned from work. Maybe because the Swiss League pitted me against stronger opposition, given I had won the first one. Maybe I hadn’t relaxed enough before the quiz started. I was in really poor form, missing some absolute sitters.
Halfway through the quiz, it was clear I wouldn’t win. However, second place was still gettable (I was then third). That’s when I got a direct question where I “knew the funda but not the answer”. If I got it wrong, the question would pass to the person then in fourth place, and then to the person then in second (the quiz follows a format called “Mimir“, which is like the US sports draft system – people who’ve attempted less on the pass get precedence).
While I was in bad form, I realised that I could “strategically Wallis Simpson”. It was my turn to answer, so I could give out all I knew about the answer, even though I didn’t know the answer itself. That would maximise the chances of the person then in fourth place to answer, which would mean the question wouldn’t pass to the person then in second (thus denying him an opportunity to pull further ahead of me).
If the question were to, after me, pass to the person then in second place, I would have simply passed – there was no way I would have done him favours. However, in this particular question, the person in fourth stood a chance of preventing the person in second from answering – and so I had to give him (#4) all the help he needed.
And so I said something like “I know it’s the Toronto basketball team that won NBA recently but I’ve forgotten its name. So I’ll say Toronto Maple Leafs“. As it happened, neither the person in fourth nor the person in second could build upon my clue. The leader, who ultimately won the quiz easily, answered Raptors – though I don’t know if my clue helped him.
As it also happened, by the time the quiz ended, the person in second pulled away from me, and the person in fourth caught up with me – we ended up joint third. That wasn’t a possibility I had been playing for when I decided to “strategically Wallis Simpson” him! There is no reward without risk.