All your base are belong to us

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Quizzer

with 12 comments

Not unlike most other bloggers who suffer from recurring bouts of nostalgia, I too begin my tale with a “Long, long ago in a state far, far away”. Okay, maybe not that long ago. My tryst with quizzing can be traced back to some dusty old classroom in R.A. Puram which seated a bunch of nerdy eight year olds (as nerdy as eight year olds could be, anyway). The aforementioned outcasts had skipped their PE/PT period and were furiously trying to recall the capital of Liechtenstein, and peering across to the neighbour’s desk to check the UN Secretary General’s spelling- yes, that weird fellow whose name sounded like Coffee Anna. It was the ill-conceived preliminary round of the Bournvita Quiz. We were battling it out for a shot at the regional round with the possibility of meeting our matinee idol, Derek O’-Is-there-anything-he-doesnt-know Brien. I never did made it to the finals although I always among those who were awarded a consolatory certificate and an ugly water bottle with a Bournvita sticker for finishing third or fourth.

Times changed, and so did quizzing. Soon it became evident to me that knowing capitals, flags, prime ministers and authors alone just wasn’t enough. I decided to keep myself apprised of the happenings around me, viz current affairs. My first shot at professional quizzing, if you could call it that, materialized when the school’s top quizzer broke his leg or contacted typhoid or something. A godsend, as far as I was concerned. Frankly, I can’t recollect much about the quiz, but my exceptionally talented seniors got us through to the finals. Twas a photo finish and in the dying moments I came up with a brilliant answer- the name of the chap who had proclaimed, “God does not play dice with men”. I had no idea what the quote meant, but we ended up third. I was the happiest 11-year old in Madras that day. Life was simple back then.

I had originally planned a verbose, sentimental piece about my quizzing exploits (or the lack of any therein), designed to bore even the most loyal of my readers. But then I took an arrow to the knee noticed that one of my fellow quizzers had already posted his ode (read O Dei, in a mallu accent) to quizzing. Me attempting to better the Morose Mallu at a sentimental tribute would be as futile as Dravid trying to emulate Kohli’s post-century celebrations. So instead, I shall succinctly sum up my Re.1 about quizzing. The Crucified Businessman once told me that a quiz is a QM’s way of announcing, “Hey these are quite interesting. Go read up about them”. I couldn’t have put it better myself. My personal philosophy is that a question must serve to fill a void in the memory banks by connecting several seemingly arbitrary chunks of information instead of introducing new islands and more seas of darkness. While the Hallgrímskirkja can actually prove to be an engrossing read and the source of multiple quiz questions, it is just as fascinating if not more to see that Pythagoras had invented a special designer cup to prevent over-drinking. Working out answers though is slightly over-rated as the more you actually know about the answer, the easier it is to ‘work it out’.

Most people overlook the need for a good quizzing team. I would define a good team as one where the value of the team is greater than the sum of the abilities of the individual quizzers. Mercenary teams are fun, but at the end of the day, there’s a reason why Barcelona kicks Real’s a*se in football even though the latter leads the standings at present. I was never much of a solo quizzer, and hence my chances of winning were directly proportional to how well my team mates complemented me. R, unfortunately, stripped me of one such team. Without a steady team, my career in R was much like a mismatched resistor. My four years were marked by a few rare wins, sparser than a matrix with O(1) entries. I was the Aakash Chopra of quizzing. And so, my not-so-glorious professional(read: for money) quizzing career came to an equally lackadaisical end on sunday, when I failed to qualify for the General Quiz by a point or half. Surprisingly, I didn’t whine like a three year and storm out with the fury of a scorned woman but instead enjoyed watching the finals. Perhaps, because among all things in heaven and earth dreamt of in my philosophy, quizzing is the only activity where the bridesmaid gets to have as much fun as the bride. Indeed, as much as I may crib about my unaccomplishments, few things are capable of giving me the high that hit me when I plucked “Venice’s Only Gondolawoman” out of thin air using just Italy+First Female as clues. Silver linings that make my day.

I hear that quizzing cliques in the US of A are as rare as Paneer in my mess’ Sahi Paneer (that’s the spelling they use). Paraphrasing some famous man, “Of all the things that I’ll miss, I’ll miss quizzing the second most”. (I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to work out the first and the others.)

The funny thing is, I still don’t know what the capital of Liechtenstein is.

P.S: I initially wanted to name this post “The Bravery of Being out of Range” after this Roger Waters song. But my obsession for cheap puns got the better of me.


Written by Chronoz

March 26, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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12 Responses

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  1. I did not participate in a single quiz when I was in school because I thought the whole idea of memorizing random trivia was pointless. I see the last statement is ironic coming from a guy who memorised the agriculture pattern, dances and music forms of each Indian state for social science exams. But I cannot tell you how grateful I am to Litsec, for helping me discover the joy of random Wikipedia browsing if nothing else. What changed at R was my mindset which made random trivia interesting. As you said, I enjoyed quizzing as I could discover interesting things. Of course, having a great team in Dela and Kaka helped immensely. I was often, actually always, the weak link but those two didn’t mind, maybe because of the team chemistry aspect. Although the only thing I effectively did was keep Dela from walking out in each quiz.
    The problem at R is that knowing the quiz master helps greatly. I managed to finish second in Thomsonian once simply because I knew what Dela reads and researches. My greatest moment was winning Ashesh memorial in second year with NamJham and Kaka. My joy at lifting the trophy has been unparalleled, in quizzing at least. Great post.


    March 27, 2012 at 9:03 am

    • Nice to see your comment here. A good team cannot be emphasized enough. Knowing the quizmaster does get you a few bonus points, but I think it sort of evens out in the long run.


      March 27, 2012 at 8:18 pm

  2. I was smiling through and through. Fantastic post! If this one is the first among a series of customary posts written by those leaving R, I can’t wait to read the rest.
    I can’t agree more with “the more you actually know about the answer, the easier it is to ‘work it out’”. I shall just nonchalantly conclude that quizzes are too esoteric for my liking. I am clearly ruining Priya’s chances by having a subtractive effect.
    your obsession with puns is so strange. But, as much I hate to admit it, they are mostly funny!

    • Thanks Nisha. I’m not much of a senti person, nor am I good with feel good posts, so don’t expect any from me. And yes, I’m sure many more of my fans are yet to come out of the closet.


      March 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm

  3. You, my friend, are the best quizmaster I have seen in Roorkee!
    May the Force be with you.


    March 27, 2012 at 9:17 am

  4. This philosophy of yours is overwhelming and you go ‘ Ah ! That is how it is ‘ !

    chandana (@chandanaraj)

    March 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm

  5. Nice post da. I’ve warmly enjoyed quizzing at R, immensely, though I’m far from being any good at it. Litsec has made me something that is beyond Hilbert spaces and integro-differential equations, I’ve learnt to appreciate things beyond what I usually do, read about lots of interesting and fun stuff. Quizzing here these last four years has been a very humbling experience.The pleasure of making questions, right from the one we both made together at the end of first year, and participating in quizzes, to even sitting back and enjoying the finals of some quiz is immense.

    And of course, it’s brought me close to a whole bunch of really awesome people to learn from and look up to, reducing that early icky what-am-i-doing-all-the-way-up-here feeling.


    March 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm

  6. @Tope: Your comment made my day.

    @Chandana: Don’t understand you. Do explain in person.

    @Raghav: I guess the whole point of quizzing is having fun. You got that right.


    March 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm

  7. Nice one! Brilliant references! 🙂 Oh, and I think you know who to catch hold of, in the US of the A to go on with the quizzing! 😉 *bling*


    March 28, 2012 at 5:47 am

  8. Amazing.. Agree totally with every one of the above comments.. Passion is something you have to strive hard to find .. probably the hard thing was never bothering to give it a try during the school years. Immensely enjoying every minute of this and for the years to come. And thank you mate for partnering us in the geek quiz and sorry couldn’t get you the first that you deserved.

  9. What’s with all the quizzing sentiyapa? What did you guys do to Lit after we left?
    Quizzing is a journey, my friend. It never ends.


    March 30, 2012 at 9:23 am

  10. […] seemed pretty sentimental about it. M-K, Chronoz, Tope(with a facebook note) and I don’t know who all.(Unrelated: Lefty’s ideas on […]

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