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And the right answer is…

August 15. Just quiz any Chennaiite as to with which landmark event would they associate the day, the answer mostly would be: Landmark event.

 Of course, the reference here is to the annual Landmark Quiz, which has now become hugely popular among those people with whom it was already hugely popular. I mean I see the same quizmaster, almost the same winners, and more importantly, the same losers and the same set of audience every year.

But quizzing is not about winning or losing. It is about celebration of knowledge, especially that knowledge that the answer you know for sure is invariably the other team’s ‘direct question’.

Good quizzers are ones who are there not just for the pulsation of the competition. They are there: For earning knowledge. For securing valuable nuggets of information. For collecting interesting trivia. Which they mostly use for the cerebral purpose of showing off to totally non-quizzing people.

But good quizzing is not about the quizzer. It is obviously about the quizmaster. It is all about eliciting the right answers from people who even may not have understood the question. The CBI, for instance, keeps quizzing Marans, Raja and others. But never gets the required answers. I think the CBI should give negative marks for wrong answers.

Experts say that with a good quiz question, even if you do not know the answer, you must still be able to work it out, provided you are smart. No, provided your quizmaster is smart enough to hide a clue in the question.

Let us deal with this through a practical example:

Question: An Indian model has accused a well- known international cricket umpire of having intimate relationship with her after promising to marry her.  She now sees him as a fraud. Can you identify him?

As a matter of fact I didn’t know the answer to the question. But you can call me clever, for I still managed to figure the answer to be the Pakistan umpire Asad Rauf.

How? Well, I just googled for it.

Hahaha. That is a pretty weak joke. The thing is, in the question you will find the line: She now sees him ‘as a fraud’, which words when you re-arrange, will get you: ‘Asad Rauf’.

We will round it off with another example:

Question: Which American writer’s first and given names were Jerome David?

How do you work out the answer here? Tell out the name ‘Jerome David’ loudly. No luck. Okay, stay cool. Now quickly try to abbreviate it. That makes it ‘JD’. ‘JD’? ‘JD’ it is.  Oh Yesssssss, how can you miss this? ‘JD’ indeed is Just Dial. Now call them and ask for the answer.

Intelligent guessing is another way to attempt questions for which you may not have the answers.

Again we will try to understand this through a simulated quiz competition example:

Quizmaster: Which David Lean film was forbidden to be screened at the same time in Israel for anti-Semitism, and in Egypt for being sympathetic to Jews?

You:  What an interesting twist this is…

Quizmaster: (Interjecting overzealously) I can grant you only five marks. The answer I was actually looking for is: Oliver Twist. Anyway…

Another example….

Quizmaster: ‘X’, a website, ‘is a masterpiece of human creative genius and is also of universal human value. If successful, ‘X’ would become the first digital entry on a prestigious UNESCO roster of international cultural and natural wonders that includes Giant’s Causeway, Stonehenge and Westminster Abbey. Now identify ‘X’.

You: (Furrowing the forehand as if thinking intently. But don’t overdo it. For, you exhibit the same expression when you feel severely constipated in the loo) Wish I had Wikipedia with me now…

Quizmaster: What inspired quizzing this is. Absolutely bang on. ‘Wikipedia’ is indeed the answer that I was looking for. Full 20 points for Team: ‘Amar, Akbar and Pichumani’)

You: (Pump your fits animatedly and let out a yelp of ‘yes’ as if you knew the answer all along. This is the important aspect of successful quizzing).

But remember such serendipitous guessing may not always work, because in a quiz competition —- pay close attention here —- they tend to vary their questions.

Now I will illustrate how this ‘inspired guessing’ is not always such a good thing:

Quizmaster: Just identify this

You: Wish I had Wikipedia with me now…

Quizmaster: Dude, this is an audio clue.

One thing about quizzing is that when people know the answers to the questions then the quiz will be termed ‘too easy’, and when the questions go unanswered the allegation will be it is ‘too vague’. So what constitutes a good quiz?

I think I will pass the question.

  • Priya Sreeram

    gee ! take a bow- nice post

  • kbalakumar

    Thank you 🙂

  • sunky


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