Cerebrations in its purest best.
Quizzing,when conducted in its true sense,tests the cerebral abilities of a person by stretching it to its ultimate end.
So much of gyan-now right down to business.
Always wanted to chronicle some of my favourite quizzing moments in this blog=no better time than this-a self imposed exile from quizzing to gather my thoughts all over again.
Starting off,with the first big taste of success that I had on the open quizzing format-and what a beginning it was!
The day is still fresh in my mind,Holi of 2001.The occasion-a open cricket quiz organised by the Times of India at The Park Hotel,Calcutta.The quiz ad gave some unbelievable add on-s to the quiz-Harsha Bhogle as the guest quiz master along with the actual QM of the day Barry o Brien,with father Neil making a special appearance in the quiz too.But the real humdinger was in the form of the 2 star QMs of the night-Adam Gilchrist and Glen McGrath-stumped?The occasion was actually the soon to be historic Eden test of the Border Gavaskar Trophy of 2001.Gameplan,the sports management agency,had pulled off this coupe of sorts to organise this stellar event in the city-and the turnout on the day,in the glittering banquet hall of the Park Hotel even beat the desert like traffic on the day of Holi in the city.
India had been badly trounced in the 1st test,and there were nearly no hopes of an Indian comeback in the Eden test or the series in the minds of anyone in the quizzing arena that night.All they wanted was an evening of pristine fun,meeting unarguably the best wicket keeper batsman of all eras combined,and possibly the best fast bowler of the generation.There were teams galore-the usual suspects of Calcutta quizzing glitterati were all there.Add to that the newly crowned 1st ever ESPN school quiz champions St.Xavier’s Calcutta-Shayak and Arghya.The National finals hadn’t been aired by that time then,but the effusive praises of Harsha,the moment he saw the 2 boys,made it amply clear to me that they had emerged the National Champions-and clearly made the competition tougher on the day.
To add to that,my regular quizzing buddy,Sidharth,couldn’t make it to the event owing to some family commitment-and I had to team up with my erstwhile school teacher-cum-friend Gautam Sen.He had made it clear at the very outset that he knew near zilch about cricket quizzing,and that I shouldn’t expect much from him in terms of answers :)I managed to drag him along to the event by dangling the Gilchrist,McGrath carrot(s),and found that he won’t have to rue the decision later…more on this in a little while.
The prelims began.Barry somehow didn’t seem to be at his usual humorous best,and it seemed Harsha was doing a better job at conducting the prelims of the quiz.Harsha,at that time,still was his real motor mouth self and seemed not to be at as much ease in front of an audience as he was behind the mike.The questions themselves were pretty top draw,and the graphics were cool too-I have always enjoyed quizzes which are loaded with visuals,connects et al,and this one didn’t seem to disappoint me with its generous dose of the same.My sir was super tensed all through the prelims,as he could answer only one and was anxious that he was letting me down.I was amused and asked him to relax as I had the usual feeling of doing really well in the prelims when you kinda feel good of making it to the finals.
Top 6 teams would make it to the finals,to none’s surprise,St.Xavier’s Calcutta made it to the finals-with a generous(unsurprisingly) introduction from Barry o Brien,with Harsha chipping in too-they were introduced as 2 brilliant kids who had made it to the finals of this real tough open quiz :)TCS,with Sabyda(the future 4 time Tata Crucible champion,and Brand Equity champion) made it too.Also on stage were Soubhadra da,one of the most talented quizzers in the Calcutta circuit,and an erstwhile BBC Mastermind finalist.I remember one more Tata team-do not remember the exact name,and one more team which I cannot just recollect,and of course us-Barry kinda got emotional while introducing the ‘teacher student pair’-and since I had given the Holi colors a skip that evening and my sir was resplendent in deep green Holi Hue-s,Barry had a tough time identifying the Teacher between the 2 of us 🙂
Then Gilly and Pigeon strode in,it was like sheer magic-for a brief moment all of us on stage forgot about the quiz at hand and were mesmerised by the 2 cricketing geniuses who had just mauled us in the 1st test at **Nagpur a few days back-and they both seemed super reserved and friendly.Especially Gilly seemed to be a real popular un,what with his affable ways he seemed to have already won everyone’s heart.
A quick round of intros later,and after Barry had satisfactorily made enough fun of the 2 by making them play Gilly-Danda(no prizes for guessing who was who),we moved on to the real action on stage.
Father Neil(not just Barry’s but of Indian quizzing as the 2 O Brien scions would make us believe before,during and after each of their quizzes),conducted the 1st round-it was more of a round full of usage of English terms in the game-I got no recollection whatsoever of who scored of how much.The only thing I remember was a general agreement that we couldn’t wait for the round to end 😛
Harsha came into the picture next,just as in the prelims-he was co hosting this final with Barry.It was here that the real battle started,Soubhadrada went ahead with a few cracking answers,then I got 2 visuals on the trot to catch up with him.The Xavier’s team got 2 as well.The 3rd round was to be a special round to be conducted by Adam Gilchrist in honour of his New South Wales icon-the legendary Sir Don who had just recently passed away.It was in this round that I gave one of those sheer gut feeling answers,which got us into the reckoning for the top spot.The question went something like,’Sir Don had once been to Canada on a tour of 80 days and during that he played tour matches on xx number of days..blah blah.Why Canada?’All I could recollect was Brockton Point at Canada being his favourite cricketing spot,cos it was the same place he had his honeymoon in-thus the answer blurted out a split second later-for his honeymoon.In my hurry I forgot to double and get extra points-which Gilly reminded me through his advice,”Sorry mate,know the rules!Great answer though-6 points”I grinned and then just enjoyed the rest of the rounds which kind of established Soubhadrada as the sole leader in the quiz,with almost a round to spare.with us a somewhere distant second,and the Xavier’s guys still way behind us.The other 3 corporate teams gave some truly brilliant answers but were never in contention for the top 2 spots.My sir had had his moment in the quiz-he answered one question regarding the common sun sign of a few famous cricketers-he worked it out well,cos his all time favourite Sunil Gavaskar was in the list,and he answered it pronto.I was delighted that he could answer one in the finals and egged him on to get a few more.
Pigeon(McGrath’s nickname) turned out to be a more quieter fellow than Gilly but he conducted his round quite professionally too-like his usual line and length stuff-stifling us here on the stage instead of the usual hapless batsman for a change.The quiz ended thus.Soubhadrada’s team finished on 110 odd.We were nearly 80.Xavier’s 50 odd,and the rest 3 I don’t recollect.There were no major comebacks-the quiz had pretty much the same standing right from round 1.
The prize distribution followed-with God’s grace,I have won many an accolade in the quizzing battlefield later on in life-but that one moment when Gilly handed over that double autographed(McGrath and himself) Test match ball to sir and myself was too good to be true.My sir,pretty silent all through the quiz,became super active during the presentation ceremony-these pics will stand testimony to the same ;)He is one of the most endearing persons I have ever met,and till this day,I still believe it was because of his presence that I felt so relaxed and could pull the result off like that.
We asked Harsha to pose with us,the photographer who clicked the pic was a real dumbo,also the motor mouth Mr.Bhogle didn’t do us a favour by turning his face towards us to blurt out his next 50 word congratulatory sentence at the very second that the pic was being taken.
I was almost not at all surprised when the names of the Xavier’s boys were given the loudest cheers and both Barry and Harsha showered more praises on them than even the winners.Again it was totally according to expectations that the special mentions were reserved for the duo next day in the papers,with a cursory mention of the names who had come in 2nd :)Sour grapes?Not quite-this was just a sign of many of the discrepancies and blind favoritism that I was going to discover in the world of media and even in quizzing.
This must b the longest 1st post in any blog 😛