QUIZZING – the all-encompassing mind sport

Monday, 18 February 2019



QUIZZING – the all-encompassing mind sport

Tridib Borah | October 28, 2018 12:01 hrs

Quizzing at its advent in India impressed upon many as an examination. A motley few took it as a game. With passage of time quizzing acquired an overwhelming popularity and came to be aptly proclaimed as a “mind sport.” And today it is a mega buck television show, inspiring film stalwarts to anchor and even script Oscar winning movies.

If one ponders a while on what exactly this ‘mind sport' owes its present fame to, many answers would prop up. The most likely would be – quizzing provides a thrilling way of knowing the unknown – which is indeed very true. The joy of taking part in a quiz lies on the fact that you may know the answer to a question which no one knows or you may not know the answer to a question which every one else knows. This fact was oft reminded by the Grand Old Man of Quizzing in India, Neil O’Brien, in his famous quiz shows.           

Yet the most striking feature of this lively sport is the unique audience involvement. It is perhaps the only sport where, participation of the audience goes beyond the cheering of the victors or booing of the vanquished. It is as if the audience is another team vying for honours along with the competitors. In every quiz, members of the audience are on their toes to grab the question that goes a begging. The feeling one gets out of correctly answering a question which has gone through the heads of participants is almost utopian at that moment. Indeed, no other sport can draw a parallel to such an involvement of the spectators.

Amazingly enough, a quiz can sometimes also be drab. As very defensive batting in an explosive ODI or T20 match can make an eye sore, “dry” questions can make a quiz dull. The term “dry” has evolved in quizzing circles from questions that relate to plain general knowledge (GK). Though there is a hazy line of distinction between a GK test and a quiz, a question like “What is the currency of Brazil?” is regarded as “dry”. But the same question when asked as – “Which country would you be, if you were buying a football with 1000 Cruzerios?” -  would be commended as good quizzing though the justification is equally vague. But truly the second question the answer of which is Brazil (Cruzerio being its currency) would hold the interest of everyone more profoundly than the first. The word “football” which is smuggled into the question as a broad hint affords an inspired guesswork and an alert, avid participant may work out the answer.

The poor quiz master who holds the key to making a quiz lively or “dry” has an unenviable (enviable for some) task of framing the question in addition to finding the facts. A question like “What is common to Margaret Thatcher, Bo Derek and Diego Maradona?” indeed generates a lot of thrill. (The answer if you haven’t figured out is – the number 10 – 10, Downing Street, the movie No. 10 and the jersey No. 10). But such thrilling questions are limited in the bag of questions. The quiz master must also carry a bag of tricks to present a “dry” question in a lively manner and carry the audience along; for the audience is just another competitor in this wonderful mind sport.

(The author was one of the firsts from NE to take part in a TV quiz show – Quiz Time’88 – conducted by Siddartha Basu on Doordarshan in 1988. He is now a popular quiz master conducting quizzes for schools, colleges and club.)  

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