Picking the corporate brain
R. KRITHIKAR. KRITHIKA
The questions were interesting but the attention was focussed on the quiz master, Harsha Bhogle. A look at the recently held Docker's Sports Buzz, a sports quiz for corporates.
"NONE OF the teams that finished first in the qualifying round have won the regional finals," remarked quizmaster Harsha Bhogle as he got ready for the Chennai regional final of the Docker's Sports Buzz, a sports quiz for corporates, recently. And the jinx continued as the team that scored the highest (18 of 25 questions) remained among the also-rans.
The preliminary round had 25 questions fired at the 124 participating teams, punctuated with Harsha's brand of inimitable patter. And the questions ranged from golf, F-1, basketball, football to good ol' cricket. Sample this: "In the last 20 years of Formula One, only two drivers have died." And up popped a voice from the front row "And now he's going to say `One was Ayrton Senna'." Sure enough, Harsha continued: "One was Ayrton Senna. Who was the other?" Another one in the audience had a doubt: "Are you sure you want only the last 20 years". The first 15 questions had hidden clues in the answers that gave the answer to the 16th question.
The four finalists were selected without much difficulty Scape Velocity (Rajiv Rai and Gopal) with 18 had top scores. The Hindu (Ramanan and Narayanan) was one behind at 17; Inautix (Shrikanth and Anindyo) and Classic Entertainment (Ravi Subramaniam and Divakar Pingle) had tied at 15.
It was now time for the Chennai finals.
The first three were straightforward Q&A rounds and The Hindu had an early lead. One question that raised much laughter was "In which two games are mallets used?" All the teams got croquet but only The Hindu got the other "polo". They very nearly did not get it. Ramanan wrote "polo" and gave it to his team mate who read it out as "ball" to a stunned audience leading to cracks on the legibility of handwriting.
Round four had everyone sitting up.
"Tactical Moves" was meant for those corporate types who talk strategy and management. It's not in every quiz that you get to pick a topic for your opponent. A grid with nine topics (Tied tests, Arjuna Awards, Nicknames, Pele, Juventus, Boxing, Viv Richards, and Films and Sports) appeared on the screen. There were three questions for each topic.
The team that scored here was Scape Velocity which had Arjuna Awards picked for them by Classic Entertainment. They got all the three questions right. Round five was the visual one. One clue went to the audience (that of basket ball player Bill Russell). The guy who gave the right answer was also a fount of information on the star prompting an amazed "was he your mother's brother why would you know so much about Bill Russell" from the quiz master. "Pele" (Inautix) went through a slight hiccup as a member of the audience shouted out the answer to the second question.
A visibly upset Harsha wished he had TV cameras in the hall so that the person could be identified.
The last round (the seventh) was most enjoyable. "Whitewash" had a grid on one topic. Nine names were displayed of which six were associated with the topic and three were wrong.
The teams had to pick the right ones, three points for each correct answer but zero if they got any wrong. They also had the option of withdrawing at any point.
The topics were Basketball teams (Scape Velocity got five right but lost when they got the last one wrong); Classic Entertainment got Champion's League teams (it got two right and the third wrong); The Hindu got Olympic demonstration sports and created a sensation by getting it wrong the first time. Not that it mattered for they had a good lead by then. Inautix got Test centuries at debut and withdrew after they got two right. But they agreed to carry on after their withdrawal was confirmed and got another three right. They had done themselves out of another 15 points. That left The Hindu winners of this leg.
Chennai certainly did itself proud. "The biggest turn out in all the six rounds," said Harsha time and again as if he couldn't quite believe his eyes. He agreed that his rapport with the audience was largely due to his stints on television. "People see only so much of me," he said gesturing to his chest. "And so they come along on such occasions to see what the rest of me looks like. I don't like to dumb down anyone. So what if you get an answer wrong. You know, I wouldn't know the answer to many of these questions," he smiles. "Maybe 10."
Comparing this with the ESPN-Star Olympiad he did last year, he says it's much tougher to work with children "because you can see them visibly droop when they lose and you feel real bad. But they are much more gracious losers than adults."
Children are also more innocent and polite, though you do get the brash, cocky ones.
He narrates how a team from a Chennai school would stand up to answer every time and keep getting their heads knocked off on camera.
"But the whole effect was so cute that the producer got the camera moved back so that we could get them in full."
Harsha, an IIM (A) graduate who "never learnt to balance a balance sheet while I was there," found his calling almost by accident. He happened to send a tape of his to Radio Australia and they liked it. From there to TV was not too big a jump and the rest, as they say, is history.
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