Feb 4, 2003

Back to BCJ (with a difference this time)

The General B.C.Joshi quiz or BCJ, as it is more popularly known,is back (though the organizers have been most uncharacteristically lax in publicising that fact yet). One of the top quizzes in Pune, IMHO, it was pretty much the best organized quiz around, though I would say that that crown was probably wrested by Chakravyuh last year. But the first 4 editions were great successes, creating a fount of goodwill that the present organizers can bank on.

BCJ is essentially a tribute to the man instrumental in setting up the Army Institute of Technology, an engineering college in which are enrolled children of armymen from all over India. General B.C.Joshi also was the first Chief of Army Staff to die in harness, and the quiz has been an excellent memory to his honoured name. The first edition began in 1998, in my First Year, and enjoyed a fair amount of participation despite what is AIT's greatest obstacle: their distance from the city. But the excellent organizational skills resulted in them providing transportation to the venue. Though sometimes the transportation did not extend to the reverse journey, it soon became quite apparent that it would be worth the bus/motorbike/van ride back.

They obviously had a lot of juniors in hostels at their disposal, who were put to work in various hospitality departments: the welcome, registration, paper distribution, even filling in empty seats if required! And they're still the only quiz that gives good refreshments, albeit only for the finalists!

BCJ's USP was the three-member team, all other quizzes here are usually for two members. Sadly, they've had to refrain from that since last year, which is quite a shame, but the declining numbers have forced that move. BCJ were also the first to introduce (at least in the local circuit) the use of computers to present the questions, in their inaugural year. They also heralded Owl-in-the-Bowl, a solo quizzing contest, that still continues to be an important sideshow to the main quiz.

Anand, Swap & Pandit from BVP won the inaugural year; Sujay & me made it to the final despite no third partner, and ended up 5th I think. The second year ended better with Sujay, Kunal & me (the three-member concept can help come up with new teams!) ending 2nd behind AFMC. George, Jitu & Salil came in third after us, putting a lot of COEP names on certificates. But that year's quiz was almost hijacked by events in Chennai where Sachin was threatening to pull it off against the Pakistanis despite all his back troubles. George boasted of a pager then, which would broadcast scores, and because of his complete apathy towards the game, we 5 (incidentally all us COEPians were sitting adjacent) were more worried about getting him to tell us the ever-intriguing score. Year 3 and the rules were modified to enable corporates,in particular, one person to qualify. George was no longer under the "student" column and now could get in with a team from Pspl. Whatever hopes Sujay, Salil & I harboured of winning against a seemingly weakened George & co. were put to rest when an unknown entity combined with George to pluck some unbelievable answers from nowhere. That unknown entity was Amit Gardé and Pspl won. Although they beat us by the smallest margin, the manner in which they did so was stunning. The fourth year turned out to be the ones in which we would stop being bridesmaids, in what would have been one of the toughest teams to turn out for BCJ (insert IMHOs here): Sujay, Harish & me. Unfortunately, a schedule mixup meant very little audience and an unnecessary (and painful) drama-cum-musical non-extravaganza. Swap, in his final year like us, made a last ditch effort worthy of his inagural champion status, but it proved a tad short. Harish became the first quizzer on the Pune circuit (since I've known it) to retain a quiz title, teaming up with Sammy (who won on home turf) in the first quiz in the new 2 member format last year. Just reiterating that it is a quiz worth the distance even if one wasn't participating: I did that last time, so I can say that.

A lot of credit must go to the AIT quizzers who conducted BCJ: in particular, Akshay Johar, The Big Four (Kapil Dahiya, Navneet Bal, Srikant Chander & Samrat Sengupta), Nikhil Lasrado and the new guard: Nitin Nair, Roshan et al. (Pardon if've left out anyone). They always strived to do the BCJ quiz in a manner befitting the occasion, and despite a few hiccups, have usually `managed to put up a good show. Here's to hoping this will carry on.

The General B.C.Joshi quiz will be conducted on the 9th of February at the Persistent Systems premises. The Owl-in-the-Bowl quiz is a part of the events this year too. Teams of two members. And I'm sure, good prizes as usual.

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