Jun 30, 2003

The ESPN School sports quiz is heading for an exciting climax, with the three teams that performed the best in the earlier rounds making it. There were Birla High School - Calcutta, St.John's - Chennai and Rajendra Vidyalaya - Jamshedpur. It is also a tribute to the format of the quiz that enabled all these three teams to be there, because without the three-legged semis, lucky loser principle for qualiying for the National semi-final and finals, we wouldn't have seen any of these teams make it. For Calcutta were second to Jamshedpur in the Zonal Finals (which decides qualifiers for the National semis), St. John's were second to Calcutta in the first semi-final but were better than the 3 other losing teams in the combined semis, and Jamshedpur lost the first leg of their semis. But there was no doubting the fact that these are the best three this year, and that's one for the ESPN guys. Plus the fact that in Harsha Bhogle, they have probably the best TV quizmaster, a person who has his quizzing principles perfected, knows a lot about sports, knows when the teams are trying to pull a fast one, and makes consistent decisions, which is more than what one can ask for. Can we arrange to send a few copies of the show to a certain address in Calcutta for one very whimsical "quote" quizmaster "unquote"?

Birla have always been my pick to win the quiz, because unlike the other teams, both members are capable of pulling out the big answer. They also have a great gameplan and aren't afraid to take chances. Their choice of 9-pointers when they have the opportunity early in Citius is a great ploy, especially against weaker teams who don't want to incur -9. It can help them retain the strike, to use a metaphor, and attempt a guess at the picture behind. Very smart kids, these.

The major grouse I have with Joy Bhattacharya's questions is that the questions aren't always graded properly in the last round, Fortius, and these questions could also be a little more workable, considering time is at the discretion of the quizmaster and is for one team only.

Anyway, it is one of the best quizzes on Indian TV, and easily the most exciting. And the first prize is worth all the year-long effort these kids must put in.

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