Saturday, August 16, 2008

The landmark event

There is a story about how James Daly, a theatre owner in Dublin went around one night scrawling the word 'Quiz?' on several walls of the city. By the next day, many people had seen this word and understood that it indicated some kind of test of knowledge; thus did Daly win on a bet that he could, overnight, introduce a new word into English! I'm not sure if this story is entirely true; if it were proven to be false, one reason could be that Daly scrawled the word not on the walls of Dublin, but on those of Madras.

Where else can you hope to find over 2000 people gathering on a holiday afternoon to do nothing other than answer 40 questions (ranging from "Other than India, which two countries celebrate their Independence Day on August 15?" to "What would you find right on top of the Wimbledon Men's Singles Trophy?"). A large majority of them do it despite knowing that to be one of the 8 teams qualifying for the finals typically needs a score upwards of 30. That's the charm of the Landmark Quiz: they make you believe that you are only 2 points away from qualifying for the finals and then leave you knowing just that little more than when you started the quiz, though you would have ended scoring only 13 points! And therefore you come back the next year, because you know that if it is August 15, it must be the Landmark Quiz in Chennai.

This is the 15th consecutive year of the Quiz; in that time it has grown to be India's largest open quiz, attracting teams from nearby cities. It has also moved and includes a Bangalore and a Pune edition too, with the top teams from these cities fighting it out in the National Finals (begun this year). Of course, that was won by a team from Chennai, who had qualified after travelling to Bangalore and winning the quiz there - with such a record, how can any other city claim to be the quiz capital of India?