How to become a quizzer

This post is in response to a regular reader’s comment which stated (quoted verbatim) – “You must probably do a post on how to be a quizzer. I used to always wonder how these guys remember every stat?

While I disagree with the notion that quizzers remember every stat, it is true that I know of quizzers who seem to have this amazing ability to store the most trivial of facts in their memories and are able to tap into them when it matters the most, ie, when the quizmaster throws this particuarly obscure question to them and they need this fact to figure out the answer.

To get back to the first part of the comment – how to be a quizzer? Well, there are no hard and fast rules or a ‘Quizzing for Dummies’ book out there which one can refer to and become a quizzer. The only advice that I would give to people who want to become quizzers is to actually go out there and take the first step, ie, participate in a quiz. Don’t be put off by the fact that for the first few quizzes you will hardly know any of the answers, in fact you probably won’t even understand the questions in the first place to figure out the answers. What matters is that you actually participate in as many quizzes as you can. What this will do is to give you an idea regarding the kind of questions that are asked in good quizzes, this will also point out the areas in which you are deficient in (yes, not all quizzers are good at all areas of quizzing, some are really bad at sports, some are horrible when it comes to arts and entertainment, some totally suck at science and technology, some don’t even bother with literature).

There are two alternative next steps that one could take – one, identify your areas of strengths and improve at them like a mad-man (or woman, as the case may be). This would result in you becoming a guru at your area of strength. In fact there are quizzers with terms like ‘sports-guru’, ‘entertainment-king’, ‘tech-geek’, ‘chick flick man’, ‘masala master’, etc in their names which denote their particular areas of strength. This method is easier than the other one as it involves you reading up and absorbing as much information in areas in which you are already strong and are already interested in. What one would need to do here is to read books, read wikipedia entries (with all the related links), read up blog posts, read newspaper articles, watch related TV shows, watch related movies, etc, all on the selected areas of strength. Basically, in a nutshell, one must literally go nuts over this particular domain.

The second alternative is that one could identify areas of weaknesses, and use the quiz questions already gathered, and try to show minor improvements in these areas. This is a little tougher to do as it involves one working on multiple domains at the same time. However, given the fact that we all have wikipedia at our fingertips, it is a lot more easier to do nowadays than it used to be earlier. One might not end up having any kind of nickname using this approach, but one can definitely become more competent in any form of quizzing using this method.

One other thing to remember is that while attending as many quizzes as you possibly can, please do make an attempt to attend the ones that are conducted professionally, ie, the ones where at least 10% of the questions can be worked out by anybody who reads newspapers regularly and remembers bare minimum facts. How does one identify which are the quizzes which are ‘good quizzes’ versus which are the ones which are for ‘professional hardcore quizzers’ only? Well, this is something that each person learns only by his or her own. One needs to attend at least 5-6 quizzes before one can figure out whether a quiz conducted by Quizmaster X is one where you can come back with some knowledge or whether it is one where you can come back with your self respect shattered to bits. Unfortunately, there is no easy way out of this predicament.

Please note that all of the above are my own interpretation of a scientific method to become a better quizzer. As for me, I took a relatively easier way apart from the above two approaches. I attended as many quizzes as I could during my high school days and undergraduation and graduation days. I didn’t win even one of them, but in the process I managed to jot down quite a few questions from all the quizzes in a notebook. Every once in a while I would revisit the notebook and try and do some research on the questions for which I didn’t know the answers. Since these were pre-internet, pre-google, pre-wikipedia days, all of this research was done in the school and college libraries. Plus the fact that I loved reading different types of books, and the fact that my father was also a voracious reader of books and didn’t mind spending money on them helped a lot.

Post The Landmark Quiz 2012 edition, I have restarted the Quiz Notebook (I lost the earlier one sometime between my graduation days and the days of my first job). This time around the Notebook will be a digital format, and the research also will be done online. Thank God for technology and its ability reduce communication and information-sharing barriers.

One last piece of advice, it is never too late to start quizzing. So, readers of this post, please do go ahead and start quizzing. For a start, join one of the online quizzing communities or Quiz blogs and that should help you get started.

Image Courtesy :

My Independence Day ritual

For the second year in a row, the second half of my Independence Day has been spent in good productive use of my grey cells (and also in quite a bit of scratching the greying hair as well…). For the second year in a row I made it a point to attend the Chennai edition of the Landmark Quiz.

While I had been an active quizzer during my high school days, a not-so-active quizzer during my graduation and a more than active quizzer during my post-graduation days, the last few years had not been so good. For whatever reasons I got too caught up in the ‘rat-race’ and seemed to have lost the touch and the enthusiasm/zeal for quizzing, however, all of that has changed quite a bit in the last year and more so in the last 4 odd months now.

Last year, a colleague of mine who over the course of a few coffee conversations had figured out my interest in quizzing just casually asked me whether I would like to participate in the Chennai edition of the Landmark Quiz. Although I had heard about the quiz before I had never actually participated in it, and therefore when the occasion presented itself, I decided to give it a try. And that turned out to be a good decision as the Chennai edition of the Landmark Quiz turned out to be the best quiz that I had attended in quite a few years as well.

The fact that Dr Navin Jayakumar, the resident quizmaster of the Landmark quizzes happens to be one of the best quizmasters in the country, coupled with his attitude to setting a prelims round where anybody from the audience would surely be able to work out at least 20% of the answers with just a little bit of common sense and knowledge of current affairs, meant that the 2011 Chennai prelims saw our team getting 13 answers out of 40 questions. Now, while this may not seem too high a number, for a team that was getting back to quizzing after an average of 4+ yrs, this was a huge number which was extremely encouraging considering that we hadn’t even decided to participate until around a week before the actual quiz itself. In any case, we sat through the Chennai finals and subsequently the National finals as well in the audience, and the good ol’ Doc did not disappoint us at all.

While we had made up our minds back in 2011 that the Landmark Quiz would be an annual fixture for us, neither of us anticipated the impact that the Cognizant Quiz Club blog would have on our daily lives. An enthusiastic group of Cognizant quizzers turned to the blog platform for sharing at least one daily quiz and the fact that the enthusiasm overflows everday means that we have at least one logo quiz question, one normal quiz question and one visual clue question everyday. And anybody who is into quizzing will agree that the only way that one stays in touch with this science and art is by actually participating in quizzes regularly. This enthusiastic group ensures that all quizzers can remain active and keep exercising their grey cells for at least 10 mins a day.

This post therefore is a tribute to the Annual Landmark Quiz and the enthusiastic group that runs the Cognizant Quiz Club virtually. Both of these have ensured that Quizzing has made a comeback into my life, and now the onus is on me to ensure that I keep the grey cells ticking for as long as I possibly can.

PS: While most of us spend Independence Day doing lots of things, including watching the parade, the PM’s speech on TV, etc, my Independence Day celebrations will surely include the annual pilgrimage to the Madras Music Academy to attend the Landmark Day quiz going forward….hence, the title to this post.

Image Courtesy : The Hindu website