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Vol. XXX No. 10, September 16-30, 2020

How Well Do You Know Chennai?

by Karthik Bhatt

One of the biggest fallouts of the Covid-19 pandemic has been that social events across the world have moved online. Those of Madras Week this year were no exception. With virtual walks, talks and competitions all substituting for their physical counterparts, all eyes were on two of the most anticipated events – the Madras Open Quiz and Murugappa Madras Quotient Quiz, considering that they have consistently managed to draw large audiences year after year. That they managed to replicate and even better the success of their earlier editions is ample testimony to our city’s status as the Quizzing Capital of our country.

The Madras Open Quiz was held on August 30th and was hosted by noted quiz master and social commentator Dr Sumanth C. Raman along with Abhijeet Shyam. Over a thousand took part in the preliminary round consisting of 40 multiple-choice questions, which was hosted on the Quizzit platform. The questions were an interesting mix of things that made up old Madras and which make up contemporary Chennai. Six finalists were shortlisted out of the participants. The final consisting of eight rounds was held over the Google Meet platform and was webcast live. An interesting feature was a couple of ‘pounce’ rounds apart from the regular direct rounds, wherein the participants other than the one to whom the question was directed had an option to pounce on it before it went to the original recipient. The ‘pounce window’ was kept open for a specified period of time, after which the person to whom the question was intended could answer.

A few questions from the finals, edited suitably:

Q: The idea for this venture came about when Balaji, a differently abled person who used to drop his yoga teacher home every day decided to start a similar service to cater to others as well?

A: Maa-Ula, the bike taxi service run completely by differently abled persons.

Q: Name the famous personality who was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1967 from the Tiruchengode constituency from this acronym: ABDUL AZANA GYMKHANA SARAANN.


Q: Name the product which was launched this year by a start-up founded in 2018 by two alumni of IIT-Madras in partnership with a Thiruvananthapuram based medical institute to provide unique infrastructure and housing solutions to assist during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A: mediCAB, a customized portable micro-hospital designed by Modulus Housing to address shortage of hospital beds for Covid-19 affected patients.

Q: January 14, 2019 was declared as an additional local holiday to enable families to reach their hometowns in time for Pongal celebrations that began on January 15. Interestingly, January 14, 2019 marked the Golden Jubilee of which landmark event in the political history of Madras and Tamil Nadu?

A: Madras State was renamed as Tamil Nadu on January 14, 1969

Q: Connect this non-exhaustive list of movies: Simla Special, Thillu Mullu, Keezh Vaanam Sivakkum, Netrikkan and Avan, Aval, Adhu

A: Films for which story/screenplay was written by Visu.

* * *

The Murugappa Madras Quotient Quiz hosted by Dr. Navin Jayakumar, well-known quizzer, on August 6th too had more than a thousand taking part in the preliminary round which comprised 35 questions. It was hosted on the Kahoot platform. The format was a mix of multiple-choice questions requiring typed answers and questions that required participants to rearrange the choices in the correct sequence.

The final round, for which the top hundred scorers were selected, saw technology used to its fullest – the quiz took place on Zoom, participants had to answer on Kahoot and the entire proceedings were webcast live on YouTube!
A few questions from the finals, which had 26 questions (one for every letter of the alphabet, with every letter denoting the theme of the question):

Q: Which ‘’5-rupee doctor’’ who ‘’loved his fellow men’’ was immortalised in a 2017 film?

A: Dr. V. Thiruvengadam, who was the inspiration for actor Vijay’s character in Mersal.

Q: Name the bold bantam-weight champ who encountered ‘The Greatest’ in Madras in 1980.

A: Rocky Brass, who fought Muhammad Ali.

Q: Which low-lying area meaning ‘earthen foundation’ gets its name from soil from the levelling of Hog’s Hill in 1781?

A: Mannady.

Q: What was the name of the temporary English version of the Tughlaq magazine during the Emergency?

A: Pickwick

Q: What English word for fighting became a slang Tamil word meaning ‘casual or indifferent’?

A: Assault, pronounced as assaalttu in Tamil.

Another interesting aspect was that the scoring pattern for the preliminary rounds of both quizzes and for the final in the Murugappa Madras Quotient Quiz was based on both accuracy and speed. The ones who got the right answers in a shorter time scored more points than the ones who got the answer in a longer duration of time.

Overall, both quizzes were perfect examples of how technology can be leveraged to put together an effective infotainment package.

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