The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Test fest to bring out the best
- Quizmaster returns to roots with ‘a celebration of knowledge’

The first family of Indian quizzing, in the country’s quizzing ‘Mecca’, in a city formerly known as the quizzing Capital. “A celebration of knowledge” will hit the city this Republic Day.

Organised by Derek O’Brien & Associates, Knowledge Quest, a daylong fest for all — from Class II students to old hands — will have a touch and feel of the good ol’ days when Calcutta was known for its quizzes. The morning’s event for schoolgoers will be followed by an open quiz — Derek’s first after seven years — to commemorate the company’s 10th year.

“We started in Calcutta 10 years ago, but like most things in this city, we have grown out of it,” says the quizmaster, who shot to fame with the Bournvita Quiz Contest, a televised student’s quiz show.

With most of the company’s projects taking place in other parts of the country or abroad, the headquarters has taken a back seat. “But being from Calcutta, we want to change this. We hope this will become an annual event,” adds Derek.

The “fun” event will be very different from the first quiz held in the city — in 1967, conducted by Neil O’Brien, at Christ the King Church, with an audience of 40.

But it will try to recapture the magic. The Dalhousie Institute, which the Limca Book of Records refers to as “India’s quizzing Mecca”, will first see around 2,000 Class II and III students from 100 schools in the sKQill fest, to test not only general knowledge, but also thinking, speaking and creativity.

But it is the form — revisiting the old methods of conducting a quiz — of the KQuiz Show that should grab attention. “For example, the visual rounds will start with someone carrying a blow-up on to stage on chart paper. It will progress to black-and-white slides, colour, video and multimedia,” explains Derek.

So far, participants include a team from the British Deputy High Commission, the joint commissioner of income-tax, the deputy commissioner of police, a doctor and the general manager of a five-star hotel in Jaipur, a one-time Calcuttan who is flying down just for the event. Prizes include return tickets to Bangkok and a three-day stay in Jaipur.

In an attempt to discover talent that can be groomed into a “knowledge gameshow host”, Class XI and XII students will also be invited to put up presentations for QM Khoj, to be judged on content and presentation. “If we find a quality candidate, we will groom and promote him or her,” says Derek. The Knowledge Quest Hall of Fame will also be initiated, though the first inductee is still a surprise.

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