Muscat: Twelve top school teams, from junior and senior categories each, fought hard to find a berth in the finals of Omantel Times of Oman Inter School Quiz Contest (TOOISQC) to be held at the City Amphitheatre on May 2.
Three hundred teams from 19 schools in Oman racked their brains at the mega prelims held at the Indian School Ghubra to answer questions that covered a wide range of subjects.
Describing the standard of junior teams' performance as "very high," quizmaster Giri 'Pickbrain' Balasubramaniam said, "there is a marked improvement from the last year. For the first time, I had the feeling that in the junior quiz the children came prepared. Scores were extremely high and that is something we expected. Prelims quizmaster had given me the input that juniors were good. Questions were beyond their age but they did remarkably well."
Pickbrain predicted that the "junior final is going to be a close one."
About the senior teams, he said, "There is an indication that many more schools are getting close in this battle now. Traditionally, it used to be ISM versus ISG kind of a battle. That is not the case anymore. Far more schools are now closing in on these high achieving teams which is excellent in terms of inter-school circuit. One significant change that we have brought in for the seniors is that we have slowly brought in questions where they had to think more like an open quiz. I think what we are looking at is graduate them into an open quiz rather than create a terrain that they will be comfortable in."
The quizmaster added, "If we had set a routine quiz, the scores would have been a little higher. But they wouldn't have gained as students or as a quizzing community, so it is a futuristic decision that we have taken. It kind of worked well."
Letting on a small clue for the finals, he said, "This year, the key is going to be speed. We are in the midst of a huge IPL that has come to the Middle East, so teams that hit the big blows will matter at the end of the day."
At the mega prelims, juniors attempted many interesting questions. Here are some of the select ones, with their answers in parenthesis: Which English word meaning a set of letters or symbols comes from the combination of the first two Greek letters? (Alphabet); A writer said in an interview that she had a friend named Ian and her favourite boy's name was this. She combined the first name of the boy with the surname of Ian and created a character. Name the character. (Harry Potter); The story goes that a Dublin theatre proprietor by the name of Richard Daly made a bet that he could, within forty-eight hours, make a nonsense word known throughout the city, and that the public would supply a meaning for it. What word did he create? (Quiz).
Since the children enjoyed these questions so much, here are a few more posers that tested the minds of students from the senior categories: Draisine, Boneshaker, Columbia Expert and American Safety were some of the earliest types of this everyday vehicle. What vehicle is this? (Bycycle); The USA has the smallest written one, India has the longest written one and Great Britain doesn't have one. What is this a list of? (Constitution); Which country is the only real place that Gulliver visits in his travels around the world? (Japan); This optional punctuation mark was used by printers, readers and editors of this university's press which is generally used before the word 'and' at the end of a list. What is this? (Oxford Comma).
"It feels nice. We managed to win despite so many good teams," said Yazid Makoon and Osman Kaizer Hassan of Sri Lankan School who made it to the finals.
On qualifying for the finals, Aanvik Singh from ISM said, "I have struck this one off from my bucket list."
His teammate Srikripa Krishnan said, "The quiz was very informative and entertaining."
Muhammed Bilal Javed from Pakistan School Sohar said, "The quiz was not just a contest but a learning platform. We learned a lot."