In a remarkable return to tradition, Dr. Navin Jayakumar conducted Smartacus Seniors 2022, an open quiz for adults, on August 14, 2022, at the Chinmaya Heritage Centre, Chennai. The quiz was a reinvention of the 25-year-old Landmark Quiz that was synonymous with Independence Day and the quizmaster par excellence, Dr. Jayakumar. Smartacus Seniors 2022 was hosted by HT School and Hachette India in association with the Quiz Foundation of India (QFI). 201 champion quizzers from across the country formed 67 teams of three to participate in the Preliminary round of the quiz.
Visibly thrilled, Dr. Jayakumar was all smiles on his return to the stage after a hiatus of two years. “After a two-year drought in offline quizzing, the Smartacus Seniors Open Quiz 2022 was like the best drink of water for everyone who attended the event. The palpable excitement of the audience, the crackle of tension of the finalists on stage, and the impressive stage set showed how an online quiz could never replace the real thing. Just watch the YouTube live stream of the event and see for yourself!” he says, his voice brimming with enthusiasm.
Eight teams, comprising some of the most renowned quizzers from across the country, made it to the Finale. The team ‘Remembrance of Things Fast,’ with Kiran Vijayakumar, Preetham Upadhya, and Manu Sudhakar, scored a stellar 37 out of 40 and cruised its way into the Finale as the first finalist. The thrilling Finale included a mélange of written, pounce and pass, and buzzer-based questions. The audience and finalists waited with bated breath as Dr. Jayakumar weaved magic on stage. His multi-layered questions that involve a mix of logic, reasoning, and recall ensured a nail-biting finish. Dr. Jayakumar, who is known for asking questions pertaining to Indian Independence, to suit the occasion, added an interesting twist with brain ticklers on Pakistan’s independence, marking the significance of August 14.
While the finalists revelled in the joy of competitive, offline quizzing, the audience weren’t left far behind. The written questions posed to the finalists, were also presented to the audience, who were rewarded with books from Hachette India. The ‘A Font By Any Other Name’ round had the audience delighted, as they vied to get the logos right. Up until the penultimate question, the team ‘Travelling Pillsburys, from Mumbai, which consisted of Rajiv Rai, Srinath Bhashyam, and Sumant Srivathsan, retained the upper hand. However, the team ‘CIDs from Kerala,’ which comprised Chandrakant Nair, Hrishikesh Varma, and Praveen V.R., won the quiz by putting up a tough fight and scoring part-points in the last question of the Finale. Nair shouted ‘Yes!’ in excitement, as his teammate provided the correct answer, ‘A. O. Hume,’ to the final question, which propelled them to victory. ‘Travelling Pillsburys’ secured the second place, while ‘BMQJ,’ comprising Varun Rajiv, Krishnamurthi Ganesh, and Vikram Rajan, came third.
Ganesh from the team ‘BMQJ’ was excited about a podium-finish and the fact that he was finally able to participate in an in-person quiz with is mates. “It was such a rush to be able to quiz live,” he says. Rajiv, his teammate added, “It was a typical Dr. Jayakumar quiz with twists and turns, with no one team pulling away, and the quiz going down to the very last question. The best team won by the barest of margins.”
In addition to the prize money, the winning teams were also awarded a hamper of handpicked books by Thomas Abraham, Managing Director, Hachette India. The team ‘Ex Bankers, We Lost Interest’ comprising Ashwin Prabhu, Srinivasan Rajagopal and Karthik C, won the Wackiest Team Name award. The team ‘Quiz Sir? Okay Sir!’ (Aditya Kannan, Udbhav Krishnamani and Nitish Kumar) and the team ‘F27DA32’ (Ujjwal Kiran Das, Rohan Dharmadhikari and Advait Phadnis) won the Best College Team and the Runner-Up College Team awards, respectively.
Varma from the winning team, says, “I am just so happy to experience so many things we missed over the pandemic: the agony over just-a-little-late guesses, the thrill of working out an answer, and most importantly, meeting friends. Hope this continues every year!”
Gopal Kidao, one of the finalists and the President of QFI, Chennai, concludes, “Dr. Jayakumar’s intriguing questions keep everybody captivated.The pin-drop silence during the Prelims followed by the ‘ooohs’ and ‘aahs’ whenthe answers are revealed are an experience in itself that leaves you with a satisfactory feeling of an evening well spent.”
With that, the curtain drew on fun, brains, and excitement. Cheers to many more open quizzes in the years to come!