“You are the only one who gets paid to ask questions in Singapore” quipped one of the guests at a Tata Crucible in Singapore. That wise crack in many ways underlines the way the quiz began. When we were asked if quizzing would click in Singapore we had no clue for an answer. Lets give it a try was the mandate.
We wore our MBA hats and said ‘Let’s do a dip stick’ with the ‘non-Indian students’ to see how much they know. Well, results were funny. When some students were asked what they were reminded of by the word quiz, some said “Police interrogation’. So, many questions and students later, we came back to the drawing board realising quizzing was a very new idea to Singapore. What we did then was to reverse the methodology. We went back and asked them to name brands and companies they knew, people in business they respected, books they browsed and so on. It gave a good starting point of what they know. We now architected our questions around this.
On the day of the quiz in 2007, we were not sure how many would even show up. We were amazed and thrilled to see over 250 students at the venue. It turned out to be a super hit quiz and from then on there has been no looking back. Many people played their part and among them was a wonderful gentleman named Mr.K.V.Rao. He knew the pulse of the students and gave us fantastic inputs that really helped us get the pegging of the quiz right. If it’s too easy it won’t excite them, if it’s too tough they won’t come back, he said.
What was amazing is the students from China, Malaysia and other Asian countries took hardly any time to understand the game and started challenging the Indian origin teams in barely the second year. By the third they were winning and it became a level playing field. I was invited to a breakfast show on Channel News Asia and the host was quite stunned to see the euphoria around quizzing.
Today, as the quiz turns 10, it is a big-ticket event on the campuses of Singapore. Infact, a year ago Singapore won the International title beating the India winners as well. One must admire the tenacity of the Tata’s to venture into a terrain where quizzing was relatively unknown as a sport and to turn it into a big-ticket event.