Wednesday, February 8

Golden jubilee of open quizzing in Kolkata

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‘Open’ quizzing, which was first introduced by Neil O’ Brien in Park Circus’s Church of Christ The King (Eddie Hyde Memorial Quiz) in November 1967, will be back again in its 50th year, on December 9, at Dalhousie Institute (DI). This quiz format, in which anyone can participate, is largely credited with making Bengal the quizzing capital of the country.

Neil’s efforts in 1967, which he again repeated at DI in 1970, saw the likes of Francis Groser, Sadhan Banerjee and Alban Scolt adopting this model. “In 1970, when my father conducted the DI Open Quiz for the Errol Cowper Trophy, the country’s second oldest open quiz, he set a tradition which was to continue for the next 45 years. In fact, till he passed away in 2016, this was the only quiz that he would conduct religiously every year — every question asked was meticulously researched and hand written by him,” said son Barry O’ Brien. Open quiz, incidentally, flourished for two decades till TV quiz gained popularity.

The December 9 open quiz on the lawns of DI on Jhowtala Road will also be a tribute to a father by his three sons — Derek, Barry and Andy. “We three brothers have never shared a stage together. So, we are really looking forward to this. My mother (Joyce) will be thrilled if Andy comes from Australia. We can never fill dad’s shoes as a quiz master. If we are half as good, that will be an achievement,” said Derek. DI president Jayajit Biswas said, “Quizzing is part of the heritage of Kolkata and Bengal. DI will hold four open quizzes every year from next year.”

Times, however, have changed. Neil used to collate his questions from his day-to-day conversations and studies and jot them down in a diary. “He had 33 of these diaries which are a storehouse of information,” Andy said. For the three brothers, while Neil’s diaries will form a key resource while they take the stage on December 9, the digital domain will also be facilitating their research.

The DI quiz will be open to four-member teams. School and college students are welcome. This will also be a tribute to Neil, who was not only a quiz master but also an educationist, a publisher-author and a leader of the Anglo Indian community. He was also a three-time MLA, a Lok Sabha MP from Bengal and the CISCE chairperson from 1993 to 2010.

Source: Times of India

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