-Urmila Lakshmanan, QM

The brief that I got from the InSDB organizers was: ‘We need a pub-style quiz for a conference of developmental biologists. The quiz would happen over drinks and dinner and need not be only about biology.’ I agreed to the first part but decided it would be fun to bring in a ‘biology twist’ to even questions about popular culture. As the quiz was supposed to be an ice-breaker for the conference attendees, we decided that registrations would be individual and teams would be made by some random process. Participants were asked to pick a card from a deck of playing cards and form teams of four – aces with other aces, twos with other twos, and so on. As there were many impromptu sign-ups we had to bring out a second deck of cards! After some excitement to locate teammates, every team chose their spots and food and drink, and the quiz got going.

The quiz was in six rounds and as the rounds progressed I could see the ice breaking in every team by way of more intense discussions and choosing the best answer, which in some cases was not the right answer :-). The atmosphere got more and more pub-quizzish with celebrations of self-congratulations and shouting down my conditional* offers of hints (* The condition was that a hint would be given if no team objected). The final scores were good, even though most of them were not regular quizzers. After the quiz ended, while I was having dinner, many participants came up to me and said they vastly enjoyed themselves. I had a whale of a time being the quizmaster and am looking forward to more such opportunities in the future.

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