Competition Success Review : Code Wars 2011

What’s that?! you wonder, seeing my blog’s name pop up in bold in your feed reader. I’m sure you forgot my blog even existed, considering that the last post was months away.

But here I am. Of course, not for long. Maybe one post. Maybe two.

When Pulkit contacted me via Facebook chat urging me to write a post about Code Wars, I demanded an archive of all the questions. While he still hasn’t responded (unless you call giving the JQ finals a response), the real reason is much more different. I didn’t know if I’ll be able to bring myself to write a post about my last quiz ever as a school student. I’ve had some wonderful times while quizzing, and this was officially the competition where I retired.

Of course, my “retirement” isn’t a news as groundbreaking as I make it appear. It’s like Ramesh Powar announces retirement from ODI cricket “to concentrate on his test career”. Nobody really cares much.

If Wikipedia is to be believed, he “has had weight issues for a considerable amount of time and his weight is unknown because the ICC have yet to find a weighing scale that doesn’t collapse when he stands on it.”

But the fact is, Ramesh Powar would feel nostalgic. After all he did have his moments. So did I.

*

St. Xaviers’ tech fest Interface was supposed to be the last quiz for me. But it was so absolutely pathetic, I didn’t feel it was justified to end like this. (Seriously, look at the quiz archive.) After hours of coaxing Mom to let me go for this, I finally told my quizzing partner Saumey that I was ready to go.

Who then celebrated.

Unfortunately, the decision had come a little too late, and the school vice principal refused to send us for the competition, citing lack of transport, probably because something roughly equivalent to the size of the Olympics were being organized (aka the zonals) for which all the vehicles were needed.

Then in a move which baffled everybody, he encouraged us to go on on our own using our own methods of transport. Which was something I was initially skeptical about, but agreed. Needless to say younger kids who were enthusiastic about going to Code Wars decided not to come because “Mummy ne mana kar diya“.

Eventually, only a few of us were going and Shikhar dropped the big bomb – he wasn’t coming with us.

See, we’ve being going for competitions since the fourth grade, and I really wanted to go my final even ever with him (since it would probably be the final event ever for him too, and I didn’t want the memory of Interface 2011 to tarnish his memories of him winning at nearly every event he went to). Basically, he had the Chemistry practical the next day and refused to budge. It was disappointing, but I had to let it go.

Then on Friday (the D-Day), I got a (huge) text at 4 in the morning from Shikhar, which stated that he was coming. To this day, I haven’t quite understood the reason why it took so long for him to reach that decision, but I really don’t care.

Then I celebrated.

So basically, we were set to go. Accompanying us was the audio-cum-video editor guy Mayank (who’s Code Wars participation story is exactly the same as Shikhar’s, me celebrating and all), Shubham (a really, really weird kid), Tirthankar (Mrittunjoy’s brilliant brother – more on him later), Ashmeet (another potentially great quizzer) and of course, my quizzing partner (whose name you should remember by now). I think I’m missing someone’s name, which should be okay as long as they don’t chase me with knives or something.

Shikhar was going meet us at Chattarpur Metro station (which is the nearest Metro station to DPS VK, a piece of information I got from a source who calls himself “the dolt“).

Anyhoo, we began the long ride to the metro station, almost certain that we would be late. Finally, we made it and squeezed ourselves in Shikhar’s Swift DZire. There was little trouble in locating the school, but thanks to Nokia Maps, we made it.

(Important note here. Shikhar will tell you in the comments section or in subsequent blog posts on his blog that we took no assistance of GPS whatsoever. He’s lying. Do NOT listen to him.)

After reaching the familiar school, I saw absolutely no familiar faces. Just lots of people hustling around. Instinctively (being close to that wooden-floored auditorium), I began removing my shoes when I found out that it was locked. We were then redirected to the library, where we had to wait for further instructions. It was really odd, but I think that they did this because they finally realised that the audi simply wasn’t big enough to accommodate everyone. (I realised, later, that this was not the reason).

So after catching up on some latest Guinness World Records in the library, Saumey spots the New Era team (aka Arch Rivals #1). We go and have a chat, when Vidit from Manavsthali shows up (aka Arch Rival #1). He has the Junior Quiz prelims sheet, which, IMHO, was tough. I realized from their discussions about the questions that I had really grown old and stayed out of touch from the world of quizzing for a long time now.

After a long and agonizing wait, we were led to some random classroom (lets just call it RC1, because, why not?) for the crossword prelims.

And boy were those hard.

They were great, but hard. The grid had been shortened to a mere 20 questions, as compared to 50 from last time. I had great difficulty in figuring out some, and of course, in the process, slashing out correct answers to favour the wrong ones instead. When we were through, I had absolutely no hope of qualification. Aur mera shak sahi nikla.

We stayed back for the quiz prelims, which was equally tough, if not more. There were some silly errors, like the question in which I wrote PalmOS, when the answer was acutally webOS (which is the OS on Palm devices), in response to why HP Touchpads suddenly became so cheap. It was a little sad, as just the previous day I had seen this topic emerge on Twitter and didn’t bother to investigate.

As soon as we were through, we were notified of the crossword results. The time was about 11.40, and we decided to leave instantly, as we both had to get to FIITJEE. We caught an auto, and headed back to the metro station and back home.

–Official end of day 1–

Then the wait for the results of the quiz prelims began. Towards the end of the second class (which was Physics) my phone started vibrating with message alerts multiple times. I knew something was up. After the class was over, I found out that we had qualified. Shikhar had texted, tweeted and called about the results. I let out a sigh of relief that was characterized with such an immense release of heat from my body, I think it single-handedly contributed to the phenomenon that is global warming.

I had also learned via their website that Prempal and Arnav (AKA Arch Rivals #1) had failed to qualify again! The jinx carried out. Vidit (AKA Arch Rival #1) still made it, though.

I went home. Told parents that I had qualified (Mom: “Another day?!” Dad:”Do I have to drive you there?”) and went back to studying the wonders of alternating current. (Did you know that an inductor with high impedance can actually make power consumption negligible, thus virtually giving us free electricity?)

Also, unlike last time, Shikhar and I decided to do at least something about Techathlon. So at about 12:20 AM the next day, when I was just setting up the laptop, I got a phonecall from some unknown number.

Me: Hello?

*silence*

Me: Hello?

Person at the other end: Bhaiya, second waale ka answer ‘Seagate’ hona chahiye.

Consider this: I had just studied physics for three straight hours and Tirthankar (who’s in the seventh grade) calls up and gives the answer to techathalon! Holy crap is this child dedicated!

Me: Whoa, well done. Go to sleep now, it’s midnight for heaven’s sake!

I’m still reeling in shock for a while. He also cracked one or two more. This is a sizeable chunk considering we got about six correct.

So after some clue solving with Shikhar, we decided to end the session and go back to sleep.

–Finally, the end of day 1–

Oh and if you thought I was making up that story about Shikhar texting me at four in the morning…

Next morning (wait, actually this morning, considering I had already stayed up until the next day) I was ready for the challenge. Dad was faced with the task of driving me to Saket, which is not really cool because I had to listen to an hour-long lecture about how studies are ridiculously important and how I’m not putting in the required amount of hours for cracking the JEE. Of course, I did have my trusted earphones with me to bail me out at precisely timed moments.

We finally reached DPS VK. It was almost 9, when I got a call from the other people who had to arrive at school via Metro. Turns out, the Metro had stopped at Qutub Minar. Which is why they requested me to ask my dad to pick them up. Dad had already left, so I had to ring him up again, much to his anger. He returned, I sat in the car, we were driving, and I got a call from Saumey explaining that metro trains alternate – one stops at Qutub Minar and the other runs the whole duration. Who knew?

Anyway, after an awkward explanation to dad following which I was dropped off at the school again with multiple swear words uttered under his breath, I was reunited with the kids. The time was now well past nine and all the quizzers were apparently waiting impatiently for me. This is weird, because this is India. 9 AM means 10 AM. I was early!

Before the quiz began, something strange transpired. The VGA cable for the monitor wasn’t working apparently, so the projector couldn’t be connected. Naturally, the obvious solution was to get another cable from somewhere.

Me: Jaldi la yaar cable.

Pulkit: Kaha se? Ek hi hai.

Me: (eyebrows raised) Abey tumhare school mein monitors nahi hai kya? Kisi se bhi cable nikal le.

Pulkit: Aren’t the cables fixed to monitor permanently?

At this moment all the quizzing teams are looking at each other awkwardly wondering if this man standing in front of us was really the quizmaster.

Me: Er, dekh le. Try kar le.

The quiz started. Now, nearly two years have passed, so details are a little hazy, so forgive me if I get something wrong (factually). What I do remember is that Namunay was in prime form nailing questions. Saumey was also getting the occassional guess right. One question which distinctly stands out was one about some “music service”. It was some screenshot, if my memory holds well, but Saumey was quick to spot “London” before the question “bounced” to us.

Saumey: Bhaiya shayad Spotify hai.

Me: Kyo? Crossword ke baad kuch aur galat karana hai, abhi?

Saumey: Bhaiya yaha London listed hai. Ankur bhaiya ke bohot posts aate hai Facebook pe Spotify ke.

Me: Hmm. (to an unusually smug Pulkit). Spotify?

Pulkit’s smirk vanishes and is replaced with an expression of awe and incredulity. “How did you know that?”

I claimed that it was an intelligent guess, which it was. Only difference was, I took the credit for his. (*snort snort*)

The quiz went on. Eventually, it was poised nicely with the final three questions remaining which had to be played on the buzzer.

Now we were sitting in a conference room, which is no place was a self-respecting quizzing buzzer to be. Now being the masters of jugaad, Pulkit ordered us to shout “HALT” for the buzzer. I could not think a single way this could go wrong.

Here’s where the dirty quizzing started. DPS RK Puram and we were tied in second place. DPS Dwarka (Naumnay’s team) was ahead by 15. The rules stated that a correct answer got us +10 and a wrong one got -5.

The first question is put up on the slide: some huge paragraph which automatically had me mumbling the longest word in the English language, “Mutufalfundinvestmentsaresubjecttomarketriskspleasereadtheofferdocumentcarefullybeforeinvesting“.

But suddenly! A light bulb! One word clearly stood out. One word.

Greatbong

And in the split second when I realized it, Namunay had already pressed the buzzer… offering no answer. They didn’t know the answer. They wanted to to see off the questions, accepting penalty and ensuring their first position.

A similar chain of events transpired in the next question as well. I was once again slow to get the connect. (A bulldozer was shown – a reference to AMD).

Now, DPS RKP and us were still tied for second. DPS D had a five point lead. No one got the final question. Namunay had won, and his menacing victorious smile sparked my brain into thinking up various methods of maming or seriously injuring him (but no killings). Jokes aside, it was a fine performance deserving of a victory.

It was down to the tie-break. The first question: “name the co creators of the USB.”

Now we knew this! We framed a question on this.

Me: I think it’s Intel and Microsoft.

Saumey: Sahi lag raha hai.

Me: Par doubt hai mujhe.

Saumey: Koi nahi, likh do.

This is where the magic happens. I write down Intel and Microsoft, stand up to hand over the paper, cut Microsoft and replace it with HP, and submit it.

Pulkit: Both have got only one company right. The answer was Intel and Microsoft.

Saumey: But we got both…

Me: Yeah, about that…

The next question involved some mission about some internet giants, which we had to list. We had no clue. DPS RKP listed Anonymous. The correct answer was Anonymous and PirateBay. They had won! We finished third another time.

Disappointment. Total disappointment. Not to mention a twinge of humiliation to complicate feelings. Oh well. At least I didn’t bow out with a trophy-less final quiz…

We got our refreshments and headed to the some classroom to witness gaming. Code Wars was sponsored by FoG (Federation of Gamers), who were organizing it on consoles.

There was no Counter-Strike, or Modern Warfare. No Need for Speed, or Burnout, or Street Fighter, or Mortal Kombat or FIFA.

No kidding.

Here we had, experience and young gamers, dancing to tunes in front of the Kinect. This was followed by a round of Kinect Sports. You know, 110m hurdles, dashes, discus throws, long jumps, etc.

Now I didn’t really agree with the whole concept of asking gamers to dance and throw imaginary javelins (they had gone overboard with the shock factor they were looking for), but boy was it fun! I even recorded some videos on my phone, as did others.

The trophy presentation couldn’t be held in the Gulmohar Hall (Remember? The one outside which I had taken off my shoes?) because, as I learnt later, it was shut down due to maintenance  work. The roof had fallenYikes. Instead, the ceremony was shifted to another room.

Since there was no intro video, we were shown an exit video, which started with Justin Bieber’s “Baby” (Not linking to it because I do not want a Justin Bieber video found in my browser history. Porn is easier to explain.), but immediately ended. Masters of trolling. The video continued with “Just A Song About Ping Pong” by Operator Please (a music video so trippy, you’ll wonder why there’s a Cthulhu on your bed).

With that, Day 2 ended without anything eventful happening. Or maybe something did happen and I can’t remember.

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