In the words of Movin Miranda, the quizmaster at this year’s Mind Over Matter interschool competition, “quizzes seek to celebrate a love for knowledge”.
And that is exactly what the event on September 21 was: a celebration.
Hosts German Swiss International School (GSIS) were joined by 93 students from 14 schools across Hong Kong, Macau and the mainland.
Divided into 31 teams of three, the students needed to work together to solve a series of incredibly cryptic, unthinkably specific questions drawn from a wide variety of topics, from science and history to sports and even video games.
“We’re hoping we can win this competition,” Yu Lam-yau, 15, from Renaissance College, told Young Post before the contest began. They say luck favours the prepared; the trio had perused the sample questions beforehand, and were feeling fairly confident about their prospects.
It wasn’t a feeling shared by everyone. As the preliminary round began, the cheerful commotion in the room died down, replaced by furious scribbles, interrupted only by the occasional groan from a frustrated student. Seeing their looks of desperation, the quizmaster urged the students to make “intelligent guesses”.
“There are no negative answers,” added HKCA Po Leung Kuk School teacher Ayeesha Shahani, offering some extra encouragement.
It seemed to do the trick. The students began to relax. By the time the quiz got to the History and Ancient Civilisations round, participants were shooting off their seats to get a closer look at the pictures on the screen.
Still, only six teams could go through to the intense buzzer round – one of the highlights of the day. With points deducted for any wrong answer given, the pressure was on for the finalists.
But the pressure wasn’t enough to stop the Renaissance College team – made up of Christopher Wong 17, Crystal Pun, 15, and Conrad Helau, also 15 – from claiming the championship title.
They were followed by Kiangsu-Chekiang College and Hong Kong International School in second and third place respectively.
Christopher said the team’s winning strategy was to have “no strategy”. As surprising as it may seem, this approach to Mind Over Matter usually pays off better than having lots of complicated tactics, which only pile on the pressure.
“All that is needed is good team work,” said Christopher. “That way, you can have open discussions that will help you reach an answer.”
It may be billed as a competition, but Mind Over Matter really serves as a reminder that learning should be fun, not something we are forced to do to get good grades. Long may this annual tradition continue.