Which living animal does the extinct Mastodon resemble? Ngultrum is the currency of which nation in Asia?... these were some of the mind-boggling questions thrown at the ninth (overall 10th) edition of The Hindu Young World Quiz competition for Madurai region at the Lakshmi Sundaram Hall here on Tuesday.

The quiz, India’s largest for middle school students, saw 424 teams representing schools in eight southern districts battling out their wits. It was an electrifying atmosphere with three large screens kept for the audience to view from various angles, beaming the goings-on.

A perfect mishmash of interesting questions from mythology, history, science, music, culture, sports and politics were thrown at the contestants. They had to answer 25 questions in the preliminary round to get an entry into the Madurai region finals.

Mahatma Montessori Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Baba Building; SSV Sala Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Melur; VMJ Matriculation Higher Secondary School; Lakshmi Matriculation Higher Secondary School; and two teams representing SBOA Matriculation Higher Secondary School — all from Madurai district — geared up for the combat.

Quizmaster V. V. Ramanan, with his exuberance, kept the crowd focused throughout the contest. The questions thrown both to the contestants and audience exposed the wizardry of students as they came up with some brilliant answers. A few easy questions too went unanswered. In fact, none of the contestants were able to come up with answers to questions on director of ‘Moondram Pirai’ or main singer in Oscar winning ‘Jai ho’ from Slumdog Millionaire. A short video of the clouded leopard cub saw the contestants, and even the crowd, coming up with strange answers.

At the end of the first two rounds, the only all-woman team of SSV Sala Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Melur, took the lead. However, the third round, ‘rainbow,’ a common testing ground to assess the knowledge of all contestants, turned out to be the decider as the Mahatma school team inched towards the lead from where there was no looking back for it. The team maintained its lead throughout and emerged winner. It will compete in the national finals to be held at Coimbatore on November 6.

S. Siddharth and T. Franklin Britto of Mahatma Montessori Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Baba Building, emerged winners with 70 points. V. Hemalatha and V. Priyadarshini of S. S. V. Sala, Melur, came second and T. Swathik Prasanna and R. M. Rama Krishna of VMJ came third. M. R. Sai Vignesh and M. Kaleeswaran of SBOA came fourth, followed by V.S. Nishok and Naveen Jafer of Lakshmi School. S. Prasanna Ethiraj and P. Madan of SBOA finished sixth.

Sivaji for Major

The most hilarious answer of the day came from a kid among the audience who mistook Major Sundararajan for Sivaji Ganesan. Some questions had a hint of regional flavour — like a visual of Maruthu brothers and the three hills around Madurai with names of animals.

The chief guest, ‘Crazy’ R. Mohan, who distributed the prizes, said that humour was an important ingredient in every person’s life. He asked the children to develop an interest in a lot of hobbies because “you’ll never know, one among them could become your profession.” Mr. Mohan also urged the students to read a wide range of books, magazines and newspapers and have an eternal quest for knowledge.

The winners walked away with cash prizes and a plethora of gifts and gift hampers from the sponsors.

The audience who gave right answers were given general knowledge reference books.

The sponsors of the event were: S&M Kids Wear (title sponsor); Reckitt Benckiser, Crocs Shoes, Penguin Books, Black Thunder, Tamilnad Mercantile Bank, Hatsun Agro Foods, Gold Winner, Lotte India, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Firefox Bikes, GM Pens and Vizag Steel Plant (national sponsors); Kalasalingam University (associate sponsor); Dabur Real Fruit (official drink).

The regional sponsor was Cue English (India) Private Limited. Hi-Tech Arai was the venue sponsor. Blue Hills Aqua Private Limited was the water sponsor. I Ads and Events was the event manager.

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