It’s deadly silent in the packed hall of the Klokgebouw, every single person is listening attentively to Julinka van Keulen.
She can be seen simultaneously on seven screens hanging from the balconies. Then her question. “How many prime numbers are there between 1 and 1000?”
Immediately after Van Keulen posed her question, the silence is gone. All teams start discussions about the right answer. More than 1,200 contestants eager to win this evening – all they have to do is get the right answers to all those questions about technology and science, in the broadest sense of the word.
“The first question is a warm-up, after this the questions get tougher though”, says Maarten Steinbuch. As the resident professor and co-host, he gives demonstrations in between questions and explains the answers. For “mister technology ‘- as he announced on the website of Quiz Night XL – it is already the fourth time that he takes this role. “The energy in this room is just great, you can almost taste the ambition. They all fight for the win.”
Then, laughing: “I hope of course that one of the TU/e teams will win. We are well represented. One team from the Executive Board and a lot of student teams. 20% of participants come from the TU/e.”
Among all these quizzers some are even more fanatic than others, including Ujjwal Deb. His team is participating for the fifth time. He does not agree with Steinbuch: “The questions themselves are not difficult, it’s the limited time to answer that makes it difficult.” Team TBWI (Tegen Beter Weten In, Against Better Judgment) know each other through the International Hub and they often participate in quizzes. “But this is the biggest and best. You have to think carefully before you fill in something. ”
And they certainly do, because in the end they walk away with the main prize. “I think we got lucky with some wild guesses. No, I did not expect this”, Deb says joyfully.
A student team that misses out on the prizes is Funch, it’s the second time they participate in the quiz. “It is a challenge to test our knowledge,” says Luc Peters. He is actually no longer a student, but he couldn’t abandon his friends. “It is a challenging form of a pub quiz. You really have to have knowledge.”
Rules are attached to every table: keep it fair, do not use mobile phones. But how will the organisation check this? The answer is simple: they don’t. The honesty of the players is not doubted. Peter laughs. “You do not even have time to search for answers, plus you want to rely on your own knowledge. So no one is tempted to look on his smartphone. ”
The organisation has chosen to change the design of the venue.“Last year we received some complaints from visitors,” Edwin Verbruggen recalled. He organises the event for the fifth time with his company Number 42. “This year it looks a lot more dynamic, with seven big screens on the balconies and several stages from where the hosts move. Also the quizzers are now together in one room, while some of them still sat on the balcony last year.”
Last year’s winner recently explained that a quiz like this can’t be prepared for. Team Sponsbob Blok Broek – indeed, Sponge Bob Square Pants – thinks differently: “Sure you do. Practice really helps. We keep sending eachother whatsapp messages with questions, and it gets even crazier: we also come together watching old science quizzes.” The former classmates start the evening well and after the first round they lead. “Now you have your proof: practicing makes sense.”
The five men are really enjoying themselves. But during the second round the laughing becomes less audible. Suddenly they are no longer in the top 5. “It seems like we have sold the skin before the bear was shot.”
For the rest of the hall, there is still plenty to laugh: “Maarten, what are you doing?” The audience roars out, a drone just crashed. “I think I need to practice a bit.” Steinbuch does several demonstrations in between the questions. Flying a drone is one of them. The mere fact that it doesn’t develop as planned delivers a comic effect. “And I had practiced so well in advance”, the atmosphere is boisterous. Besides the fanatical teams, there are plenty of teams who come solely for fun. “Indeed, we’re here purely for fun”, Ruben Meijl of ASML stresses. “We came here with a group of friends from the same department. Very nice, only I’ll go easy on the beers. Because tomorrow at half past seven the day begins again.”
In addition to the friends and student teams, the companies are well presented. ASML, Philips, Vanderlande, ING, TNO, DeltaPatents and TMC Group have all registered several teams. Sander Lieftink is commercial director of TMC Group, his company is also the main sponsor of the quiz. “We at TMC Group are very involved in the Dutch Technology Week, but especially in for this event we have warm feelings.” With no less than 110 partcicipants, the company is significantly present. “And they are all in for the win, but the fun is also important. That’s what makes Quiz Night XL to such a success. This combination of elements.”