The Much Anticipated Return of the CBSE Heritage India Quiz

It was in 2019 when the finest of school quizzers last got together to be a part of the CBSE Heritage India Quiz. In a quiz with over two decades of unrivalled reputation, the return post-pandemic needed a riveting second coming. And so, the quiz came back much bigger in its production, in its partners, and most importantly, in its participation.

But it wasn’t just the quantity but even the quality that was as good as any previous season, if not any better. And that is especially worth noting since the HIQ Class of 2023 did not have the luxury of being groomed by their seniors. So, a lot of these participants were first-timers at the HIQ. Kudos to all the teacher-mentors who ensured the calibre of this pinnacle of school quizzing does not dip.

Compared to its last edition in 2019, when only one team from the online round was selected to represent the region in the national semifinal, this year 30 teams were selected for the regional final. The 16 regional finals took place in 16 different regions of CBSE spanning Thiruvananthapuram to Panchkula and Pune to Guwahati. The winner from each of the regional finals was selected for the national semifinal. And eventually, the winner from each of the 4 semis made their way to the final. The obvious feature throughout was the bottom-up pyramid of quality standing inverse to the pyramid of quantity.

The semis and the national finals like most of the previous editions were televised on HistoryTV18. As the quizmaster, co-creating the structure of the entire event I juggle between optimising the interests of three parties. So, I am constantly striving to find an ideal balance for –

  1. The Organizers – Their interests lie in being associated with a quality output that is cherished for decades if not generations. That means the content has to be timeless and worthy of setting a benchmark for school quizzing
  2. Participants – The qualifying participants reach here after clearing multiple qualifying tournaments. So, they belong to a tough pedigree that can outshine a much older casual viewer at home. They deserve to be served a a good number of questions that offer enough scoring opportunities for the better team to shine through whilst eliminating the luck factor to as much extent as possible, and
  3. Viewers – It takes very little to no effort to create a straightforward quiz on the buzzer with 20-25 questions. But the CBSE Heritage India Quiz has earned its recognition by being anything but a plain vanilla quiz. So, there has to be a fair bit of strategic gameplay that keeps the viewer hooked. Most viewers, who aren’t quizzers or identify as geeks, are likely to get bored as they are less likely to know the story or (as quizzers call it) the funda behind each of the questions. At least with some strategic element, the average viewer can appreciate how the teams showcase the strategic side of their quizzing. (Example; even Test match “purists” would appreciate this Dhoni strategy in a T20 game)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy revisiting the quizzes just as much as I, on behalf of CBSE, HistoryTV18 and all the partners, enjoyed presenting this mega quiz for the 10th year running-

Semifinal 1

In the first semifinal was the return of the defending champion – Sunbeam (Lahartara), Varanasi – attempting to repeat the performances of their seniors from the previous edition. However, up against them were some up-to-the-task challengers from Ghaziabad, Chennai and Gurugram. The quiz started on an even footing as the teams stacked themselves neatly with just 10 points separating the top 3 after round one. But in the middle segment, Chennai and Varanasi, while being closely bunched in that order, distanced themselves from Ghaziabad and Gurugram. The final round began with divergent fortunes as Varanasi took a negative while Chennai took a big stride forward on the same question. But Sunbeam Lahartara wasn’t too deterred and their experience of handling big-stage pressure previously came in handy when they got the second and the third question correct thus getting ahead of Alwin Memorial, Chennai. But Chennai kept the cat-and-mouse game alive by getting the penultimate question correct. Ultimately, before the final question, the equation was simple- if Varanasi got it right, they were going to defend their title in the final but if not, then Chennai goes through. On the final question, I am guessing Varanasi knew what the answer was but perhaps they misread the question and answered who sided with Rani Velu Nachchiyar instead of who she fought against which is what the question was about. And so, harnessing the many chances they got on the buzzer and as beneficiaries of answers missed by previous teams, Alwin Memorial Public School, Chennai took the first berth in the national final.

Sidenote – It was the semifinal with the most answers correct. Only 2 questions went unanswered. Speaks volumes about the quality of the group.

Semifinal 2

The 4 contenders in this semifinal came from the north and so perhaps why in this semifinal we had the least number of correct answers – 13 against the average of ~16 answers per semifinal. Although speaking on behalf of the participants, they should ideally know other parts of the country well if they are to exceed their own expectations in this quiz. So, after a slow start, it was the middle section which led to the quiz being split wide open between Sardar Patel Vidyalaya (Delhi), former national finalist Cambridge Court (Jaipur) and Tonsbridge (Dehradun). But in the final round, Delhi got 3 answers out of the 5 correct, while Dehradun and Jaipur got an answer incorrect to further make Delhi’s entry into the final fairly smooth.

Sidenote – The one remaining team was Scindia School (Gwalior) who were unfortunately off-colour in the entire quiz.

Semifinal 3

From the beginning to the end, the third semifinal was a race between two teams – former national champions Bhavan’s, Civil Lines Nagpur, and SSRVM, Bangalore North. The other teams – Chinmay Vidyalaya (Kannur) and Jain Bharti Mrigavati (Delhi), never really seemed to kick off the blocks. By the end of it, the scorecard looked like a low-scoring thriller at Ferozeshah Kotla, but that was because of the sheer number of negatives the teams collected on the way. Bhavan’s, which was an answer-and-a-half clear of SSRVM after the second round, collected 3 negatives in the last round and kept going downhill. Benefiting from their misery was SSRVM who had a couple of answers of their own to snatch yards when only inches were available.

Sidenote – Interestingly enough, SSRVM never seemed to be sure of any of their answers and so all their attempts seemed to be a lucky guess or I may be completely off and that’s just their style. Whatever the case maybe it’s a style that worked for them, so congratulations!

Semifinal 4

Being the last pitstop en route to the national final, the teams in this semifinal had already familiarized themselves with how they wanted to pace themselves. And so, everyone marked their presence on the scoreboard in round 1, with, 1st runner-up at the national final in the previous edition, Krishna Public School (Raipur) leading at 40. Raipur further cushioned their lead ahead of multiple-time national semifinalist Springdale Senior School (Amritsar) in round 2 while the two Delhi Public Schools from Guwahati and Ranchi left themselves with much to do in the final round. The final round was a fine exhibition of composure and quick-thinking by Raipur as they showed great desire to rise to the occasion and seize the day.

Sidenote – So convincing was their win, Raipur’s final score was >3x the score of the next best.


The CBSE Heritage India Quiz trophy has been everywhere, unearthing champions year after year from all corners of this great nation. A nation that celebrated 75 years of its hard-fought independence in 2022. And it was this fight that the 4 finalists sought inspiration from. If they faltered, no matter. Rise up and try again. As the quality leveled up, the pressure of being in the final meant the teams began on an uncharacteristically underwhelming note. But that changed swiftly as the nerves started settling down. Sardar Patel Vidyalaya (Delhi) started well and maintained its lead going into the final round. But the national final was a Goliath against Goliath against Goliath against Goliath, not one of them was going to go down easy. And so the final round saw its first 4 answers being lapped up by 4 different teams. The equation before the final question – if KPS Raipur gave the last answer they would go one better than their last national final outing, but if not, SPV Delhi would bag the laurels. On the last question, perhaps due to a calculation error on their part, SSRVM answered on a step down when they should have opted for a step up for Alwin Memorial (Chennai) was sure to be 4th. And with that, just as how the eventual winners would have dreamt it: under lights – in camera – for their action; the CBSE Heritage India Quiz had a new champion in Sardar Patel Vidyalaya (Delhi). And a special mention for KPS Raipur who had another year of being the 1st runner-up at the national final, a consistency unparalleled yet joy and sadness in equal measure.

Until next time..