Uzbek quiz show gains popularity

TASHKENT – As the quiz show “What? Where? When?” (WWW) gains popularity in Uzbekistan, psychologists and pedagogues see the game as a useful tool to keep youngsters out of trouble.

uzquizapThe Uzbek national “What? Where? When?” (WWW) team discusses a question at an international WWW championship in Tashkent January 29. The game develops social skills and helps keep young people out of trouble, analysts said. [Shakar Saadi]

The quiz show originated as a TV show in the Soviet Union in the late 1970s. The game pits several teams against each other by asking them questions to test the contestants’ knowledge.

Uzbekistan’s version of WWW began as a quiz show on a Tashkent FM radio station in 2003. A year later, the Uzbek club became a member of the International WWW Association, and Uzbek teams began competing in world championships.

“I remember the first world championship, which took place in Baku in 2004,” Tashkent club president Roman Aliyev said. “The Uzbek team took last place.”

Today, WWW has become a growing movement among high school and university students. According to Azizbek Yusupov, Knowledgeable People’s Club (KPC) activist and the organiser of several WWW teams, about 2,000 people across the country play WWW. Most of the teams are in Tashkent – 60 high school teams and 30 university teams of six members each.

But many more people watch the show, with some 2.5m viewers under 35 tuning in to the Uzbek version on Yoshlar TV and its sports version, Brain Ring, on Uzbekistan’s sports channel, according to Yoshlar TV’s statistics.

“Many people also watch the Russian version of the show on (Russia’s) ORT, especially in Tashkent. Because the Russian program was so popular, we created an Uzbek version,” said Yoshlar producer Alisher Khasanov.

Simple rules add to popularity

“The game is so popular because it’s open to all and has simple rules,” Ganisher Rakhmatullayev, a three-year player, said. Those who want to join a KPC don’t face any age or other restrictions. “You don’t have to pay anything or purchase a uniform or any special equipment; all you have to do is attend training sessions.”

Each team has its own strategy, said: “Some teams try to train each of the six team members in a certain subject – literature, history, etc.,” said Sabina Alikhanova, a WWW team member. “But much depends on the person’s (sense of) logic and erudition. However, to be ready to play, we have to borrow many books from the library, like encyclopaedias, and follow current events on the internet.”

Most teams train regularly, and each has its own system, participants say.

“In order to win, it’s not enough to know a lot – you have to recall a fact instantly, analyse it in connection with other facts, and deduce the right answer in 60 seconds,” Yusupov said.

uzquiz2apAlexander Druz (left), a “What? Where? When?” master, helps his team formulate a response during a WWW championship in Tashkent January 29. [Shakar Saadi]

“I eagerly attend the training sessions that our university team holds three times a week,” Tashkent Polytechnic Institute student Rinat Nuritdinov said. In the past, he used to spend his spare time playing computer games or hanging out on the streets, he said.

And last November, the Uzbekistan national team won the WWW world championship in Eilat, Israel. More than 500 players, including Masters of the Game, from 15 countries took part.

“It was the organisers’ targeted efforts, coupled with the regular training and excellent playing performance of our team members, which brought about that victory,” Uzbek team coach Alexander Druz, a Russian WWW Master, said.