Committees at the UT, you have them in all shapes and sizes: from weighty to arbitrary, from playful to fanatic. There are also committees that can be grouped into a standalone category. Abaquiz, the game show committee of W.S.G. Abacus, is one of them.
After all, what club can say they make and broadcast their own television quiz? That does apply to the five-member Abaquiz committee, consisting of students Jagoda Blachnia, Lavinia Lanting, Oisín Mc Inerney, Daan Velthuis and Jorg Gortemaker. Abaquiz has been producing the show 'Smarter by the Second', an imitation of the well-known Dutch game show Per Seconde Wijzer, for three seasons.
The initiative originated in corona time, but is not so much a 'corona child', say Gortemaker and Velthuis. 'The idea was thrown into the group at the activities committee,' says Gortemaker, pointing to Velthuis next to him. 'He comes from Glanerbrug, Erik Dijkstra (the presenter of Per Seconde Wijzer, ed.) comes from Glanerbrug. So let's make our own Per Seconde Wijzer, we thought.'
It was the starting signal for 'Smarter by the Second', an English-language version of the game show, so that international students could also follow the ancient Dutch quiz. Initially on streaming platform Twitch - because of corona measures, of course. 'During a symposium, someone from our committee visited the studio facilities in the Spiegel,' Velthuis says. 'The people there were incredibly helpful and have been assisting us to record the show there ever since.'
Full house in association room
On an average day of filming, six contestants take their turn, each with 300 seconds and a few 'jokers' in their pocket to answer questions on media, arts and culture, history, science or sports. For each question, a contestant must match nine answers to the correct item. For instance, one participant has to link a piece of code to the right programming language, while another has to link the right YouTuber to an excuse video. 'We come up with all the questions ourselves,' says Gortemaker. 'In the beginning, it sometimes happened that I had to come up with something an hour before the broadcast. But since we have a committee of five people, we agree: if you have a good idea, jot it down in a shared file.'
The participants in Smarter by the Second are mainly Abacus members. 'But teachers have also sometimes joined as participants,' says Velthuis. 'There are people who - perhaps out of fear of failure - decline participation, but most find it incredibly fun. Many students like quizzes anyway.' Moreover, the game show is very much alive and kicking within the study association - and not by much, adds Gortemaker. 'On every broadcast day, the association room is full.'
In other words, it's a cult classic among the mathematicians. Whether there are ambitions to offer the show to a wider UT audience? 'Anyone who wants to participate can apply,' says Velthuis. 'Anyway, we think a battle of the boards between the balcony boards in the Educafé would be fun to organise,' adds Gortemaker. 'Then we will see whether the board of Scintilla, Abacus or Inter-Active has the most knowledge. But our ultimate goal is still to have Erik Dijkstra as a candidate in the studio once.'
It will be a while before the fourth season can be recorded. The studio facilities in the Spiegel are currently being renovated. Once completed, expected in early 2024, Abaquiz will have access to a high-level studio. No matter how lifelike the Abacus imitation of Per Seconde Wijzer becomes, there will always be an important difference with the original. 'Winners of Per Seconde Wijzer get a cash prize, losers get a clock,' says Velthuis. 'We don't do prize money, but each participant does get a different kind of clock: a can of Klok beer, at room temperature of course.'