From a hobby to a competitive sport, the humble grid of black and white square attempts to “league up” to attract the new generation into solving cryptic crosswords.
The recently concluded second edition of the Indian Crossword League (IXL) saw nearly 400 enthusiasts slugging it out for top honours at the country’s only crossword league.
The games were initially played through 10 weekly rounds – with at least 51 people competing against one another and against time for points in each round. The best 21 proceeded to the next round, and eventually, six finalists were chosen. The finals, held recently in Bengaluru, saw Ramki Krishna from Chennai emerging as the champion.
Besides hosting the finals, Bengaluru also made a mark in the competition with crossword setter Kishore M. Rao and 22-year-old Mohsin Ahmed finishing in the third and the fourth positions.
Crossword enthusiasts see the competition “giving impetus” to the century-old word puzzle. “Crossword competitions are definitely good as solving them has been a hobby for many. More and more number of people is becoming aware of crosswords, and subsequently, more people want to participate in the competition…especially the younger generation,” according to Retd. Col. Deepal Gopinath, who won the maiden edition of the crossword competition.
Outside the United Kingdom and the United States of America, very few countries host competitions such as this, he added.
Shuchismita Upadhyay, who made it to the top 20, said the competition adds the pressure of time and accuracy to the skills of lateral thinking and vocabulary.
While last year she finished in the sixth position, this year, a “hasty error” saw her being left out of the final round.
“You had 60-year-old veterans competing against people who had just passed out of PUC,” she said.
Similarly, 53-year-old Kishore M. Rao said the “organisation” of the informal crossword solving community would lead to more people getting into the sport.
Though prior commitments saw him miss out the competition this time around, Mangaluru-based Richard Lasrado believes leagues will provide a platform for enthusiasts to meet.