For the second year on the trot, Ramki Krishnan from Chennai proved that he was the undisputed king of crosswords. At the end of the Rapid Fire Round at the Grand Finale of the Indian Crossword League (IXL) 2015 in Bengaluru on December 25, he topped a field of six top cruciverbalists of the country to lift the National Crossword Champion trophy. Ramki has been working in the IT industry for the past 30 years.
The event was held at Hotel Royal Orchid. Mr Mohan Varghese Chunkath (IAS), till recently Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu and currently Director-General of Anna Institute of Management, Chennai, and himself one of the participants, gave away the prizes.
Sixteen participants had qualified for the Grand Finale after 10 online weekly rounds which saw a Leaderboard formed on a scale of 0-100 on the basis of every week’s performance. The story about the 10 weekly rounds has been one of eyeball-to-eyeball situation between Chennai and Bengaluru, the two crossword hubs.
At the offline finals at the IT capital of India, six qualified for the onstage climax after a preliminary round. The five others who vied for the trophy in the final round were Mr Vinoo Sanjay (Mumbai), Mr Venkatraghvan S (Mumbai), Mr Narayan Mandyam (Navi Mumbai), Mr Mohsin Ahmed (Bengaluru) and Mr S Venkatesh (New Delhi). Mandyam clinched the second spot. Mohsin, a young scientist from ISRO and a third time finalist, had yet another heartbreak. He came fifth. He was the runner-up in the inaugural event in 2013 just behind Col Deepak Gopinath (retd).
Mohsin was conferred a Certificate of Excellence for his consistent good performance in all three editions of the contest so far.
Some of the top contestants who had qualified for the Grand Finale could not be part of the climax due to prior engagements. While Mr Arun Kumar came all the way from Dubai, the two offshore direct entrants to the finals – the winners of the first ever offshore rounds in Toronto and New Jersey – could not attend the event due to prior commitments.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Chunkath said, “It was wonderful to be a part of the Indian Crossword League. I am currently the National Scrabble champion and tried my hands at crosswords through the IXL… I am looking forward to a long-time association with the League.”
Among the top six, Ramki and Mandyam work in the IT industry; Vinoo is into infrastructure development; S Venkatesh is the Director of the National Council for Disease Control, New Delhi; Venkatraghvan is an investment banker and is the Director of IDFC Capital Markets; and Mohsin is a scientist at ISRO.
Among the 16 finalists were Shashwat Sinai Salgaocar, a 2nd year Aerospace Engineering student from IIT Madras and Aniruddha, a student of NIT Tiruchirappalli.
The IXL 2015 was launched by West Bengal Governor Mr Keshari Nath Tripathi in Kolkata on September 27, 2015. The preliminary rounds came to an end on December 6, 2015.