Tuesday, February 20, 2007

XLRI Student wins National Sudoku championship

Ritesh Gupta of Delhi, 20, solved puzzle after puzzle, moving from one level to another with the ease of a champion, even pausing to look eye-to-eye into the LT camera for a photo op. Sumit Bothra of Kolkata, 22, wasn't far behind, though he showed the impatience of the very young with time ticking by.

Rishi Puri from Hyderabad, 33, affectionately referred to as 'Dhoni of Sudoku', displayed an attitude that attracted attention. Amit Kiran Sowani, Mumbai, 22, seemed laidback and least interested, but we knew he had an amazing score in the morning rounds... looks do mislead!

This was the final, nail-biting finish to the National Sudoku Championship 2007 held at Hotel Orchid Ecotel in Mumbai, where 60 winners from five regional rounds (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad) played to the finish in four gruelling rounds in the morning. Eight of those who scored the highest, then went on to play four relay rounds in the afternoon.

Each of them had four tables to conquer, moving from Table 1 to 2 and so on, as they kept solving puzzles at these tables. Though the national finalists had a spattering of 24 per cent women, just one of them made it to the eight finalists. She lost out in the final four positions.

The final relay round was played out exactly as per World Sudoku Championship standards, with an audience watching the participants and cameras clicking their every moment.

The pressure of an audience was bound to affect some players and the one who suffered was Amit, who was the favourite for top slot with 616 points from the morning rounds. He slipped back by three positions and just about made it to the Final Four by the skin of his teeth!

Ritesh Gupta, who had scored 408 points in the morning round, was declared National Champion when he finished all four puzzles of the penultimate round in 46 minutes, 59 seconds. The second rank went to Rishi Puri who had scored 346 in the morning rounds, while Sumit Bothra got the third slot.

His morning score had been 392. The pressure of the afternoon lap, which was the decisive round, reversed positions for these winners who will be representing India at the World Sudoku Championship to bt held at the end of March in Prague.

The final champions come from diverse backgrounds. Ritesh is a BCom student, Rishi is a process developer, Sumit an MBA student from XLRI, Jamshedpur, while Amit is a final year Aerospace engineering student from IIT.

As the National Sudoku Championship presented by The Times of India and organised by Quixy in association with World Puzzle Federation traversed five participating cities over five weeks.

Participants from an eight-year-old girl to a 72-year-old gentleman had tried their hand at the contests. The finalists ranged in age from 14 to 50, but the average age of the Final Four is around 25!

In keeping with our belief that sudoku is second only in engagement to cricket, the event saw the launch of two books Wisden History Book of World Cup Cricket, a Times Group Book co-published with McMillan and sponsored by McDowell's No 1 and Sudoku for Masters written by Hendrik Hardeman.

The championship has shown that just like cricket and Bollywood, sudoku has emerged as the third great leveller, bringing to the fore housewives, students, professionals, businessmen and bureaucrats for a game that requires just a sharp mind and a sharpened pencil!

The guests of honour for the evening were Videocon chairman N V Dhoot, film maker Subhash Ghai, ace shooter Anjali Bhagwat, industrialist Geetanjali Kirloskar and Jaituni Desai, a Miss India 2006 contestant who was crowned Miss Sudoku, who went on to distribute the prizes to the four winners.

Also present was Manik Daruwala, CEO of T.I.M.E, who was one of the guests of honour. The championship was co-sponsored by Philips Lighting Energy Savers. The official prize sponsor was Sanyo, official travel partner Go Air, official time partner Swatch and the event was managed by Communique Marketing Solutions Pvt Ltd.

No comments: