Monday, December 28, 2015

A Conversation With Ramki Krishnan, IXL 2015 Winner

Ramki Krishnan won at the Indian Crossword League for the second consecutive year. Hear from him his thoughts on the IXL 2015 finals.

[To know more about the champion solver, see his Q&A and video message at this link: Ramki Krishnan]

Q. What went on in your mind while the IXL finals were on?

Ramki: I felt that the finals were closely fought in both the years. But the toughness quotient of the clues was definitely higher in 2015 (both written prelims and on-stage). Narayan Mandyam was very impressive in the onstage rounds and it was only the final buzzer question that made the difference between 1st and 2nd places.

Before the finals, I was betting on Mohsin for winning the final, having seen his mind-blowing show in the online rounds. But I have to say that any of the six people on the podium that day could have won - it was finally a matter of getting the answers on that particular day and time.

How do I feel a day later? Happy and drained :-) Upon reflection I find that I have to thank the contest rules / format for my success too - the organizer's decision to allow weekly toppers into the finals in 2014 made my entry possible, and in 2015 it was the addition of the buzzer round that helped :-)

On a purely personal note, I keep thinking about my father, my guru who taught me crosswords, who passed away earlier this year. I would dedicate this win to him.

Q. Give us some insight into how you solved the prelim grids. You were one of the only two finalists who got all the answers right.

Ramki: As most of the finalists felt - while both the grids were good, Prelim-1 was far more difficult than Prelim-2. I started on the more difficult one first and felt quite demoralized after around 20 minutes, when I had hardly got 4-5 (missed even the straight anagrams like INSENSATE!) I switched to the other grid and thankfully could complete it in a few minutes, after which I re-attempted #1 to make better progress. Though I could finish it, a few of the words (SAMISEN, AVERS meaning Scottish horse, ELEMI, etc) were totally new to me and I guessed them only through crossing letters and wordplay. DOMINEE was my last one in - a googly since "domineer" was already in the clue - I kept thinking "it can't be so" since I did not know the meaning (South African minister) but finally ran out of ideas and put it in (thankfully correct).

In Prelim-1, I liked LENSES and SCENE the most for their storytelling surfaces. In Prelim-2, 15d [Ordinary setter's one possessed by 2 madly (8)] was interesting. You had to solve 2d to get CREDO and anagram it ("madly" being the anagrind) to get MEDIOCRE for 15d. Indirect anagram? Not really IMO, just a nice twist to the clue. I enjoyed several clues in this puzzle - such as EXTRA, GARBAGE (to name two) - for the very smooth surfaces.

[Congratulations, Ramki! A very well-deserved win. – Shuchi]

Ramki Krishnan - IXL 2014 2015 Champion
Ramki with his two IXL championship trophies for 2014 and 2015. Here’s to many more!

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5 comments

Kishore said...

Congratulations, Ramki! May the force be with you! Looking forward to a menage a trois next year .... ;-)

ranger said...

Congratulations Ramki for making it two in a row! A tremendous performance.

Chaturvasi said...

Dear Ramki, I add my congrats and appreciate your dedicating your consecutive wins to your dad.
I learnt crossword solving myself. Occasionally, when I was stumped -- when I had a clue and at the same tine hadn't a clue --, I would ask my Dad and he would instantly provide the solution. Mind you, I had never seen him do a crossword. My father, as well as his brothers, were proud of their knowledge of English and would torment us youngsters by asking questions on usage, pronunciation and even things and ways in the UK which none of them visited.
But I can never forget his influence.

vasant said...

Congrats Ramki..a deserved winner

Anonymous said...

Congrats Ramki!!