A community of cryptic enthusiasts is keeping the crossword tradition alive in India
Anyone who has read The Hindu will recall taking at least a couple of stabs at its renowned Cryptic Crossword. The MBRB Editors recall chewing our nails in bewilderment as we stared at the first few crosswords with a mixture of incomprehension and embarrassment : how to make head or tail of “Drawing power of a quiet ringing of bells”?
But a glance at the solution the next day would make it appear so easy : APPEAL (Appeal = A Peal (ringing of bells), and Appeal = Drawing Power). A few uninterrupted days of backward re-engineering led to a distant glimmer in the tunnel – we’d started recognizing some of the anagrams and were even cracking a couple of the easier “double clues”. But it was a slow and painful journey, and with so many other distractions vying for our attention, we soon gave up.
That wasn’t the fate of Deepak Gopinath, a retired army officer and the unofficial crossword champion of India. Thanks to a curious mind and an army officer’s discipline, Gopinath has been de-constructing the clues and sharing solutions to encourage crossword enthusiasts all over the country. Reading about Gopinath, Vivek Kumar Singh – the babu behind the Indian Crossword League, and other cryptic devotees in today’s Your Daily Read made us appreciate the patience of those who have persisted with this almost quaint hobby. At the same time, we are also grateful to technology for helping preserve this age old tradition. In the words of a popular crossword blogger:
The learning curve is steep with cryptic crosswords. It is very easy to start and then see that you are not able to solve anything and then give up. Everybody took time to learn. Whoever has become a good solver really had that persistence to understand which clues they are missing, spending time and effort on it.
So if you are done with 2048 and QuizUp, why don’t you “Get going and defeat Italian”?
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