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Puzzle champion from Chennai

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FINDING ANSWERS: Lenson Andrade has a penchant for the cryptic.
FINDING ANSWERS: Lenson Andrade has a penchant for the cryptic.

Lenson Andrade was one of the brains who invented ‘a lungi with a mosquito net’. But this wacky invention, which won his team the first place at an event in Shaastra-2008, is not the 27-year-old engineer’s only claim to fame. He is one of the three national champions who will represent India at the World Puzzle Championship, to be held in Belarus from October 27.

“Around 1,000 people took part in the national-level contest,” said Lenson, who is pursuing his M. Tech at IIT-Madras. “All the puzzles asked are graphical, such as Su Doku and Kakuro. They have unique solutions, but you need to devise a method to solve them on the spot,” he said.

Lenson participated in the national-level contest for the past two years, and this time made it to the top four. Tata Consultancy Services is sponsoring his participation in the international event.

It all started with an e-mail forward. His friend, knowing his interest in puzzles, sent him a link about the World Puzzle Championship. This annual contest is held by World Puzzle Federation ( www.worldpuzzle.org), an association of legal bodies with an interest in puzzles. Interested enthusiasts can register online and a national-level online competition is held for participating countries. The Federation follows the Olympic standard in what constitutes a country. Those who win the national-level contest participate in the international contest.

Lenson loves puzzles, but it is not as if he spends every living minute mulling over unfinished grids. “I do one Su Doku a day. So, I spend maximum 15 minutes a day on puzzles,” he said. Before a competition, he spends two weeks going through puzzles online.

“Solving puzzles keeps my mind sharp,” he said. “Just as physical exercise helps keep your body fit, this is exercise for the brain, which helps to keep the brain fit.”

In last year’s competition, the Indian team was ranked 13th. “We aspire to come within the top 10 this time,” he said. “All of us are first timers. So, we don’t have anything to lose.” And, winning is not the only thing on his agenda during his trip to Belarus. “Tetsuya Nishio, the creator of Killer Su Doku, is coming to the competition,” he said. So, what does he plan to ask Mr. Nishio?

“How does he create these puzzles?” is his prompt answer.

SRUTHI KRISHNAN


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