Times Sudoku winners will represent India at the World Sudoku championship at Beijing


    All good things have come in twos this time around. At the national edition of the Times Sudoku Championship in Mumbai on Friday, the final four got there in a nail-biting two-hour finale. Rohan Rao and Prasanna Seshadri are Mumbaikars while the other two, Rishi Puri and Jaipal Reddy, are from Hyderabad.
    The four, who are known to each other, “met and clicked” and since 2007, have regularly practised and improved their skills and are quite familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Rishi Puri, the country’s new Sudoku champ, is a 39-year-old freelance IT developer, who doesn’t just solve puzzles or create them in his spare time, he also teaches children to love and play the game with a fervour that has seen him win this year. A selfconfessed fan of all “brain games”, his romance with puzzles began with “early introduction to chess, moving on to Rubik’s cubes by age 7 and Sudoku among other puzzles thereafter”. In fact, the only “physical game” Puri plays, is badminton.
    Placing second, Prasanna Seshadri, 22, was the runner-up in the Mumbai round. The avid puzzle creator bettered him in the penultimate round. “I excelled in the third round and this led to my win,” Seshadri surmises.
    World number eight Rao returns to help claim national glory along with his teammates this year in Beijing, China. Last year, the Indian team placed seventh overall. The new team choruses that this year, the aim is to finally break into the top five. “Last year was the breakthrough,” admits Rao, who placed third this year.
    In fourth place and completing the quartet is Hyderabad-based educator Jaipal Reddy, who “runs schools in Hyderabad” and is the “president of a district co-operative bank” when not playing Sudoku. In fact, this year’s winner, Puri teaches Sudoku at Reddy’s schools once a week.
    Heading into the World Championship in October, the champs will continue practising even as they “exchange ideas”, “sit and discuss” and “continue competing” in a bid to win individually and as a team.

Prasanna Seshadri, Rishi Puri, Rohan Rao and Jaipal Reddy

WINNER
Rishi Puri (Hyderabad)
1ST RUNNER-UP
Prasanna Seshadri (Mumbai)
2ND RUNNER-UP
Rohan Rao (Mumbai)
3RD RUNNER-UP
Jaipal Reddy (Hyderabad)