| Balwant Singh in Patna on Monday. Picture by Jai Prakash |
Across: Ecological disaster-101 dumped in a sewerage line (4,4)
Answer: Acid rain
Down: Actress was no more broke (6)
Yorkers like these might puzzle any crossword enthusiast but not Balwant Kumar Singh. The city, which has no representative in the IPL, has got its talent to face bouncers in the IXL.
In spite of being educated in a Hindi-medium school, Balwant, 40, has earned the distinction of being the first from Bihar to figure in the list of 25 top performers in the ongoing IXL — Indian Crossword League — an online competition organised to mark the centenary year of crossword.
Crossword first appeared in a US newspaper on December 21, 1913.
Solving crossword has been a passion for Balwant, a small-time trader of gems, since his college days.
Son of Parshuram Singh, a retired physics professor at Magadh University, Balwant said: “The main reason behind crossword not getting popular in Bihar is the lack of awareness among the people about it complemented by poor knowledge of English vocabulary.”
Balwant, who has scored 76 points at the end of second week in the IXL, a brainchild of Bihar cadre IAS officer Vivek K. Singh, claimed that cryptic crossword is generally tougher than normal ones. “In market, there are many books available on crossword but the best is to follow dictionary,” said Balwant, who expects higher score at the end of third week for which he has already sent his answers.
“The passion of solving crossword improved my English vocabulary,” added Balwant.
Promoted by Extra C, a civil society initiative, the IXL is the first-ever crossword competition across India. The league is an individual crossword competition to be played in a round-robin league format (a tournament in which all of the entrants play each other at least once).
There will be eight online weekly rounds between October and December. Top 10 scorers from the weekly rounds would compete in an offline national grand finale to be held either in Patna or Delhi on December 21, the day crossword was born 100 years ago.