I’m finally gonna get around to explaining what I was doing a week or so ago. Some of you already know, but still, the details might be worth the read.
As people who know me or have been following this blog regularly know, me and Rohan are contributing as authors for the Puzzle, Sudoku and Mental Math sub-events during local events held by a sports management company called SportzConsult. They already organized the Delhi Brain Games earlier this year. Having analyzed the inaugural Brain Games event, they started planning the next event in Chennai, Chennai Brain Games. For CBG, SportzConsult set up a few workshops for me to conduct in schools and colleges across Chennai about Puzzles and Sudoku and in general, promoting the events and their accessibility. Since I was born in the state, and had many relatives there, it all worked out quite conveniently. So anyway, here’s a little bit on each school/college I visited :
1. PSBB School, K K Nagar
There was a little bit of a mix-up here on audience. What we wanted and had planned for was that the students with registrations would attend and I’d get an hour. What happened instead was that entire classrooms were sent to the auditorium to wait and I was given 20-30 minutes twice. The first session was for 300 10-year olds and the second session was for a similar number of older children, although I’m not exactly sure whether they were all just a year older or more. Obviously, there was a bit of a worry going into this one about how the reception might be in general.
Surprisingly enough, the students were extremely enthusiastic. Obviously, I had to adapt my material and also my interactions a lot to make the subject matter really basic and fun, but the audience was generally really excited that there are more possibilities existent in Sudoku and Puzzles. Kids came on stage, asked doubts, and in general were really enthusiastic.
2. Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
IIT is the foremost institution when it comes to higher technological education, and they generally encourage intellectual activities of any kind, so the target audience here was perfect for the workshop topic. As a result, I let the workshop go on long and with great detail. In hindsight, it probably went too long (2 and a half hours), but I’ll put that down to having a solving + doubts bit after explaining each new variant/type. There were 100 people who attended at the start. A few left midway because they needed to be at other events, but the majority stayed on and were pretty interested throughout, and even after the session there were eager students asking me to help with certain types.
3. The Velammal International School
Velammal International School is ever interested in extra curricular activities that sharpen their students’ intellect and are all about giving the students a platform to showcase any form of talent. They promoted this workshop wonderfully, to the extent that everyone knew who I was, my credentials, and were looking forward to the workshop. This one was in a huge auditorium, with kids of all ages, 10-15 I suppose, and teachers as well.
I got a good 1 and half hours for the workshop, so this was a bit of a mix of the 1st and 2nd, with me going into detail but really basic detail, and a quick overview. Again, there were kids coming on stage to ask doubts. The highlight of this workshop came when a student came up and challenged me on stage to a solve-off. The SportzConsult personnel with me did everything to distract me during this, even making me pose for photos with kids in between solving. The whole mini-event was extremely entertaining for me and also for the audience.
Afterwards, there were a few discussions about potential activities in the future, and I hope to post more about this school sometime later.
Now, to the main event –
Since this is a puzzle blog, I’ll focus only on the Sudoku and Puzzle events. We had 3 prizes for Open Category and 3 prizes for U-15 category. The attendance was pretty good and there was enough healthy competition in both categories.
We had 2 rounds of Sudoku, one classics and one variations, and then 2 rounds of puzzles. Each of these rounds was of 30 minutes. In the end, the Open Category winners were a few regular LMI members, although it was pretty close for a few newcomers in the Puzzle rounds. The U-15 category obviously had all new faces.
The most noteworthy fact is that the U-15 Sudoku winner, Pradeep Kumar, was the same kid who had challenged me at Velammal (read above). So I personally awarded him with a small prize on stage apart from the medal, and also shared that experience to the crowd.
After the event, we had a press meet including an interview from me, which there isn’t an online link for. A lot of the interview had me speaking in Tamil though, so I doubt there’s much in it that the International readers of this blog will miss.
It was an absolutely wonderful experience conducting the workshops, and I especially hope that some nice partnerships are made from this for future plans related to the Indian puzzle scene. Photos of the main event can be seen here.