THC Setters

Gridman aka Chaturvasi aka CG Rishikesh

Photo courtesy: S. Nagarajan

Gridman is the pseudonym of C. G. Rishikesh.

He was born in Coimbatore as a Capricornian in 1943. 

Rishikesh, who is a Kannadiga, had his early education in Tamil medium before he moved to Secunderabad where his father, an IAF officer, was transferred and where the family decided to join the breadwinner for a couple of years, before he was transferred again. There, in the Telugu rajyamu, Rishikesh was pitchforked into English medium in what was called  the Third Form.

After rusticating for a year in Durgapur, West Bengal, he returned to Coimbatore in 1956. Staying in his maternal grandfather's home, he did SSLC from the then rare English medium school in Thamizhnaadu.

In 1957 he moved back to his paternal grandfather's home in Madras (in English) and Chennai (in Tamil). Since then he has been living in Chennai, soaking in its heritage and culture and bearing the travails and tribulations unavoidable in an ever-growing metropolis.

Rishikesh is a former student of Vivekananda College, Loyola College and Madras Christian College and was a teacher in another city college before he became a journalist.

After working with two Chennai-based newspaper establishments - Indian Express and The Hindu - he retired from service in 2003. 

His first crossword puzzle was a US-type definitional that was published in The American Reporter, a newspaper published by the USIS, sometime in the early Seventies. Some half-a-dozen straightforward puzzles sent by him as a 'reader' were published in the now-defunct Evening News of London. 

Later a Chennai-based small-time magazine published some cryptic puzzles of his every month over a period. Puzzles set by him have also appeared in Sportsworld, The Telegraph, Frontline, Target and Sparks.

A follower of THC from Puzzle No. 1 that was published in 1971, he joined THC setters' panel in 2001 - from which year his puzzles have appeared regularly every month. 

Rishikesh has contributed a lot to blogs and message boards on the crossword in general and THC in particular. He originated the Simple Clue-Writing Contest in Googlegroup.

He is married with three children though the children were not there when he married. Those children now have their children.

He has travelled to and stayed in stretches in the US and Canada.

Rishikesh tries to read his wife like the book Gita.

His special interests include translating from Tamil to English. Books published include one of short stories by Narasiah. He has some children's stories and 'middles' to his credit.

He is a committee member of Sri Venugopalaswamy temple in Gopalapuram, his father and grandfather being founding members of the religious society that set up that temple.

Sankalak aka Late PC Jayaraman

Arden aka AR Devanathan

Incognito aka M Kishore Rao

He stepped on this planet in the year the Cuban Missile crisis happened, though he was born in the year before that. No, he was not responsible for it. He started out in Kannada medium in Bangalore, before shifting to English medium in the 3rd standard on his father’s transfer to Delhi. He was a part of the very first posse of school-kids handling traffic control, having rendered signal services at the gates of the Asia ’72 fair in Delhi and significantly contributed to the traffic jam there, single handedly. After moving to Hyderabad in ’73, and then to Bangalore in ’76, he found compulsory Kannada lying in wait for him in his SSLC year, with not a letter being familiar to him.

He spent some exciting years at Vijaya College, Bangalore during his PU and B.Com. studies and  managed to trouser a gong d’or for Sanskrit, which language helped him gain footholds into many other languages as time passed. He added a few more letters like FCA, Grad.CWS and ACS to the entourage and got into professional  practice in 1984 which took up most of the next 3 decades, till he decided enough was enough.

During those score years and ten, he met and married Gita, who presently teaches commerce and management in a college, when she is not wo-managing him. A couple of wonderful boys joined them in their journey. Kaushal The Elder is presently working in a marketing company and is planning to do his MBA shortly. Kuldeep The Younger has just stopped growing after having reached towering heights and is in the final year of the BBM course.

Somewhere along the way, he got into crosswords (and other types of logic and math puzzles, having been a Mindsporter for 25 years) and then came across THCC and CU which gave him some insight of what happens in these puzzles and of course, a sense of belonging. “Whenever I passed fireplugs, I always wanted to be an Irish Setter. But CV was kind enough to recruit me as a TH setter.”, he says. Choosing “Incognito” was based on a paradox, he explains: “If you know who I am, then I am still Incognito. If you don’t, I am Incognito anyway.”  It also prompted him to incorporate a clue based on alternate names of places, persons and things in each of his crosswords under this pseudonym.

Presently, he is working as an unpaid gardener growing veggies on his house rooftop. He had no hesitation in saying that he is a poor farmer: his crop is quite meagre.   But there is one thing he forgot to do all these years, and he does not regret it: He never grew up ...

He can be contacted at, though no early replies can be assured as he often forgets he has an email account. Those who have his phone number too have resigned to the futility of calling him when they realise that his phone rings its solitary song, whenever he is mobile and his mobile is not mobile, when he leaves his cell, and especially when he leaves it around unchaperoned while he is pottering around the house and the garden.

Afterdark aka Shrikanth T

Afterdark aka Shrikanth hails from Madurai, gone native at Chennai for the last two decades. Currently, he is the Co-Founder and CEO of Juvo Online Services Pvt Ltd that has launched a property portal in Sri Lanka. As a senior management professional, he has been a part of many Internet companies in India including Sify Ltd &

Aruna, his wife is a Special Educator guiding children with learning disabilities. His first daughter Tejaswini is doing B.Design in SRM Institute of Technology and has a flair for creative pursuits. His second one, Manaswini is now in 07th standard, a budding archery champion and she gives a run for her sister’s money in creativity. Zeno, his Labrador is 8 months old who possesses the collective energy of the family in a 2 feet frame. Chitti, the Queen Cat is often perched up in unexpected places announcing her presence every now & then with a meek voice but a supercilious attitude (she doesn’t know I am writing about her, I am sure she will frown upon that)

Shrikanth is also a published author, his book MGR, A Biography hitting the stands in Oct 2013. And a work of fiction is awaiting publication with another historical brewing in his head. As a voracious reader, his interests span a wide spectrum of fiction & non-fiction with too many favorites to list. Loves his beer, and music from the 70’s & 80’s, often both of them together.

And his pursuit is to continue to live the same life albeit in a slightly grander scale.

He can be reached at

Buzzer aka K Bhavan (Not contributing at present)

Neyartha aka TS Ganesh

Scintillator aka Shyam

xChequer aka Bhalachandra Pasupathy (Not contributing at present)

Lightning aka Venkatesh Prabhakar (VP)

Sunnet aka Ramesh J

Vulcan aka Vijay (VJ)

Klue Klux Klan/Anon aka Amrith

Skuldugger aka Kurien

Spinner aka Srivathsan Santhanam

Aspartame aka Anand Bharathi (Not contributing at present)

The Phantom aka Raghunath (Not contributing at present)

Anitya aka  (Not contributing at present)

Exa aka Aakash Sridhar (Not contributing at present)

Mac aka Mohsin Ahmed (Not contributing at present)

Dr. X aka Dr Satyen Nabar 

Dr. X aka Dr. Satyen Nabar born in Nov 1972 is an Orthopaedic surgeon practising in Mumbai. He completed his MBBS from KEM and his MS (Orth) training from Nair Hospital.
He has authored a work of fiction ‘A Bolt of Lightning’ that was published in 2012. He has written a textbook of Ophthalmology during his internship in 1997. He played character roles in several episodes of TV serial Detective Karan that aired on DD.
Passionate about puzzles, he serves as a moderator for, a site dedicated to problem solving where you can freely access hundreds of puzzles in the fields of logic and math created by him. He loves playing bridge which he wishes he could play more often.
Introduced to a cryptic clue by a brilliant puzzler, Dr. Mukund Jagannathan in Mar 2014, he was hooked by the sheer mathematical precision and logical beauty that unshakeably leads to the correct answer.  What followed was intensive research into every aspect of clue-making which culminated in Oct 2015 when he sent a few clues to Col. Deepak Gopinath for appraisal. Kindly advised by the Colonel to make a crossword grid, his first puzzle was published in Nov 2015 in the Sunday Special on this blog. Encouraged by the Colonel and Chaturvasi Sir, he continued creating crosswords and his moment of greatest joy arrived when Chaturvasi Sir recommended his name to join the panel of setters for The Hindu in Jan 2017.   
A voracious reader, he rates ‘Catch-22’ as the most deliciously cynical novel ever written, followed by the classic ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ series for its imaginative humour, and every PG Wodehouse novel for the delightful handling of the nuances of the English language . His favourite movie is ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and he enjoys the Seinfeld TV series and the ‘Yes Minister’ series for the sparkling wit. He is a rock music aficionado, favourite bands being ‘Pink Floyd’ and U2.
He is married to his college sweetheart, Ashwini who is a Gynaecologist and whom he thanks for tolerating the ‘little’ eccentricities that so often go hand in hand with creative endeavours. They have two kids, Aryan and Gia.  His mother is a PhD historian and that makes up 3 doctors in the family!
He hopes for an early retirement so that he can immerse himself full time into the logical world of puzzles in these largely illogical times the world faces.
You can contact him at

KrisKross aka Ramki Krishnan

Hypatia aka Sowmya Ramkumar

Sowmya is an independent financial consultant based in Bahrain. She teaches various topics related to investments and risk management to banking professionals. 

Sowmya's blog ( and Facebook group called "1 Across" is well known in the crossword cyberspace among seasoned cruciverbalists who seek social interaction while setting and solving clues. In 2017, She had compiled and published the book Cryptic Crossroads, featuring an exclusive set of crosswords by the members of 1ACross, to raise money for cancer cure and research.

Sowmya has set more than 125 weekly themed crosswords for Cat.a.lyst (part of The Hindu Business line), which were published for over two years, until 2016. These were published under her own name. She has also set for “The Preston Pages”, a UK publication, under the pseudonym “Hypatia”. 

Sowmya has participated in and been a finalist at the Indian Crossword League (IXL) every year since 2016. She also holds two Guinness records for Crocheting, being part of MICQ - Mother Indian Crochet Queen's  Guinness attempts for the longest crochet blanket, set in 2016 and for the largest display of crochet sculptures set in 2018.

Originally from Chennai, Sowmya lives in Bahrain with her husband Ramkumar who is the Group Chief Accountant at Bank ABC and her mother in law. Her seven year old son Adhvik is still building on his vocabulary, but "crossword" is already a part of it. 

To know more about her, you can also check out her interviews which have been featured in online blogs such as Crossword Unclued and Paws for Puzzles. You can follow her on twitter at @somsram

Bruno aka Balaji Agoram

Avtaar aka S. Sreenivasan

Gussalufz aka Viresh Ratnakar

Karaoke aka K Koteswar Rao


  1. Loved reading about the Maestro, AD & my favourite blogger, commentator & setter:KMR. Thanx a lot. Waiting for others'.

  2. Kindly correct the spelling in the sub-head for Mr. Shrikanth.

  3. Not a single WOMAN Crossword setter!!!!!!

  4. Indeed, chuckled a lot while reading their pen-sketches...

  5. Loved reading Hypatias's profile as well.

  6. Just discovered this section. Nice to learn more about the minds with whom I wrestle every day! Thank you, Colonel.

  7. Very enjoyable section. But what about the incomplete profiles?

  8. versatile personality,applaudable @ sowmyaRamkumar

  9. Versatality ,powered by knowledge....applaudable to SowmyaRamkumar

  10. Reading the profiles of these worthy 'CW Setters' was entertaining as well as educative in terms of playing with words to let the entire world know the fantasy of English language.
    This reminded me of a simple one sentence sort of 'wordplay' that was featured in one of the issues of that treasure of knowledge magazine Readers' Digest. And it related how a single word ONLY inserted between any of the two words in this sentence changes the entire context.
    That sentence was HE HIT ME IN THE EYES YESTERDAY.
    To sum up my comments, I raise my hat (and this evening's toast too since it is past half past six) and hail their achievements in this literally Mad Mad World of Words..