For the last several years I’ve noticed, with little more than passing fancy, how people in all stages of air travel seem to entertain themselves with little grids of numbers. I could see that some numbers were missing, and the apparent goal was to fill in all the blanks. Like a crossword puzzle with numbers? Where you do a lot of adding? That was about as far as my interest took me. I like to read on airplanes anyway.
Then while visiting SodaBoy’s parents last year at Thanksgiving, we saw them working on these number games. At this time, I first learned the name of the mysterious wordless crosswords: Sudoku. I also made a mental note that a book of Sudokus might make a good future gift for them. [And then I actually remembered, and bought a Will Shortz book for them this past Christmas. Hot damn! I’m on a roll.]
It wasn't until their recent holiday visit that I actually learned how Sudokus work. The first night of their stay, we had 6 o’clock dinner reservations, but were instructed to come by their hotel earlier, since they were eager to see us. When we arrived at their room for pre-dinner cocktails/cokes, both SodaBoy’s parents were working on Sudokus, so they explained how to solve them. I was immediately intrigued.
It’s very simple really. The puzzle consists of a 9 x 9 grid, which is further divided into 3 x 3 squares. Each little box must contain a number from 1-9; no number can be repeated across any given row, down any given column, or within any given 3 x 3 square. There is no adding required, just the most basic of counting skills.
This handy little diagram from Wikipedia beautifully illustrates why the green-colored box must be a 5. It simply cannot be any other number.
After dinner that night, I rustled around the house, looking in our paper recyclables until I found an old Sudoku. Unfortunately the puzzle was classified as “HARD” and I did not persist long enough to solve it correctly. I decided HARD wasn’t the best level to start with, and looked online. Goldmine! This site offers "billions" of Sudoku puzzles, all free and designed for either printing or online play. Of course there are many other sites as well... you’ve gotta love the internets.
I have been printing them up, because as a newbie, I need to a few make notes as I go along. Even printing on both sides of the paper is a getting a little consumptive though. I am not keen to play online: I spend enough time on the damn computer already. I may need to go back to the bookstore and pick up a book of puzzles for myself; it might be cheaper than all this ink and paper.
Seriously, if you've never tried one before, go check out the Sudokus. They are totally addictive, and more fun than they look. And I probably shouldn’t call myself a novice any more, even though it’s only been a week or so now. Last night I completed my first “EVIL” level puzzle. Thank you, thank you...
I will accept your congratulations now.