Saturday, August 06, 2005

PUZZLES MAKE ME SMART

I have always heard that doing things like crossword puzzles and other puzzles helped older people keep their wits. I like crosswords, but I sort of got addicted to the New York Times. Now I get bored by anything earlier in the week than Wednesday or Thursday, since the Times gets harder as the week goes on.

Anyway, I was reading the Christian Science Monitor and they had a story about a puzzle that is sweeping England. Apparently the puzzle came from Japan, where it is called Sudoku. "The aim of the puzzle is to enter a numeral from 1 through 9 in each cell of a grid, most frequently a 9×9 grid made up of 3×3 subgrids (called "regions"), starting with various numerals given in some cells (the "givens"). Each row, column and region must contain only one instance of each numeral. Completing the puzzle requires patience and modest logical ability (although some puzzles can be very difficult)." More on this quote later.

I did a quick google of the term and came across some useful stuff. I downloaded the trial software and enjoyed it. Good enough, but not $15 good. I started hunting down sudoku resources that were not $15 and restricted to my computer. Low and behold, the Red Eye, which I have mocked in the past, had started running sudoku every day. I was hooked, but embarassed to by the Red Eye. I didn't want anyone to think I was illiterate.

Looking again for resources on the web, I came across the Wikipedia article on sudoku, which described the term thus: "Sudoku (Japanese: 数独, sūdoku), sometimes spelled Su Doku, is a placement puzzle, also known as Number Place in the United States."

Number place? Never heard of it. I googled that. Lo and behold, Dell, maker of crappy "pencil puzzles" invented sudoku, and sells entire BOOKS of sudoku puzzles for $5. The funniest thing is that they give you the answers at the back. Why? It's a number-based logic puzzle. You either figured it out, or you didn't.

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