Jacqueline Oud - Culture

Do you Sudoko?

"Sudo-" what?

Maybe I’m completely out of range but till today I hadn’t heard of the word "Sudoko". When I read about it in the Fortune magazine I was very appealed and curious to learn more about it. So, nothing better than have a look on internet.

As the Wiki pages explain it: "Sudoko is a logic-based placement puzzle, also known as Number Place in the United States. The aim of the canonical puzzle is to enter a numeral from 1 through 9 in each cell of 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 logical ability."

When seeing an exemple of a Sudoko puzzle, I suddenly recongnised that in fact I saw them already somewhere.

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A Sudoko puzzle

I was startled tough that this puzzle has managed to become so popular. On internet I found more than 12 million references through Google with the keyword Sudoko. Even the self respecting newspapers seem to propose their daily Sudoko puzzle: the German newspaper Der Zeit, the French Figaro and the United Kingdom and now also the American newspapers. In fact the European hype started in the UK, see the special Times online page on Sudoko

But Sudoko covers almost all continents. I even spotted the trend in India an Australia according to an article from Hindu on net

Origins of Sudoko

One would easily think that Sudoko is Japanese, due to its name. But it seems that the origins of the puzzle lies in the famous magical squares and the its idea was founded in the 18th century by Leonhard Euler a mathematicien from Basel (Switzerland). It came to the USA where it was "found" by a Japanese Publisher who took it with him to Japan and called it Sudoko. Still till there no hype was created.

It had to wait till 1997 when a retired judge from New Zealand - Wayne Gould - discovered it in Tokyo and decided to propose it to the Times in London when he was there in 2004. According to the article in Forutne, it only took one month to make this new puzzle become a hit. It states that today as much as 400 newspapers worldwide propose Sudoko puzzles. We can even find Sudoko Championships and studies on the intellectual part of Sudoko, for exemple "The beautiful mind game", an article published in the UK Times

As a result of the hype, Wayne Gould has created his own website on Sudoko: www.sudoko.com and still sees himself as the stephfather. As quoted "I’m not the father, bt I have popularized it, and I feel I owe it a duty to look after it."

The challenge of the Sudoko puzzles lies in the fact that they look easy, with the answer just a glance a away. However, you get caught by it’s complexity and in the end you don’t want to give up.

Here the result of the puzzle above:

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The same Sudoko puzzle with the solution

(the exemple comes from the "official" sudoko website: www.sudoko.com

It’s maybe like with alcohol, you can do it but be careful and only consume it on a small basis. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the game!

[19 October 2005]

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