I'm Puzzled

15 July 2005
2:08 PM

In the past week I have joined the sudoku craze. Sudoku is a puzzle, something like a numeric crossword. Earlier this year, sudoku became popular in the U.K. Now it's hitting the U.S. The emergence in the U.S. is due in large part, I think, to the USA Today's decision to include sudoku puzzles in its daily paper.

The puzzle consists of a 9x9 grid with some preprinted numbers. It looks like this:


The object is to fill every row, column, and 3x3 box with the numbers 1 to 9 once. There's no math to it—just logic and reasoning. I like it because there's none of the frustration I typically experience with crosswords ("I have been speaking English for decades and don't know any of these words?"). To solve the puzzles, you start by using elimination, and then use more advanced reasoning once you get better. For example, in the puzzle above, you know there has to be a 6 in the bottom right-hand corner. There is only one 6 in each column and row, so the preprinted sixes give you the location of the one I filled in. See?


If you're intrigued, get a puzzle to work for yourself at Daily Sudoku or in the Life section of the USA Today. There's no shame in starting with an easy or very easy puzzle. Some of the hard ones are pretty diabolical. If you need more tips, check out this guide to solving Sudoku