A couple of weeks ago, the Sunday New York Times featured a new puzzle called sudoku, which is apparently popular in Japan. It's a sort of self-checking number-based crossword without clues. Confused? Don't be. There's only one rule.
Given a 9x9 grid, fill in all blank cells making sure that each row, column, and 3x3 box contains each number from one to nine.
The above puzzle is very, very easy. Believe me: they can be much more difficult. Brain-wrackingly difficult. Sudoku are rated in difficulty based on the numbers provided, the ease with which other numbers can be found, and the number of guesses required to solve the puzzle.
The real problem is sudoku is addicting. Last night in the grocery store, I saw a sudoku magazine. I tried to resist the urge to purchase it, but failed. I spent most of my evening doing sudoku. I solved easy puzzles, then medium puzzles, then hard puzzles.
I've spent too much time this morning trying to solve two difficult puzzles. I've exhausted elementary logic tricks and need to find some more elaborate methods of finding the correct numbers. I've gone to the web in search of help, and found:
- the wikipedia article on sudoku
- a sudoku program for Windows — this site includes a page discussing techniques for solving sudoku
- a sudoku site with some basic strategy tips and a few free online puzzles
- a sudoku weblog (!!?!!) which includes daily puzzles
- best of all: two sudoku apps for Macintosh: Sudoku Susser and MacSudoku
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