Just what is that little boxof- boxes on The Quad’s Diversions page? It’s a logic puzzle known as Soduko, although sometimes spelled So Doku, and it’s gaining popularity thanks to its mystifying minimalism and yet exasperating complexity. Often times known as “Number Place” in the United States, Sodoku gained initial popularity in Japan in 1986 before attaining world-wide attention just this year, showing up in print in newspapers everywhere. In fact, “sodoku” in Japanese means “numbers singly.” While the brainteaser deals solely with numbers, one doesn’t need to be a mathematician to get it right. In fact, there is no real relationship between any of the numbers, as letters, shapes or colors may be used in their place without affecting the rules. The goal of the puzzle is to enter a number from 1 to 9 in each cell of a 9×9 grid that is made up of 3×3 sub-grids known as regions. Some numbers are already given in some of the cells. Every row, column and region must contain only one instance of each number. Surely anyone who attempts this puzzle must have patience and a clever mind. According to www. sodoku.com, average solving time is “10 to 30 minutes, depending on your skill and experience.” There are at least three different strategies to winning Sodoku, and they include scanning, marking up and analyzing. Scanningconsists of counting from 1 to 9 in regions, rows and columns to identify missing numbers. More difficult puzzles can’t be solved with just scanning. Marking up comes into play when no further numbers can be discovered and number guesses are written in the blank cells. A secondary technique is to mark up the numbers that a cell can’t be. Lastly, analyzing is comprised of mainly elimination to narrow the numbers down to just one choice. Thanks to always-evolving technology, a game called the Sodokulist has become available for PC download at www.sudoku. org.uk. Now for a small fee, aficionados can solve the puzzles whenever they wish at just a click of a button.
Features include a “hint” button, a step-by-step solver for beginners, extensive help files and five different “skin” designs. The Web site also offers a 3-D puzzle known as “DT Extreme Sudoku,” which suggests that it’s not for beginners.
Fans of Sodoku can even head to www.sodokumobile. com to purchase a version of the game that you can play on your phone. This volume of Sodoku- Mobile has 30 puzzles ranging in difficulty from easy to medium to hard. The game currently supports phones made by Sharp, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, SonyEricsson and Sagem, and the company will be adding more phones to the list in the future. For more information, head on over to www.sudoku.com for rules, contests, tips and solutions.