2013-02-07 / Lifestyles

Death by Sudoku

Lois A. Corcoran

It turns out I share something in common with royalty. Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, recently confessed her addiction to Sudoku. In fact, she fell behind on a royal tour after stopping for a fix.

While she solves complicated puzzles with ease, I have my hands full with the junior edition. Either way, puzzlers start with a grid and must determine where to place numbers so they appear only once in each column and row.

Despite all of the digits, no actual math comes into play, which explains why my son likes it.

For a change of pace, some puzzles use letters or symbols. The latter requires the solver to draw various shapes. That may work for Rembrandt, but my doodles are pretty hard to identify. Hence, I prefer good ol’ numerals.

The right tool for the job is a sharp pencil. Writing with ink guarantees one will make a booboo. Often I’m in the home stretch before realizing I goofed early on. “With practice,” says a fellow Sudoku player, “it takes less time to realize you messed up.”

There’s an added benefit to writing with graphite: When you finish the last puzzle, you can erase the pages and start fresh without buying another book.

The key to solving Soduko is logic, something I possess much less of than my number one son. While I ponder my junior puzzles, I hear his pencil going great guns with an adult version.

Sudoku is a great time passer when you’re waiting for someone. I also play it when winding down at the end of the day. After washing supper dishes, I’ll grab a No. 2 and sit down with a book, ready to take on a challenge.

True, all you have to show for a session is a page full of numbers, but fact is, playing games can ward off “old people’s disease,” or so says a guy at a Sudoku forum. “It keeps my mind sharp as my body falls apart,” he joked.

You can take it too far, of course. A two-month criminal trial was aborted when jury members admitted playing Sudoku during much of the testimony. Apparently, the Dutchess and I aren’t the only addicts.

We diehards can wear T-shirts proclaiming its merits and read a mystery series called “Death by Sudoku” (Kaye Morgan, author). There’s even Sudoku bath tissue for the throne.

Speaking of royalty.

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