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June 29, 2007

Seduced by Sudoku

sudoku example.jpg

Blame it on American Airlines. (There are several other things to blame on AA, but that will be the subject of a later post.)

On my flight to NM last week, I didn't feel like reading and the music wasn't enough to keep me occupied, so I opened the AA magazine and found the sudoku page. I had seen these puzzles for several years but had never tried one. Well, why not? So I did, and now I'm hooked.

There's a real satisfaction to unlocking the puzzle. Every row and column must be filled by 9 unique numbers (1-9), and the nine 3x3 boxes within the larger grid also have to contain the 9 unique numbers. As in the example above, the puzzle begins with some of the squares filled in, and all you have to do is fill in the rest. Simple, right?

Well, some are indeed simple - labeled such things as "light and easy," etc. But some are incredibly difficult.

I found that even the first few I did took a fair amount of brain power, but once I got the hang of the logic and figured out several strategies, I started flying through them. It was fun (and psychologically interesting) to experience the quick learning curve.

Now - this type of puzzle requires convergent thinking -- trying to determine the unique solution to the puzzle. What is the one and only one set of numbers that will make it work? Of course, most of life's puzzles aren't solved this way. But every once in a while, it's very satisfying to figure out that unique solution that makes it all click in. Kind of like making that big SPSS syntax file run without a hitch, or making that account balance to the penny. Doing sudoku saved my sanity while surviving in Chicago O'Hare airport for 24 hours - but that's another story too. Stay tuned...

Posted by hgroteva at June 29, 2007 10:21 PM | Life | Travel