Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Do you sudoku?

It’s a crossword puzzle with numbers. A 9-by-9 grid of boxes. Nine columns, nine rows, many rules and, possibly, a headache.

Sound like fun?

“I learned about Sudoku at the beginning of the summer and by the end, I was doing one every morning because they’re really addictive,” said Emma Kronick, a Weinberg sophomore.

Sudoku has captivated the crossword puzzle and logic problem crowd. The grids can now be found in newspapers, magazines, bookstores, on the Internet and even on facebook.com.

Rachel Ostrov, a member of NU’s “I Do Sudoku” facebook group, said anybody can play the puzzle.

“They are just a fun thing to do when you are waiting for a class to start or when you are taking a break from homework,” Ostrov, a Weinberg freshman, wrote in an e-mail.

Sudoku fans say the puzzle is more logistical reasoning than it is about math. Then again, crossword puzzles are more about random trivia and pop culture than they are about words.

The goal is to have one of every digit – one through nine – in each 3-by-3 box on the grid, in each column and in each row. Each puzzle usually has a few numbers filled in as clues.

Certain boxes can be determined by process of elimination but eventually, plugging in numbers is the inevitable and often frustrating route (so be sure to use pencil).

Ostrov said she takes 10 minutes to finish a puzzle if it looks easy enough.

“If they’re too hard, I just stop,” she said.

And she has spread the craze to one of her suitemates in Slivka Hall, who saw Ostrov take out the puzzle one morning and is now “even more hooked than I am,” Ostrov said.

“She will not stop until she finishes,” Ostrov said.

Sudoku – which translates to “single number” in Japanese – enjoyed popularity in Japan for decades but never seemed to catch on in foreign markets until the late 1990s.

The concept began spreading when Wayne Gould, a New Zealand native living in Hong Kong, created a computer program to generate Sudoku puzzles. He sold his idea to the London Times in 2004. Since then, Sudoku has come to rival crossword puzzles in popularity in Great Britain. European, Asian and African media have also embraced the Sudoku craze.

U.S. newspapers and magazines, such as the New York Post, USA Today have begun publishing regular Sudoku puzzles regularly. The Chicago Tribune published its first Sudoku puzzle Sept. 4.

“I’m not really sure why they are so addictive,” Ostrov said. “But I do think that popularity of the puzzle has come from all of the attention is gets from various different newspapers. Now almost every newspaper has one puzzle in it.”

Gould also has published numerous books of the mind-bending puzzles, and Sudoku books have become some of the most popular items on bookstore shelves.

For some students, Sudoku is much more than just a crossword puzzle.

“I like Sudoku mostly because it’s a fun thing to do and helps prevent any mental atrophy, especially over the summer when all my friends are off at their respective colleges,” Weinberg freshman Gene Lee said in an email. “Also, since I couldn’t do a crossword if my life depended on it, it’s nice to have something I can do.”

To get your daily Sudoku fix or to check out the fad, visit www.dailysudoku.co.uk/

sudoku/index.html.

Reach Elizabeth Thiers at [email protected].

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Do you sudoku?