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Post Independent/Kelley Cox

Crossword puzzles, beware.A new puzzle has taken over the world – and it’s got the numbers to prove it.Sudoku, a Japanese logical reasoning game printed in newspapers and books worldwide and played online, has people hammering out numbers to solve each day’s new grid.A Google search of the word “Sudoku” turns up 90,500,000 results offering printable puzzles, secret tips and online competition for the average-to-expert player.Hundreds of newspapers, some with a circulation of more than a million, print Sudoku everyday.I first saw a Sudoku book on Dec. 30, 2005, on a plane ride home from Christmas with the family. I had no idea what it was, and because it had a lot of numbers, I wasn’t so interested.Words are more my thing.

But as the year 2006 has progressed, I’ve seen more and more of Sudoku. The Washington Post was running it; Post Independent readers were demanding it.I was still trying to figure out how to say it.Glenwood Springs resident Pat Girardot said although she didn’t contact the PI about adding Sudoku, she was thinking it would be a nice feature. (The Sudoku puzzle now runs each day in the classified ads section).”Mentally, I was hoping you would,” she said. “I like it – it’s fun. It’s something new and something different. It’s easy for me to get into, depending on how my schedule looks.”Sudoku rules seem simple enough. According to, players “fill in a 9×9 grid so that every row, every column, and every 3×3 box contains the digits 1 through 9.” Solving times range from 10 to 30 minutes.I’m guessing that means about an hour for me.But my real question was, where did Sudoku come from? An Internet search on Sudoku’s beginnings turned up quite a few scenarios on how the numbers game became so popular.

The online encyclopedia Wikipedia says Howard Garns, a 74-year-old retired architect and freelance puzzle constructor, was the first to anonymously invent Sudoku. Sudoku was first published in a U.S. puzzle magazine in 1979, and a Japanese publisher introduced Sudoku to Japan in 1984.In 1997, New Zealander Wayne Gould, a retired Hong Kong judge, found an incomplete puzzle in a Japanese bookshop and invented a computer program to quickly make puzzles. After making a comeback in British newspapers in 2005, Sudoku has gained international popularity.This year, serious Sudoku players can win $50,000 in the national Challenge Me Champions Tournament. A tournament takes place in Denver Jan. 13-14, and there’s even a competition June 17-18 in my hometown of Indianapolis.And Indy thought the Final Four would bring in a lot of players.Sudoku books are on the Publisher’s Best Seller list, with “Su Doku for Dummies” and “Sudoku Easy to Hard Presented by Will Shortz, Volume 2: 100 Wordless Crossword Puzzles” ranking high.Wordless crossword puzzles? What is this world coming to?One word: Sudoku.

Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518aclark@postindependent.comSudokwho?n What it is: Sudoku, also known as Number Place, is a logic-based placement puzzlen How it’s played: numbers 1 through 9 are entered in each cell of a 9×9 grid made up of 3×3 subgrids (called regions), starting with various digits given in some cells (the givens). Each row, column, and region must contain only one instance of each numeral.

n When it started: n 1979: a U.S. puzzle magazine first publishes Sudoku after Howard Garns, a 74-year-old retired architect and freelance puzzle constructor, anonymously designs itn 1984: a Japanese publisher introduces Sudoku to Japann 1997: retired Hong Kong judge Wayne Gould finds a partially completed puzzle in a Japanese bookshop and develops a computer program to quickly produce puzzlesn 2005: British newspapers publish Sudoku; the puzzle attains international popularityn 2006: Challenge Me Sudoku Champions Tournaments with $50,000 grand prize planned throughout the U.S.Source: Wikipedia

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