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The Sudoku craze rumbles on

Hold up!

See that little date above?

This post was published years ago.

My opinions have changed over time: I think it's quite fun to keep old posts online so that you can see how that has happened. The downside is that there are posts on this site that express views that I now find offensive, or use language in ways I'd never dream of using it today.

I don't believe in airbrushing history, but I do believe that it's important to acknowledge the obvious: some of what I've written in the past has been crap. Some of it was offensive. Some of it was offensively bad. And there's may be some brass among the muck (you can make up your own mind on that).

Some of what I've presented as my own views has been me—wittingly or unwittingly—posturing without having considered all the facts. In a few years, I'll probably think the same about what I'm writing today, and I'm fine with that. Things change. People grow. Society moves forward.

The internet moves on too, which means there might be broken links or embedded content that fails to load. If you're unlucky, that might mean that this post makes no sense at all.

So please consider yourself duly warned: this post is an historical artefact. It's not an exposition of my current views nor a piece of 'content' than necessarily 'works'.

You may now read on... and in most cases, the post you're about to read is considerably shorter than this warning box, so brace for disappointment.

The number puzzles Sudoku, first brought to Britain by The Times earlier this year, spawned something of a craze. A craze I covered in some detail. So it feels right to do some kind of six-months-on follow-up.




Well, I’m still doing Sudoku. My favourite puzzles by far are those published in The Guardian, as they actually have that bit more sense to them, being hand-made in pretty patterns rather than the computer-generated versions most of the other papers have. They’re just nicer.

As well as the old Sudoku, though, a whole new raft of puzzle variations have arrived. The Daily Mail’s innovations are Sudoku X, which also includes diagonals, and Super Sudoku X, which includes a whole other set of boxes. The Mail’s efforts sadly seem to make the puzzle somewhat easier, but more protracted in actually solving it. That is, the puzzle is no more challenging, it just takes longer. The Times has experimented with several formats, including Alphadoku (exactly the same as Sudoku but with letters), Samurai Sudoku (which has five interlocking grids), Dodeka Sudoku (which is the usual but on a 12×12 grid), Superior Sudoku (which I don’t really understand why is different), and – most recently and prolifically – Killer Sudoku. This involves a normal Sudoku grid, but with the addition of small korals of letters bordered by a dotted line, with the total given for that group of letters. In this way, no numbers (or very few) are given initially, and the player has to find them all. Personally, whilst I find Killer Sudokus quite enjoyable, the challenge is essentially the same for the most part, and you simply have to factor in a single additional variable. Still, they’re worth a try.

More enjoyable in my opinion, though, is the completely different puzzle of Kakuro, which first appeared when the Guardian relaunched. In this puzzle, the player is presented with a the total for a given run of numbers, and must slot them into a grid. It has some similarities to Sudoku, and is even more similar to Killer Sudoku, but moves away from the basic Sudoku logic, to give a completely different puzzle. It’s clearly, therefore, more satisfying to attempt the paper’s Sudoku and its Kakuro, because it doesn’t feel like you’re doing the same thing twice. Kakuro is also now published in the Daily Mail, but once again, to me, The Guardian’s seem superior, with a definite process, whereas the Mail’s just seem random.

Neither The Mail nor The Guardian have seen fit to publish Kakuro on their website, but there are plenty of Kakuro websites about, including this, this, and this.

With the introduction and marketing of other Sudoku products (witness the DVD, electronic and board games, not to mention the ever-increasing plethora of books – links to the best of which appear on the right), the Sudoku craze shows no sign of slowing down. Susie Dent has even made Sudoku the Word of the Year. Which might be taking things a bit far.

Either way, I just hope that everyone stays addicted to the country’s leading number puzzles. Because if they don’t, then the papers might stop printing them… and whatever will I do then? 😉

This post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

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