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July 30, 2006

Samurai Sudoku and Other Addictions

Let's face it, we all have our addictions.  Chocolate, caffiene, nicotine, narcotics, green M&Ms, moonshine - whatever it is, we've got to have it.  For those of us with truly addictive personalities - and you know who you are - the only thing keeping us from living in a refrigerator box under the bridge is finding socially acceptable addictions.  I've got so many, it's hard to keep track, but none of them are criminal, at least as of the last time I checked The New York Times. 

Cautionary note:  If the Supreme Court is in session; things could change at any moment.

One of my addictions is puzzles.  I've done puzzles all my life.  My favorites have always been logic puzzles.  Hold on for the literary connection: Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll is widely credited with popularizing logic puzzles known as syllogisms in a book called The Game of Symbolic Logic.  It had to have been the drugs. 

My most enduring favorites are the Logic Grid puzzles - you know, the ones where you get clues like:
  1. A taxi carrying five friends is taking them all home.
  2. Betty and the teacher do not live on the same street.
  3. Debbie's last name is not Smith.
  4. The sun is in their eyes.
The question is: Who lives in a red house?

OK, that's not a good example, but you know which ones I mean.  There are other kinds too, like Battleships and Knights and Knaves.  I love them.  I carry books of them with me and get funny looks at the pool.  I don't care.   My only real beef is that it's getting harder to find them on nice paper - I don't like doing puzzles on that cheap newsprint paper.

So I was delighted when I discovered Sudoku over a year ago.  At first glance, Sudoku looks like a math puzzle, which I hate.  It is not.  It is pure logic - even the hardest of them can be done with no guessing.  I hate guessing.  It upsets the balance of my universe.  I spend enough time battling uncertainty in my real life.  When I turn to my puzzles, I want to know they can be mastered with thought and reasoning, not luck or chance.  When designed properly, there is only one perfect solution.  I like that - perfection achievable through brain power.

Anyone can do Sudoku - just because it involves numbers and not letters, doesn't make it harder for people who don't have a math brain.  I'll say it again: there is no math.  It's a matter of placing numbers in grids so that the numbers 1 -9 appear only once in each column, row, and box.  No division.  No square roots.  No integers.  Just numbers - they could be letters or symbols or cupcakes, or shots of booze.  In fact, you can find Sudoku puzzles that are done with all of those things.

Like all addictive personalities, I soon tired of the straight up Sudoku and needed a better rush.  I tried the Super Sudoku with the 16x16 grids.  I tried the ones that mix numbers and letters.  I was satisfied for awhile with the Squiggly Sudoku, Squggly_sudoku_july_2006 where the boxes are not square, but are oddly shaped, forcing the eye and the mind to think differently.  I found myself starting in the back of the book and finding no challenge, setting off for another.

I was ready to give it up, and then I found Samurai Sudoku.  It's five Sudoku puzzles in an interlocking grid.  Just looking at it was a thrill.  It shouldn't be any harder than just doing five puzzles, but it is. Perhaps it's the visual, or the thought that there is more than one level of reasoning required.  Whatever it is, it's a good fix, at least for now.

So what's your fix these days? 


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My husband and I saw WORDPLAY this weekend. I recommend it to everyone--even if you're not a crossword addict---but especially to novelists. The camera picks up so many hilarious details! And the audience tends to be made up of smart people, so it's a great movie experience you share with the people around you. Go see Pirates of the Caribbean, and half the audience needs to be hit over the head with a 2x4 to get the plot points. But during WORDPLAY, the smart audience catches all the tiny jokes. Big fun.

But post deadline? My fix is still chocolate. I've graduated from sucking my thumb.

If you love Sudoku, you'll like Cross-Sums. They are found in puzzle "books". I am most definitely not a numbers person, but I love these.

What an easy question. I am addicted to books, books, books and more books. I love chocolate and coffee, but there are days when I know I have had too much of either one or both. But, I can NEVER get tired or have too many books to read. My only problem is time. I could live to be 200 and still not finish my "must read" list.

AHa! Thanks for explaining what our 18-year old jury foreman was playing at during every single break in the trial. I thought he was reading Japanese. . .

My only addiction was Pac Man, 1983.
I broke a record, then the machine.
I believed I exorcised THAT demon of an addiction. Even on my computer,
I do not play free cell...nor solitaire...

I had to go cold turkey on the Free Cell. Then I got hooked on Eight Off.

I finally just removed the icons and deleted the game programs. It was tough, but I feel better now...

Curse the logic puzzles - they had the damn things on the LSATs, for pete's sake. Hated it. I don't care which train arrives first.

Double Crostics or I cannot take off without palpatations when flying......just did two each way to Bermuda. Once there we relaxed with 47 crossword puzzles and 14 ARC's....................a booksellers holiday!
Wordplay was terrific........being with the watchers was half of the fun.

Mary Alice who just cleaned up the 850 messages that came when I was away!

But have you discovered websudoku.com yet? I am soooo addicted because it times you. My fastest on the medium puzzles is 3 minutes 10 seconds. I don't know what I'm going to do when book deadline approaches.

Diane -

Oooh - another rush - what a great idea - thanks!

Mary and Mary Alice - I'll check them out, but they sound like some sort of real math...

You're right ! Anyone can do sudoku but I prefer doing easy sudoku puzzles. I don't like to be too frustrated with the game.


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