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Do You Sudoku

Do you Sudoku? In Britain and almost all over Europe, there is a wave of silence, which is washing over everyone. People aren't talking as much as they used to. Places such as the tube stations, fountain parks, and resting areas in shopping malls - places you would normally associate with a lot of noise and endless banter are under this same cover of silence.
Do you Sudoku?A lull before the storm? No. All this is courtesy Sudoku. Yes you heard it right! It is the latest Japanese dispatch to the western countries. Now for the meaning of it all - Sudoku, sometimes spelled Su Doku (meaning "single number" in Japanese), also known as 'Number Place' in the United States, is a rather petite 9 by 9 grid based Japanese number game that appears in newspapers. Not only in offshore places such as Australia but also at the home turf. Almost all of the national dailies have their back page corner dedicated to this brainteaser puzzle. Bloggers in India have already dedicated pages to this game, informing which number rests where. There are some, who can be seen SMS'ing answers to friends. Many claim that they're so addicted to the game that they feel their day is incomplete if they don't solve at least one puzzle daily.
This game of Sudoku which seems to be gaining popularity with the masses just as JK Rowling did with Harry Potter series, started as `magic squares' in the 18th Century by Leonhard Euler, a mathematician from Basel, Switzerland. It traveled to Japan only in 1980's with a Japanese publisher, who picked up a book on it in New York. In Tokyo, he `Japanised' it to become Sudoku. And when a retired judge from New Zealand, Wayne Gould, had picked up that version from a Tokyo bookstore in 1997, and knocked on the doors of The Times in London, the days of crossword puzzles looked shaky. For the uninitiated, the game is laid out in adjoining grids. Players must figure out which numbers to put in nine rows of nine boxes so that the numbers one through nine appear just once in each column, row and three-by-three square. Although there is only one solution to every puzzle, it is easier said than done! Completing the puzzle requires patience and modest logical ability (although some puzzles can be very difficult). Its classic grid layout is reminiscent of other newspaper puzzles like crosswords and chess problems. Solving a Sudoku involves a high degree of analyzing, marking up and scanning. Scanning is performed at the outset and periodically throughout the solution. Scans may have to be performed several times in between analysis periods. The two main analysis approaches of elimination and what-if are quite helpful to find a correct solution to the puzzle. Ideally one needs to find a combination of techniques, which is the best way to go about solving a Sudoku. The counting of regions, rows, and columns can feel boring. Writing candidate numbers into empty cells can be time-consuming; the proverbial Holy Grail is to find a technique, which minimizes counting, marking up, and rubbing out. Sudoku today isn't just limited to a newspaper or a magazine, it now comes in the form of a ready to download program. Also, there are some websites that offer a free version (http://www.sudoku.com), where you can download a twenty-eight day trial version, containing several grids of puzzles waiting for you to solve. All of the Sudoku puzzles are often ranked in terms of difficulty. The difficulty of the puzzle depends upon how easy it is to logically determine subsequent numbers. Surprisingly the amount of given (filled boxes) numbers in a Sudoku have little or no bearing on the difficulty level. Puzzles with a minimum number of givens can be very easy to solve, and puzzles with more than the average number of givens can still be extremely difficult to solve. However, there is no constant rule as such. Sudoku puzzles are basically logic puzzles. The good news is that you don't need math to solve them; instead any set of distinct symbols can be used. The numbers could just as easily be nine different shapes, colors, or letters of the alphabet. A smaller grid also works. For example, kids can try to solve simple puzzles that have four-by-four grids with two-by-two boxes using their favorite colors, geometric shapes or alphabets without altering the rules. Give it a shot once if you haven't already and chances are you'll also be one of the millions around the world who are completely hooked on to this magic puzzle!
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