May 01, 2006

I'll bet a majority a readers will recognize this sequence of numbers, at least generally speaking:

457 293 186

198 564 732

623 781 549

249 615 873

381 927 654

765 438 921

936 872 415

572 146 398

814 359 267

Specifically, it's the first-ever sudoku puzzle I completed, on Saturday. This is the first puzzle, and one characterized as "gentle," published in Sudoku: The Hot New Puzzle Craze, compiled by Michael Mepham, the book a gift from a very good friend. It took about 45 minutes, maybe more, spread over three or four sessions.

Now, as for this:

453 289 617

126 475 389

789 163 245

614 598 732

837 621 594

592 734 168

261 847 953

945 312 876

378 956 421

Well, that's the second sudoku puzzle I ever completed, earlier this evening, from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

I did both puzzles in pen. I say that not to show off, but rather by way of explaining why it took me so long to finally finish my first pair of these puzzles. You see, there's something about the feel and sound of graphite against newsprint that makes me cringe. And so I always do my crossword puzzles with a pen; doing the same while approaching sudoku seemed logical, or so I naively thought.

Trust me, fellow beginners: Using a pencil makes far more sense. You will toss aside far fewer failures if there's an eraser nearby.

Funny, then, to read in today's New York Times, in "In Sudoku, Nine Little Numbers Add up to a Big Challenge," by Edward Rothstein:

The Independent of London recently reported that a 700 percent increase in the sale of pencils has been attributed to the sudoku craze.

Makes sense.

You know, I think I have a hundred pens in my drawers. Maybe it's time to buy a pencil. Or two.


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