Number Me Curious


            You know a game has reached cult status when jurors throw a $1 000 000 drug trial to play it when they’re really supposed to be listening to evidence. Yes, staff and students of NT, along with Windows Solitaire, Tetris, Pac-Man, and World of Warcraft, welcome the newest induction into the ever growing list of addicting games: the Sudoku.

            Contrary to commonly held notions, the first Sudoku was published in 1979 by an American architect- only it was scandalously called Number Place. It would take another decade before its popularity in Japan forever changed its name to Sudoku, which, according to my faithful Wikipedia, translates to “single number”.

            For those of you out there who have yet to attempt thi=-s game, it may be difficult to understand the cause of your friend’s anxiety at finding himself at a seeming impasse, or his eye-bulging, hair-ripping frustration when he realizes he made a mistake and needs to start over again. You’d be surprised how mind-bogglingly addictive that deceptively innocent nine by nine square can be. Heck, it’s even addicting to watch people play Sudokus. Just ask the thousands of viewers of Sudoku Live, the world’s first Sudoku TV show, where, you guessed it- a live audience gets to watch real live people solve Sudokus in real time. Riveting, non?

            But when you get down to it, that’s all it is: a game (albeit a seriously addictive one). It really bothers me when an overly avid fan of Sudoku suggests it’s a productive use of one’s time, or, even more atrocious, declares that it’s intellectually stimulating, even deserving of its own allotment in the Ontario high school math curriculum. First and foremost, the game could theoretically be played with any nine distinct symbols- numbers were used solely for convenience. Second, how much thought does it actually require to count off nine numbers in your head? (That was a rhetorical question.) But there’s no denying its popularity, or should I say, notoriety?

            Sudokus really have grown exponentially in its devout following since I was first introduced to it by my English teacher as a wee thirteen year old. Sudokus really are addictive, curiously enough. If you have never tried it before, or gave up on your first attempt and never looked back since, give it a chance - it’s ridiculous how rewarding it is when you complete one game. That is, until you realize there are real people out there who can finish it in under a minute.