I have been playing Sudoku for about 6 months now and all I know for sure is this, it is from the devil himself! If you are not familiar with the beast, look at the example on the right. A sudoku puzzle consists of a 9×9 grid, divided into 9 grids which are each 3×3. A few numbers are provided to get you started. The object is to fill in the blanks so that each 3×3 grid will contain numbers 1-9 with no repeats. But additionally each row and each column of 9 boxes will also contain numbers 1-9 with no repeats.
Sudoku has several levels of play from beginner to pure evil. I was on the beginner level for months, having finally moved up to the simple level. I cannot even fathom moving further to the easy level. The absolute worst part of this game is, it is highly addictive. If it were a pill it would be a controlled substance.
I am not sure what part of the human psyche is responsible for this urge toward self-abuse. Why is it that humans not only have the ability to solve problems, apparently they have a deep-rooted need to do so? I prefer problems that have more satisfying conclusions like how to open the double seal on a bag full of brownies, how to stretch the salsa with ketchup without being too obvious, or how to buy a $398 Easton high-tech composite softball bat without my wife catching me.
Puzzles have been around as long as man has walked the planet. Early puzzles were fundamental; things like, “How do I stick my spear into the heart of this gigantic lizard before he turns me into a prehistoric hors d’oeuvre?” As time went on, puzzles became increasingly complex. “How can I catapult this flaming ball of pitch over the castle wall without it breaking up and raining death on my Imperial Guard?” But now that man has solved every single mystery in the universe, the need to solve problems has moved on to senseless, mind-numbing games.
Riddles are an early form of problem solving games. I like riddles, for the most part. Here are a couple of examples of typical riddles. (Answers will appear at the bottom of the page.)
- 1. How far can a horse run into the woods?
- 2. Is it legal in North Carolina for a man to marry his widow’s sister?
- 3. If a man and a half can dig a hole and a half in a day and a half, how long does it take a monkey with a wooden leg to kick all the seeds out of a medium size dill pickle?
Crossword puzzles have been around a long time, and they are the puzzle of choice for my wife and her father. The problem is, crosswords require a long-term investment to get good since clues tend to be repetitive. However, doing crosswords is great for developing vocabulary, which is one reason I have trouble understanding my wife.
- “Jimbeaux, I bought a firkin of ghee last night. Have you seen it?
- “The firkin of ghee I bought. What did you do with it?”
- “I throwed it in the truck.”
Obviously I lack the vocabulary to attempt crossword puzzles. But Soduku, according to the author of “Sudoku for Dummies,” is a puzzle anyone can do; anyone with months of time on their hands and a propensity toward masochism. So, if you have more spare time than sense, give it a try. All you have to lose is several hours a day of otherwise productive time and your sanity.
- 1. Halfway, after that the horse is running OUT of the woods.
- 2. No. If the woman is a widow, then the man is dead.
- 3. I don’t know. My dad told me that one and I have yet to figure it out.
- firkin: a small cask for butter equal to a fourth of a barrel or, in the case of butter, 56 lbs.
- ghee: clarified semifluid butter made from water buffalo’s milk.
- throwed: past tense of throw