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Sudoku mania reaches India

June 03, 2005 09:21 IST

A number puzzle that has stormed its way into major newspapers, magazines and websites across the United States, the United Kingdom and most of the world, has disembarked on Indian shores via a slew of dailies, including The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Deccan Chronicle and The Asian Age.

Originating in Japan in its current form, Sudoku consists of a 9x9 grid, further divided into a 3x3 subgrid with a few numbers thrown in.

The challenge? Fill each of the blank boxes in the rows, columns and 3x3 squares with digits from one to nine without repeating a single digit.

N Ram, editor-in-chief of The Hindu, said: "The response has been positive, but it is still too early to say how positive. Yes, there is a possibility of shifting the puzzle to the main paper (currently in the city supplement). Will the appeal of the Sudoku puzzle endure? Nobody knows the answer to this question at this stage."

The Hindustan Times carries its Sudoku on the back page.

Sudoku became a rage among the Japanese in the late 1980s but it was not until 2005 that it caught the fancy of the rest of the world.

The phenomenon has addicts obsessing over it the same way that adults and teenagers were fawning over the Rubik's cube in the 1980s.

In India, it has already whipped up a small following, with readers describing it as 'interesting', 'addictive' and a 'refreshing change from regular crosswords'.

One Sudoku enthusiast from Chennai, Murli Desikan, a senior software engineer, has even created a Java-based program that generates the answers for any given Sudoku matrix.

The game's popularity is widespread as the rules are easy to follow and seeking the solution requires use of logic and no math in spite of it being a numbers game.

It also scores over the venerated crossword as its appeal cuts across age groups, since it does not require the gamer be highly literate, have advanced linguistic abilities or an abundance of general knowledge.

In the UK it was launched by The Times in late 2004. It has since become so successful that the other national dailies have been quick to realise its appeal; now it can be found in many dailies, including The Sun, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. The New York Times is supposedly considering publishing it in its Sunday magazine.
Nelson Vinod Moses in New Delhi