May 042006
 
Authors: Margaret Canty

The class appears studious. Pens are moving quickly along the paper, and students are completely enveloped in what they’re writing.

Or so the professor thinks.

In actuality, many newly attentive classes aren’t due to buckling down for finals or ending the semester strong, but because of a Japanese game craze that has swept CSU’s campus, especially in the classroom.

“Sudoku is very addictive,” Claire Bishop, a senior social sciences major, said. “I do it in class. Everyone does it in class.”

Kayla Kastrow, freshman biology major and daily Sudoku-doer, agrees.

“Everyone I know does them,” she said. “They’re very popular. They’re something to distract me from class.”

For those who haven’t yet become “addicted,” Sudoku, which according to daily-sudoku.com means “the number that is single,” is a puzzle based on logic. It’s generally a square grid, with nine regions, each divided into nine squares. The object is to fill each square with a number from one to nine, without having the same number repeat itself in any column, row or square region, given a few existing numbers.

“I think it’s great,” Dr. Karen Raines, an assistant professor of biology, said. “My daughter does a couple a day and I think it’s good for the mind.”

Raines, who has not seen the puzzles as a distraction, said that there is evidence that working puzzles helps prevent the onset of dementia and stimulates the brain cells.

Bishop, however, just does them for fun.

“It’s a game everyone can do,” she said, “but it’s hard enough to be challenging. To do the crossword, you have to know a lot more.”

Cara Buckley-Ott, a speech and communications lecturer, said Sudoku has become a part of our pop culture.

“Trends like Sudoku are able to spread fast in this time period because we have multiple means of media, like the Internet,” she said.

Buckley-Ott believes that Sudoku has become like the “funny pages,” something people just expect to see in newspapers.

Kastrow said the Collegian’s daily Sudoku was a “great idea,” and it has become the one reason she picks up the paper.

“I started over winter break because I saw one in a magazine,” she said. “I really like numbers so I’ve been doing it more and more. They’re addictive.”

Some “addicts” have their own methods for solving them, however there is a general procedure taken to complete the puzzle.

Solving Sudoku, according to wikipedia.com, includes three processes: scanning, marking-up and analyzing.

Scanning is done at the beginning and throughout solving. It involves “cross-hatching,” or checking columns and rows while using the process of elimination to identify which line could contain which numbers.

One then counts out numbers in the columns, rows and regions and identifies which numbers are missing.

From there, marking-up begins, where possible numbers for each cell are entered in the boxes.

Once the boxes are “marked-up,” the solver can perform the analysis, where number candidates are eliminated until only one option is left.

For those whose Sudoku needs aren’t satisfied with the one the Collegian offers, books now offer pages full of the puzzles. Meghan Meno, a freshman chemical engineering major, buys books to use when she can’t find a paper. She said they cost anywhere between $1 and $5, depending on the size.

Buckley-Ott believes Sudoku’s popularity will continue to grow, and Larissa Malone, a freshman microbiology major, thinks she knows why.

“Sudoku challenges the math side of your brain that you’re not using all day. It’s logic and puzzle solving,” she said. “Plus it’s /ber fun.”

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