Monday, 29 September 2008

Suduko (sudu-something-you're-actually-supposed-to-be-doing)





Elder daughter has been on the computer a lot lately. She has to keep a journal for World Religions, do character studies for Candida, prepare a class presentation for Pride and Prejudice, design a tee-shirt for Media Studies...

This means I should tackle my other projects, like say, booting the house into some kind of order before entertaining a particularly A-type personality house guest this weekend. But nooooo.... I'm trying to master Sudoku. (You know what I'm talking about: nine grids of nine numbers, and each grid must contain the numbers one to nine, plus each horizontal line and each vertical line must contain the numbers one to nine, with no repeats within any grid or line.)

One evening last summer, we had set up lawn chairs in a designated spot in the Butchart Gardens. Because Victoria is actually quite a bit further north than Ottawa, we then had to wait five hours for the sun to set and the fireworks to start. We took turns strolling off to look at the gardens, to stand in line for ice-cream cones, to visit the washroom, etc. Elder daughter pulled out a book of Sudoku puzzles and, to my complete mystification, filled them out. She'd put numbers down, seemingly randomly. She wrote a number, glanced over at my bewildered face and smiled smugly: "Do you have any idea why I put that there?" "No-o-o..." She explained. I didn't get it. She chuckled like a sixteen-year-old sphinx. I decided to concentrate on my book. But couldn't stop myself looking over, just in time to see her write down three more numbers, in widely divergent places. And I had no idea why. I put it down to my ancient numerophobia. The fireworks blew it from my mind:


...until a few weeks later, when I find myself back in Hades with no access to the computer and piles (literally) of things I should be dusting, sorting, putting away. Having completed the "Canadian Cyberquotes" (you just figure out what letter of the alphabet stands for another letter of the alphabet to decode a quotation from a famous Canadian --- see, I can do these...), I tackle the Sudoku puzzle. Dammit, if I learned how to cut-and-paste on the computer, surely I can master this. And besides, there's the matter of keeping my rapidly aging brain in trim. Demeter, heartbroken over her sister's recent decline into dementia, has invested in one of those computer game thingies to muscle up her memory. The trouble is, her pre-cataract-surgery eyes can't quite make out the screen. The Baby Boomers, taking a break from their yoga and Tai Chi, are fighting the slide into senility cybernetically and with crosswords, declaiming along with King Lear: O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven,
Keep me in temper: I would not be mad.


I call elder daughter away from the computer: "Is this right?" She reads my face carefully and fills in two numbers. "Okay," I wail. "And that's because....? She sighs heavily. "There's already a 6 here and here, so I can't put it here or here, but there's a 6 missing here, so...." She reads my face again. "Did that make any sense? "Uh, I think so..." I manage to fill out two of the nine grids and flush with triumph, check the vertical and horizontal lines. Elder daughter examines the crumpled and cast-aside newspaper page after dinner. "Maybe you should be filling it in with pencil, mum."

The Ottawa Citizen's daily Sudoku has a four-star rating. On the weekend, it was a five-star. How the dickens am I to learn? No! Wait! Here's today's paper, and it's... a one-star.... Oh, do you think?

You know, it really would be easier to just tackle the damn housework...

10 comments:

Volly said...

I hate soduku. However, Parade magazine has a new game, developed by Marilyn vos Savant (she of the 450-gazillion IQ), which looks like soduku but is really a logic puzzle. It's called Numbrix. Give it a try if you haven't; I find it satisfies that puzzle craving without taking up too much time or emotional energy. The online version is better than the one they publish with the Sunday paper.

Jaywalker said...

Persephone, I am putting on my stern voice here. Do NOT get into Sudoku. My parents in law are sudoku whores. They cannot stop. It's sad, the extent of their addiction. Beau pere has stopped reading completely!

No. I will be coming back regularly to check on you.

Persephone said...

Welcome Volly! Actually, they say Sudoku is a logic puzzle more than a numbers puzzle. Since I'm making only a little more headway with the "one-star" difficulty, I don't know what my chances are with Numbrix. I'm reasonably sure my IQ isn't in the 450 gazillion range. Many thanks for the tip, though!

Jaywalker, I am chastened. Please don't send the mud-wrestling tortoises after me....

Jaywalker said...

Are you sure? They are way more fun than Sudoku (which sounds very rude in French btw).

Persephone said...

Well, okay. As long as they don't have murderous intent.

Jaywalker said...

Are you a dandelion? No. You are not. You are in no danger.

Stevyn Colgan said...

If it makes you feel any better, I'm a complete numpty with anythink like sudoku. My brain just can't do numbers. Words, yes. But numbers - not a chance. I have no idea what they do or how they relate to each other. That's why I have an accountant. If I didn't, I'd be as poor as leprous beggar with a hole in the bottom of his cup.

Jane Henry said...

I have that numerophobia too - but eldest daughter is fantastically good at it as is no 3 daughter. It's really really embarrrasing to be out sudokued by an eight year old. I keep telling myself I should learn to keep me mentally agile and stop me falling into the forgetful mode which seizes me periodically, and then I just think... NAAAHHH.

Persephone said...

Stevyn, Sudoku, devil's instrument or not (Is Jaywalker listening in? Good. Let's keep our voices down...), is not really a math puzzle, it's a logic puzzle, so all you really have to do mathematically is be able to count to nine. That said, my brain seems to shut off when faced with numbers. When I was 20, I was in a "control" group for a university experiment where I was given a battery of tests. According to the testers, I had one of the highest scores (amongst those tested for this particular experiment) for remembering sentences verbatim. However, I completely seized up in remembering number sequences. I still have to refer to a phone number frequently when dialing it.

J/J Do you have any work to avoid? I've been avoiding housework very successfully by trying to overcome Sudoku. (Shhhhh...don't tell Jaywalker...I'll be in such trouble; she might not even send me my prize for the Lice Cake...)

Jane Henry said...

I ALWAYS have housework to avoid. Why do you think I like blogging so much????

PS just posted my review of LLL - if they film it get hold of a copy!