Sudoku Squeezes the World

The world becomes smaller thanks to Sudoku which bridges foreigners and locals in the absent of a common language. Simply say numbers with fingers then you have friendly communication with locals.

Photo by Ady Nugroho

I was so desperate to find English newspaper when I was in Fes, Morocco, as all I could find either in Arabic or in French. I expected cluelessness of what to do nine-hour train enroute to Marrakech without something to read and without local languages on my tongue.

I’d never known what an Arabic newspaper could contain until someone in the same compartment grappled with a puzzle on the paper that I recognised as Sudoku. When he gave up with a puzzle, another occupant took turn to give another block a try.

Occasionally, I helped them by showing fingers gesture to say a number to be filled in. The other way round, they helped me on my turn. These were all the way I communicate with them except mentioning a city when the train stopped to make sure I got off at the right station.

Numeral puzzles were the only columns in the paper written in Latin script. So they looked quite snappy in the middle of full-page Arabic letters.

Moroccan people and newspaper use the same name for Sudoku as it is. No translation for that Japanese trademark nor in daily conversation. Sudoku is written in Arabic—from right to left—as سودوكو with the first two characters (سو) is read ‘su’, the second two (دو) is pronounced ‘do’ and the last two (كو) is the ‘ku’. As simple as that.

Sudoku in London

When I’m in an underground train in London, when I’m fed up with cheesy articles in papers, I prefer Sudoku page like other passengers may do. So no wonder if sometimes I find out the only Sudoku in a bundle has been done either correctly or messily.

My random observation found out Sudoku is supplied slightly only in instant dailies while hard-core publications tend to include cross-word puzzles. Metro is the best Sudoku provider for commuters to me.

The game was introduced to me by a friend of mine in 2007. We used to spend spare time on it either Sudoku online or on papers. Little time is needed to comprehend the ‘how to play’, but more time can be needed to solve a block of Sudoku in advance level.

Wikipedia notes that Sudoku was popularised in 1986 by the Japanese puzzle company Nikoli. Sudoku, meaning single number, became an international hit in 2005.


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