Thursday, March 19, 2020

Sudoku dethrones chess as my go-to addiction

It used to be that, every time I took a trip to the men's room for a zesty intestinal session, I would whip out my cell phone and play a quick game of chess. I'm not much of a chess player, and I only ever play the computer on Level 2 (out of 10, with 10 being close to grandmaster level), so these bouts never last longer than two or three minutes, which is not as long as the time it takes for me to drop the kids off at the pool. (I promise not to go into any detail.)

A few weeks ago, though, I finally downloaded a decent Sudoku app, and I've been addicted ever since. I had tried Sudoku once before, years ago, but the app sucked, and so did its tutorial feature. It wasn't until I downloaded my current Sudoku app that I learned how to play the game, and these days, I've moved up from "beginner" to "easy." I've played one "medium"-level game and didn't find it impossible, but I'm obviously not quite ready to jump to that level yet. Beginner takes me about two minutes to play; my fastest game is around 1:40. Easy takes around ten minutes on average; my record (which I just hit today) is 8:18. The one medium-level game I played took me around half an hour. The app has a few "hand-holding" functions—not exactly hints, per se, but things that help you muddle through the mathematical logic by allowing you to leave yourself reminders of where you've been on your twisting path through the puzzle—and these make thinking through the game easier; at some point, I'll need to figure out how to drop those functions so as to have a "pure," unaided Sudoku experience. A kid learning to bike needs to lose the training wheels eventually.

I play Sudoku pretty much anytime I have a free moment: in the restroom, in bed before sleeping, in a bus or cab or subway. It's very addictive, at least for now. I realize that the game has been around in some form since the 1800s, and that it enjoyed a resurgence in popularity—what—around two decades ago, but I'm a late bloomer with this as with other things that most people find popular. If you've never tried Sudoku, go read the Wikipedia page on it, then download a free app and give it a whirl. As addictions go, I can think of far worse ones.


John from Daejeon said...

I've done all sorts of old school games (chess, cards, dominoes, word searches, etc.) over the years, but if you want to stay current with the today's youngsters you might want to join the millions and millions of them playing the likes of Fortnite and, the never more timely, Plague Inc. which is now banned in China. However, the most popular game of all-time, Minecraft, will set you back a few dollars. But at least it builds my street cred with my youngest students while the older ones just laugh about my ineptitude.

John from Daejeon said...

Looks like we may have a lot more time on our hands, besides just on the toilet, to play games. I just wonder how my life would be had I either had the best of the world's teachers teaching me via streaming, dvd, satellite, downloads, etc. or the technology this article delves into as today's students have access to. Instead, my poor little town had inadequately trained and educated teachers, who were mainly sports coaches, trying to teach subjects far outside their areas of expertise. Hell, they weren't that good at sports either, and two of them were so fat that they couldn't run a lap or do a sit-up if their lives depended on it.