Slicing Like a Samurai

I didn’t know there were names to the methods I was using all this while but 2 Sundays ago, I tagged along with Nic to an afternoon of sudoku enlightenment organised by the Malaysian Sudoku Society and Mensa Penang.

(Nic’s with Mensa Penang as a Committee Member and he had volunteered to help out for a few hours so I, being the curious sort & not to mention, an armchair sudoku fan, wanted to see how it was).

Sudoku Fiesta by Mensa Penang & Malaysia Sudoku Society

Well, let’s be honest here: I am NOT maniacal over Sudoku which incidentally did not originate from Japan. I love playing Sudoku just to see how good or errrrghhh, how bad I am (good is relative depending on how tough the sudoku puzzle is!). How bad I am usually means my brain cells aren’t doing so well and I need more mental exercise!

The challenge of sudoku is solving it and solving it well. That means no cheating or guessing. The rules are simple but boy, is it a puzzle to agonise over. I have a friend (an engineer by the way) who says, what’s the difficulty in solving them? He uses a piece of software in his PC to find answers to his sudoku puzzle. Which is stupid I say. Where’s the satisfaction in that?

(I think meaningful satisfaction is what’s important. Sure the software can solve it in no time, but it’s a freaking piece of software! This friend doesn’t get it….. that’s why he is not into the game.)

Surprisingly, Nic the one who is the Mensa member is not into Sudoku although he sportingly installed portable Sudoku into my hard disk drive. I also own a travel set of this game which I bought from a friend who sells creative educational toys for children. The set is for days when I am not switching on my computer.

The Malaysia Sudoku Society had come all the way from KL to give talks on solving diabolical sudoku so I thought I best learn from the experts.

Mr TG Lim, sudoku enthusiast

I opted to listen to TG Lim’s talk which was for beginners (Getting Started with Sudoku). Another talk was held concurrently in the next room on solving diabolical sudoku but I thought, let’s not go into the advanced levels when I haven’t really mastered my basics yet. But from the crowd response, it seemed everyone was an expert sudoku solver and everyone wanted to listen to “How to solve diabolical sudoku puzzles” (a talk by Mr Jeff Keow).

Lim Teck Guan or TG Lim himself is an interesting story. He’s an ex-TNB civil engineer who developed a love for the game because of his daughter’s encouragement 3 years ago. She didn’t want his mental faculties to deteriorate so she introduced the game to him.

And what do you know, TG is now an author of 2 books on sudoku. Not bad eh for someone who thought sudoku was something good to occupy his mind with! He even set up his own publishing company to publish his own books. Talk about spending one’s golden years fruitfully. He is now with the Malaysia Sudoku Society and gives talks on the art of the game.

Books on sudoku – even novels!

TG introduced 4 beginner concepts in solving the puzzle: slicing, counting, twinning and separating the twins. Cool concepts which is in TG’s first book. But I bought his second book which elaborated on these 4 concepts with a few more intermediate and advanced sudoku techniques. Raise the bar I say on difficulty level.

TG says that one can start a puzzle by using the number which appears the most times. For instance, if there are 4 of the number 5 (and 5 outnumbers all other numbers in terms of frequency), start slicing the block using this. I asked if it was good to find a block with a lot of numbers and he says that’s another way to start too.

I bought TG’s book on sudoku

You know what I learnt on Sunday? That no matter how much I thought I knew, I still could learn a whole lot more from others. 😉 If you want to join the Sudoku Society, learn more from From this blog, you can find various sudoku links too.

By the way, it’s no surprise that most of the founding members are members of Mensa Malaysia – there’s something about having high IQ and wanting to solve puzzles/treasure hunts etc.

Here’s to more Sudoku,

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