How long will the Sudoku craze last?

I dropped into a Borders while strolling around Salt Lake City last week, to run into a full shelf of Sudoku books, some thicker than the phone books of small towns. Now, I like this game as much as everyone, but I wonder when it is going to crash.

First, the level of entry is low. Since they are computer generated, any shmuck with access to a publisher and a PC can produce a Sudoku book in a few days. Crappy crosswords can be computer generated also, but good ones still need a real person.

Second, I find that you don’t learn anything from doing them. (Except the tricks.) Crosswords at least build vocabulary, or at least an odd subset of vocabulary, and clever ones give that nice “aah” of figuring out the composers trick. Sudokus, not so much.

Does anyone think these will be long lasting, to the level of crosswords? I give them six months, a year tops, and they’ll be mostly gone from the stores and the papers. Can anyone think of enhancements? The jigsaw soduko available here is something, but does not seem to be spreading.

Nope, I’m in the biz, and I don’t think any of us really expect it to last more than a year or so. They’ll probably be around after that, but not as ubiquitous. FWIW, I’m still enjoying them.


I read the construction algorithm, and it seems that any competent programmer could produce a Sudoku creation program in not very long. Do this spate of constructors come with their own programs or do they just use the commercially available ones?

I’m still enjoying them also, but when I finish the books I have the four I can get free every day (two from the papers and two from the website I mentioned) should be plenty. I can’t see buying any more books - though I suspect some will be showing up in the cutout bins very shortly.

I was suprised to see them suddenly everywhere. I’ve been doing them for years, though I never heard them called Soduko until recently. They were always “Magic Square” or something with Number in the title. They are always in Dell mags and Games (or World of Puzzles). The best one I ever did was a 16x16 that used letters instead of numbers (HARD).

I’ve also seen them done where the diagonals make the 1-9. And, as a neat twist, where the internal boxes aren’t 3x3. They all have 9 cells, but they are drawn all squiggly, to still make the 9x9 game. Not that I can describe it well. LOL

I don’t see it lasting that long either. What I’d like to see get popular are the Paint By Numbers logic games (I think they have a Japanese name as well, but I’ve always seen them as PBN). They are even more fun!

I’m pretty sure the name you’re trying to think of is Picross.

You mean Griddlers? I came across these before Sudoku and have always preferred them. Same logic puzzle aspect, but you get a nice picture for a reward at the end instead of a page of random numbers. Much more satisfying.

I don’t know. Word finds don’t teach you jack poopy and they’ve been around for quite a while.

I have a Dell Math puzzle book from years ago with them. I’ve also seen a book of the puzzles where each stretch of boxes, horizontall and diagonally, have a number which the contents must add up to. So, if you have two boxes with a 3, they must be 2-1 or 1-2. I forget the name - it’s yet another Japanese one.

I think these are the jigsaw Sudokus which I mentioned. There is a new one every day at the link I posted - have fun!

I know of three books of these puzzles, one from Games and two from the group that creates them. There is also a website. If you’re interested, I’ll post details when I get home.

When I retire I’m going to write a Javascript program to solve those suckers. I’ve worked out a lot of the math already.

Word-find solvers and Sudoku solvers probably don’t have a lot of overlap – just my guess, but, as I said, I’m in the biz. The actual process of solving is different – doing logical eliminations vs. just looking for letter patterns, so Sudoku, though more challenging, in the short term, is actually more limited in how much novelty is possible. With Sudoku, the actual solution is limited – there will be 81 numbers in a grid, the same 81 numbers every time. With word-finds, the themes of the list and the words on it are always different, giving at least the appearance of novelty.

That’s exactly why they’ll be around for a long time. They’re easier to construct than crossword puzzles (even by hand), and they can be done by computer, or combination computer/manually. They are therefore cheaper for newspaper editors than crossword puzzles.

I’ve already written a pc app to do it - you can download it if you want, and I’ll give you the source code.

There I go, overestimating the intelligence of the American public again. :smack: Still, I think maybe Twikster is right about the novelty aspect.

Thanks, but as a compulsive programmer the fun will be in writing the code. Automatically solving something ruins it. I wrote a very simple program to solve the puzzles where you have equations in a crossword like grid, and have to fill in numbers from 1 to 9 to solve all of them. Never did another one of them after I wrote it.

I think the cost is in room on the page. If people stop buying the books, and there is not even a chance that anyone is buying the paper for the puzzle, they’ll vanish except for a few holdouts. As I said, some of the smaller syndicated puzzles are computer generated also.

I saw a tagline, “Sudoku is for people who can’t handle cryptic crosswords.”

It’ll always be around, of course, but the craze will fade away in a year or two.

The craze will end when either:

A. Chuck Woolery hosts “Sudoku for Dollars” on GSN


B. ESPN Presents “The Million Dollar Sodoku Challenge” Live! from Las Vegas.

That’s my take on it too - it’ll have that one big year, kinda like the Rubik’s Cube 25 years ago.

As a long time subscriber to Games magazine, I very much enjoy the Paint by Numbers, the Cross Sums, and all the variants of the Sudoku grids (with letters instead of numbers, with variant block patterns, etc.).

However, the once a month fix is good enough for me. I don’t ever get around to doing the daily ones in the Post, much less buying books of the things.

(The two-tone PBN in the current March issue has kept me busy for quite a while now!)

The popularity of sudoku surprised me recently when I went into my local Walgreens and saw a display of pocket electronic sudoku games.

I do regular sudoku rarely now. Mostly I do what are called “killer” sudoku, which can be found here. (free registration required) posts weekly sudokus (including one irregular/jigsaw) and paint by numbers (which they call pic-a-pix). Their fill-a-pix are interesting, too.

My mom noticed I had a sudoku book and I got an electronic sudoku game and a 365 day sudoku calendar for Xmas. That’s about as much sudoku as I need. I no longer do the daily in the local paper. My favorite web sudoku site is