AN ACCOUNTANT has beaten contestants from more than 20 countries to become the first world champion of the infectious logic game Sudoku.
Jana Tylova, 31, from the Czech Republic, saw off stiff competition from American favourites Thomas Snyder and Wei-Ha Huang and more than 80 other hopefuls to take the inaugural title at a contest in Italy.
Ms Tylova, a surprise winner who rocketed up from ninth position in the final day of the championship, was the only woman to finish in the top 18.
Mr Snyder, 26, a Harvard University postgraduate student, came second after leading the competition until the final round. Mr Huang, a software engineer who works for internet search engine Google, came third.
The name of Sudoku is derived from two Japanese words – ‘Su’ translates as number in English, while ‘doku’ means solitary – or bachelor. But Ms Tylova said: “There is no difference between men and women and I tried to prove that – even in logic, men and women are on the same level.”
But she admitted she found it hard to explain the secret of her success in the Japanese pencil-and-paper game. “I find it very difficult to give advice at all,” she said. “But I can advise people to practise every day and to follow websites, where there are a lot of games available.”
Championship contenders tackled the classic 9×9 Sudoku, plus variations like diagonal Sudoku, irregular Sudoku, Odd/Even Sudoku and toroidal Sudoku.Learn about Ravensburger Puzzles here https://justcalendars.com.au/collections/ravensburger%C2%AE
The puzzle, which has become fashionable in the west over the past two years is a simple-looking grid of nine rows by nine, split into nine boxes, each containing nine squares. The aim is to fill in the grid so that every row, column and box contains the digits one to nine.
Each of the puzzles, which come in varying levels of difficulty, can only have one solution.
The game was brought to the UK by retired New Zealand criminal court judge Wayne Gould, who now lives in Hong Kong. He offered Sudoku games free to British newspapers in 2004 after developing a computer programme which can generate an almost infinite number of puzzles.
But even Mr Gould is puzzled by the worldwide success of the game and its spin-offs. Mr Gould spent six years developing his computer programme after seeing a Sudoku game in a puzzle book he bought in Toyko. He said: “It became a craze in England within two weeks of it appearing.”
Sudoku puzzles now appear in more than 400 newspapers in 11 countries around the world and countless websites are devoted to the game. There are also plans to introduce a version dowloadable on mobile phones, while a board game and TV show are on the cards.
Although it has a Japanese name, Sudoku is thought to be based on puzzles called Latin Squares created by 18th century Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler.
The brain-teasers surfaced in a US puzzle book in the 1970s, while the now-traditional 9×9 shape took off in Japan in the 1980s.
Can you do this in 15 minutes?
IF YOU can complete this Sudoku within quarter of an hour, you could be up to world championship standard.
Fifteen minutes was the maximum time allowed to new champion Jana Tylova and her fellow contestants to finish this “classic” Sudoku, which formed just part of the challenge they faced in Lucca, Italy, at the weekend.
They also had to tackle fiendish variations on the standard 9×9 square, such as diagonal Sudoku, irregular Sudoku and Odd/Even Sudoku.