01 July 2008

Sudoku vs the NYT Crossword

I have to say it is heartening to see the Sudoku craze continue to sweep across our great land. It is reassuring to know there are so many addicted to these "logic" puzzles because it means there is an entire population segment that is "logical". It is my sincere hope that these are the people who will design thoughtful computer operating systems, refastenable diaper tabs, digital camera sub-menus and other conveniences of the modern life. I say this only because I once tried to complete one of these puzzles (probably one from Sudoku for the Brain-Dead or Sudoku for Toddlers) and I very nearly got it solved only to find an error that meant the entire thing was ruined. This in contrast to my spouse, who regularly completes these things whilst preparing dinner and possibly completes them in her head, Einstein-like, while we're making love.

If you haven't guessed from the title, I'm more of a crossword man. Sure, I end up working hard by Wednesday, struggling by Thursday and actually making audible teeth-gnashing on Friday and Saturday but I find it infinitely more rewarding. For one thing, there is a simple pleasure just in solving some ingeniously twisted clues. For example (20 Across) Emergency food of Operation Overlord? Answer: ddaykration. Now that is just the kind of thing that presses my dopamine receptor buttons, and it's not something you can du in Sudo-ku. The "logic" puzzle requires that your gratification be delayed (in classic Tantric fashion) until the entire puzzle is complete, whereas crossword people get to enjoy multiple puzzle-gasms (11. Down: Compact's lack. Answer: legroom).

I'm not being facetious in my gratitude, I'm just surprised there are so many people who can wrap their minds around number puzzles in all their permutations. Perhaps I never recovered from failing 4th grade mathematics, but that many numbers in a grid, with no clues--no words-- just turns my brain to jelly. I salute those of you out there who are keeping our astronauts safe and developing material that keeps garden hoses from kinking.

Now...5. Down: Surfing equipment?

Ah! m-o-d-e-m!

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