I've watched hundreds and thousands of men and women on the train pouring over the daily Sudoku in the newspaper having fun solving it. And Sudoku was everywhere. They had it in the newspaper, they had books dedicated entirely to these puzzles, you could download it on your laptop, you could print it out from the internet....people commute with sheafs of Sudoku in their bags, they go over it while they are waiting for their train, they go over it while they are in the train, even when they are standing. And I am convinced they do Sudoku even when they are in bed! And I've always wondered what is it about Sudoku that is so addictive, so gratifying, so unputdownable (my apologies to The Telegraph).
And now I know. It is the relative ease of the puzzle, the challenge that can be overcome that brings these poor souls to Sudoku. I mean how many people do you know who can solve crossword puzzles with ease? Not that many. Because you need to have some kind of knowledge base to be able to succeed in that. But not with Sudoku. It is the perfect ego-satisfying game. One where you think you are being challenged and one where you can meet the challenge and emerge victorious. And that makes people feel good. And it doesn't take that long to solve the puzzle either. It is a perfect time-pass for the short commute on the train. It keeps one busy, it gives one a challenge and it rewards with gratification.
And that is something that I do not find stimulating. If everyone on God's green earth can Sudoku then it is an insult to my intelligence to spend time doing something that trivial. Give me something else......give me the Mensa challenge. I know I sound like some egoistical bastard. But I have a problem boosting my ego solving a problem that can be done by anyone and everyone. That to me ceases to be a challenge. The only ego boost that I get is when I see myself doing something that most people fail to do, something different, something difficult, something that sets me apart. There was something that Rabindranath Tagore wrote in Shesher Kobita that echoes what I am trying to say here. I do not want to be someone in a crowd, I want to be the one, separate and different than the rest. That is my Sudoku.