Well, dear reader, I’m addicted to a drug, one that broke onto these (British) shores earlier this year. Originally, the Japanese were the only addicts, but this drug soon spread across the world. In Britain, a sizeable chunk of the population is seriously hooked.
This drug causes no physical harm whatsoever. But it casts a powerful psychological spell over its users. And you get very high after you’ve peaked on it.
I speak of Sudoku.
The concept is simple: A grid pattern of nine 3-by-3 boxes, in which a few numbers are already placed. The player (I prefer to use the word user) must find the rest of the numbers. Only one number from a sequence of 1-9 can be placed in any one 3 x 3 square, horizontal row or vertical column.
Simple rules, but not a simple game. It takes great patience, and by solving one or two puzzles every day, the user can sharpen their logistical thinking skills.
But some users of Sudoku can find the side-effects of the puzzle/drug unsettling. One British user quipped, “If I don’t solve a puzzle by noon, I become suicidally depressed. I want my life before Sudoku back!”
One can understand why. As for myself, I cannot wait to leave work, and not necessarily to go home. It’s for the chance to sit on the train and partake in this gripping puzzle/drug. You could sit next to me on the subway wearing a wedding dress and I probably would not even notice. Powerful stuff indeed.
Sudoku is a relatively easy drug to take: The only paraphernalia needed, in addition to the pages the puzzles are printed on, are a pencil, a sharpener to keep it pointy, and some erasers. And once you’ve solved a puzzle, the high is better than most chemical substances can provide.
But be warned: If you’re thinking of trying Sudoko, you may not be able to ever walk away from it.
As with packs of cigarettes, the Surgeon General should post warnings on all Sudoku puzzle books.