Aug 13, 2020

Sudoku “addicts” beware

After months of devotion, Larissa Maichrowicz finally finished the 300-page book she had mentally slaved over for hours a day.

This book wasn’t filled with the words someone may typically find in the average novel or memoir.

Instead, it was comprised of hundreds of pages laden with the increasingly popular sudoku puzzles.

For 18-year-old Maichrowicz, a freshman majoring in kinesiology, her sudoku habbit started with a present.

“My mom bought me this really big book of…[sudoku puzzles] and I just finished it like a week ago,” Maichrowicz said, expressing that once you start a puzzle, it’s hard not to just sit there until you finish.

“At times, I could be [obsessive], but it’s more addictive,” she said. “Once you set it down, you can go on with your life, until you’re bored and you pick it back up.”

But Maichrowicz isn’t alone, as sudoku has become an increasingly popular game among people of all ages.

Sudoku, in it’s clearest definition, is “a puzzle in which several numbers are to be filled into a nine-by-nine grid of squares so that every row, every column, and every three-by-three box contains the numbers one through nine,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

But what the dictionary doesn’t define is how long it can take to figure out how to fill in the numbers
Maichrowicz’s first encounter with the game was a long and hard fought battle, but she succeeded—though it did take her about two hours to finish the “easy level” puzzle.

Sudoku is designed to where players can choose from various levels of difficulty, so depending on the level, it may take only a few minutes, or even a few hours.

“There’s some days where it takes me like two minutes to do it, then there’s other days where I’ll be like ‘Where are the answers?’” Maichrowicz said. “Once I did like 20 [sudoku puzzles] while I was waiting for my dinner to cook.”

Like Maichrowicz, other Fresno State students have found the game to be exciting and mind challenging.

Junior Christina Chin, a self-proclaimed sudoku addict, started working on the puzzle game because she found it was “a good mental exercise” and kept her “brain on its toes.” But Chin admitted that, with time, the game became “consuming.”

“I would do sudoku puzzles every night before bed,” Chin said, “and I would fall asleep dreaming about it. What I mean is I would see an oversized sudoku puzzle and a hand with a pencil filling in the blanks. It was kind of weird.”

Sudoku requires its players to use a bit of logic at time, or just a guess-and-check system at other times. Either way, being able to finish a puzzle can be quite liberating for players.

“You feel smarter,” Maichrowicz said. “Especially when you do the extremely hard ones, you go ‘Wow, I just did that.’ You feel accomplished.”

For Chin, the sense of accomplishment comes from beating her own record times.

“I think what makes it fun is bettering yourself in the game,” Chin said.

However, it’s not always fun and games when a person stumbles upon a puzzle that doesn’t seem to have a solution.

Both sudoku addicts have found that the answer to the problem is just to step away from the game and to resume it at a later time.

“I’ll just put it away,” Maichrowicz said, “and then I’ll go back to it a few hours later and go ‘Oh, I can put that [number] there.’”

From an outside perspective, sudoku addicts may seem unusual for being so enthralled in a game, but everyone has their own little quirks.

For anyone who wants to see what all the hype is about, just pick up a copy of The Collegian and try a puzzle out for yourself—just be careful, it might become a new obsession.

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