Logic puzzle sudoku piques brains worldwide

In theory, anyone who can count can solve sudoku, which loosely translates as “single number.” But the underlying complexity is what has attracted millions worldwide.

For Bob Keegan, 56, a retired businessman in Green Valley, Ariz., sudoku offers a daily challenge that doesn’t involve word games or common knowledge.

“Accountants and engineers who like numbers will love this puzzle,” Keegan says. Keegan’s wife, Susan, discovered sudoku when she noticed a woman working one in a doctor’s waiting room.

She downloaded a puzzle that afternoon and shared it with her husband. Hooked, the two started doing at least a game a day.

“She was afraid that I wasn’t using my brain enough now that I’m retired,” Keegan says. “She wanted me to be sharper.”

But it’s a puzzle in which skill trumps smarts. “I have met people who you would expect to be brilliant and they have a blind spot for this puzzle,” says Wayne Gould, a New Zealander who discovered the game in Japan in 1997 and developed a computer program that generates fresh sudoku puzzles. “And I have met people without as much education who do very well with it.”

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