I was never good at math. During my school days, I used to be the boy who couldn’t solve an equation to save his life. And since I was the proverbial fish who was judged on his ability to climb a tree, I grew up feeling that I was not intelligent in the basic sense of the word. I’ve always been an artist at heart, which is basically a co-curricular activity in schools. I’ve never been attracted to anything that has something to do with numbers, even though numbers fascinate me. So imagine my surprise when I found out that the world’s most popular number game has nothing to do with Mathematics. As it turns out Sudoku is more a visual puzzle than a game by numbers even though it requires one to solve a set of number to fill up the blocks. Confused yet, so was I and that’s the reason I avoided it for so long. But then I always wanted Aarohi to give it a try. So eventually, I gave it a shot and voilà I found it very easy to solve. Not to say that I can solve all of them, but I am somewhere around 8 out of 10. Also, Sudoku has various levels of difficulty and as of now, I am at Hard. In the case of the Expert level, I am at 50% success rate.
Basically, Sudoku has only 1 simple rule. You have to fill the blocks with numbers from 1 to 9. This has to be done horizontally, vertically and in each block which is comprised of 9 cells. There is a total of 9 blocks. The same number cannot be repeated in a row, column or block. The game starts with a random selection of numbers already setup and the player has to fill in the blanks. Sounds very daunting, but if you watch a few youtube videos for the same, you’ll get a hang of it. A quick search on youtube with keywords ‘sudoku for beginners’ will give you a number of such videos. This helped me a lot in learning how to solve it, the only caution would be that there are various techniques which may be employed to solve the same puzzle. Also, make sure you start with the easy ones and then slowly move to the harder ones. The easy ones have more numbers filled in, to start and as it gets harder the filled in cells become less and less. Here are a couple of videos by YouTuber MyLameAnimations that helped me get started:
These puzzles may not only be found in newspapers, magazines or books, you can even solve them in your web-browser – Websudoku or you may even download one of the many Sudoku apps on your smartphone. For me when I started learning it, I used to travel to work in the Dubai Metro and used to get about an hour or so of free time. So, I would pick up the weekly magazine Read and try to solve the Sudoku puzzle at the end. Eventually, I became good at it. Once I got a taste for it, I had to find a way to teach it to Aarohi. This was easier said than done. Since we avoid taking the academic route while homeschooling Aarohi, I could not just go up to her and tell her that I want to teach her the number game. I had to find a way to make it fun and entertaining for her to even get interested in it. Another search on youtube led me to SudokuGuy. This was a God sent, as this guy had created a couple of playlists, one for Beginners and one for Advanced. Also, his techniques are perfect for beginners to get a grasp of this often misunderstood puzzle and he has a very entertaining way of delivering his sessions.
So, I took the printout of the puzzle in his first video and used his teaching methods to try and get Aarohi started on Sudoku. We took a week to finish the first puzzle and Aarohi seemed to like it very much. But then when we started with the second one, she lost interest somewhere in the middle of solving it. I kept trying to get her interested in finishing the puzzle, but she just didn’t gravitate towards it. So, another rule we follow in homeschooling is that we don’t force her into trying something once we realize that she might not be interested in it. This has also become one of the lessons in Great Parenting for us. That is not to say that I’ll never come back with it to her. It’s just that this is not the right time for her. So, maybe next year along with Oil Painting, I will give it a try again and see if her interest in it has changed.