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The Evolution of Win At Sudoku OR Why I Nearly Drove Myself Crazy Doing This!
Before I say anything else, I would like to pay homage to Frank Longo, the guy who challenged my brain to the limits with his wonderful series "Mensa Absolutely Nasty Sudoku".
I will always be thankful for the endless hours of fun, the towering rages, and the endorphin-laden bliss that I got from meeting the intense challenges contained in this series.
I started out with a lot of faith in my logical skills, honed during a 20-year career as an international computer consultant.
So I quickly rose through the easy levels of the game until I hit Mensa's Absolutely Nasty Sudoku series, where I was dismayed to find myself suddenly boggled, flummoxed and utterly discombobulated. I'd do a bit, and then...I simply didn't know what to do next. The Horror! Moi? Beaten? Never!
As I am allergic to mathematical terminology (I insert a brief but fervent plea here: do anything to ensure the children you know get a Good Math Teacher!), I wasn't interested in studying x-wings and so on.
I am also stubborn like a megamule and wanted to do it My Way so I consciously decided I would not look for any outside help on the internet or anywhere else.
So I just persevered in applying logic and organisation to the game and, over the course of the last three years - and way too many hours when I should have been doing other stuff, I worked out the rules from what I saw happening on the grid to the point where I was consistently experiencing that lovely 'I win' feeling. I still don't get every puzzle right first time, hey nobody's perfect - but I always win in the end!
If I could only consistently follow my own method I'd do a lot better!
I think that's about as good as it gets - and I still love playing the game! Which is very important to me. I would never knowingly do anything to spoil the hours of fun you can have with this apparently simple, cunningly deceptive, and utterly addictive game.
A word on addiction: try to set yourself a time limit on how many hours a day you allow yourself to solving Sudokus: remember it is only a game and you do, actually, have a life outside of the puzzle grid!
on Sep. 23, 2011 :
I was a reviewer of an earlier version of this book. If I could, I'd give 10 stars for authorial effort. Eardley solicited feedback from advance readers, and took it all very much to heart. Whereas the first version of Win At Sudoku almost required the reader to be in the mind of the author (a lot of the content was confusing for a newcomer, the more so given Eardley's penchant for streamlined highly acronymic presentation), the second version is a study in clarity by comparison. So, first things first: hats off to Eardley for giving serious thought to her early critics' feedback, and for hitting the keyboard anew with a vengeance.
Comparisons aside, then, how does Win At Sudoku stack up to other sudoku how-to books? Very well, I imagine. As an advanced sudoku puzzle solver myself, I see great merit in the approach Eardley develops. For the most part, the existing literature on sudoku is in the form of hints-to-would-be-puzzle-solvers that come bundled with puzzles. These rarely amount to more than a handful of pages, and even more rarely (if ever; I'm not familiar with the full range of methods books out there) lay out a systematic soup-to-nuts approach to puzzle solving. Eardley's book fills this gap admirably. Her method is clearly presented (with reference to numerous sample problems along the way), and her writing well-paced. Win At Sudoku is not an easy read, but it is a profitable one. I have no doubt that were the complete novice to follow Eardley's method to the letter, he/she would achieve sudoku mastery. Eardley's is a book that will reward patient reading, dog-earing, and re-reading again.
Even old hand sudoku solvers will find much to chew on in this book. Eardley's method involves tracking certain information on a template of her own design. As an experienced solver, I think the template is fantastic. I have enjoyed making use of it in my own solving. It's a terrific aid to organization, memorization, and pattern finding -- all essential skills in sudoku solving.
Win at Sudoku is a terrific book by an author who is dedicated to improving her craft. I wouldn't be surprised to see future editions of this book come out as Eardley continues incorporating user feedback. But don't let that dissuade you from taking the plunge now. The present edition is a very solid piece of work, and would make a fine addition to your library.
(reviewed the day of purchase)