Nov 18, 2009

Let's Talk: Hooked on Sudoku

Davis Borucki has a thing for numbers.

The 15-year-old Richland Northeast High School student recently won the Intermediate Division of the Philadelphia Inquirer National Sudoku Championship, topping more than 500 competitors. The competition included three rounds, each featuring three puzzles, and competitors were rated on accuracy and speed.
Borucki plans to compete in the advanced division in April and hopes to compete internationally next year.

lets talk sudoku davis borucki
Why Sudoku?

Borucki: "I do Sudoku in addition to doing other things like watch TV and play video games. However, I prefer doing Sudoku when I can, because it is something I can do anywhere as opposed to watching TV or playing video games, which I need a TV or a game console to do. Sudoku also helps keep my brain active."
How often do you do Sudoku?

Borucki: "I try to do one Sudoku puzzle a day at least. I'm usually busy with homework from school or extracurricular activities, but I try to squeeze in a puzzle at least once a day because it is something I enjoy doing and it gets rid of stress."

When did you start playing?

Borucki: "I started playing Sudoku in eighth grade around November, when my math teacher gave me one as an extra credit assignment. I caught on quickly and became hooked on them. My first Sudoku competition was the second annual National Sudoku Championship in October 2008."

How did it feel to win the Sudoku tournament in Philadelphia?

Borucki: "I was really happy when I won my award. I had been practicing Sudoku a lot and had improved a lot from last year, so I was hoping that I would make it to the final round. I knew a lot of good competition would be at the contest, so I didn't come 100 percent certain I would win. I had a bunch of friends back home supporting me, which helped inspire me to do my best."

Any tips for beginners?

Borucki: "I would recommend that beginners start out on easy puzzles. If they are having trouble on a puzzle, they should try writing in all the possible solutions in the square, and then eliminating from there. Once they get better, they can either try to come up with more advanced strategies to solve them, or they can look up strategies online. I personally prefer coming up with them myself, because coming up with a new solution myself helps me use it faster and recognize it easier while working the puzzle."

Do you have any Sudoku heroes?

Borucki: "My Sudoku hero is Will Shortz. His puzzle books were the first ones I used ... Sometimes I will find errors in books by other authors, where a puzzle is either impossible to solve or has more than one answer, but in his (Shortz) books, there is always one answer. He hosts the National Sudoku Championship, so I enjoy being able to compete in the contest and getting to see him."

By Kevin Walker, Special to The State

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