Saturday, 2 August 2014

Hemantha Kalam - 26 'Life is a "Su Doku"!

During the past few years I have been observing my sister (a blogger herself) settling silently in a secluded place at home and go through the newspaper with a pencil. Curious, I checked with her when she said that she was working on ‘Su Doku’. I did not realise then, but on experience I found that this seclusion is the first step of comparison of life with ‘Su Doku’. 

As a person who always felt that no game should demand any exertion on the mind, I wondered what thrill she derived, but left her to her own designs.

Now during the past year or so, when I had much time on hand and I had started really ‘reading’ the newspapers, to kill time, I started attempting to work on the ‘Su Doku’ and solve, though it could tax my mind which, in normal times, I never relished.

One incentive, I felt, would be that working on such ‘puzzling matters’ could help me keep my mind in shape and probably keep Alzheimer’s away. Funny though, but some intuition always tells me that I would indeed be a victim of Alzheimer’s in the days to come. By writing this here I am sure that I am paving not a path but a highway to be ridiculed, but I do guess that I am entitled to my own superstitions and beliefs until disproved!

Initially, even the easiest ‘Su Doku’ used to make me sweat it out, but over a period I got a grip on the game and gained the confidence of tackling it. Today anything less than ‘hard’ level of difficulty, does not really hold my interest anymore!

Now, what is ‘Su Doku’?

I am sure that I am wasting space and lines and precious time, as most of the people would already know, but let me explain as quickly as I can, about ‘Su Doku’.

‘Su Doku’ is a puzzle game. Though the present day’s ‘Su Doku’ certainly is from Japan, the real game is believed to have originated from China, around 1000 BC. The name ‘Su Doku’ by which the game is now popular is indeed a Japanese abbreviation apparently means Single number (Su = Number, Doku = Single) and the full name is  Sūji wa dokushin ni kagiru  roughly meaning, "the digits must occur only once" or "limited to single figures." ( It was only in the year 1986, that the abbreviation ‘Su Doku’ took birth. Some believe that ‘Su Doku’ originated from Switzerland and travelled to Japan via America. (

While ‘Su Doku’ also is presented in different patterns like,

Samurai ‘Su Doku’

Triple Samurai  


Five Squares ‘Su Doku’ - Courtesy:

the standard ‘Su Doku’ pattern is symmetrical.

Playing ‘Su Doku’ is a paradox.  

In a standard and symmetrical game of ‘Su Doku’, a square / box comprising of nine inner squares / boxes, which in turn will have nine squares / boxes in each will have some digits and the balance digits need to be guessed right and placed.

The numbers from 1 to 9 should be arranged in each row and in each box without using the same number again either in the line or in the inner box. Thankfully only vertical or horizontal lines should be in a row and not diagonal rows. The system is simple, but solving is challenging and the quantum increases by the level you choose to play.

All games need planning, for sure, but ‘Su Doku’ cannot be worked at all, without a combination of patience, planning, guessing, eliminating, strategising and ensuring zero error. If a single error occurs , the whole puzzle takes a toss and no marks to be awarded, unless the total puzzle is completed.

We should start by;

            1) taking a look at the resources (digits) available
     2) beginning with what we know to be sure
     3) introspecting
     4) correcting if we are using a pencil and an eraser
     5) eliminating possibilities 
     6) filling in steadily
     7) taking more time if and when needed and
     8) continuing to be positive all the time and not to despair

Now let us see what the playing rules of ‘Su Doku’ and that of ‘life’ are! 

Su Doku
One person has to play at a time – in seclusion and with calm mind
A person has to lead his own life with a calm disposition.
Frame of a large square
Frame of Time
Existence of some resources like inner structures and some digits to guide
Existence of some resources like parents, siblings, teachers and friends to guide
You don’t have answers for all. You need to find the solution by calculating and guessing and using the resources
You don’t have answers for all. You need to find the solution by calculating and guessing and using the resources
You know the missing numbers but to place them appropriately is the issue
You know resources and priorities but really structuring the priorities is the issue
You cannot create a conflict by placing the same number in a row or in a box
You need to be unique yet without antagonising – be it in your own family or in society
Law of elimination helps solving the game better
Life can be better by eliminating un wanted qualities and connections
Levels of difficulties and achievements
Levels of difficulties and achievements
Resources may be few in high level of difficulty but it is not impossible to solve. You steadily build up the needed digits
Resources may be few but you can augment and grow steadily by working with singular goal and focusing in the right direction
While working, you put digit after digit without really thinking of the final success picture
In life too we grow step by step working towards the ultimate and wholesome success
People who use pencils and erasers
are moderates and willing to correct
People who use pens and permanent markers
are pre-conceived, rigid and not willing to change without  paying a price
The fun is in working towards achievement and once achieved fun is lost
The fun is to live a full life and once lived, interest lost
The full puzzle needs to be solved and no marks for part fulfillment
Life has to be lived in full and no marks if exiting unfulfilled or insignificantly

Depending on the choice you make you can choose the difficulty level of the game in the range as Random / Very Easy / Easy / Medium / Hard / Very Hard / Super Hard / Evil / Extreme. As can be expected, resources would be more for easy level of difficulty and scarcer as the level of difficulty escalates.

Similarly, in life too, it is we who need to discover as to what level of difficulty we are in and try to solve patiently and with a calm disposition to grow and end up a winner.

Isn't it? Well, what do you think? You tell me! 

Till then, 

Krutagjnatalu (Telugu), Nanri (Tamil), Dhanyavaadagalu (Kannada), Nanni (Malayalam), Dhanyavaad (Hindi), Thanks (English), Dhonyabaad (Bangla), Gracias (Spanish), Grazie (Italian), Danke Schon (Deutsche), Merci (French), Obrigado (Portuguese), Shukraan (Arabic), Shukriya (Urdu), Sthoothiy (Sinhalese) Aw-koon (Khmer), Kawp Jai Lhai Lhai (Laotian), Kob Kun Krab (Thai) and Asante (Kiswahili), Maraming Salamat sa Lahat (Pinoy-Tagalog-Filipino)

Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

Chennai, India


  1. Loved the comparison of Sudoku with Life. Seems so true. Alzheimer's may be far away but Socrates, Plato may be very close....

    All the best!! Keep writing!!

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  3. Ha ha... touche' dear Savithri. Thanks for continued confidence reposed!

    Best wishes and regards
    Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

    P.S: Who is Plato and Socrates? :-)

  4. Very interesting facts on SD, not known earlier. Thanks. I have shared on G+.
    Comparison table - no more at this age.
    No patience to try SD for me. When I started first, I had developed terrible head ache and left in the middle.
    No more attempts.

    Keep writing Hemanth.

    1. Thanks for your time and indulgence dear Senguttuvan Anne! :-)

      Even I had shunned 'Su Doku' for similar reasons for a long time. But once you get into it, you are hooked and honestly it is not that tough. Only it requires patience. What I do is I fill as much as I can. When I hit a block, I go about my other work and tackle it again after sometime. For sure, it works. You find new solutions / opportunities to fill more. Every time I was impatient and tried to fill by guess work, 99 times out of 100 I was wrong.

      But I do guess, you have 'earned' your right to enjoy life as you wish. Just do that.

      Thanks for writing. It is always good to see that somebody really read and respond!

      Best wishes and regards
      Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

  5. An exhaustive and excellent write up on sudoku.I am too an avid sudoku solver, for the same reason- to postpone onset of Alzheimer's! I would like to share your informative post with my fb friends.Thanks!

    1. Thank you so kindly Narayana Rao garu for your time, reading and responding.

      Please feel free to share any of my blogs that you like with your friends! Sharing is always pleasure doubled.

      Best wishes and warm regards
      Hemantha Kumar Pamarthy

  6. Such a wonderful article Hemantha. Even though most would have played or attempted this game, thanks to the newspapers that circulate these, not many are exposed to the varieties that increase levels of complexities. And yes, although one can learn a lot from the activities in their lives and things that they use; informative, educative and highly engaging posts like these are required to ignite wisdom in the otherwise dull minds. Thanks for taking time out and writing this and being generous to share it with the world.

    1. Thanks so much dear Dr. Rajkumar. You too made my day! :-)

      I always believe that knowledge, however limited that might be, shared is always doubled. Ever since I started solving Su Doku puzzles, it became so clear as to how it is so nearer to life.

      There is a frame, there is a structure, there are resources and there are answers. Only the answers are invisible and we need to find them out within the frame and structure and using the resources.

      After all, isn't the the game of life too?

      Best wishes and warm regards