Saturday, May 03, 2008

Malaysian Sudoku Society in NST

This is for Malaysian Sudoku Society which I am part of the founding committee. To join the group, do contact 03-7877-0936. Do join the Google Group of Malaysia Sudoku Society .

A group of Sudoku-crazy individuals have decided to feed their addiction further by setting up a society for people similarly hooked to the numbers puzzle, writes CHOK SUAT LING.

KUALA LUMPUR: Their day is not complete without attempting at least one puzzle. Hours and even days are spent poring over sets of diabolical numbers. They gather to discuss, dissect, strategise, plan and even write books on Sudoku. So much so, that one such group decided to take their "addiction" a little further. They set up the Malaysia Sudoku Society (MSS) last year.

The society was officially launched on Dec 15 with an elected committee of six members.

MSS secretary Lee Yee Dian says he and a group of friends who shared the same interest in Sudoku decided to set up the society to serve as a platform for enthusiasts to interact.

Lee's interest in Sudoku comes as no surprise. He is part of the Malaysian Mensa Society, a high-IQ organisation whose members are known to be extremely adept in logical thinking and consequently, puzzle solving. Most of the other MSS founding members are also from Mensa.

But MSS is not a society open only to Mensans. It welcomes members over the age of seven irrespective of background, with only one condition: he or she must be crazy over Sudoku. It also does not matter whether the individual is just an average puzzle solver or Sudoku champion.

Lee, 49, is heartened to see burgeoning interest among Malaysians in Sudoku.

"When we went to register the society, the officer at the Registrar of Societies did not know what Sudoku was. She was suspicious and thought we were trying to set up a religious society as the word sounds obscure and mysterious. I showed her clippings of the Sudoku contest in the New Straits Times and she allowed our application," Lee smiles.

The aim of Sudoku is to enter a numerical digit from 1 to 9 in each cell of a 9x9 grid made up of 3x3 sub-grids. Various numbers are already given in some cells. Each row, column and box must contain only one instance of each numeral.

Sounds tough but not so for Lee: "I can solve quite complex Sudoku now but sometimes I still get stumped. Now with MSS, we hold organised monthly meetings with talks and clinics on puzzle-solving techniques and the different Sudoku variations.

"In future, we hope to hold more social activities, and reach out to students and senior citizens via clinics and workshops."

He says Sudoku can encourage analytical and critical thinking in students and help keep the brain cells of senior citizens active.

MSS president Ismail Omar says more senior citizens should be encouraged to take up Sudoku.

"In Malaysia, interest is now skewed more towards the younger generation. In Japan, the profile of the buyer of Sudoku books is over 60 years old. Here, senior citizens are not so aware."

Ismail, 69, has always been interested in puzzles and was naturally inclined towards Sudoku. The engineer is also with Mensa and Toastmasters International.

"I sometimes go online and print out the puzzles there. I enjoy doing the easier ones that's why I like the ones published in the NST."

MSS has two Sudoku authors among its members. Lim Teck Guan and Jeff H.S. Keow have both written well-received books on puzzle solving techniques.

Lim, who goes by the pen name TeeGee, is a retired electrical engineer who was introduced to Sudoku three years ago.

"I had wanted to take it easy after retirement but my family urged me to participate in the NST Sudoku competition.

Even though I did not win, I became hooked after attempting the puzzles on a daily basis," says Lim, 62.

In time, Lim decided to share his techniques. "Friends asked me how I solved the puzzles and when I gave them a brief outline, they urged me to come up with a guidebook. That was how "Art of Sudoku: A Step By Step Solution" came to be published. I translated it into Bahasa Malaysia recently."

Keow, 65, says he can solve all puzzles with his technique - KHS Formula 3 Plus 2.

"Each puzzle has one solution and it can be solved using 100 per cent logic. If a puzzle has more than one solution, then it is not a good one." He says Sudoku "purists" do not like to use guesswork to solve a puzzle.

Keow was introduced to Sudoku in 2005 by his daughter and wife. "When I saw it for the first time, I was transfixed. I wanted to learn how to solve all puzzles and eventually did using a principle-centred and process-oriented methodology."

Keow later wrote "Think Out of the Block with Sudoku".

He believes that Sudoku can have a positive psychological influence on the solver's attitude and temperament if played consistently and regularly.

Lim and Keow have new books in the pipeline. "Can you imagine people our age writing books? It is quite an achievement," Lim notes.

MSS plans to organise an annual National Sudoku Championship soon, from which winners will be sent to take part in the World Sudoku Championship.

It also hopes to set up a website, and is aiming for a membership of 1,000 from across the country. Those with further inquiries about the society can call 03-7877-0936.

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Would encourage any of my blog readers to share with me any event that you come across. As long as the event/activity/initiative is education/charity/youth oriented and is not-for-profit, I would be more than happy to post it to share!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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