Best of Bweinh! — Crosswords v Sudoku

September 5, 2008, 12:00 pm; posted by
Filed under Debate, Djere, Tom  | 2 Comments

In this corner, arguing for the superiority of crosswords, is Djere!

And in this corner, on the side of Sudoku, is Tom!

The true gridiron classic, the crossword puzzle simply outclasses its numerical counterpart.

The crossword puzzle (in its modern form) dates to its 1913 invention by Arthur Wynne, but word squares have been found even under the ruins of Pompeii, a testament to their timeless popularity. Shortly after Wynne’s initial “Word-Cross,” the crossword puzzle again took the world by storm, easily becoming its most popular word game. Crosswords require finesse, creativity, logic, a firm grasp on language, and a sense of humor.

Sudoku, on the other hand (if that’s how it’s spelled), is a newcomer to the puzzle world, invented in 1974 by Howard Garns. Unlike the crossword, which requires creativity, logic, and knowledge, Sideko is solved by logic (or luck) alone.

And speaking of alone, Saduka is usually solved alone, a testament to the poor social and hygiene skills of its practitioners. The crossword is truly a democratic puzzle — the game of the everyman. Think back to the last time you saw someone hunched over a newspaper, pen (or for cowards, pencil) in hand. A crossworder may look up, make eye contact, and speak directly to you. “Hello, friend,” they might ask, “What’s a four letter word for ‘killer whale’?” It’s more than solitaire, it’s an interpersonal event… it’s proper socialization! It’s community!

Replay that scene in your mind, but substitute the lesser puzzle of Suck-doku. Instead of eye contact, your feral co-worker will likely make indiscriminate marks on the page, muttering to himself, never quite acknowledging your presence or humanity. Years later, after failing to complete even one square, he is, frankly, quite likely to snap and firebomb your company warehouse.

Oh yeah, and size does matter, baby. From the standard 15×15 grids of your weekday puzzle all the way up to the Weekly World News’s 35×35 Bigfoot puzzles, crosswords trounce Sakodu’s petty 9×9 grids. Aesthetically pleasing, the crossword contains radial symmetry, contrasting white and black squares in interesting designs. Suducu’s only claim to fame is that every puzzle is as boringly plain as the last.

What’s it going to be? The logic, beauty, and cruciverbial wonder of the crossword, or the irritatingly confining multiplication table that is Sydyky?

P.S. If anyone could help me with 26-Across — “Wish to a traveler,” eight letters? Yeah, thanks.

Crosswords and Sudoku are very similar, really.

Both combine the excitement of painstakingly filling out small grids in a strictly regimented way with the fun of sitting quietly. Both are presumed by many reliable sources as activities that build the intellect. And both are best enjoyed responsibly.

However, if one of the two had to be sacrificed from our nation’s coffee shops, subway trains, and lecture halls, the choice would be simple:

We would have to ditch the crossword.

Sudoku is, by its very nature, inclusive. Speaking the universal language of numbers, a Sudoku puzzle spreads its grid wide enough to encompass people from any culture, any walk of life.

Crosswords trend toward the opposite extreme of exclusion, taking on themes so obscure as to alienate the vast majority of those initially drawn to their checkerboard good-looks and witty tete-a-clue-tete. Glamour without warmth is not what I look for in a woman, and absolutely not what I want in a pastime.

Sudoku’s simple, yet elegant rules can be learned in minutes. Place each digit, 1-9, one time in each row, in each column, and in each 3-by-3 square.

Compare that to the nuances of a typical crossword puzzle. If there’s an abbreviation in the clue, does that mean the answer is abbreviated as well? In what tense do they want this word?

And what’s with all the Latin?

I’ll admit — Sudoku is a relatively new addition to the flashy world of the comic-page. But even considering the Jumble, word-search, and the behemoth that is the New York Times crossword, Sudoku remains one enigmatic David who can take up nine smooth digits and get the amusement done.



2 Comments to “Best of Bweinh! — Crosswords v Sudoku”

  1. Phil on October 3rd, 2008 6:58 pm


  2. MCB on October 6th, 2008 11:48 am


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