Kilian Valkhof

Building tools that make developers awesome.


Life, 11 December 2006, 2 minute read

Just this afternoon, on the bus ride home I sat next to a man. Suitcase, grey coat, grey hair, middle aged, all in all nothing extraordinary. You could place him right in the middle of some dusty old office. He placed his suitcase on the floor, sat back, coughed a little and then got out a newspaper. That kind of type.

Except that he skipped the news, got out his nothing but ordinary BIC pen and went straight to the puzzle page. oh god no, I thought. Not another one.

After looking at the puzzle page for about 10 seconds, he filled in his first number, a 5. Not in some corner, but right in the middle of the little tiny square, no room left for second or third thoughts what-so-ever. (For your information, it was a 13 squares puzzle. A tough one, I am told.) Soon a second followed, and a third. I looked again, and half of the puzzle was already filled. I started to sweat, I started seeing things, I was going MAD!

So perhaps not entirely MAD per se, but I certainly was unsettled, and a small fear leaped back in to my mind. The kind of fear that’s not quite there, but quite there alright. I can pride myself saying that I know my way around math quite well. But when the Sudoku suddenly took the world by storm, I hesitated.

A little fear…

You see, when suddenly everyone and their dog was solving sudoku’s like it was their 9 to 5 day job, I got frightened. What if I absolutely, horribly fail at it? What if I somehow utterly fail to find the solution to something that somehow everyone can solve, on their bus ride home??

Until this day, I still have to start my first sudoku. I have developed a phobia for sudoku’s. I am not alone in this, but it seems my reasons are quite different. So far I have not needed any psychological help, but it came quite close when there were rumors we had to write a sudoku puzzle for our programming classes. Luckily they went for the nicer “sliding puzzle” instead.

I doubt I am alone in this, am I? When they took the world by storm, I could not have been the only one that was afraid? Was I the only one to not-welcome our new Sudoku overlords? There must be more with this personality quirck. Or are you afraid of something else?

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