To use the Sudoku crown, one must solve any number of puzzles | ET REALITY


The rematch between Dai and Vunk was highly anticipated, but Kota Morinishi, 34, from Tokyo and a four-time world champion who works in information technology, took the lead from the start, fueled by a sack of candy that he once offered the captain of his team.

Ms. Dai had a rough start: in Round 2 of 10 she made mistakes or “broke” the same puzzle three times; she finally erased everything and rebooted. In Round 3, while she was concentrating on fixing two broken puzzles, she forgot one and didn’t complete it before time ran out.

Mr. Vunk finished Round 3 with three minutes to spare – “It could have been better,” he said – placing him in first place, with Ms. Dai in second place.

Byron Calver, 38, a Toronto civil servant who was sitting next to Ms. Dai, was not enthusiastic about her presentation. (His best finish was fifth, in 2010, but he had practiced too much and exhausted himself, he said. Now, after a break, he was trying to make up for what he had lost: “Discovering your mortality by being bad at Sudoku, the Story of Byron Calver,” he said.) When asked how Round 4 went, he said, “It didn’t.” It was Sudoku with arithmetic restrictions. “I did very well in math, I just forgot how to do Sudoku,” he said.

And at least once that day, in desperation, Calver resorted to a “wild fork”; “Fork” means “riddle” in Sudoku jargon. This is usually a calculated trial-and-error guess, exploring one of two clear paths presented by a partially completed puzzle. But in this either/or tactic, only one path is correct. Calver’s fork was more reckless, he said, “insofar as it was driven more by blind hope in the absence of a clear path forward than by any well-founded expectation that progress would be made.”

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