Ilene is better at the Sudoku puzzle than I am. I file Sudoku under "too hard, head hurts," for the most part. By following the puzzle's rules, it is possible, by process of elimination, to figure out where one missing number goes, then another, and so on, until the puzzle is complete. That works for the easy ones. But in the harder puzzles, you reach an impass very quickly, and that technique no longer works. You can't find a single 3x3 grid in which there aren't multiple possibilities for every missing number. So what do you do? Guess? Or is there another technique?
Not that I'm going there myself, but there is more than one way to skin the Sudoku, as Wikipedia illustrates. And for a look at the mathematical implications of Sudoku, try American Scientist Online, which also includes some history on the puzzle, and how it was probably invented by an American way before it became a nationwide obsession in both Japan and the U.K.
If I was better at these kinds of puzzles, I would probably be a mathematician, theoretical physicist, or, at the least, grooming-challenged eccentric.
To check the New York Times Crossword Puzzle here at the Daily News, I have to figure out at least two clues to make sure the grid matches the clues, and let me tell you, that's sometimes pretty difficult.
We also run the poker column by Chicago Tribune writer Steve Rosenbloom. I can pretty much figure out what's going on, but poker is so jargon-heavy, I think you have to watch about 20 hours of it on TV before you can speak the language (and no, I haven't done that and furthermore won't do it).