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China Daily Website

Beijing to host Sudoku Championships

Updated: 2013-06-06 15:44
By Zheng Xin ( chinadaily.com.cn)

Sudoku masters from around the globe will descend on Beijing this year to battle it out for the title of world champion.

The Eighth World Sudoku Championship will be an eight-day battle of wits, which will be held along with the 22nd World Puzzle Championship, starting Oct 12.

It will be the first time finals to be held in China, and organizers are expecting more than 300 players from 30 countries and regions.

"To hold the championship in Beijing will greatly encourage Sudoku popularity among community sports," Zhang Fengchao, president of the Beijing Olympic City Development Foundation, said.

Sudoku is a simple number puzzle. A player fills a nine-by-nine grid with numbers so each column and row contains numbers one to nine, with no duplicates.

"Sudoku didn't come to China until six years ago, but it has been a popular pastime in developed economies for a long time," said Zhang.

"The game has gained great popularity among the public in recent years, and China even achieved third in a group game last year at the last world championship."

Chen Cen, a 28-year-old sudoku enthusiast who designed the puzzles for this year's finals, agreed. She said more than 50 schools in Beijing alone are introducing sudoku classes.

"The Beijing Sudoku Union frequently provides them with guidance and new puzzles," she said, adding that it has also made eight teaching guides for enthusiasts in school.

The union, which Chen belongs to, has hosted a series of competitions, from primary and middle school students to college-aged youngsters, to further promote the game.

Competitions also help find candidates for the national team. "We have discovered many talented players during competitions and believe China will soon be outstanding in logic-based games despite its short history," she added.

Although most outstanding sudoku players are university students, many middle and even primary school students are overwhelming older competitors, Chen said.

Senior residents are also taking up the game. "All you need is a piece of paper and a pen, and you can do it wherever and whenever," said Zhang at the Beijing Olympic City Development Foundation.

As the game becomes more popular, Sudoku is available in most newspapers and "filling the blanks" has become a must in daily life for many people, he said.

The Beijing Sudoku Union has more than 200 group members and 3,000 individual members. The capital alone has millions of sudoku enthusiasts and the number nationwide is in the tens of millions.

Although Chen will not compete this year, she said she will be incorporating Chinese characteristics into the puzzles.

"We're considering replacing the paper and pencil with mahjong tiles to make the game more fun," she said.

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