Nevada County schools Sudoku tournament to occur in a few months |

Nevada County schools Sudoku tournament to occur in a few months

Sam Corey
Staff Writer
Students collaborate to win the Sudoku tournament in Nevada County. The competition will likely be held in May.
Submitted by Jerry Martin

The Sudoku tournament is back in Nevada County.

Well, almost.

Jerry Martin, founder of Saluting New Readers, said he’s begun contacting teachers and administrators to galvanize students to start forming teams for this year’s annual competition, expected in May.

Martin began teaching Sudoku to students in local schools in 2016. The first competition was a year later.

He believes the game helps young kids — and adults — develop their ability to discern relevance, become more accurate and seek out patterns. He’s also working on a book about the game — “Why Sudoku” — which he hopes to sell to St. Martin’s Press, a New York publisher.

“I believe that it’s like a shortcut to teaching logical thinking,” he said.

This year, the competition — which hasn’t yet been scheduled — will create a junior division for second through fourth graders, and a senior division for fifth through eighth graders. In both divisions, students must create groups of three to four.

Last year, Martin said there were 24 total teams competing, five of which were formed from Nevada City School of the Arts students. This year, Martin hopes to attract 100 students to participate.

“What I’m describing is all critical thinking,” he said. “It’s unique in it requires 100% accuracy.”

What’s a bit different about this competition format is that it’s team-based, with three or four students competing in a group.

“Team Sudoku simulates those exact things because the enemy is the puzzle, and it’s the humans against the puzzle,” said Martin.

That team aspect might be what Seven Hills Middle School fifth grade teacher Julie Bair appreciates most.

Previously lonely without many friends, a special needs student she teaches became quite popular with a group of students after he led his team in a Sudoku tournament, said Bair.

“Now he had a group of kids who were the athletes and high academic achieving kids who thought he was amazing,” she said.

She said students disinterested in school have reversed that trend after becoming more involved in the game.

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email or call 530-477-4219.

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