Jerry Martin: Sudoku offers rare purity for our times |

Jerry Martin: Sudoku offers rare purity for our times

Sudoku is unique in many ways and one way is its purity. What do I mean by that?Purity is the absence of pollution or, in this case, any information that makes more than one solution possible. When purity exists, there are no exceptions. Sudoku provides several examples of such purity.

Sudoku requires 100% absolute accuracy. This means that 99% is failure. One mistake, one impurity, one deviation from a truthful solution, is unacceptable. Accuracy is our human effort to achieve truthfulness.

Most things in our lives allow for margins of error or deviations from one choice. Driving a car, in most cases, allows several feet on either side to still stay in your lane and be safe and legal. In speech there are many ways to communicate the same idea. Usually, more than one expression works. Many clothing combinations work, and unless you put the left shoe on the right foot, you’re probably OK. There’s more than one food choice for dinner, and more than one choice of brand of car.

But not with Sudoku. Only one answer each of 50 times will work. The final puzzle, once completed, has only one solution. This is pure truth, pure accuracy.

Consider responsibility. Sudoku is a competition between a human and a non-human, a puzzle. Most competitions are between two humans or two teams of humans. So in most competitions, an individual’s success or failure is partially determined by the human opponent. Any move I make in a chess match is good or bad, depending on my opponent’s reaction.

This is not true in solo Sudoku, where the opponent has already made all its moves. Every move left is the human’s, so the success or failure is totally determined by the human. And luck is never a factor, as it is in all card and dice games. With Sudoku, the human can’t attribute failure to a bad hand of cards or unlucky roll of the dice. The responsibility is purely the human’s.

Once a person has learned the basics of solving, solo Sudoku provides a heuristic opportunity to develop rational reasoning alone, without any other human teacher. Sudoku requires almost no knowledge other than to distinguish between nine written symbols. Usually numbers, but they could be letters of the alphabet, they’re all one needs to understand. One doesn’t need how to read or tell a ball from a buffalo. It’s pure logic, usually done alone. Success and failure are easy to determine by the solver. A pure experience.

Sudoku develops logical thinking habits, particularly in children, whose minds are being formed into good or bad patterns of problem solving. I’ve seen many commercials on TV promoting a product, a pill, or containing chemicals that claim to improve cognitive functioning. You may have seen one that uses chemicals discovered in jellyfish. Sudoku improves our minds with no chemicals, no components that might have unexpected negative consequences. It’s pure mental activity.

Doing Sudoku is pure activity with no reward upon completion. It’s all journey. The destination produces nothing. Our motivation is in the process, not the product.

Sudoku trains the solver to find the relevant information and ignore the abundant irrelevant information that exists in the puzzle. This training develops the ability to find the pure information that works while rejecting the impure, irrelevant information that distorts and distracts and results in incorrect answers.

Sudoku requires enough information before making a final decision. If you act on incomplete information, if you guess when there are two or more possible answers, you will fail. You must be able to eliminate all possibilities except one, you must insist on one answer which is purely correct, eliminating all the impure wrong answers before committing to a solution.

For these reasons, Sudoku is pure, exact, objective truth, intolerant of error or subjective preferences. Sudoku bypasses emotions. Sudoku is immune to all outside influences, such as politics, religion, culture, gender or nationality, which have no power in Sudoku. It’s pure logic, pure reasoning that produces success. This develops fluid intelligence, the kind of thinking that produces solutions to new problems, creating smart creativity and progress that humanity is capable of if we use our marvelous minds to their maximum potential.

Sudoku is a “tool” much needed in today’s complex world that has fallen under the influence of misinformation and corrupt leadership, both of which existed before but not to the heightened extent as now. Not much is pure anymore. Sudoku is.

Jerry Martin lives in Grass Valley.

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