Ságada, Ságada’t Su Dóku

Date posted on June 22, 2006

Su Doku is my latest obsession. It is a game that involves filling in a 9×9 grid with numbers so that every row, column and 3×3 box contains numbers 1-9.

I was first introduced to it last December by my Singaporean friend Ben when we went on a trip to Sagada with Richard and Gerald, another friend from Singapore. As we were about to leave the Dangwa terminal, Ben whipped out his copy of the Straits Times (a Singaporean newspaper) and started working on the Su Doku. I was curious. He told me it’s the latest craze in Singapore. Gerald got a piece of paper, copied the puzzle from the Straits, and started working on it as well. Both figured it’ll be a great way to kill time during the long drive to Mountain Province. I wasn’t instantly interested. I would much rather take in the sceneries. Later on, they couldn’t take anymore of the puzzle and decided to sleep through the rest of the bus ride.

We got to Sagada late into the afternoon. We spent the first night resting in preparation for the hectic day that followed. After breakfast, we immediately headed to the big falls, known as Bumod’oc to the locals. I started getting cramps on our trek back from the falls. I fell behind the others just to keep my legs from giving out and collapsing altogether. I wanted to beg off the Sumaguing adventure but I didn’t want the group to feel like I was being a kill joy so I sucked it up and went with them anyway. The cramps started acting up again, but I managed. As if the first wasn’t torture enough, they insisted in going to the Sumaguing caves that same day. I originally scheduled a more relaxed, scenic trip to a spot overlooking the Sagada Rice Terraces. That meant we only had to sit, chill, take pictures and enjoy the view. But they wanted the caves, so I caved in. We barely made the cut off time for the cave excursions (sayang). That’s no mean feat, considering we had to descend from from the top of a mountain to get to Bumod’oc, hike back up again going home (the whole episode was like reverse mountain climbing, which was much harder!), go back down again, this time for the caves, then finally climb back up from underground.

After our dinner at The Yoghurt House (where we had lunch earlier, and where we were to have breakfast the next day), we went back home. The inexistent night life, languid pace and distance of the inn from the town center kept us indoors as early as 7PM. With nothing much to do (the television was being hogged by another group of people who outnumbered us), Richard and I looked for clean sheets of paper and started working on the Su Doku as well.

The fulfillment brought about by filling the boxes with the right numbers is very addictive. I never finished the puzzle (we had to leave the following day), but I’ve always been curious if I could.

A month or so ago, I saw in Newsbreak (the magazine) a notice saying they were going to feature Su Doku in their bimonthly issue. Sometime at the beginning of June, I saw a similar notice in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

It wasn’t until this week that I decided to check out the Su Doku puzzles. Now, it’s one of the first things I look for when I read the papers. I’m proud to say that since I started answering the puzzles four days ago, I haven’t failed at completing the boxes correctly. The Newsbreak Su Doku’s are much harder though. I tried two of them and both times, I’ve been stumped. But I haven’t given up.

I just feel so accomplished cause I never, ever, complete crossword puzzles. (I’ve to cut me self some slack though, crosswords are harder). Finally, I’ve succeeded in finishing a puzzle featured in a daily. For a difficulty rating of three stars, I’m now able to solve a puzzle in as quick as five minutes. Pretty good, I think.