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    Posted January 27, 2014 by
    Federal Way, Washington
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    What is and What is Not a Visual Sudoku, Sudoku Puzzle Reinvented, Again

    I went on a research field trip to my neighborhood Barnes & Noble Saturday to check out, among other things, the sudoku section. They had a lot of thick, nice looking 9-grid numerical sudoku books. Everything from simple to complex, from super to supreme, from murderous to killer sudoku.

    And as I was scanning the shelves, I saw something that immediately made my heart drop. It was The Big Book of Visual Sudoku, 273 Puzzles That Reinvent the World's Most Popular Number Game published by the Japanese company Nikoli. The book goes as far as placing this accomplishment on a timeline of major sudoku events that is shown in the introduction. As I said once or twice before, we are living in the time of the hyperbole. The book's title had three of them. Two were, I think, accurate. The sudoku is the world's most popular number game and the book is big.

    But The Big Book of Visual Sudoku does not reinvent the sudoku puzzle. When I saw the title on the spine, my heart dropped because I got scared that what I thought that I have done, which is to reinvent the sudoku puzzle by creating a visual sudoku, was done at least two years before me. (The book is copyrighted 2011.)

    The book does not live up to its claim. It does not reinvent the sudoku puzzle because the puzzles are not "visual" sudoku. They are numeric sudoku that replace digits with images, mostly photographs, of objects that contain numbers. For example, a clock showing 8 o'clock is number 8, a hand with two fingers raised is number 2, a five of hearts playing card is number 5, etc. If you are going to claim that that is visual, you can also claim that digits are visual. Because they are. You have to SEE them, so they are visual. But when you are solving these puzzles, you think numbers, not graphics. When you fill in the empty spaces, you fill them in with numbers (you can draw in the clocks, hands, and cards but whose going to bother. It is not necessary.)

    By comparison, my Visual Sudoku puzzle reinvents the sudoku by actually being a visual sudoku. The elements that make up the puzzle are abstract graphics unrelated to numbers. When you solve the puzzle, you have to think in images. You have to remember simple visual graphic symbols. (While I have not conducted any scientific experiments and studies, I am sure that when you think these symbols you are using a different part of your brain than when you think numbers.) And when you fill in the empty spots, you DRAW in the graphic symbols.

    This makes the puzzle more challenging because it takes players out of their comfort zone. (We are used to thinking in numbers because we have to do it everyday. We do it when we count money, for example.) Before you even begin the Visual Sudoku puzzle, you have to first identify the nine different graphic symbols. You have to take notice. And then you have to focus on the different symbols and remember them while at the same time use logic to solve the puzzle. Thus, solving the Visual Sudoku is a more difficult task than solving a numeric sudoku. Solving it may also be more fun, but that is a matter of opinion.

    So, I am here officially laying claim to having reinvented the sudoku by creating an actual visual Visual Sudoku puzzle. This is my idea and I reserve all rights to it, including digital rights and internet rights. While I created this sudoku exclusively for Konokopia (I intend to publish a set of Visual Sudoku puzzles alongside my Isogram Sudoku puzzles and my Pattern Squares puzzles in the upcoming year), if you are a publisher who would like to publish a book of Visual Sudoku puzzles please contact me. I will create you a set of original Visual Sudoku puzzles for a fee. Of course, you do not have permission to use other puzzle companies or creators to create a Visual Sudoku for your publications. This is my Intellectual Property.
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