81 Squares | train tales

2.

5.

8.

All neatly printed in five of the boxes. Methodically she scanned from right to left. With each scan she added, as small as she could, the possible options in the top left corner. After each scan she pulled the pen up from the folded newspaper and floated the tip of the pen an inch from the paper as she rechecked her work to see if any answers could be surmised.

Then she went through the next row. She did this for all nine rows. Then she started on the columns. Then the 3×3 grids.

While some people slept, she sudoku’d.

Each day was a race to complete the sudoku before the train pulled into her station. Most days she finished the puzzle with time to spare.

She wasn’t a competitive person prior to picking up her pen. But there was comfort in the 81 squares. Like the monochromatic ink on the page, it could either be right or wrong. Thanks to the daily practice she got she was rarely wrong. The five-star Friday puzzle was merely a warmup. First, she competed against family for bragging rights. Then the stakes got higher. She started entering underground sudoku contests.

All her practice and penning had led to this day in London. The World Sudoku Championship.

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