Tuesday, September 18, 2007

So Doku

On Sunday I attended the Times national So Doku championship, even though I never solved one of these puzzles in my life. I was there as part of my brilliant career as invigilator, and my job this time was to check the answers of the participants. There were over a hundred of them, all sitting in one room. Most of them looked in their 40s and 50s, lower middle class, more men than women (3:2 ratio. I counted. Invigilation makes you very bored). Almost all, save three or four, were white. I don't know it that's the profile of the average so doku fan or the average Times reader.

I sat there and watched foreheads furrow, eyeballs roll, fingers stretched, and tongues peek from tightly closed lips as they tried to get the numbers right. I thought how once we humans preferred to run around and try to climb treas and kick balls. But now we sit in a room and write numbers into little boxes. What a technocratic society we live in. We measure a genius by her or his ability to arrange a nine by nine matrix in the right way and quickly as possible. Other societies may pick their geniuses by their ability to get the best apple yield or to crack car locks.

But I heard somewhere that there's a lot of creativity in writing these puzzles, and the ones produced by computers are hugely inferior. So humanity still kicks ass. The composers of Sunday's puzzles stood at the side of the room, a quiet couple of earnest and lean looks from the So Doku Syndicate, the group that really runs the universe. They reminded me of the virtual reality terrorists of Kronenberg's Existenz.

For so doku fans in my readership, two set of puzzles are waiting for you, if you want, the junior ones for under 12 and 13-16. I tried the one for under 12 children, and failed. I used to think I was good with numbers.

1 comment:

نیکی said...

I'll take a 13-16 one please!