Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New sudoku puzzles in Free Press

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ERIC Boisjoli's number has come up.

Today the St. Vital computer programmer will begin providing sudoku puzzles for the Free Press in both the daily newspaper (today on page B11) and online at its website, www.winnipegfreepress.com/entertainment/puzzles/.

The addictive brainteasers have been part of the Diversions page since August, 2005. Until there was a local option, the addictive puzzles were imported from a British syndicated service.

Boisjoli, 23, developed his sudoku (pronounced soo-doh-koo) game as a Facebook application to allow users the opportunity to play the number game from the comfort of their profile page. The addition of the Free Press as a client has prompted him to give up his job as a computer programmer at the end of the month and strike out on his own with his company Erk's Werks Custom Software.

"I've been doing sudoku puzzles like crazy this week so everything will be good to go," says Boisjoli, a graduate of Red River College. "I have tested the whole month of June myself to make sure a hard one is a hard one and an easy one is an easy one."

The game, for the uninitiated, involves filling in a grid so that every row, every column and every box contains the numbers one to nine. Japan's Maki Kaji helped invent sudoku (su means number, doku means single) based on an American game called Numbers Place. He never trademarked sudoku, so anyone who can develop a computer program can create sudokus. Boisjoli has always been a big fan.

"I've been playing sudoku for the last five years like a crazy person," says Boisjoli, who has been writing computer programs since he was in Grade 10 in Collége regional Gabrielle-Roy in Île-des-Chênes.

If he makes them, does it mean he can solve them?

"I'm pretty good," says Boisjoli, who took his company moniker partially from the nickname his brother dubbed him with when he was a kid. "I've stopped using a pencil a long time ago. I do them in pen. I'm not the fastest but I'm pretty good at finishing all the puzzles I play."

Sudoku number puzzles are booming. Don't know how to do sudokus? Now you can pick up Sudoku for Dummies. Sudokus are published in over 70 countries, and puzzlers number around 80 million.

"It's a way to get away from it all, to take a couple of minutes to do a puzzle and forget what's going on," Boisjoli says. "I like to relax and play a puzzle and de-stress."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 8, 2009 B8

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