GRASS VALLEY, Calif. April 17, 2017 – There’s a new contest coming to Nevada County! It’s a different kind of event that no one has seen before. This is a competition between elementary school students from eight local elementary and charter schools, on 16 teams, each team consisting of three or four students, to complete two Sudoku puzzles correctly. Called the FIRST ANNUAL CHILDREN’S TEAM SUDOKU TOURNAMENT, it’s group mental yoga done by kids.

The recently formed Nevada County Sudoku Society is sponsoring this competition. The students, from first to fifth grades, will be competing at Scotten Elementary School in Grass Valley on Thursday, April 27th  beginning at 4 p.m. Prizes for first, second and third place will be awarded at the end of the competition.

Until now, Sudoku has always been a solo activity, pitting one person against a puzzle. Jerry Martin, who is the founder of the Nevada County Sudoku Society and who is spearheading this event with the assistance of several of the founding members, conceived the idea of teaching Sudoku to elementary school children in a team approach to solving the puzzles. What is so unique with this approach, particularly with young children, is that it not only teaches logic to solve a puzzle, but it also teaches teamwork, cooperation, good communication and focus. It’s very encouraging to witness 3 or 4 children working with great excitement and commitment to achieve a common goal. Sudoku takes logical thinking to complete a puzzle. It is not math. But working in teams adds valuable social skills to this process, in a competitive context.

Being new to Sudoku, I had a difficult time in solving even the easiest puzzle. After I was taught how to tell whether a number is “relevant” or “irrelevant” (“useful” or “useless”), and learned to consider these relevant numbers as eliminators of all possibilities but one, it became easier to solve a puzzle.

Can you imagine kids in the second grade solving a Sudoku puzzle? They do! Jerry has been going to various after school programs and teaching the students how to play Sudoku for three years. While teaching the students, he came up with the idea of a team competition.

We hope the team competition approach to Sudoku can spill over to the adult world. We can all use a little logic, teamwork, cooperation and focus in our lives. In addition, it just might sharpen our brains to work better while experiencing collaboration, with friends, in a non-physical competition. Perhaps, in future years, we can expand this inaugural event to include more groups of older students and adults, making Nevada County the Sudoku capitol of California.

Everyone is invited to come to Scotten Elementary School, free of charge, to witness our young ones collaborating and competing in the first team Sudoku competition in the world. You will be inspired by this display of mental acuity by our future generation.

I’m proud to be a founding member of the Nevada County Sudoku Society and participate in this historic occasion.

Doug Holmen
Grass Valley