Meet the world's sudoku champion

April 25, 2008 7:19:19 PM PDT
One of the most popular numbers games around is sudoku, and the best player in the world is at Stanford.

Stanford University has elements of a numbers game: many apply, few get in.

Then, the numbers increase from pages to read, to finding your way around.

"W1.3?" Asked ABC7's Wayne Freedman.

"West wing of this building, 1.3 it's the third entrance. It means something, the numbers mean something. It's not just there for no reason," said biochemist Dr.Thomas Snyder, Ph.D.

Numbers always mean something to Dr. Thomas Snyder, who is working on a post-doctorate in biochemistry. He plans to change the world with genetic sequences.

In the meantime, he's already rocked it by playing one particular numbers' game of columns and rows called sudoku.

Thomas Snyder is so fast and skilled, that even his computer will ask for an occasional break.

"It's almost done. Write, write, write, done," said Dr. Snyder.

The appeal of sudoku is that anyone can play it; anywhere and anytime. All they need is a pen, some paper and the ability to count from one to nine.

"I'd say when people pick the puzzle up it is relatively easy. I think the first puzzles people do, it's the first in life they get traction life," said Dr. Snyder.

For Dr. Snyder, traction has led to books with his name on them and a crystal reputation.

Last week in Goa, India, he won his second consecutive world championship. It took him minutes to solve sudoku puzzles that for us, would consume hours.

"You know we are not getting the sun, we are not getting the culture. We are just getting the puzzle," said Dr. Snyder.

So now the glory -- at least in a small griddled corner of our universe, this 28-year-old has become the man.

He is a guru for college students who prefer to spend lunches over pizzas, puzzles and pontifications.

So this is what a head for numbers can do. It allows the fastest, self-acclaimed geek on then the planet to walk slowly, in relative obscurity, even as his brain -- races.

"I mean I'm on Wikipedia. If that's something, I've got that," said Dr. Snyder.


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