Now that the basics of the game have been tended to, it’s time to introduce my personal interpretation.  

 I chose as my title an analogy which crops up frequently in my writing; I find it rather fitting for this long-term commitment.


8888              888888888        8888888    8888888

THE JOURNEY       *           THE JOURNEY        *     THE JOURNEY

I never thought about what motivated me to play;   It never occurred  to me to do so until  I started writing about it. I then became aware of the value of what I’d come up with; a unique and fun invention. 

  I never wondered  about where or why I had forged such a close relationship with the numbers or where my intense response to the game came from.   Why have I got such deep feelings;  and why do I continue to have feelings about what the numbers are doing? 

 I really thought that it deserved to be shared.

 I figured the first order of business would be to come up with some sort of explanation as to how and where this all came from, and for this I’d have to do some thinking.

There was no doubt that it was a result of all that personal and intense introspection I indulged in as I was solving the puzzles;  it was certainly this that opened up my eyes, my ears and my head to further possibilities. I was just ripe for some sort of amazing  revelation and of course eventually it did appear………….in the form of identifying numbers with personalities and therefore human situations.


The whole crazy thing got started quite early in my association with the game,   and actually as a result of the bad behavior of one of the numbers; the number one to be exact.  Simply put,  I didn’t see it, so I forgot it, and I missed it – with Sudoku that can be fatal.  Sure enough, the result was a rather nasty mash up and one which left an indelible impression  on me  to boot.  It also made enough of an Impact that it  caused me to look for the reason that I had messed up and in so doing I recognized the fact that this number possessed  rather notable and  distinct characteristics;   it has a very low profile as well as   a notably minimal footprint.  Both aspects make it almost invisible and therefore very easy to miss. I then came to the conclusion that this was a number with a unique and essentially strong personality. 

  This was my first encounter with individualistic behavior patterns being present in a number.

 Having noticed this, I started paying attention to what the numbers were doing;  their particular movement patterns, their action, and the relationships existing between them.

I soon was recognizing and identifying  these patterns as being similar to human behavior patterns and consequently those of  distinctly  human activities.  These behaviors very quickly sorted themselves out in to categories quite easily associated  with games.  I ended up with a list of four distinctly recognizable games groupings encapsulated in the basic framework of the one game of Sudoku.






My notes were rife with the sound and images of battle; there’s no denying the existence  of  MORE THAN A HINT OF WARLIKE TENDANCIES in this game.  This image is so strong that it was my first indication of there  being identifiable subject matter  present in Sudoku.   

There’s no getting around the pugilistic aspect of the game;   a basic competitive spirit inherent in its  very metal. But when all is said and done  it is  only marks on a bit of paper and therefore  fortunately and unequivocally a totally BENIGN WAR.


What follows is a very much weeded sampling of the warlike linguistic images that have popped in to my head as I was negotiating my so-called acts of aggression.

The OBJECTIVE:   the “house is under siege”, therefore the ultimate goal is to regain peace in the form of  total ANNIHILATION and  ELIMINATION.    Although perhaps not particularly apparent, this game is loaded with strategy, plot, and plans of battle.  

A CAST OF CHARACTERS:  being protagonist/enemy/foe.   Some actually take on a more malevolent stance; the number in play and under scrutiny at the moment may be the cause of any particular terminology. How about   BETE NOIR;  a truly lovely, unlovely expression which at one time I  had used in designating  the primary player. This was rescinded later but I still consider it to be aptly appropriate considering the significant amount of nastiness found in most games.

A PLAYING FIELD cum battleground:  A good example of this appears  in one of my early statements:   THERE HAVE BEEN OCCASIONS WHEN MY PAPER HAS TAKEN ON THE APPEARANCE OF A REAL BATTLEFIELD – WHAT WITH THE GARRISH APPEARANCE CAUSED BY ALL THE BANDAIDS AND SCARS which may be littering the field.   They are, of course, the unfortunate  result of an unintentional slip or two and the smudges remaining from the no longer needed  markings.  This statement was correct when expressed probably quite a long time ago; over time I have become a lot neater in my combat.

And the BATTLE  (or moves, as it were):   starting with vindictive, vengeful and continuing on with RUTHLESS,  and abounding with VIOLENCE and PERIL as  being the usual.  A killing field:   With every life(number) you take a life (or more), so others may be saved.  Winner kills all.  To be vanquished, or to  perhaps become a conqueror.  MORTAL COMBAT…. Such a good  (or notably horrible)allusion,  so colorful - as long as it’s not real. .  WHO THOUGHT DEVIOUS  might be a  necessary characteristic but it is definitely there, as well as DIABOLICAL, EVASIVE, TRICKY all adjectives that seemed so appropriate as I moved the numbers around.  

An additional allusion to the ruthless – and I really do mean ruthless and actually vengeful) quality of the game:  once you ascertain  the “key” number(usually there is such a thing), the rest fall aside.   Watching the “men” fall like the plague (when you achieve a deliciously ideal run) is most exhilarating,  in direct antithesis to the horrific affect it notably implies.This frequently does feel like what has happened, especially as towards the end of the game, you make one move and the whole operation collapses…ie destroying whole villages. Some moves are so explosively forceful they tear through the grid eliminating and tossing bodies left and right; totally destructive in the trajectory to complete the move.  Every kill opens up a door of opportunity – particularly ruthless sounding. Sometimes I feel really mean. 

 I have encountered moves which can go all the way around the board – this I really love.  The particular number I’m working with, as I’m ferrying it on its prescribed route, may cause the number to become a weapon; a weapon which as it moves, may explode, annihilating entire units, destroying entire villages,  causing  what may seem to bear a similarity to weapons of mass destruction.  (I suspect THIS horrific observation WAS VERY TIMELY when I discovered it).   Tearing through like that, although immensely satisfying to the player, can  actually result in self destruction, i.e. removal from the field. Got the picture?

 Eventually I noticed that I had a rather intriguing dichotomy going:  is my goal  annihilation, or could it be interpreted as a much more benign and positive state of liberation (of the numbers that is)?  Obviously the issue could go either way. As deadly as it sounds it is certainly a valid question. So which is it?  I thought this was a rather delicious conundrum. How about having an ethics battle associated with Sudoku.   got in to a mini ethics battle over this question –but not for long;   I’ve got more important fish to fry. 

Don’t forget to pick up the DEAD BODIES…the hopefully natural results of any move – the detritus, the no longer viable numbers.  Essentially;  don’t forget to pick up the pieces in order to finish the move.   How can that equate with the idea of liberated?   Well, we seem to be having an issue with the terms annihilating and liberating; obviously that depends on your view. 

All of this seems to be pretty nasty for the first thing in the morning, doesn’t  it?

BUT not to worry,  all is fair in love and war….

One of the things I love most about Sudoku is the memories it triggers;  it has the delicious capability of reminding me of all kinds of things that I’m happy to be reminded of.  In this case it is a memory from my youth.

For some time a faint memory  resonated in my brain  before I realized the reason:  I was being reminded   of one of my happiest memories of childhood; a game we played at summer camp – when I was 11 or so, the game of  Capture the Flag.  The fact that after hmmm 70 years I have rather wonderful vivid memories just shows how much I really enjoyed this.  I loved chasing around the woods at dusk whooping it up,  taking captives, being captured, hunting around for some nebulous piece of cloth. and finally locating and overcoming the opponents  and capturing the flag.    Be it an actual flag, a piece of cloth or, in the case of Sudoku, the  last number to remain,  the results are the same.  At first I was reluctant to include it as I thought the comparison was almost laughable and certainly a bit far-fetched, but there’s no doubt that the intention was definitely warlike,  .and the  memory so sterling that I thought it well worth mentioning, and also worth asserting that there’s always the possibility of many other wonderful memories being triggered in the future.  

I’m  truly thankful to Sudoku for having reminded me of this particularly treasured memory. 

This is many years later and I am still coming up with new insights, impressions – not necessarily  warlike – concepts. But one which floated by me recently:  maybe annihilating (that which happens in the process of landing each number in its correct slot) could easily be considered as  executing a BLITZKREIG.  This is surely  about the best one yet and is  actually quite  a startling image to come up with in 2019.  Actually this was soon followed by Hari-kari –( shades of WWII must be wafting around here).  if that’s not massively warlike and an excellent example of what takes place in this game,  I want to know what is.  



It is in this game in which  the element of personalities is most visible;  and therefore the most obvious aspect of my revelation.

I think of this as my most imaginative and most original creation,  as well as my favorite,  because it involves  such purely WHIMSICAL and HUMOROUS analogies.   

I know numbers are lifeless and inert,   at least in casual encounter;  but upon closer inspection, and with some imagination,  it is quite possible to envision something to the contrary. When playing Sudoku it is quite possible to come to think of these apparently lifeless digits in a more personal way.   Some numbers may be  good,  some may be bad, and some you may actually develop  positive feelings about and  like, or negative feelings at which point you may become cautious and vigilant when dealing with them.  With we achieved  an alternative way of looking at things; we have arrived at the magical action of attributing human characteristics to numbers.

My first term for this perception was “numeromorphism,  but I did not have to stretch quite that far to make it legitimate.

The definition of “anthropomorphism is “the  attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities”.  Numbers certainly fit in to this category.   This  statement was followed by further insights:  this behavior is actually considered an innate tendency in human psychology – and further,  using  human or humanlike attributes  helps simplify and make sense of complicated entities.  A case in point is that of gender.  There is evidence that numbers have been “gendered”:   the even numbers are considered feminine,  the uneven are male. That arrangement seems so plausible to me that obviously it must be a logical conclusion.

I’m  not alone in this admittedly unusual attitude of perceiving human traits in numbers.  In an article in The Washington Post about Elizabeth Williams, who is or was a Washington D.C. business research librarian, as well as a huge winner on Jeopardy (how’s that for credentials?).  In this article she  admits to being a “victim of ORDINAL LINGUISTIC PERSONIFICATION”, or as translated “imagines numbers as having distinct personalities”. How can anything with such a magnificently impressive title not be valid.  YES!! and I’m definitely in good company.

Surprise, surprise:  this is SO NEAT::   AND I’M NOT SO WEIRD.

l then went on to  realize that I was in even more familiar  company in the form of Disney and  its products.   I was reminded of that with a bittersweet memory:  those of us who were brought up in the era of Disney are almost guaranteed to have a built in close relationship to this world of anthropomorphism.  The movie Fantasia consists entirely of such images involving and including  even the weirdest of things like that fantastical water- slinging dancing mop … and that’s only the beginning.  I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention the phenomenal chorus line of dancing hippos.  Sorry, got carried away - I love Fantasia. Unfortunately we have been left with the tendency to attach such characteristics to animals (not so good) but also some contemporary machinery (not so bad and often very funny- sometimes if you didn’t laugh you might cry.)

Enough of that, It is now time to introduce the numbers and their most individualistic characteristics.

NUMBER ONE ***  #1 -  the first, as well as, coincidentally,  the first personality in the shape of a number that caught my attention and  the number I consider responsible for me to envision numbers with personalities. From there the this great game of games as described earlier.  The negative outcome of this original encounter was to encourage  me to pay particular attention to it as I processed the game for fear of a reprisal.

Ares, the first sign of the Zodiac is Number One, it also happens to be my horoscope affiliation. The major trait of this sign is that it needs to be “in charge”; needs to be ”numero uno”.   There is a sense of leadership, and a tendency to possess strong opinions. (I’m telling on myself). 

The number One has an almost invisible silhouette and a notably minor footprint all of which can be perceived as an allusion of allusiveness, and which most graphically represents the straight and the narrow. Owing to this attribute and regardless of reputation It performs its game responsibilities in a decidedly low-key fashion;   This aspect  is present in its method of performance as it  proceeds through its moves without a hitch;  It tends to fit into place with great ease which is not surprising considering the absence of any surface features;  no fuss, no snags, clean as a whistle

NUMBER TWO  *** #2  this number is a very important actor in the game of Sudoku;  it makes up or is responsible for the most desirable and basic combinations:  There can be no more than two pairs either per line/column/or box  and a dual  appearance in a box serves as a primary wall or HOOK.  This is certainly enough to make it THE MAGIC NUMBER. Of course, as an even number,  it is feminine -noooo, I’m not really being  sexist Nooo.  And just to add fuel to the fire:   it TAKES TWO TO TANGO,  and  one more, TWO IS COMPANY, THREE IS A CROWD.

  I do love this.  Yeahh for NUMBER TWO!!!!!!

As far as characteristics:  this is a figure which is svelte, fluid and lithe of shape.  It’s movements  are those  most closely  associated with a ballerina, thus strongly suggesting  that its gender is feminine.  If there is any question in this regard is have only to note that at one point I had christened it with the name “twinkle toes”. as  It tends to settle in to its chosen box with great  flair and elan.

  Okay, unbelievable as it may seem, I had all of this before I ran into the idea of gender and number: there is no doubt that  this is a very feminine number.

NUMBER THREE ***  #3.  my original impression involved shape:  it is spikey, sharp, pointed and abrupt.  In behavior in can be tricky;   quite frequently it sports  a low profile and is fairly unassuming, only to make an abrupt and decisive appearance in the closing moves  of the game. 

NUMBER FOUR  ***  #4.  I have shared many moments of amusement with the number four;  it truly and assuredly always gives me a run for my money.  There is nothing whatsoever unassuming about the behavior of the number four.  This number tends to be a lot of fun;   It’s a  clown/kibitzer/mischief maker/capricious,     a  fun, fancy free pixie with elfin tendencies;     loves to play and will try anything for fun or as a lark.  As an interesting contrast it also seems flighty, performing independently as a  free agent, a loner.  It is often supremely agile/NIMBLE in its posture;   It makes me think of the Cirque de Soleil. .  In opposition and being sometimes hard to pin down, it can sometimes become a thorn as well, but not often,  and being so generally agreeable it gets away with it.   He (an even number so yeahhh female – should have known) is a real pleasure to play with.  I like this number a lot – even before I’d discovered the gender I enjoyed the pleasure of HER/HIS (maybe it’s a contemporary transgender – that certainly solves that conflict) company.  This is a number with a very strong personality- I’ll say- or at least one of us has.

NUMBER FIVE *** #5.  I have two favorite numbers; this is one of them.   I feel this is my best friend, my  favorite.  It is one to be counted on;  faithful, trustworthy, and most definitely supportive.

 Very, very frequently the 5 and the 7 work in combination; they seem to be in possession of a mutual attraction, they   appear to have a distinct affinity for each other.  They are therefore often found in tandem which can be an advantageous arrangement as it makes their moves twice as effective – THE DYNAMIC DUO of the GRID.   They are frequently Confederate and Enabler - the basic elements and  final solvers of the game.

  They are definitely benevolent.    It is for all of these reasons that I think of them as my favorite numbers as well as my LUCKY NUMBERS.  When they coincide (this can occur in many ways) in my daily game, I’m just sure the day will be fortuitous. 

I have of course enlisted  them and utilize them in a few guises; my email address, my domain name on my website, probably other places as well:  This eases the effort of remembering  too.  Why not?

NUMBER SIX ***  #6. Her major feature is her location in the range of numbers.   Being the middle she tends to have a dual personality: it can go either way.  Because  it is so central it has most frequently  skipped my mind until fairly late in the process (fortunately no longer an issue). Number six is fated: It  hides in the middle like a fish in a school;  notably for protection.  This decrees that its initial impression is minimal; blends in, is not a headliner, is moderate,   unassuming, shy, peaceful.   It is a calming element, and in appropriate connection it is low keyed,  mellow, and smooth.  These are all attributes well suited to her middle position. To add to this range of attributes it is fitting that she proves to be  notably  evasive – ooo yah.  Working with her can be like trying to hang on to a handful of GLOP (not a very attractive image especially as this one in temperament seems to me quite feminine in nature).   

Oooh another SHE      In appearance she appears  gracious, elegant, stately and poised.  what more can you ask?

NUMBER SEVEN  ***   #7  is my  Knight in Shining Armor, my alter ego; The  Lone Ranger. This Is the most exciting number; my hero,  frequently saves the day,  frequently sacrifices.  Comes through in a pinch, to the rescue/ rescue   As the game unfolds this number frequently reveals targets   In tandem with its cohort the number 5,  they prove unbeatable.   

NUMBER EIGHT  ***  #8. Some numbers really stand out for me in my spectrum of numbers and when I’m finished here you will have no doubt of this stance.  I find it most amusing that I have had such a strong reaction  to what is nothing but a mark on the paper, a figure on the grid.  But so be it.

Starting with its main characteristic (I would hardly call it an attribute) is being  strong minded; in other words tends to almost always have a strong presence.  I would call it A HEADLINER.

  Initially it was my least ;  it must have made a real strong impression,  it must have jumped right off the grid or perhaps  it was responsible for an especially deleterious crash,  consequently I managed to collect a  startling number  of unsavory adjectives.  Please bear with me: Prima donna, self- centered, pretentious, patronizing, …  GRANDSTANDING.   I even went so far as to call it satanic once- that must have been a particularly severe situation.

  These are all behaviors that I simply cannot stand.  Being an Ares, I’m undeniably strong minded too; and being an Ares I suspect strongly that I might really dislike competition –but also I may very well invent such an image if one doesn’t happen to occur naturally. This is all intensely psychological and introspective – that’s a necessity too. – to perhaps add spice to my life.

And here my imagination has just been flying high:

Big challenge – don’t let number eight win –.  #8 has become a thorn in my side… it always plays an active part, never positive.  Reminds me of the Wicked Witch with the apple  in “Sleeping Beauty”,   (that movie scared me so bad – maybe I was 3 or so – that they had to drag me from the theater and I’ll bet it was the last movie they took me to for a very long time),  or the  Wicked Witch of the West from “The Wizard of Oz”.  Being the fly in the ointment,  It almost never, NEVER fails to bug me. I need a swat team.  My natural enemy. Automatically must earn a certain degree of antipathy;  my nemesis(good word), that’s all for now.   No,  I’’ve got another one:  the number 8 was so destructive in one puzzle it ended up destroying itself…I am not being fanciful, it really can happen.  And knowing my attitude about this number you wouldn’t be surprised when I was totally delighted when it did.

Now, that was a great deal of fun.

I really have pulled out all my negative stops haven’t I?  Let’s say I’m taking out my frustrations;   everyone needs a whipping boy and I can’t think of anything less likely to react negatively   than a number on a sheet of paper.  This is a perfectly wonderful way to let off steam,  and no one need be the wiser.

Please let me assure you that all of this is a huge exaggeration – in truth I am really a very positive and appreciative person. 

Eventually I started cranking in some more rational attitudes:  I knew darned well that such negative thinking is detrimental and distracts one from one’s objectives – and we surely can’t have that. 

I recently discovered an entirely new reputation of my erstwhile nemesis the number eight – it appears that it is considered a lucky number in the Far East and I have been acting accordingly.  But I have to admit it still irks me when #8 wins. – which happens often.

NUMBER NINE  ***  #9. I always felt Is like a benevolent grandfather. This makes him by default male,  which is only proper now that I know that odd numbers are male.  He is the oldest, being last,  of the crowd.  I am always pleased when I encounter him as I proceed through my introductory moves.  As to attributes: I feel a great deal of strength, security.  This number is grounded, stable, secure and sensible. CALM, wise, never fails to present reassurance.  He’s unassuming, accommodating  (that’s not  very male), and tends to go with the flow.  I prefer “King of the Pack”;  for sure. I picture James Earl Jones or Uncle Remus in this role -  how lovely.  Patriarchy – ancient attitude quickly receding in to the past.  Fortunately.  But I am of that ancient generation and I find his presence reassuring.

The introduction of gender into my creation is  very interesting.  It has become an Increasingly  controversial concern in current society; sometimes in a positive fashion, other times excessively negative.

Back to THE GAME; Looking back I noticed a definite inclination on my part to assign feminine characteristics to the even numbers without any encouragement:   do try to tell me those numbers are lacking in personality,  I didn’t just dream that particular image up.

  Follow the behavior of these numbers and you’ll not only be entertained but I think you’ll agree with my descriptions and judgements.

One more word and then I’ll give it a rest;  this is so good  I simply cannot resist making it part of the record.   I am an Ares (April) and knowing this bit of trivia can’t fail to clue you into the fact  that I am at least a teensy bit interested in horoscope and therefore susceptible to the idea of fate.  Having set the scene: in  the Sudoku I did on my recent birthday,  not only were 5 and 7 the major players, but they were ALSO  THE WINNERS…..TA TA!!!   Are you ready?  The number 8 was the ENEMY/PROTAGONIST.  How cool;  A MOST UNUSUAL BIRTHDAY PRESENT.



This is another great ANALOGY I eventually recognized;and I’m really surprised it took me as long as it did to find it.

You can find vestiges/suggestions/shades/shadows of Sudoku is almost every leisure time activity imaginable. upon investigation I it is hard not to notice the resemblance in rules, objectives, movement, strategy ,etc.  It’s not surprising that and most of the childhood favorites are quite well represented.    

Chess is surely my contender for being most like Sudoku:  it also has  identifiable players with strong personalities -  pawns, rooks, castles,  king and queen, etc,   an objective of removing all players with intent of capturing the King thus achieving the winner, and a game plan involving three distinct segments (part one being setting up the board- in Sudoku setting the scene in taking stock and establishing strategy;; the second part with  the major moves/ the decisive moves of the game – and the third being the denoument/the downfall of the opponent/the wrap up when in Sudoku the entire façade comes crashing down and the Winner is decreed.

 Not quite as familiar but almost equally as similar there is Mahjong which I think of  frequently as I proceed through the opening moves; I feel it’s very similar to constructing the wall but a whole lot easier.  Chess you go through a similar routine albeit not as tedious.

For a quick roll call how about; HIDE AND SEEK (Boy are those numbers devious), TREASURE HUNT (I almost always have one number I’m actively in pursuit of),  CLUE (if there are two of the same number here hopefully there will be two of the same number over there),  CAPTURE THE FLAG( be it a piece of cloth, a king, or a number it is still the bottom line each time).  And these are only the most obvious ones.

if you really push it,  bowling with its objective of  total annihilation;  or ”Falling like pins in a bowling alley”.  It’s even possible to find elements in the more actively physical sports, the most interesting and farfetched of which is the “Marathon”   as the objective seems to involve the individual participant  (the numbers in Sudoku) competing  against themselves.

With its broad band of inclusion there’s bound to be something for everyone and even plausibly, do so for a lifetime,  as neither age nor physical perfection are a factor.


I’m so pleased that I discovered a way to include these pursuits as they are of immense importance to me.  True you can’t physically manipulate anything,  so painting and pottery will have to be rejected,  but music well makes up for this lack.


I was surprised when I realized that Music was definitely a candidate for inclusion in my list but   It doesn’t take much to find similarities;   our musical scale  is based on numbers,  mathematical principles.  And from there its not difficult to arrive at other similarities  as in  the rhythm of the game to the pattern of a musical score. we move on to theme, tune, and eventually opus, all basic elements in classical music.  The  BEAT of the music corresponding to  the movement of numbers across the grid can be reminiscent of  that of the tango or the smoothness of ballet.   Can I crank in “variations”, “movements”, as well?  Bet I could.  

There was an article in the Washington Post Newspaper, January 22, 2019 by Chris Richards titled “And For Our Next Number: How Jazz Is Like Sudoku”.  If it hadn’t been so esoteric, I would put in a quote but in the meantime it’s an excellent example of my precept/argument.  I’m not the only one with a rather farfetched imagination  making the subject more interesting and sometimes more palatable. 

There must be something literary; how about the thought that the preliminary moves are in fact “setting the scene”.

I wanted to crank in the  presence of a CRAFT but after a great deal of soul searching I gave up trying and then it appeared as I realized the process  of setting up the board,  your playing field, at the beginning of the game struck me as being very similar to  sewing up a seam;  you carefully sew it all up – first level of game – after which you equally carefully rip it all out.  Seems a rather defeatist sort of exercise but one I take on enthusiastically every morning. To add to that, every once in a while I get the distinct impression that things had  (come) unraveled.

END GAME###   END GAME *****………  

GREAT IMAGES ALL; and do they ever add depth to my efforts.   sometimes it’s a wonder I have time to concentrate long enough to ever finish.

   if any of these ideas  should strike your fancy and approaching the game in this fashion is right up your alley   I should be delighted.   please be my guest.  It’s so capable of adding masses of enjoyment to your life.  

 At the very least, it leaves you with the security of knowing that you may never need to fear getting bored. 

I can’t imagine where all this is coming from and I’ll bet there’s more where these came from,  but not quite yet, thank you.