The Sudoku craze has become an epidemic. It has not only contaminated US and Japan but it has also swept the world by infecting much of Europe, Australia and Asia. Sudoku craze suddenly spreads around the world. Its popularity has claimed permanence in major newspapers, magazines and journals in many countries, supplying the cravings of enthusiasts who found themselves hooked in this consuming passion with this number puzzle.
As the world felt the intense fever of this math-free puzzle, Philippines was a bit heedless for its impact had not seeped into the interest of many Filipinos. Sudoku had been on pages of tabloids and journals, may be for several months but not years, yet it had remained unmatched against riddles and crossword puzzles. Indeed, Sudoku came and many saw it, yet only very few conquered it, thus the struggling years of the number puzzle.
It must have been the underlying health benefits that steered Dr. Simon L. Chua through the Mathematics Trainers’ Guild (MTG), Philippines to promote Sudoku, a math-free puzzle, in the Philippines. He opined that just like the body needs exercise, the mind too will also need some exercise, considering that if it is to stay sharp at all. With this conviction, Dr. Chua had not only walked several miles but also took extra significant steps in popularizing Sudoku in the Philippines in the name of stimulating cerebral potentials such as developing reasoning and analytical skills of the young and old alike.
In 2005, he applied for membership with the World Puzzle Federation making the Philippines one of its 45-member nations. That affiliation had paved a way for MTG to bring two participants in the persons of Alvin Belleza and Kendrick Saavedra to join the 1st World Sudoku Championship held in Lucca, Italy in March, 2006. In October of the same year, MTG conducted the 1st Philippine Sudoku Super Challenge (PSSC) in Chiang Kai Shek.
Having the Business Mirror as the main institutional partner and the Makati Government led by then mayor Hon. Jejomar Binay as the main sponsor, the 2nd PSSC with 62 participants was conducted at the University of Makati on January 19, 2007. The winners represented the Philippines in 2nd World Sudoku Championship in Goa, India on April, 2007.
The 3rd PSSC in January, 2008 saw the emergence of the champion, Sarah Jane Cua, 14 year old of Pangasinan Universal Institute. She crossed the skyways to compete in the Brand’s Sudoku Challenge 2008 Asia Pacific Open in Singapore’s largest mall, Vivo City at the Harbourfront Walk on July 11-13, 2008. Her participation made headlines when she bested other puzzlers from Thailand, China, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, bringing home S$10,000 cash prize, a crystal trophy and a BRAND’s hamper with various products.
With the remarkable support of SM Supermalls especially the SM North EDSA, the 4th PSSC national finals were made possible in January 2009. As usual, the winners were made to join the international Sudoku contest. This time, the two 4th PSSC winners, John Robert Valcos and Sarah Jane Cua ended as champion and 1st runner-up respectively in the 3rd BRAND’S SUDOKU Thailand International Open 2009 Princess Somsawali Cup held at Central Court and Forum Zone, Central World, Bangkok, Thailand from April 18-19, 2009.
In 2010 Sarah Jane Cua had been proven to be the country’s uncontested champion when she finished the final puzzle in less than 15 minutes during the 5th PSSC. She flew to Singapore to compete in BRAND’S® Sudoku Challenge 2010 Asia Pacific Open in Singapore’ largest mall, the Suntec City on October 17, 2010.For the second time, Sarah Jane Cua was declared champion as she bested 50 other Asian students and professional participants from Singapore, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, China and Thailand.
This year, Timothy James Tan, a 14- year old and 2nd year high school student of Trinity Christian School in Bacolod City bested 28 other Sudoku grandmaster finalists in the 5th PSSC held at SM North EDSA last January 29, 2011. He will be one of those winners who will represent the Philippines in the international Sudoku contests.
The MTG Philippines has contributed many defining moments in the Sudoku world in the Philippines. Other than making it popular among the people in the different walks of life, MTG has published several Sudoku booklets such as the Big Brain Sudoku series, Sudoku Variations and World Sudoku Championship among others.