Human beings are a famously diverse lot. We come in different colors and sizes, speak a Babel of tongues, worship a pantheon of gods or no god at all, eat our foods bland or spicy, vote or not, and are sorely divided over the value of poetry. But those distinctions pale compared to the big one: the gulf between those who enjoy parlor games and puzzles and those whose eyes glaze over at the very thought of such abstract mental diversions. If the talk of the day is to be believed, there are more of the former than the latter, and they are currently all buzzing around a single big honeypot: sudoku.

This deceptively simple-looking logic game used to be limited to Japan, even though it originated either in the United States in 1979, under the name Number Place, or in medieval Europe, where it was known as a Latin square.

However, Japanese were the ones who took to it and gave it the name -- sudoku, or "single number" -- under which it has won renown. (For the shut-ins who don't already know, sudoku features a nine-by-nine-square grid in which some of the spaces are filled in with digits from one to nine. The object is to fill in the blank squares so that each column, row and three-by-three grid contains all nine numbers just once. It is simpler, though not easier, than it sounds).