"This is magic. We are watching magic unfold here."
May 19, 2020 1:34 PM   Subscribe

A sublime 25 minutes of watching someone solve a Sudoku puzzle with some extra restrictions - starting with a grid containing just two numbers.
posted by Stark (36 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite
This is unreasonably good.
posted by mhoye at 1:39 PM on May 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

So much drama! The betrayal! The self-doubt! Perseverance in the face of adversity! A final triumph of reason and logic and *gasp* friendship! Someone call Hollywood! 🤩
posted by pulposus at 2:01 PM on May 19, 2020 [19 favorites]

Just so long as they don't scribble little "possible numbers" in the upper right corner of each box.
posted by Metro Gnome at 2:15 PM on May 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've been watching Cracking the Cryptic for about a month now. Not only can I now actually fill in difficult sudoku and feel like my crusty brain has had a nice scrub with a wire brush, I also have been consistently charmed and entertained. Their clear joy and love of puzzles as an almost elemental thing just pours out of the screen.

Apparently they got on a bunch of people's recommended pages because of a shout-out by James Charles, a young beauty guru Instagram influencer person. I find him nearly unwatchable but their interactions have been nothing but cute and positive, and it's great to see such completely different people find common ground.

It seems they're doing extra videos all the time lately, idk if it's covid related or just because they are suddenly flooded with new viewers, but it's been great. Tons of backlog puzzles and new ones popping up all the time.
posted by Mizu at 2:18 PM on May 19, 2020 [4 favorites]

I watched this last night. It's an amazing ride.
posted by a complicated history at 2:22 PM on May 19, 2020

Scribbled in the upper left. Just as bad. :(
posted by Metro Gnome at 2:26 PM on May 19, 2020

Well this gives me something to binge on now I've finished The Last Dance.
posted by lloyder at 2:45 PM on May 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

I do wonder how different it would feel if the supplied numbers had been an 8 and a 9.

And also what the constraints are on which pair of numbers you need to start with. I presume they need to be consecutive, and not in the corner boxes, but apart from that, what else?
posted by ambrosen at 2:51 PM on May 19, 2020

this is so good
posted by lazaruslong at 3:01 PM on May 19, 2020

That was a rollercoaster
posted by inire at 3:25 PM on May 19, 2020

I didn’t think I’d watch it but I did.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:59 PM on May 19, 2020 [7 favorites]

I assume you could do some work with two numbers that are two apart, like 3/5, but with just two? I'm interested in their apps and considering getting them, though it is weird that they have three separate sudoku apps.
posted by jeather at 4:00 PM on May 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Been watching this channel for a month or so as well after YouTube recommended it. It's impressive solving, but alao the puzzle setters must be mad. My favourite so far is the puzzle for Pi day (14/3, because I'm scottish). A sudoku puzzle, where the starting numbers are the digits of pi.... laid out in a circle!
posted by ewan at 4:03 PM on May 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Finally found my e-sport
posted by Flashman at 4:08 PM on May 19, 2020 [12 favorites]

I mean, I've been watching a lot of chess online lately, so I guess I'm predisposed, but that was probably the most boringest thing I've ever thoroughly enjoyed.
posted by Room 101 at 4:12 PM on May 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

Watching smart people discover things is one of life's joys.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 4:50 PM on May 19, 2020 [5 favorites]

If you like Cracking The Cryptic, another excellent sudoku YouTube channel is Harold Nolte's, who stubbornly refuses to put any notes in the puzzles he solves but manages to remember them anyway. I have learned a lot from his videos.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:07 PM on May 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

This was glorious, and as a former math-puzzle kid it captures every single golden bit of that joy at discovering something’s innate beauty and internal logic.
posted by Zephyrial at 6:22 PM on May 19, 2020

Simon Anthony is unreasonably delighted with most of the puzzles in his videos, which I find genuinely charming - and the people who work on the channel are pretty good at finding unreasonably delightful puzzles!
posted by Jeanne at 6:26 PM on May 19, 2020

idk if it's covid related or just because

Yeah they've been doing 2 a day since the UK started restrictions.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:47 PM on May 19, 2020

I felt good because I saw this pattern when he got to 4: going southwest to northeast within each sub grid , the top left square goes 1-2-3, shift nw a diagonal, 4, shift nw again and wrap around 5-6, then 7-8, the 9. Go to the next 3x3 grid and start diagonals shifted nw of what was in grid 1, etc. if you keep that in your head you can shortcut it from there and check the rules after. So cool!
posted by freecellwizard at 8:34 PM on May 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

And here I never knew Jonathan Pryce was so good at sudoku.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:11 PM on May 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

I knew before clicking that it was a Cracking the Cryptic video. YouTube recommended it to me about two weeks ago. My wife saw me watching one and was aghast — “Now you’ve run out of internet!”

I mean, I love her but she just doesn’t get the joy of a good sudoku.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 11:41 PM on May 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

The attraction to constructed puzzles is very strong -- it's a hard problem you can solve yourself without having to resort to murder. And who among us has not been frustrated in this matter on the daily of late.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:56 AM on May 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

This was incredible to watch. I think my favorite thing about is that he's doing an amazing piece of puzzle solving, but his excitement and delight, over and over again, is at the genius of the puzzle itself. He's amazed that the puzzle "solves," but not at all at his own ability to solve it, which is frankly also amazing.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:50 AM on May 20, 2020 [6 favorites]

Every row is a cyclic permutation of the same numbers, did he miss that or is it implied with the other symmetry he's discovered?
posted by grog at 11:01 AM on May 20, 2020

Not to take anything away from him, because this is utterly engrossing to watch, but it strikes me that the additional restrictions (king's move/knight's move/nonconsecutive) would make these sorts of puzzles much easier to solve, by ruling out a lot of potential spots for numbers. Or am I missing something?
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 1:14 PM on May 20, 2020

So, Mr Nat and I decided to solve this puzzle tonight (before watching the rest of the video). Because we knew the video was twenty five min long, we were certain the puzzle was solvable.

And it was, and it was fun. But partway through, roundabout the 3s, I noticed a pattern. Pick any square, go right one and up three, and.. that new square, if you didn’t fall off the grid, is the same number.

I commented on the pattern, but at the time we couldn’t think of a reason why it had to be so we solved the puzzle without using it. (Obviously you could rotate or mirror image, so it could instead be “left one and up three” or “down one and right three”, but in this puzzle the pattern is right one, up three, hit the same number).

So then I decided I wanted to watch the video, hoping he would find the same pattern and explain why it has to be that way. But he didn’t mention it at all, and I can’t tell if it’s a consequence of the symmetry he did notice (I don’t think so). Any thoughts?

Also separately if there’s a cite on seventeen being the min number of required clues for a unique sudoku under normal rules I’d like to see it; I am actually interested to know The number of “unique” sudoku (where I don’t consider the puzzle different if you just swap all the 1s and 2s, or mirror image it, etc). I have a suspicion I’m going to owe Mr Nat some pancakes because I thought the number was much smaller than it likely is...
posted by nat at 12:38 AM on May 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

Also, I did enjoy watching the video— the guy was so adorably impressed with the puzzle. Yay for genuine joy!
posted by nat at 12:40 AM on May 21, 2020

Yesterday I tried the puzzle in the first link without watching the solve, but didn't get very far.
Then I tried the PI puzzle without watching any of the video, just the setup on the YouTube still.
I got farther, but gave up.
So today I started to watch the PI video, and got to where he said "and this is a King puzzle".
So I went back in it with that information, and it was still very tough.
I did a lot of trial and error, but I got it. Now to watch how he did it.
posted by MtDewd at 6:35 AM on May 21, 2020

I have been really enjoying solving puzzles along with the youtube video. I think I have to sign up for their patreon.
posted by jeather at 9:47 AM on May 21, 2020

Woo, This is amazing.
posted by Designerassets at 1:08 PM on May 21, 2020

His excitement unfolding as he realizes it may actually be solvable is just delightful.

Also had an actual belly laugh at his reaction to loading the puzzle in the first place.
posted by westface at 5:29 PM on May 21, 2020

I solved this on paper and was impressed that I was able to do it in a couple of hours and not make any errors. His reactions absolutely make the video. From disbelief (and a small amount of annoyance) to excitement and then joy.

There is a second miracle sudoku solve on the same site. The puzzle is, I think, slightly harder, but experience let me solve it slightly faster than the first one (I didn't time the first one, but it seemed like a couple of hours of effort. The second one took me 1:30).

I believe the repeating sequences in each cell is a requirement for this kind of sudoku, but I have not seen a proof. I didn't use this in my solving (but I did use it as a sort of cross-check that my deductions were correct).

Pure joy. I have sent this link to every nerdy person I know. My mother loves sudoku, but wimped out and just watched the video with her mouth hanging open rather than attempt to solve it herself.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 7:37 PM on May 23, 2020

This video is a video of the same person solving the second miracle sudoku.

I didn't actually watch the video past the intro of the puzzle, because we decided to solve the puzzle instead of watching him solve it-- but we did discover the solution is *extremely* similar to the previous puzzle. The row set is identical, and rows 4-9 in the first puzzle become rows 1-6 in the next one. (rows 1,2,3 get remixed and become rows 9,8,7, if I remember right).
I haven't checked, but at this point I almost wonder if there is really only one possible set of rows (or columns, if you flop across the diagonal) that satisfy the rule constraints-- even before you give any numbers in the grid at all. Just a question of which order the rows happen in.

Then, one of the numbers you give is setting whether you're arranging it like these puzzles or instead putting the rows in these two puzzles as columns; and then the second number is telling you which order your particular instance of the puzzle has the rows in.

Dunno if that's true or not but hey, it was more fun than reading the paper I'm *supposed* to be reading . :-)
posted by nat at 4:45 PM on May 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I wanted to come back here, almost a month later, to say that I had never before played Sudoku in my life. I mean I knew the rules but never thought it was interesting or worth puzzling out. Watching this video changed my mind. In one month I've gone from complete novice to enjoying solving expert (by whatever metric my app or the LA Times site decides something is 'expert') puzzles. It's so very satisfying and makes me feel like I actually did something with my brain.

So thanks to them for this video and thanks to Stark for this post.
posted by komara at 8:21 AM on June 16, 2020 [7 favorites]

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