It's just possible that sudoku, the number puzzle currently burning up the global supply of pencils, may be the best thing to happen to travel since the cup holder.
Needing to kill time on a recent flight, I went looking in the airport shops for sudoku. (The word means "single numbers only" in Japanese.) The object of the game is to fill a grid with digits between 1 and 9—no repeats allowed in any row, column, or nine-box square.
Dozens of books and magazines called to me from the shelves, from Dora the Explorer Easy Sudoku Puzzles #1 to Major League Sudoku, the Official Sudoku Magazine of Major League Baseball. Newspapers also provided fodder for my obsession. And before getting to the airport gate, I found both electronic and magnetic sudoku tantalizing me with opportunities for unleaded travel fun.
Finally, after wedging myself into a middle seat on the airplane, I happily noted that page 108 of Hemispheres magazine had four sudoku puzzles, and no one had touched them. They were ready to transport me.
The Electronic Sudoku Game (left) provides hours of play at the push of a button. You can buy the pocketsize unit for $28 at Flight 001, www.flight001.com .
Photography by Kevin Candland
This article was first published in September 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.