‘Snowdoku’ winners coming to Aspen | AspenTimes.com
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‘Snowdoku’ winners coming to Aspen

Charles AgarAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Sudoku means “a single number” or “one soul” in Japanese, but a Sudoku puzzle contest Tuesday in Manhattan meant a trip to Aspen for six college students.Sudoku enthusiasts last week converged on Bryant Park, just behind the New York Public Library, to take turns solving oversized Sudoku puzzles of ice and snow.The first ever “Snowdoku” contest was a promotional event for Chrysler’s first sport-utility vehicle, the Chrysler Aspen.”It was so much fun,” said Tara Gillies, 18, of Bayhead, N.J.Gillies was one of the six University of Pennsylvania students who won the contest in a time of 4 minutes and 26 seconds, earning them a four-day trip to Aspen, where they’ll cruise around in a Chrysler Aspen SUV.”All the rules were so random,” Gillies said.Teams were limited to eight people – the number of adults who can fit in a Chrysler Aspen – and each team started the race from inside the SUV, eyes covered by steamed-up goggles so they couldn’t see the puzzle setup.When the whistle blew, contestants jumped from the vehicle and solved a simple Sudoku puzzle on a whiteboard. “We finished it in like three minutes,” Gillies said, adding that the puzzles were all the easiest level.Then, using a 6-foot-long pencil made of light wood, contestants had to fill 81 boxes on a 30-foot-by-30-foot grid with the right digits. Chrysler shipped in 36,000 pounds of ice and snow for the event, Wunderlich said.The winners, all members of the same swim team at Penn, not only had the best time by almost four minutes but also made no errors, according to Chrysler spokeswoman Eileen Wunderlich.Gillies chalked it up to teamwork and strategy, as two of the women solved the puzzle on the whiteboard while others scurried down assigned rows to place the oversized fiberglass numbers.”The hard part was putting the numbers on the board,” Gillies said.Wunderlich said it was the first time Sudoku has been done on such a grand scale, which is fitting, she said, because the popularity of the puzzle had eclipsed crosswords. Will Shortz, puzzle master for The New York Times, even admitted he’d never seen anything like it, Wunderlich said.”Once the teams finished solving the puzzle, they had to run back into the Aspen and close the doors,” Wunderlich said.The sweepstakes company must clear the winners for eligibility before they can plan their trip, Wunderlich said. But Gillies said the team plans to visit Aspen in the fall, even though one of the six was graduating.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is cagar@aspentimes.com.


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