Sudoku man, meet your No. 1 fan. And when it comes to Sudoku puzzles, TNT reader James Lee knows what he’s talking about.
Our managing editor, Dale Phelps, and a number of staffers serving as reader representative got to know Lee two years ago during what amounted to The Great Sudoku Wars.
Early in 2009, our original puzzle vendor imposed an outrageous price increase, so we switched to one with a more reasonable price. Readers – Lee the most prolific among them – began calling the reader rep to say the new puzzles were too easy. Lee declared them “distressingly easy,” “defective” and “kindergarten stuff.”
We petitioned the new Sudoku vendor to toughen up the puzzles, but the upgrade did not impress Lee.
“If they were eggs they would be graded F,” he told us. Later, he called to say, “Today’s puzzle, it was pathetic.” Another day it was “a real letdown.” Thankfully, on the rare occasion we met his tough standard, Lee also called to thank us.
Next, Phelps collected Sudoku puzzles from other vendors and appointed a reader panel – including Lee – to test them. Lee even applied his own complicated scoring method. Still, we couldn’t find a suitable Sudoku.
Finally, we found Ian Riensche, a Gig Harbor man who had written a book of Sudoku puzzles and was willing to sell us one a day. Lee tested his puzzles and found them suitable, which played a role in our choosing Riensche as our new Sudoku vendor.
We considered the Sudoku Wars over, and we hadn’t heard from Lee for more than a year.
That’s when the bundled stack of completed puzzles (see photo at right) arrived in a manila envelope. Each puzzle is marked with the time it took Lee to finish and other notations that apparently lead to a circled numerical score.
In the envelope was this note: “Mr. Phelps, All of 2010 enclosed – Ian Riensche is averaging 5.7 on a 1-to-10 scale of difficulty. He’s right down the pipe and well on, on his estimates. Still a winner. Hang on to him. Sincerely, James Lee.”
Readers often are quick to criticize, but rarely do they go to the lengths of James Lee to make this paper better. For that, we offer our thanks. And we’ll keep trying to measure up.
NEW TNT BUSINESS EDITOR
We are pleased to announce that Debbie Cockrell is our new business editor. Cockrell has worked in the TNT newsroom for two years helping to manage our copy and design desk. Previously, she was in charge of those functions for The Olympian and helped determine that paper’s daily front-page lineup. She also worked at The Kansas City Star and Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader.
“My main goal is to keep the behind-the-scenes wheels turning,” Cockrell said, “so our reporters can do their best to give everyone more local business news, as well as show the local effects of national stories.”
Business reporters Kathleen Cooper and C.R. Roberts filled in as editor in recent months, and this move allows them to get back to their beats.
“I’m still getting a feel for local readership habits and local business trends,” Cockrell said, “and I look forward to exploring the community more as time goes on.”
You can contact her at email@example.com or at 253-597-8364.
Beginning Monday, Movie Times listings will appear here on Page A2, as will the News of the Weird feature.
Movie Times has been running in our classifieds section under the TV listings. Together, they filled most of a page but left an odd-sized, almost unusable space that wasted precious newsprint. Separating the two allows us to run ads on the remaining half of the TV grid page.
We hope you’ll like the new arrangement. If anything, we’ve made Movie Times a bit easier to find. The listings will remain in the GO section on Fridays and in SoundLife on Sundays.
Karen Peterson: 253-597-8434