Teacher wins 'Independent' Sudoku contest
Monday 24 July 2006
The floor-to-ceiling windows in the East Room on the seventh floor of Tate Modern offer stunning views of the Thames, St Paul's Cathedral and the City, but on Saturday all eyes were on events inside the room.
After months of anticipation, the climax of The Independent Sudoku Grand Master Championships had arrived. Seventy contestants, whittled down from thousands of postal applications and weeks of regional heats, gathered to vie for a Waterford crystal trophy and a £1,000 cheque.
They had travelled from all over the country; indeed, some had come from even further afield. Molly Butt, 15, and her mother Sarah interrupted their holiday in Biarritz to make the trip. Sarah said: "We had booked our holiday before we knew the final was going to be today but we decided to come because Molly really wanted to do it."
Molly and her family were not the only ones with such a zealous level of commitment. The championship, which had its inaugural contest last year, is a serious business, with 1,200 people taking part in regional heats.
The first half of the field took their seats, the timing equipment was checked and battle commenced.
The semis were not without drama. Last year's champion and this year's favourite, Ed Billig, 24, whizzed through the five puzzles with breathtaking speed but he had made a mistake and so failed to make it to the final. Mr Billig, from Limehouse in east London, had trained for this year's competition using a particular technique. "For the last few weeks I have done puzzles only from The Independent. It gets me in the swing of the style," he said.
After the shortlist of the fastest correct semi-finalists was announced, the 10 qualifiers filed into the room for the final.
A little more than 20 minutes later, the tension was broken by Becky Hewitt who raised her hand to announce she had finished. Her effort was deemed faultless and the 27-year-old primary school teacher from Andover in Hampshire was declared the winner.
She said: "I know I can do them quite quickly but I wasn't at all confident. I didn't know whether I'd made a mistake or not. I can't quite believe it."
It seems youth may be an asset for Sudoku experts. The runner-up was 16-year-old Jeffrey Grant from Weybridge in Surrey, while Molly Butt took third place.
The Independent's marketing director, David Green, gave Ms Hewitt the trophy and cheque. She said: "I am going to celebrate my win with champagne and by not doing Sudoku for a while."
- 1 Replica Back to the Future Hoverboard released
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
- 4 A new (old) cure for MRSA? Revolting recipe from the Dark Ages may be key to defeat infection
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Costa Concordia: Shipment of Mob drugs was hidden aboard cruise liner when it hit rocks off Italian coast, investigators say
Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
A new (old) cure for MRSA? Revolting recipe from the Dark Ages may be key to defeat infection
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Germanwings crash: 'Andreas Lubitz planned to marry pregnant girlfriend', claims German report
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Furniture Installer /...
£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£58000 - £65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL DBA - Bromley, South East London...
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Development Manager (Profes...