By Jerry E. Esplanada
CLARK FREEPORT - Young Chinese math wizards ruled the just-ended 2019 Asian Sudoku Championship (ASC), which the non-government Mathematics Trainers' Guild Philippines (MTG) hosted last weekend in this former US military base in Pampanga.
Sudoku experts from the north Asian country bagged a total of 16 gold, 13 silver and 17 bronze medals as they topped the Under 15, Under 12, Under 10 and Under 8 categories in the six-nation competition.
India was second with four golds, two silver and two bronzes while Japan took the third place overall with two golds, four silvers and one bronze medal, followed by South Korea with one gold, one silver and two bronzes.
Among the gold medalists was Japan's Kota Morinishi, the current wolrd sudoku champion.
Filipino sudoku players, meanwhile, bagged 14 silver and 29 bronze medals.
The silver medalists included Kaye Janella Yao, Candice Renee Solidarios, Ralph Joshua Sarroza, Kirsten Dominique Chan, Princess Ashley Anzures, Matthew Rasines, Marc Kendrick Lim, Jean Kathleen Samonte, Red Robles, Phylline Cristel Calubayan,and Janelle Navarro, among others.
The bronze medals came courtesy of Angela Mae Gabriel, Rayner Gabrielle Alcantara, Kyla Andrea Adlaon, Alessandra Holaysan, Reysel Doromal, Io Aristotle Calica, Ehrell Dane Alfonso, Empress Umipig, J. Irah Sargado, Hanne Margaret Tongcua, and Margaret Ellyse Dela Cruz, among others.
A special award was given to two Filipino players and two others from Thailand who composed the so-called "UN Team."
A total of 121 sudoku players took part in the contest.
The Philippine contestants are wards of the MTG, which has been promoting excellence in math education and training in the country since its establishment in 1995.
When interviewed, Morinishi said was "good to know many young Filipinos and other Asians are interested in playing sudoku."
The 29-year-old IT engineer from Nara, Japan was also the globe's No. 1 sudoku player in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018.
This year's ASC, sanctioned by the Netherlands-based World Puzzle Federation, was in coordination with the Department of Education, Local Government of Mabalacat City, Clark Development Corporation, Mabalacat Division Office, and sponsored by SM Supermalls, Sharp Calculators, Phoenix Publishing House and JFC Publishing House. The 2019 ASC was graced by Mrs. Lilia T. Habacon, Executive Director, Philippine Science High School System and Dwight Morales, Mabalacat City Councilor.
The numbers tilt was chaired by Dr. Roger Nuqui, along with MTG officials and staff including president Dr. Isidro Aguilar, Aldwin Sahirul, Joseph Wee, Roberto Degolacion, Manuel Kotah and Myrna Agtarap.
Last year, the initial edition of the ASC was held in Jeju Island, South Korea. Next year, either Thailand or India will most likely host the competition, according to contest insiders.