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CommonApp essay - Sudoku


sweetpotatoes92 1 / 7  
Dec 30, 2009   #1
Hi everyone, it's been ages since I have written anything and my writing feels rusty. Please be as harsh as possible! I also feel like something is missing from the essay. Please help! Thank you so much! :D

CommonApp essay - Topic of any choice

"Well, it cannot be a '2' there, so it has to go in this row... but which square? But that doesn't matter because '2' has to go in this column of this box anyhow and so '7' goes underneath! Yes, a chain reaction!"

It is not uncommon for such snippets to be uttered with inappropriate excitement in my grandfather's study. A pot of strong coffee is always present on the rickety table to make sure that grandfather and I are nourished in the heat of the moment. There are two gum erasers so that there is no flying of fists when both of us reach for the eraser at the same instant. Mountains of eraser crumbs make the color of the carpet ambiguous. The occasional pencil gets snapped. Hairs are pulled out in frustration. We are in the midst of a battlefield, and Sudoku is the war.

Grandfather brought me into the world of Sudoku when I was ten. I walked into him gazing intently at a few random numbers in boxes in his study and demanded an explanation. He spoke of patterns and reasoning, and how everything I would ever need was right in front of me. It sparked an interest in me. That evening, grandfather bought me my first Sudoku puzzle book and another copy for himself. We decided that we would work on the same puzzles at the same time.

Time flew when we had our Sudoku sessions in the dusty study. It was soon evident that neither grandfather nor I were one of those casual Sudoku puzzlers - the ones who pore halfway through a puzzle after reading the comics. We meant business. We slaved for hours on end to find that one number that would make all the other digits materialize. We discovered new ways of approaching problems and completing the pattern. The release that came from deriving unity and order from chaos satisfied that innate need to create and appreciate symmetry.

Soon, I realized that it is not the number of numerals that were given that made a game easy or hard - it is which numerals were given. And the quality of the paper does matter. In a newspaper, bringing eraser to paper proved to cause the boxes to smear and fuzz up, and spoiled the sense of emerging clarity, so we preferred glossy paper. I established that my least favorite number was the evasive '5' and my grandfather's, the invisible '1'. I got better and faster with every game I finished, and it only made me want to do more.

When Sudoku became a worldwide pandemic in 2005, grandfather and I were already immune to the initial pleasures of the game and were delving into the deeper meaning of the puzzles. In a world where everything is on full speed, Sudoku stands out because it demands the opposite - patience. John Quincy Adams puts it perfectly: "Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish." Another one of life's treasured secrets that can be applied to Sudoku is the art of taking appropriate risks and knowing that we will make mistakes. We discovered that when both of us were stuck, it helps to see the problem in a different light, and we would mull over a puzzle together, armed with a No. 2 pencil and steaming mug of coffee each. I developed strong bonds with my grandfather over the grid of numbers, and we had endless discussions about everything from the nature of knowledge to our favorite sketches from Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Grandfather's death in early November this year was a hard blow on all of us, but I particularly miss our adventures. I still solve puzzles in his study and I feel his presence all the time, every time. I can hear his voice urging "It's a game of boxes, yes, but think outside the box. Think outside the box!" There are books of puzzles waiting to be solved. We are going to need coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

tommyj 5 / 7  
Dec 30, 2009   #2
I like this one because it vividly describes even those short moments in time while explaining still the bigger picture. Excellent work as far as craftsmanship. However, since it is a topic of your choice, there is some ambiguity. Then again, you were able to really expound on how Sudoku relates to you and also discuss the game as something you share with your grandfather.

Yea, I think this is very good. Maybe, to clear up the ambiguity, you can come up with a title. At least the admissions reader would have some sort of gist of what you'll talk about before reading your piece in its entirety.

As far as grammar, I found no errors, although I may be mistaken.

Good luck.

Cheers!
r m

P.S. Hopefully you can look over my essay.
OP sweetpotatoes92 1 / 7  
Dec 30, 2009   #3
Thank you so much for your reply! I agree about the ambiguity... I'm having some trouble with finding the right topic. I've always had the practice of writing first and then coming up with a topic :P

I'll look at your essay now :)
maochinesechick 3 / 5  
Dec 30, 2009   #4
sweetpotatoes92
Wonderful Essay!
The only changes I'd make is the first sentence/sentences. It is an attention grabber, yes, but it is a bit confusing and long especially to a less visual person like me.

Also in your last paragraph I'd just add a simple word to the first sentence:

Grandfather's death in early November this year was a hard blow on all of us, but I particularly miss our sudoku adventures.

The transition from
I can hear his voice urging "It's a game of boxes, yes, but think outside the box. Think outside the box!"
to
There are books of puzzles waiting to be solved.
Seems a bit rusty...but it can be easily fixed - I'd suggest replacing the sentence about books of puzzles with a sentence that describes how much sudoku has helped you think "outside the box" and how you hope to keep practicing sudoku.

All in all, great essay! I wish I could write something like this :)
OP sweetpotatoes92 1 / 7  
Dec 30, 2009   #5
Thank you so much! That was very helpful... I'll make changes to the last paragraph, and either shorten the first few lines, or just take them out altogether.

Again, thank you :)
alyssadlee 4 / 10  
Dec 30, 2009   #6
I just want to say that I love your essay to pieces. I read it out loud to my sister and yes, tears came to my eyes. You have such an easy and effortless humor that appeals to all. You write with such candor and integrity - I believe every word you say and more. It's really quite nice, heartfelt, revealing, and well-written.

Just a couple little things which I'm sure you've already addressed:
In the third paragraph, "

I walked into him gazing intently at a few random numbers

I think you should say "walked in on him" just for clarity

In the fourth paragraph, "

Time flew when we had our Sudoku sessions in the dusty study. It was soon evident that neither grandfather nor I were one of those casual Sudoku puzzlers- the ones who pore halfway through a puzzle after reading the comics .

I think the dash interrupts the flow and it makes me think you are referring to what type of puzzlers YOU and your grandfather are rather than the casual ones are. I suggest a comma instead.

I can't really see much more than that. It's beautiful and a wonderful testament to who you are. By the way, I love Sudoku too!
OP sweetpotatoes92 1 / 7  
Dec 30, 2009   #7
Thank you very much alyssadlee! Reading your comment just made my day :)Thank you for picking those out for me... I find it hard to proof-read something I have written. I will fix those kinks immediately.

Yay!! Sudoku-aholics unite! :D
OP sweetpotatoes92 1 / 7  
Jan 1, 2010   #9
I'm going to ship it off in an hour... any last minute comments, please? I'll be very grateful!


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