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87-year-old SLC man creates new version of Sudoku puzzle

87-year-old SLC man creates new version of Sudoku puzzle

(LaVarre Walter)

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SALT LAKE CITY — After years of doing math during his career as an engineer, a Salt Lake City man turned his love of numbers into a hobby and created a new hybrid version of Sudoku.

LaVarre Walter, 87, graduated from the University of Utah in 1954 with a degree in chemical engineering. Walter began working as an engineer and design manager for Mountain Fuel Supply, which was later reorganized as Questar Gas. Dubbed by his boss as “a numbers nut,” Walter said he had a skill for math.

“In my work, one of my bosses always told me, ‘You can’t manipulate people, but you can sure manipulate numbers,’” Walter said, laughing.

“He’s a numbers guy and enjoys working with numbers,” Walter’s wife, Fern Walter said.

Since retiring in 1989, Walter has continued to work with numbers and enjoys solving puzzles that use arithmetic. In April 2014, Walter spent a lot of time taking care of his wife after she broke her back, and he came up with the idea for a new Sudoku puzzle.

After working on it for six months, Walter created Sukokross, a Sudoku puzzle with a cross in the middle, adding another layer of restrictions to solve. The cross is located in the center of the 3x3 grid, and the cells have to use the numbers 1-9 only once in each row or column. Walter said people have to solve the cross before moving on to solve the rest of the grid.

“Essentially, what the cross does and the clues I give to that, it adds a little arithmetic to Sudoku is really what it does,” he said. “And adds a further restriction.”

Walter made 175 Sukokross puzzles and got a copyright for the book in October. He launched it on Kickstarter in June to help pay for the cost of printing 150 books.

“I think it’s a nice challenge for people, and it’s just a different kind of a deal,” he said.

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