For the second straight year, girls proved that they were the rulers of the logic puzzle game Sudoku in the Philippines.
At the recent 7th Philippine Sudoku Super Challenge National Finals held at SM City North EDSA Annex, female teens emerged as champions in three divisions.
After seven hours of grueling competition, Kaye Janelle Yao, 15, a third year high school student of Grace Christian College, bested 33 finalists to win the title "Sudoku Grandmaster of the Country" and took home P60,000.
In the last two years, Yao has emerged as one of the best Sudoku players in the Philippines. In 2011, she was the champion in the Wizard division and last year, she wound up second runner-up in the Grandmaster division.
For the national finals, Yao said she started practicing and solving hard Sudoku puzzles last November but she was not really aiming to be the champion.
"I just wanted to give my best," said Kaye, adding that for her, the final puzzle was not that easy but it was not that hard either to solve.
She was surprised when her name was called as the champion.
"I was shocked but very happy. I dedicate this to my parents, family, teachers, and friends," she added.
Alvin Ian Chan of Ateneo de Manila University repeated his last year's feat when he won first runner-up and P40,000 while Ralph Joshua Sarrosa of the University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas in Miagao, Iloilo, copped second runner-up and P20,000. Cheyenne Hsieh of De La Salle University-Manila was fourth and Ethan Riley Chan of Zamboanga Chong Hua High School was fifth.
In the Sudoku Wizard division, 12-year-old Candice Renee Beatrice Solidarios of UP Rural High School in Los Banos, Laguna, emerged as the winner and won P50,000. She was followed by Natalia Beatrice Dy of St. John's Institute in Bacolod City, who won second pla ce and P30,000; Mikel Paul Tan Ayroso of Grace Christian College, third place and P20,000; Romeo Esguerra of Colegio San Agustin-Binan, fourth; and Bryan Russel Esperanza of St. Louis University Laboratory High School, fifth.
In last year's Sudoku finals, Dy was the champion and Solidarios was the first runner-up in the Whiz Kid division.
Twelve-year-old Sanielle Meliz Ong of St. John's Institute won first place and P20,000 in the Whiz Kid, which had 36 finalists. Vicente Raphael Chan of Zamboanga Chong Hua High School bagged second place and P10,000; Jan Vincent Simbol of BHC Educational Institute, third and P5,000; Albriz Moore Bagsic of Lilyrose School, fourth; and Crilex Comicho of Bonifacio Elem. School, fifth.
The 7th Philippine Sudoku Super Challenge, organized by the Mathematics Trainers Guild-Philippines (MTG) and SM Supermalls, saw 4,512 participants joining the regional eliminations. From them, 176 made it to the national finals.
In the national finals, participants solved various Sudoku puzzles including Killer Sudoku, Frame Sudoku, Overlapped and Triple Sudoku in six rounds for the Grandmaster and Wizard divisions and five for the Whiz Kid.
Dr. Simon Chua, MTG president, said the winners will represent the country in the following contests: BRAND's Sudoku Challenge 2013 Asia Pacific Open in Singapore; 2013 World Sudoku Championship in Beijing, China; 7th BRAND's Sudoku Thailand International Open 2013 Princess Somsawali Cup in Thailand; and the 2013 Beijing International Sudoku Tournament.
"We are aiming to produce international champions again," he said.
In 2008, Sarah Jane Cua, who was only 14 at the time, won as champion in the BRAND's Sudoku Challenge 2008 Asia Pacific Open in Singapore. The following year, John Robert Valcos and Cua emerged as champion and first runner-up in the 3rd BRAND's Sudoku Thailand International Open 2009 Princess Somsawali Cup in Bangkok.
In 2010, Cua again won as champion in the BRAND's Sudoku Challenge 2010 Asia Pacific Open in Singapore. Last year, she won third place in the age 18 and under category of the 2012 Beijing International Sudoku Tournament.