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Paper Monitor

12:24 UK time, Friday, 18 May 2007

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

It's been a while since Paper Monitor got excited about Sudoku. Not since the Guardian's promise of including "imperceptible witticisms" in its puzzles has there been genuinely exciting Sudoku innovation. But here comes the Times with Circle Su Doku (sic). "Nine new puzzles to solve" promises the front page banner.

In fact, from reading the inside explanation, it sounds as though the Times started knocking the edges off its co-number-ums (if you'll excuse the flexicon) a few days ago – and demand was "so popular" they've come up with some more.

The puzzles themselves don't disappoint – proving pleasingly spherical in a strictly two dimensional way. At the centre of each is a picture of the globe – for which there's no explanation, but perhaps, it’s a useful place to plot Tony Blair's world tour while pondering where to plonk your next numeral.

But why waste your time agonising over circular sudoku for naff all, when, over at the Indy, you could be cracking "the Independent code" (cue that grainy "TOP SECRET"-style typeface) with the lure of a £10,000 prize.

Never mind cracking the code, Paper Monitor is struggling to decipher the instructions – "Today's clue... should lead you to a 10-letter word printed somewhere else in the newspaper. Find the word and make a careful note of it. By the end of the 10 days you will have collected 10 different words, each 10 letters long." Gasp! Oxygen! "You will then need to work out the question that is somehow (Paper Monitor's italics) encoded within them; answer the question; and email your answer to us by 11pm... Remember, the place to look for the 10-letter word is always somewhere in the newspaper." Well, that should be a doddle – just find one 10 letter word buried in 80 pages of thick text.

Paper Monitor has access to a whizzy electronic newspaper library which tots up the number of words per story. It says that today's Independent has 173 stories, each averaging 473 words. A simple calculation reveals that any Indy reader serious about claiming their £10k prize will have to wade through up to 80,000 words (or a typical paperback) just to find TODAY'S word. Ditto for tomorrow, Sunday, next Monday and so on.

If you win the 10 grand, you might put it towards an operation restoring your eyesight which has inevitably been diminished by all the squinting involved in finding those mystery words.

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