Sudoku, along with iPods, staring out of the window even while in a darkened tunnel and pretending to be really interested in Metro is just one more item of protective distraction for commuters who really don't want to make eye contact with the world until the train gets into their station. The folks passing through Liverpool Street station with their heads down and mp3 players turned up as insulation against the intruding world of reality first thing on a Monday had their journeys jolted and jarred by Carol Vorderman and her giant 9ft-tall interactive sudoku cube which was installed in the station as part of a five-day national Sudoku Challenge Roadshow.
In a heroic effort to entice more people into becoming maths teachers (good bloody luck, guys...) the Training and Development Agency for Schools has set up a national Sudoku Challenge Roadshow that started this morning in Liverpool Street Station with the lovely, detoxed Carol Vorderman and will travel to Norwich, Leicester, Liverpool and Newcastle. Commuters and schoolchildren will be encouraged to take part in solving the enormous 3-D number puzzle and solutions entered into the prize draw can win £500 for themselves and a further £500 for the school of their choice.
But does sudoku make you good at maths? Would a very high success rate at completing sudoku grids at the back of newspapers on the way to work make you a competent and inspirational maths teacher who can make quadratic equations understandable? Though the intention is good and the execution of it fun (as well as flipping huge - 9ft cube? That's... big) being good at sudoku doesn't mean you're automatically good at maths - it means you're good at moving figures around on a grid. And for the very many of you flicking through this site between updating spreadsheets and entering details into a database, we bet there's little you can teach about it that thousands of us don't already know.