Media: A Moment with Marquis

Do you do Sudoku? The maddening number puzzles were unknown until last November, when The Times published the first one. Pretty soon the telltale grids were everywhere to be seen.

Being a bit of an addict myself, I am amazed to find people who haven't come across Sudoku. Where have they been? Walk into any large bookshop to see how far the phenomenon has come. There are racks and racks of Sudoku books. The Times is now on book three; there are Independent, Mail and Guardian-branded books; The Sun, of course, has Sundoku. There is the Little Book of Sudoku, the Big Book of Sudoku, Sudoku for Kids, Sudoku for Dummies, Junior Sudoku, Sudoku X, the Ultimate Book of Sudoku and the Step by Step Guide to Sudoku, featuring much- needed tips on how to solve the damn things. Predictably, Carol Vorderman has got on the bandwagon too although the puzzles are nothing to do with maths and everything to do with logic. There is even Shitedoku, the piss-take version of the puzzle in which the numbers have been changed into the nine letters making up "Shitedoku".

As an intermediate Sudokuist (I can't do the "fiendish" ones to save my life), I have come to terms with my habit. They are strangely therapeutic.

There is only one answer - like a crossword - and the skill is in the speed with which you unravel it. Sudoku helps fill gaps in life - hanging about at airports, waiting to pick up the kids, breaks in test match coverage - but my wife says it is unacceptable to do Sudokus in bed. We clearly need ground rules here. You can do Sudokus online. There are even three-dimensional Sudokus for very clever, very mad people.

My own feeling is that you can spend half-an-hour on Sudoku but anything more than that is obsessive and over the top - a bottle of wine too many, if you like.

If you haven't tried Sudoku, be careful. You'll get hooked. You miss them if you haven't indulged for a day or two. It surely can't be long before our control-freak government brings in legislation to curb "binge-sudokuing".

Whatever your preference - to Sudoku or not to Sudoku - the puzzles are all the rage in the newspapers. A passing fad? I doubt it somehow. Puzzler Media's profits are up 25 per cent on the back of the craze and the business now has a £100 million price tag on it. An advertising or sponsorship opportunity? I'd have thought so, but no-one seems to have gone for it yet. Remember, you read it here first.