The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - March 13

Sudoku masters from Europe, the Americas and the Far East have come to Italy to bid for the first world title in the popular brain-teasers. Some 85 puzzle mavens have won through national selections in 22 countries including Japan, the Philippines, the United States, Venezuela, Britain, France, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Serbia and Turkey.

Rolando Jago, 15, from Germany, is the youngest contestant at the two-day event - a year older than Alvin Belleza of the Philippines and Venezuela's Ernesto Isaacura, both 16. The teenagers will be pitting their wits against Sudokistas of all ages but similar levels of experience, organisers said. The average age is about 25.

The Italian team boasts the oldest competitor, 61-year-old Martino Nacca from the southern city of Avellino. It is led by Italian champ Giulia Franceschini, 20, from Venice. The five-strong Italian team also includes a teenager, 17-year-old Florentine Francesco Arico'.

The Japanese team is among the favourites, headed by veteran riddle inventor Testsuya Nischio. Closed-door battles will whittle the field down to nine for Saturday's final in which the contestants will move out to a Lucca square and battle it out on 70X70cm squares.

The event has been organised by an Italian games company in collaboration with the World Puzzle Federation.