Some morning commuters on SEPTA's R3 train had a "puzzling" start to their daily trip today beyond the regular challenge of guessing where everyone would sit.

At Elwyn station, Will Shortz, puzzle editor of the New York Times, boarded what was billed the Puzzle Car and passengers were given Sudoku puzzles and pencils.

Then the challenge was on with Shortz helping first time Sudoku solvers, explaining the rules and offering tips.

The event promoted the third annual Sudoku National Championship, sponsored by the Inquirer, and hosted by Shortz.

The championship will take place Oct. 24 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and offers a wide variety of categories so nearly anyone can enter the competition. The grand prize for the winner in the advanced category is $10,000.

On the R3, many passengers quietly solved Sudoku puzzles to pass time during their regular morning commute. Some were first-time solvers.

"I've never been a fan of numbers, but I'll give it a try," said Anne Marciano, a regular R3 commuter.

"It's something different to do on the train," said Diane Byre, another R3 regular. "Our usual game is guessing where people are going to sit."

In addition to R3 riders, SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey was on board. He participated in a Sudoku challenge - a giant, one-star level puzzle he quickly completed in a few minutes. A passenger then challenged Casey to a three-star puzzle, which he also completed.

The puzzling trip ended at Suburban Station, where Casey, Shortz and Inquirer and Daily News publisher Brian Tierney addressed members of the media and SEPTA commuters.

Tierney expressed his excitement about the national tournament, stating that over 700 people have already pre-registered. Currently, the oldest entrant is 94-years-old. The youngest? Only four.

For more information on the Sudoku National Championship or to learn how to register, visit