Hailed as the Rubik’s Cube of the 21st century, Sudoku is the current rage among number puzzles. It may sound surreal but in an age where bubblegum pop music has successfully reinvented itself as punk rock through the likes of Avril Lavigne and Simple Plan, a puzzle and a number puzzle at that is able to establish itself as a global phenomenon. Sudoku, which may be spelled as Su Doku, is pronounced as soo-doe-koo. It’s an abbreviation of the Japanese expression suuji wa dokushin ni kagiru which means the digits must remain single. Most people are under the incorrect impression that sudoku is of Japanese origin when the only thing Japanese about sudoku is the word sudoku.
Nikoli Publishing House Nikoli is the writer of the leading Japanese mystery publication Monthly Nikolist. The think tanks of Nikoli noticed an interesting number puzzle called The Number Place released by their American counterparts, Dell Puzzle Magazines. Sudoku made its debut on the pages of Monthly Nikolist in April of this year 1984. It was initially christened Suuji wa dokushin ni kagiru by Kaji Maki, Nikoli’s incumbent president then. Its success is due in large part to how the Japanese individuals are inherently puzzle-crazy.
It wasn’t until two significant developments occurred that the puzzle began to actually catch fire. First, the name suuji wa dokushin ni kagiru was shortened to sudoku which was easier to remember and to promote. Second, Nikoli altered the game by introducing two new rules in 1986: the digits of are to be arranged symmetrically; and the given numbers should not exceed 30 digits. As of today, there are at least five publishing companies that print monthly publications solely devoted to the game in Japan. Sudoku is, for all intents and purposes, a brand name; it is not the generic name of the game. It’s a officially registered mark of the Nikoli Business in Japan.
Produced in Manhattan According to urban legends, sudoku was created by a team of mystery creators from New York. Another version of the story credits a certain Howard Gerns, a retired architect and puzzle enthusiast, as the true father of the modern sudoku. Although the legends struggle and provide credit to different inventors, they coincide on two important details:
Sudoku was first published in 1979 by Dell Puzzle Magazines under the title The Number Position; and Gerns and the team of puzzle creators were both inspired by the Latin Square of Leonhard Euler. Sudoku: The Old Testament Leonhard Euler, a Swiss mathematician, presented a paper entitled De Quadratis Magicis prior to the St. Petersburg Academy in 1776. Euler demonstrated that a magic square can be produced through the use of 9, 16, 25 or 36 cells. He imposed conditions on the value of his number factors to bring about the creation of his magic square. His magic square evolved into the Latin square in his later papers.
The variations of Gerns and the group of puzzlers differ from Euler in 2 ways: First, Euler’s Latin square doesn’t have a regional limitation; and Second, Euler neither generated nor did he plan to create a puzzle. On the other hand, Gerns and the team saw the potential of a hit mystery in Euler’s works and proceeded to create the grandfather of modern day sudoki with this particular frame of mind.
The results were overwhelming; within a few days, other newspapers began printing their own versions of the game. The popularity of this game snowballed and spilled over to Australia and New Zealand. The New York Post published its own version of sudoku in April of 2005; this marked the homecoming and belated public acceptance of a New York native who went undetected in its own backyard since its birth for more than 20 years.
Within a few times sudoku made its presence felt across the country when major dailies like USA Today and The Daily News began replacing their normal crosswords with the game. The appeal of contemporary sudoku is apparently infinite and without bounds. As a number puzzle, it doesn’t take advantage of letters from any particular language; hence easily dispensing with the language barrier element. The numerous websites that offer digital versions of the game, for free or for fee, guarantees the game’s continuous development and improvement; it also provides a platform most accessible to the younger population.
Sudoku has even gone mobile as companies race to make sudoku games especially for cell phone users. Sudoku is a game of logic which challenges the young and old alike. In reality, studies on the mental benefits of playing sudoku have been conducted; and the results have been positive thus far. In the fastest growing puzzle in the world, sudoku has evolved to the most infectious puzzle virus that the planet has seen in years. Go and play with sudoku.