New Delhi: In a tragic incident, the “godfather” of the cult favourite puzzle game Sudoku, Maki Kaji passed away from cancer at the age of 69. He was a puzzle enthusiast himself and a publisher who created Japan’s puzzle magazine.
Maki Kaji was a college dropout who worked at a printing company before he founded the magazine.
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Sometime in the mid-80s, he took inspiration from an existing numbers puzzle game and created Sudoku, Japanese for “every number must be single”.
“I get really moved when I see a new idea for a puzzle which has lots of potential,” he told the BBC in 2007, adding that the secret to inventing a good puzzle was to make the rules simple.
“It is like finding treasure. It’s not about whether it will make money, it is purely the excitement of trying to solve it.”
The logic puzzle challenges people to fill a grid of 9X9 blocks, with nine boxes in each block so that all columns, both vertical and horizontal, contain the numbers 1 to 9 without repetition. The number of filled-in figures for a grid at the start of the puzzle determines how difficult it is.
“Known as the Godfather of Sudoku, he was adored by puzzle lovers around the world and we would like to express our gratitude to all of you,” his company, Nikoli, said on its website on Monday.
About two decades ago, Sudoku became popular outside Japan, as newspapers started printing them on usually alongside crossword puzzles. It is even known to keep mental faculties sharp when played regularly. It is believed that about 100 million people play the game on a regular around the world.
The game became so popular that in 2006 world championship began for the game which is held annually. He continues to improve puzzles with the help of the readers of his magazines. In July, he decided to step down as the company’s chief and on August 10, 2021 he passed away from bile duct cancer.