Japan’s ‘father of Sudoku’, Maki Kaji, died at home on August 10 after losing his battle to cancer at the age of 69. The news was announced by his Japanese publisher.
Kaji was dubbed as the ‘father of Sudoku’ for his role in popularising the numerical brainteaser loved and adored by millions worldwide.
On Monday, Nikoli, Kaji’s publisher, posted a notice, remarking; ‘Mr Kaji was known as the father of Sudoku and was loved by puzzle fans all around the world’.
Sudoku, a sort of numerical crossword, was originally invented by Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in the 18th century. Although the modern version is said to have been formulated in the US, Kaji is credited with having popularised the puzzle.
He is also said to have come up with the name Sudoku, a contradiction of a Japanese phrase meaning ‘each number must be single’. In fact, Sudoku requires one to put the numbers one to nine in a box of 81 squares, so that no number is repeated in any of the nine vertical or horizontal lines.
The grid is then sub-divided into nine blocks containing nine single squares. Each block must also contain the numbers one to nine. Nikoli spotted a version in an American magazine in the 1980s and brought it to Japan, where Sudoku was born.
Several decades later, its popularity spread into Europe and the US, with Britain’s BBC in 2005 writing that it ‘began its gentle attack on the nation last year, and can now be found in four national newspapers’.
Kaji told the BBC in 2007 that creating a new puzzle was like ‘finding treasure’. ‘It’s not about whether it will make money. It is purely the excitement of trying to solve it.’, he added.
Rest in Peace, Kaji.