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Maki Kaji, a Japanese publisher known as the ‘godfather of sudoku’, has passed away at the age of 69.
More than 100 million people like to indulge in the challenge of the fiendishly frustrating numbers game, generally tasking people with filling a grid of 9×9 blocks with numbers – however, they all need to contain the numbers without any sort of repetition. Some are more difficult than others (the more numbers at the start, the better), and you can even get giant sudokus.
Kaji, a university dropout who earlier worked in a printing company, is responsible for popularising it with Japan’s first puzzle magazine. Taking inspiration from another number puzzle, the inception of sudoku – a contraction of the Japanese for ‘every number must be single’ – in the mid-80s changed the world.
‘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,’ Nikoli, his company, wrote in a statement, as per The Guardian.
At the turn of the millennium, sudoku became hugely popular outside Japan, soon a regular component of newspapers’ puzzle pages alongside crosswords. Competitors have even been going head-to-head in a world sudoku championship since 2006.
After years of creating and refining puzzles, he stepped down in July this year due to illness. On August 10, he died from bile duct cancer.
‘I get really moved when I see a new idea for a puzzle which has lots of potential. It is like finding treasure. It’s not about whether it will make money, it is purely the excitement of trying to solve it,’ he told BBC News in 2007.
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