Japan: the father of Sudoku died at 69
Steph Deschamps / August 17, 2021
Maki Kaji, the man who popularized Sudoku by giving it its Japanese name in the 1980s, has died at the age of 69, his publishing house announced.
Kaji-san, known as the man who gave his name to Sudoku, was loved by puzzle lovers all over the world, reads the website of the Nikoli publishing house, which he founded.
He died on Aug. 10 of biliary cancer, the release said.
The original concept of the game, Latin Square, was invented in 18th century Europe by a Swiss mathematician, Leonhard Euler.
Its modern version, different because of its subdivision into nine squares of nine squares, was discovered in the early 1980s in an American magazine by Maki Kaji, who then imported it to Japan.
Finding a new puzzle is like finding a treasure, Maki told the BBC in 2007.
He gave it its Japanese name Sudoku, a contraction of the phrase the numbers must be alone, whose two Chinese characters can be translated as solitary numbers .
The game spread around the world when Wayne Gould, a retired judge from Hong-Kong, decided in 1997, after discovering Sudoku in Japan, to write a computer program generating Sudoku grids.
The Sudoku player must complete a 9 by 9 grid (81 cells) with numbers from 1 to 9 in such a way that none of them appear twice in the same row, column or sub-square.