Japan’s ‘father of Sudoku’ dead at 69

The man, Maki Kaji ,dubbed the “father of Sudoku” for his role in popularising the numerical brainteaser loved by millions, has died of cancer at 69, his Japanese publisher has announced reported AFP. In a notice posted Monday, Nikoli said Maki Kaji died at home on August 10 after battling cancer, and a memorial service would be held at a later date. “Mr Kaji was known as the father of Sudoku and was loved by puzzle fans all around the world,” the publisher said in a statement on its website.

Sudoku, a sort of numerical crossword, was invented by Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler in the 18th century. He is also said to have come up with the name Sudoku, a contraction of a Japanese phrase meaning “each number must be single”. Nikoli spotted a version in an American magazine in the 1980s and brought it to Japan, where Sudoku was born. It broke into Europe and the United States several decades later, with Britain’s BBC in 2005 writing about the puzzle that “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.”