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 has announced.
“Kaji-san, known as the man who gave Sudoku his name, was loved by puzzle enthusiasts around the world”, can we read on the website of the publishing house Nikoli, which he founded. He died on August 10 from cancer of the bile ducts.
The original concept of the game, the Latin square, was invented in the 18th century.e century, in Europe, by a Swiss mathematician, Leonhard Euler. Its modern version, different because of its subdivision into nine squares of nine boxes, was discovered in the early 1980s in an American magazine by Maki Kaji, who then imported it to Japan.
“The figures must be alone”
Finding a new puzzle is “Like finding a treasure”, he told the BBC in 2007. It was he who gave it its Japanese name, Sudoku, a contraction of the phrase “The figures must be alone”, whose two Chinese characters can be translated as “Lonely numbers”.
The game spread globally when Wayne Gould, a retired judge from Hong Kong and a fan of patience games, decided in 1997 to write a computer program that generated Sudoku puzzles.
The Sudoku player must complete a 9 by 9 grid (81 squares) with numbers ranging from 1 to 9 so that none appear twice in the same row, in the same column or in the same sub-square. .