This article delves into the question “Who invented Sudoku?”. Learn about the puzzle’s origins in a game called “Number Place” by Howard Garns in the US, and its transformation into the popular and challenging game we know today by Maki Kaji in Japan. Discover how Sudoku rose to global phenomenon and inspired new variations and hybrids.

Sudoku is a puzzle game that has become popular worldwide over the past few decades. It has been claimed that Sudoku is a modern version of an ancient Chinese game, but in fact, Sudoku as we know it today was created in Japan in the late 1970s.

The history of Sudoku can be traced back to a puzzle called “Number Place,” which was invented by Howard Garns, a retired architect and freelance puzzle constructor, in the United States in 1979. The puzzle was published in the Dell Pencil Puzzles and Word Games magazine under the name “Number Place.” Garns’ version of the puzzle was a 9×9 grid with some numbers already filled in. The objective was to fill in the remaining squares with the numbers 1 through 9, with each number appearing only once in each row, column, and 3×3 subgrid.

Garns’ “Number Place” puzzle became popular in Japan in the 1980s, where it was published in a magazine called “Nikoli”. The magazine’s editor, Maki Kaji, saw the potential of the puzzle and renamed it “Sudoku,” which means “single number” in Japanese. Kaji redesigned the puzzle, making it more symmetrical and giving it a unique look. He also introduced a system of rating the puzzles according to their difficulty, which was based on the number of pre-filled squares.

The first Sudoku puzzle in “Nikoli” magazine was published in 1984, and it was an instant hit. Sudoku quickly became a regular feature in the magazine, and its popularity soon spread throughout Japan. In the 1990s, Sudoku puzzles were published in other Japanese magazines and newspapers, and they also became popular in other countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States.

The popularity of Sudoku continued to grow throughout the 2000s, and it became a global phenomenon. Sudoku books, magazines, and apps were published, and Sudoku tournaments and championships were held worldwide. In 2005, the World Puzzle Championship introduced a Sudoku category, and in 2006, the first World Sudoku Championship was held in Italy.

Today, Sudoku is one of the most popular puzzle games in the world, and it has been estimated that over 100 million people play Sudoku regularly. The game has also inspired new variations and hybrids, such as Killer Sudoku, Sudoku X, and Samurai Sudoku.

In conclusion, while the origins of Sudoku can be traced back to Howard Garns’ “Number Place” puzzle, it was Maki Kaji who transformed it into the Sudoku we know today. Kaji’s redesign and system of rating the puzzles according to their difficulty were crucial in making Sudoku a popular and enduring puzzle game.