”Father of Sudoku”, Maki Kaji Dies At 69

Sudoku became popular outside Japan around two decades ago after overseas newspapers began printing the puzzles.

Japanese puzzle manufacturer Maki Kaji (R) talks with a competitor of the Sudoku first national competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on September 29, 2012. Sudoku, a simplified version of an older game, was created by Japanese puzzle manufacturer Maki Kaji in 1984, and became a worldwide popular game. AFP PHOTO/Yasuyoshi Chiba (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/GettyImages)

Japanese publisher dubbed the “father of Sudoku”, Maki Kaji has died of cancer at 69.

He was known for his role in popularising the numbers puzzle Sudoku. In a notice posted Monday, August 16, 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,” 

Kaji was a university dropout who worked in a printing company before founding Japan’s first puzzle magazine. He took hints from an existing number puzzle to create what he later named “sudoku”.The puzzle challenges people to fill a grid of 9×9 blocks, with nine boxes in each block so that all columns, both vertical and horizontal, contain the numbers one to nine without repetition. The number of filled-in figures for a grid at the start of the puzzle determines how difficult it is.

He continued to create and refine puzzles with the help of readers of his quarterly puzzle magazine. He stepped down as head of his company in July 2021 due to ill health and died from bile duct cancer on 10 August.

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