'Godfather of Sudoku' Maki Kaji loses battle to cancer

By Jasleen Kaur -- August 17, 2021 7:35 pm -- Updated:August 17, 2021 7:45 pm

Maki Kaji, the creator of popular numbers puzzle Sudoku whose life's work was spreading the joy of puzzles, has died, his Japanese company said Tuesday. He was 69 and had bile duct cancer.

Known as the “Godfather of Sudoku,” Maki Kaji created the puzzle to be easy for children and others, who didn't want to think too hard. Its name is made up of the Japanese characters for “number” and “single,” and players place the numbers 1 through 9 in rows, columns and blocks without repeating them.

Maki Kaji, 'Godfather of Sudoku', dies at 69 | Arts and Culture News | Al Jazeera

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Ironically, it wasn't until 2004 when Sudoku became a global hit after a fan from New Zealand pitched it and got it published in British newspaper 'The Times'. Japan rediscovered its own puzzle two years later as a “gyakuyunyu,” or “reimport.” Until July, Kaji was the chief executive at his puzzle company, Nikoli Co, and died August 10 at his home in Mitaka, a city in the Tokyo metro area.

Sudoku maker Maki Kaji, who saw life's joy in puzzles, dies

Maki travelled to more than 30 countries spreading his enjoyment of puzzles. According to Tokyo-based Nikoli, Sudoku championships have drawn some 200 million people in 100 countries over the years.

Maki Kaji, 'Godfather of Sudoku,' Dies at 69 - The New York Times
Originally, Sudoku was called “Suji-wa-Dokushin-ni-Kagiru,” which translates to, “Numbers should be single, a bachelor.” In recent years, Sudoku, believed to be the world's most popular pencil puzzle, has come out in digital versions. Kaji is survived by his wife Naomi and two daughters.
-PTC News with inputs from agencies
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