December 28, 2005

The Numbers Must Be Single

It's no secret that the popularity of Sudoku puzzles has surged over the past year - the number of books, gadgets and board games available this Christmas period are clear evidence.

In order not to lose readers to the competition most UK newspapers now publish a daily or weekly puzzle and they are now trying to out do each other with different variations on the basic puzzle.

What surprised me was that although all claims I've seen place the Sudoku as a puzzle originating in Japan and in all papers in place of crosswords, not one of the japanese people i've asked about them have ever heard of the puzzles!

It turns out that there are publiactions of Sudoku in Japan, and they have been regularly printed since the mid 80's but not in daily or mainstream newspapers as is the current situation in the UK.

In actual fact the very first puzzle of this form was published in New York back in the late 70's under the title of "Number Place" and it wasn't until 1984 that the puzzle was first published in a monthly puzzle magazine in Japan.

The puzzle began to hit the mainstream in the UK in November 2004 when the Times became the first newspaper to print the puzzles. The Daily Mail also started to print the problems in November but under the name of "Codenumber". By the end of May 2005 most UK papers had started to feature the puzzles in order to keep readers from switching publications, and the Daily Mail had changed it's title to the, by now well known, name of Sudoku.

What's also interesting is the name Sudoku is actually a shortening of the original title when it was published in Japan of "Suuji wa dokushin ni kagiru" which translates literally as "the numbers must be single".

Posted by Andy at 09:27 AM into Games
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