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Sudoku. The new number puzzle craze.

If you were to walk along any street around the world, you would find it very difficult not to notice that someone somewhere is playing a game of Sudoku. This number puzzle game has become a hit not only with the British but Americans also.

However, although it is believed that Sudoku was invented in Japan it origins can actually be traced back to Switzerland. This puzzle is more often associated with an 18th Century Swiss Mathematical Genius by the name of Leonhard Euler. He invented a magic square which consisted of an 81 cell grid that the player was able to fill with an almost finite variation to it so that each row and column contained the digits 1 to 9 in them. But although the more recent and popular versions of Sudoku support the same 1 to 9 rule and have the 81 cell grid, the magic squares produced by Euler are not presented as a puzzle in his version and were merely an expression of his mathematical genius.

However, by the late 19th Century a French Daily Newspaper “Le Siecle” produced something that was almost like the game of Sudoku we know now, but rather than them using single digits (1-9) they preferred to use double digit numbers for the person to solve the puzzles they produced. But shortly afterwards another French Daily “La France” also came up with its own version of the puzzle being produced by “Le Siecle” which reverted to using the 1 to 9 system. Yet despite “La France” version following the same rules as the “Le Siecle” version it did not divide the 81 cells into grids of nine boxes. But much like today’s versions of the Sudoku puzzle the “La France” version always contained the numbers 1 to 9 in the areas where the sub-grids should have been, yet unlikely today’s puzzles which are published in today’s papers on daily basis, the La France version was only printed weekly up until the First World War began.

Following through the development of this now popular puzzle craze around the world, the game of Sudoku first gained an audience world wide in 1979. They were originally printed in Dell Magazines as part of their puzzle collections “Dell Pencil Puzzles and Word Games” and rather it being called Sudoku as it is known now, Dell put it in their magazines under the heading of “Number Place”. Yet although these puzzles still find an audience today, they are not as popular or widespread as Sudoku is because of the magazines limited circulation. Upon further investigation it was found that the author was a retired architect named Howard Garns and although the puzzles did not actually bear his name on them, a further investigation found that the Dell publications always named Garns as a contributor to these publications and those which always contained a game of Sudoku inside and those that did not have Sudoku puzzles inside then Garns name was omitted from the contributors list. Thus the puzzle of who the author of their Sudoku games was solved.

Then the development of Sudoku was found to suddenly shift from the West to the East and in 1984 Nikoli brought out the puzzle in Japan. The name Sudoku actually stands for the basic puzzle rule of the game, namely single digits only. Then other innovations were introduced in the original Garns invention such as the 32 digit clue restriction and the rotation of clues positions within the grids. Throughout Japan the Sudoku puzzles were being given a much wider circulation as they were being produced not only daily by also in magazines by various companies. But these others were being printed under different names as the Sudoku name had already been trademarked by the Niokli group.

But since its growing popularity around the world not only can you still find Sudoku being published daily (many newspapers now have games of Sudoku within their pages) and the large majority of magazines that are produced and contain only Sudoku puzzles, the computer industry has now joined the bandwagon. Computer programmers such as Loadstar Publishing were the first to produce a computer based version of Sudoku called “DigiHunt” and not long after this many other programmers and devoted Sudoku puzzle enthusiasts produced their own such programs such as Sudoku Puzzle Generators, Sudoku Solvers and now you can even play Sudoku online if you wish. Certainly there does not seem to be anything that will stop Sudoku because of the expanding audience that are now being enthralled by this puzzle.

About the Author: Allison Thompson a work from home mum who has become fascinated by the popularity of the Japanese Number Puzzle Sudoku and has set up a site dedicated to it. If you would like to learn more then please visit

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