Sudoku Makes a Comeback

The modern development of Sudoku is most likely traced to a man named Howard Garns, who apparently created this number puzzle for Dell Magazines, who published it as ‘Number Place’  in 1979. Garns was a retired architect, a freelance puzzle maker from Indiana and 74 years old at the time of the creation of this puzzle. It is not known if he had any knowledge of the Paris versions of the same puzzle which vanished from the newspapers about 70 years previously, when Garns was only about 5 years old.

In 1984 these puzzles appeared in a Japanese publication called Monthly Nikolist. The longish Japanese name for the puzzle translated into English as “the digits must be single.” The word for ‘single’ being dokushin, more specifically, an unmarried person. The lengthy title in Japanese was shortened soon after, resulting in the name we use today, Sudoku.

A bit later, in 1986, the same Japanese publisher, Nikoli, added some refinements to the puzzle’s design. Firstly, the number of already revealed numbers can be no more than 32, and the revealed numbers must form a symmetrical pattern, meaning that the given numbers are placed in rotationally symmetric cells.
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There are many variants on this basic design, but whether you enjoy a small, relaxing challenge, or a demanding brain workout, Sudoku puzzles can be a great source of pleasure.


Rachel Forsythe has a B.A. in English Literature and worked as an editor for a local weekly news magazine. She is now a stay-at-home mom, raising three younger boys and two older daughters. Her favorite activities are hiking, reading, traveling, bike riding, skiing in the winter and surfing in the summer. She also loves to cook. Be in touch with Rachel at Rachel[at]

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