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Sudoku: The Game As We Know It and The History Behind It

By April 13, 2019April 27th, 2021No Comments

Although the name “Sudoku” originates from Japanese, the game itself was actually invented in Switzerland and transferred to both USA and Japan. It travelled the mysterious ways, so to speak, which reflects the nature of the game itself – to many who are not familiar with Sudoku, solving it seems like a mystery.

Before its official invention in Switzerland, the origins of the concept of the magical square were found in China 2,000 years ago. The same as in Sudoku, the problem concentrated around the numbers placed in columns, rows and diagonal lines, summing up to a certain number. But the Chinese magical square can have several solutions, meaning you can play the game many times, re-ordering the numbers in order to get the same result. Chinese shamans used this type of a “game” to predict the future, so the magical square became part of the Chinese “I Ching” (Book of Changes), and the solutions were considered to host mystical features.

Silk Road was used to transfer the concept of this game to Europe, where it fell into the hands of an 18th century great mathematician Leonhard Euler from Basle. He took the magical square and played with it, using Greek and Roman letters instead of numbers. However, the logic was universal. He played with a thought as to what would happen if the sum of the diagonals does not necessarily add up to the sum of the rows and columns. And so, the first version of Sudoku was born. The initial version has been changed many times and has many variations even today. However, what makes it distinct from the ancient Chinese magical square is the fact that Sudoku has only one solution and there can never be any uncertainty about it. It is very precise and predictive, in case you are familiar with the rules and have developed a mathematical logical thinking.

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The goal is to fill a 9×9 grid with numbers, so that each column and row contains one of the numbers from 1 to 9, while no number repeating is allowed.  Each Sudoku puzzle begins with some cells already filled in, and the player must build its game around the given numbers. Numbers cannot repeat in lines or columns but can repeat in diagonals.

Fifty years afterwards, a man called Howard Garnes introduced the Sudoku puzzle to the Americans. In the USA, the game was upgraded to a version containing 9 fields of 3×3 squares. The puzzle became more interesting and demanding.

Nowadays, Sudoku has many versions: Wordoku, Killer Sudoku, Mini Sudoku, Cross Sums Sudoku – just to name a few. Also, many solving methods have been devised to boost the strategy: X-Wing, Force Chain, Swordfish, etc.  Whichever version you prefer, one thing is for sure: playing Sudoku will develop your logic, brain synapses and master your mathematical skills. Whether you are looking for mystic meaning in numbers or simply looking for a way to entertain yourself, Sudoku will catch your attention and keep you busy.

What is your favorite game?

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