Maki Kaji has died at the age of 69 as a result of cancer. The Japanese was known as ‘The Godfather of Sudoku’ for his role in popularizing these number and logic puzzles. As reported by his company Nikoli through a statement, collected by Europa Press, Kaji died on August 10 from bile duct cancer.
Maki Kaji, the founder of Nikoli, retired as CEO of the company on July 31, although he remained a member of the Board. Yoshinao Anpuku, the former editor-in-chief, has served as president since August 1. ‘Nikoli’, the first puzzle magazine in Japan, was published in August 1980 . Since that first publication, he has edited magazines and puzzle books and supplied other original games to various publications such as newspapers, weekly and monthly magazines.
He has created more than 200 types of original puzzles. But in addition, the inventor of Sudoku created another 300 intelligence games, as he explained in 2008 in Salamanca, during the presentation in Spain of the Nurikabe, the second puzzle of this type that he unveiled .
Maki Kaji affirmed that Sudoku was the first of these games and that the idea germinated when reading a column in an American newspaper. Then, he began a series of works that led to the first of these puzzles being published in England in 2005. He acknowledged that when he created it, he did not imagine that “it could be so successful.”
“I wanted to create a Japanese name. And I created it in about 25 seconds – he said, explaining that he was in a hurry to participate in a horse race and did not expect the term to be consolidated.
At the time, with two childhood friends, he founded the company that would later become Nikoli. The publisher created Japan’s first puzzle magazine and helped catapult Sudoku to the world in the mid-2000s.
Born on October 8, 1951, in Sapporo, Japan, Kaji was the son of an engineer and a saleswoman in a kimono shop. He graduated from high school but dropped out of Keio University and turned puzzles into a passion.
“I get really emotional when I see a new idea with a lot of potential for a puzzle,” he told the BBC in 2007, adding that the key to inventing a good game was simplifying the rules: “It’s like finding treasure. It’s not about making money, it’s purely the thrill of trying to solve it.
Creator of more games
Maki Kaji created another 300 intelligence games, as stated in Salamanca in 2008 in the presentation that took place in Spain of the Nurikabe puzzle .
It consists of filling in with pencil certain squares of a grid that emulates a residential neighborhood AND some “houses” will be arranged with a certain number of “rooms”, represented by squares that are left blank. In this way, you will not have to write numbers but cross out boxes to discover the only “street” that will make it possible to complete the square, which is similar to that of Sudoku.
“We have a philosophy, there are people who defend that this type of game works to activate the brain, but our philosophy is that it also serves as hobbies and to relax. We hope it has a simple sense for relaxation and that it is like eating tapas in a bar ”, Maki Kaji explained then.