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KENKEN

Dreamed up by a math whiz, KENKEN will challenge your BRAINBRAIN.

Screenshot by HowStuffWorks.com

While it sounds like a mother's pet name for her little Kenneth, KENKEN isn't a game of cutesy characters. Developed in 2004, it is the brainchild of Tetsuya Miyamoto, a Japanese mathematician. Miyamoto was looking for a puzzle that might allow students to better grasp some fairly simple logic and math principles. After becoming a hit in Japan, it was introduced to the United States in 2008, and soon the puzzles were being run in the New York Times and other publications.

Much like Sudoku, KENKEN is a grid-based puzzle game. (Grids might be anywhere from 3 by 3 to 9 by 9; the larger the grid, the harder it is.) The grid has a few numbers filled in on it: Your job is to complete the grid with digits so no digit is repeated in any row or column. Easy, right? Well, there are also outlined boxes within the grid, and you have to make sure all the squares in that box combine to make the number listed in the corner.

Sound easy? Well, some are. And some of the puzzles are so maddeningly challenging that you will swear the evil genius who wrote them is using numbers not of this world. As we said, you can find it as a daily feature in quite a few papers, there are loads of KENKEN puzzle books and you can even find online games to play. (Just remember to take breaks to eat.)

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