If you are like me, or me about a couple of weeks ago you would have gone “huh?”. But having a sudoku pro in the family (my mom in this case) helps when it comes to being clued-in.
I still remember when about 4 or 5 years ago, Sudoku really started catching everybody’s attention. Suddenly people were talking about this new puzzle that kept everybody engrossed. Ever the curious kind, I tried my hand at one or two of the easier puzzles (the so called levels 1 and 2). I never went farther than that and I convinced myself that this was primarily because I can’t stand looking at too many numbers at the same time (yes I know people came up with alphabet sudou, no thank you!). However my mom took to the puzzle like a duck to water and soon she started acing me at every other game. So I quietly relinquished the sudoku turf to her.
When sometime a couple of weeks ago, she mentioned ‘kenken’ to me, I was fairly apprehensive. (Of course I have every reason to be apprehensive of puzzles suggested to me by someone who completes a level 9 sudoku puzzle in 17 minutes on her hand-held sudoku console!). But that was not the only reason, when I read that kenken actually involved arithmetic (the lack of which was sudoku’s only saving grace IMHO), I almost certainly refused to even consider it. It finaly took much cajoling before I gave in and tried my hand at the puzzle.
(Kenken, by the way, for the curious was invented by a Japanese school teacher who wanted to teach arithmetic to his students. The translation means ‘cleverness squared’).
Like Sudoku, kenken is also about filling numbers into a grid (whereas in sudoku the grid is always 9*9, kenken comes in varying levels of complexity from 3*3- 9*9. I obviously started with the 3*3 and was pooh poohing about how simple and easier the game was as compared to Sudoku (as the arithmetic gives more solid clues about what numbers would go where. More detailed rules here).
But I realised I had spoken hastily. While I raced through the 3*3, I walked through the 4*4 and had to crawl through 5*5. By this time my brain could take no more. So I handed over the kenken puzzles to the would be kenken pro and walked away.
Lesson learnt- Complexity levels like warnings on cigarette packs are there for a reason!!
NB: If you are however interested the kenken site (on registration), can send free puzzles to your email. Download them and kenken away!