The craze for sudoku now seems to be levelling out in the UK, though far from over. As one part of the Guardian’s complete redesign on Monday (which included changing the paper’s size to one called the Berliner, used in continental Europe but not previously in the UK, and putting colour on every page), it decided to go one better by importing another popular Japanese word puzzle.
Kakuro is similar in concept but uses a differently shaped and sized grid, a cross between sudoku and a crossword puzzle, and is based on another US-invented game called Cross Sums. The name is a wonderful example of cross-language fertilisation, created by McKee Kaji, who introduced it to Japan and publishes the puzzles there.
An article in Wednesday’s issue explained: “Kaji named his version kasan kurosu, a combination of the Japanese for ‘addition’ and the Japanese pronunciation of the English word ‘cross’. It was soon abbreviated for marketing effect — becoming the catchier kakkuro, or, in its British incarnation, kakuro.”