If you haven’t heard of Kenken, put simply it’s a math sudoku. It was created by a Japanese math teacher named Tetsuya Miyamoto, to teach and train his students in an unconventional manner. The logic game is set up with the same basic rules as Sudoku: columns and rows cannot repeat numbers, but each must be filled with one of every number.
But here’s the catch. In Sudoku there are grid boxes that must be filled but in Kenken there are boxes of all shapes with a mathematical function that needs to be completed. For example, the 2- box would need to contain two numbers that subtract to equal 2, a 2/ box would need two numbers that divide to equal 2, and so on. The solution to the box would look like this:
Seems easy enough right? But it gets a lot harder when you approach a puzzle like this, where you’re dealing with 9 numbers instead of 3.
If at this point the nerd in you is debating whether or not to use a calculator or find the factors by hand, you’ve come to the right place.
The easiest way to access Kenken puzzles is to go to the official site. There, you can find daily puzzles of varying difficulties. Kenken can also be found in the New York Times crossword section. Will Shortz, head of the NYT games, has teamed up in the past few years with Tetsuya Miyamoto to create daily puzzles, and many, many Kenken books.
Essentially, no matter your experience/interest level, there is a Kenken book out there for you. While there are ways to play the puzzle for free, I would argue that it is worth it to invest in a book or two. It is much easier to play Kenken on paper than online, and one puzzle a day just isn’t enough. With a book you can play for hours wherever you want to, without the headache of a screen.
For beginners looking to take things slow, there is a small starter book with easy-hard 3×3 and 4×4 puzzles. This will give you the chance to get used to the logic of the game before tackling harder puzzles. You can find it here.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of things, there are a couple of easy-hard books that range in size and difficulty. The best quantity for price of these are the NYT Presents collection, which includes 5 different books. Below is one of them, but follow the same cover art for more. These are great for improving your skills and giving you the chance to challenge yourself.
If you have played Kenken before and are just looking for an easy fix to pull out when you’re bored or looking to relax, try one of the many “cute” Kenken books. Shortz and Miyamoto have produced a couple of these. They are cute for sure, but often provide less puzzles for more money. You can find them, here.
Of course, there are multiple challenging Kenken puzzle books out there as well for us addicts who need more. A great option is this book (and it’s pretty too!):
And, if you go through all of this and are wondering: how can I satisfy my insatiable Kenken craving? Have no fear! Kenken sends out a monthly email with 6 original puzzles, including a no-op 9×9 (gasp)!
Kenken is pretty much its own fandom at this point. There’s a book out there for everyone and even a weird murder mystery fanfic that we don’t talk about. It’s a great way to keep your mind in shape during times like these.
And hey, I hope you enjoy it.