So What Is KENKEN, Anyway?
It’s not a crossword. It’s not some extreme version of tic-tac-toe. So what is KENKEN and where did it come from? Simply put, it’s a grid-based numerical puzzle that uses the basic math operations—addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division—while also challenging your logic and problem-solving skills. By altering the size of a KENKEN grid, from 3 x 3 up to 9 x 9, and employing different combinations of the math operations, five different difficulty levels can be generated, and a seemingly endless number of puzzles. (And many players seem determined to try them all!) In a way, KENKEN is like a game of pool or even chess: The more you think ahead to your next move and consider all the possible outcomes, the better you’ll get—and the smarter you’ll become!
KENKEN was developed in 2004 by… no, not two guys named Ken… it was acclaimed Japanese mathematics instructor Tetsuya Miyamoto. His goal was to improve his students’ math and logic skills. And what better tool than a puzzle? So he developed one that would be understandable, fun, and challenging for any level of student. Most importantly, he wanted the puzzle to encourage independent thinking, emphasizing trial and error, concentration, and perseverance. Mr. Miyamoto’s educational philosophy boils down to “The Art of Teaching Without Teaching.™” His methods and puzzle were immediately successful.
So KENKEN was born in the classroom. But the puzzle was too addictive to stay in school. It quickly became a favorite leisure activity for all ages throughout Japan and then for millions of players worldwide. In 2008, Nextoy LLC brought KENKEN to the United States. Soon, it was the first daily feature since the crossword puzzle to appear in The New York Times. As its popularity grew, KENKEN appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Times of London, Scholastic classroom magazines, and more than 100 other national U.S. publications. Simultaneously, it is utilized by an ever-growing network of teachers coast-to-coast who praise its academic value.
Now with enhanced online and mobile versions, KENKEN is expanding its reach even further. Whether in the classroom, on the beach, waiting for a bus, standing atop a mountain—anywhere you might be—KENKEN is always stimulating your brain. It’s the puzzle that makes you smarter!
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