Maki Kaji, a university dropout who turned a figures match into just one of the world’s most well-known logic puzzles and grew to become acknowledged as the “Godfather of Sudoku,” died on Aug. 10 at his house in Tokyo. He was 69.

His loss of life was declared on Tuesday by Nikoli, the puzzle firm he co-started. The business explained in a statement that the induce was bile duct most cancers.

In a speech in 2008, Mr. Kaji stated he initially “fell in love” with a game known as Amount Position in 1984. He renamed it Sudoku.

“I preferred to make a Japanese name,” he said. “I produced the title in about 25 seconds.” The reason: He had been in a rush to get to a horse race. He explained he experienced not predicted the name to adhere. (“Sudoku” approximately translates to “single quantities.”)

By then, with two childhood good friends, he had started the firm that would afterwards come to be Nikoli, which suggests it is between the most prolific worldwide publishers of puzzle publications and textbooks. Nikoli served catapult Sudoku into the mainstream in the mid-2000s, publishing what it suggests was Japan’s 1st puzzle magazine.

The firm by itself does not generate lots of new puzzles for instance, an American is considered to have invented an before model of Sudoku. But the game’s accurate origins are murky. Some trace it to Leonhard Euler, an 18th-century Swiss mathematician. Many others say the thought arrived from China, via India, to the Arab environment in the eighth or ninth century.

Nevertheless the puzzle was made, Mr. Kaji’s company built Sudoku and other very similar puzzles globally preferred. Nikoli’s mystery, he informed The New York Moments in 2007, was that it largely analyzed and perfected current puzzles.

“I want to make Nikoli into the world’s resource for puzzle game titles,” he stated. “We have a great deal additional puzzles wherever Sudoku came from.”

In the late 1990s, when he pitched the Sudoku puzzle to publishers in New York and London, he was unsuccessful, he instructed The Instances. But within just a ten years, the puzzle was being posted throughout hundreds of newspapers globally, building hundreds of thousands of pounds.

In accordance to Nikoli, an believed 200 million people today in 100 countries have solved the puzzle, which includes filling in the squares on a numbered grid so that each individual column, row and large square has just about every quantity from 1 to 9. A globe championship is held each yr.

In 2017, the enterprise said, an more mature gentleman dwelling in temporary housing in Otsuchi, a town in northern Japan, soon after the devastating 2011 earthquake, wrote Mr. Kaji to inform him that his puzzles were being also tough. That influenced Mr. Kaji to build extra available puzzles for small children and older people today.

Mr. Kaji was born on Oct. 8, 1951, in Sapporo, Japan. According to a e-book he wrote on the Sudoku world craze, his father was an engineer at a telecom firm and his mother worked at a kimono store. He graduated from Shakujii Significant College in Tokyo, but dropped out of Keio College.

He is survived by his spouse, Naomi, and two daughters.

Puzzle industry experts praised Mr. Kaji for obtaining imbued their environment with soul.

“His most crucial contribution to the globe of logic puzzles is refined and underappreciated,” Nick Baxter, the captain of the United States team that competes in the Globe Sudoku Championship, wrote in an e-mail.

In an age wherever most Sudoku and equivalent puzzles are personal computer produced, Mr. Baxter added, Nikoli ongoing to make puzzles created by individuals.

In an job interview with the BBC in 2007, Mr. Kaji stated that the top secret to inventing a good puzzle was to make the regulations “simple and effortless for everybody, like newbies.”

He stepped down as head of his firm in July mainly because of unwell health and fitness.

In spite of the millions pulled in by Sudoku, Mr. Kaji mentioned in the 2007 interview with the Instances that he had received only a modest fraction of the money, in component due to the fact he had been late to trademarking the puzzle.

But, he claimed, he had no regrets.

“We’re prolific since we do it for the enjoy of online games,” Mr. Kaji said, “not for the cash.”