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Rating: 4.5/5 (49 votes)
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TrickyKenKenCreated by Japanese math teacher Tetsuya Miyamoto in 2004, Kashikoku-naru-Puzzle translates literally as "A Puzzle That Makes You Smart". Hitting that exact right combination of mathematical calculation and logical reasoning, it soon became an international sensation under the name KenKen. As the story goes, "Ken" translates as Cleverness, so KenKen (or, I guess Ken^2) is Cleverness-Squared. That's an apt description for this arithmetic grid-based brainteaser. At JayIsGames, we're always on the lookout for quality online versions of pen-and-paper games, and Nextoy has provided with 6 daily, devious, and easily-printable KenKen. Why? Because they Ken Ken Ken!

If Sudoku is a number game that doesn't require math, KenKen is its second cousin that does. There are enough similarities that anyone familiar with the former should have no trouble picking it up. First, you choose a grid size. The object is to fill the grid satisfying three requirements: 1. For each row to contain exactly one of each digit from 1 to the grid width (for example 1-6 for a 6 by 6 grid), 2. For each column to likewise contain exactly one of each digit, and 3. To fill out each bold-outlined "cage" with digits that can create the specified result with the specified operation. For instance, a cage with 4 boxes and "240X" in the corner might have 2, 4, 5 and 6 in it (since 2 x 4 x 5 x 6 = 240) or perhaps 3, 5, 4, and 4 (3 X 5 X 4 X 4 = 240). Remember, a cage can have numbers repeated in it, as long as it doesn't violate the first two rules. Likewise "1-" might have 6 and 5, 4 and 3, 3 and 2, or any other combination of numbers that fits. Here's puzzle-meister Will Shortz's explanation, but really, KenKen is easier to learn by experience than explanation.

I'm not so sure whether brain training claims are all they're cracked up to be, but KenKen is an elegant puzzle that is a worthy addition to the newspaper canon. As addictive as any game and as well-presented as an Conceptis release, the six new puzzles a day hardly seems like enough, though I appreciate their range of sizes and difficulties. In short, whether you're familiar with KenKen or are encountering it for the first time, this is a fine translation to the flash medium.

Play KenKen


One of the best puzzle games. Certainly better than Sudoku. But the KenKen site limits the number of games you can play and wants you to buy their books.

Fair enough. But there are two better alternatives.

Try (NOT which takes you to the KenKen site) for a range of daily puzzles where you can score points and join a game playing community. This site uses up at least an hour of my day - every day!

Or visit Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection ( and look for Keen where you can find unlimited puzzles of every size and level of difficulty. No community though and no keeping track of puzzles solved.


It's about time you reviewed this, it's been my favorite puzzle for a long time :). I never submitted it because I figured you would've already done it. :P


Having done KenKen puzzles daily for the last year (at least), it's worth noting that the New York Times website also provides a few daily puzzles too at . Nice to see my favourite math puzzle listed here!


New York Times also has 6 puzzles of varying difficulty every day here: I'm just waiting for a good iPhone app for KenKen.


John, thanks for the Simon Tatham link. I just got addicted to "Filling."

tinyflames June 22, 2011 7:11 PM

Oddly enough, this is my nickname.

Anonymous June 23, 2011 1:20 PM

The game is fun, but the implementation - in particular, the automatic, unturnoffable removal of candidates, is maddening, especially for people who want to record divisors for boxes without having to recompute it constantly.


You can also find this puzzle at


you can also find this puzzle at


Calcudoku is the most popular free name,
the name "kenken" is trademarked.
Depending on the country you're in,
this puzzle is called
Calcudoku, Minuplu, Newdoku, Rekendoku, etc.



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