Public radio listeners are most likely familiar with the name Will Shortz. The Puzzlemaster from NPR’s Weekend Edition on Sunday mornings has been on the air since that program started in 1987. The estimated sixty-four million Americans who work crosswords have probably also encountered the native Hoosier’s name at some point or another.
The publication of a Sudoku puzzle in the Indianapolis Star on January 22, 2006 represented a sort of homecoming for the number-based puzzle. Although the addictive brain-teaser based on the 18th-century concept of the Latin square first gained renown in Japan, its long-concealed roots are in Indiana. Debuting without a byline in Dell Pencil Puzzles and Word Games in 1979 as “Number Place,” the puzzle showed up in a Japanese magazine in the mid-80s with an unwieldy title meaning “the digits must occur only once.”