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Long story of Kokonotsu

Although they may look similar Kokonotsu and sudoku are not related in any direct way other than that both are puzzles.  Their relationship can be compared to the relationship between a calf and a foal: Both are four-footed animals and at first glance appear to be alike, but that is where the similarity ends. They have totally different blood and digestive systems, totally different sight sensors and one has a divided hoof while the other hasn’t.

And while sudoku is a relatively new puzzle Kokonotsu’s origin can be traced back more than 6,000 years to the Chinese Magic Square symbolizing perfect harmony and connectivity. With this simple nine-field square the ancient Chinese were able to explain the function of our Universe and everything in it.  The Chinese Magic square is the underlying principle, heart and foundation stone of feng shui and traditional Chinese medicine. It represents ourselves and the heart that encompasses the full range of experience, from our inner self to our interaction with the world at large.  The ancient Chinese Magic Square was followed by the Lo Shu Square, which dates back to 2200 B.C. It symbolizes the natural order of the Universe, promoting logic, strategy and open-mindedness. Reference to it can be found in a book entitled “Yih King.”

The Legend of Lo Shu

During ancient times in China there was a huge flood on the Lo River. The people tried to calm the river god’s anger by offering sacrifices, but each time they prepared an offering a turtle came up from the river and walked around the sacrifice, and the river god wouldn't accept the sacrifice. This happened several times, until one time, a child noticed curious markings forming a pattern on the turtle’s shell. After studying these markings the people realized the correct amount of sacrifices to make – 15 – and then the river god was placated. The numbers in every row, up and down, across, or diagonally, add up to 15, which happens to be the number of days it takes for the new moon to become a full moon.

From that ancient magic square philosophy, came the Kokonotsu Magic Cube and the Kokonotsu Puzzle. Unlike sudoku, these are based on true magic squares and, although ancient in origin, they provide perfect mental exercise for those of us living in a modern technological world. They’re very engaging, providing the brain with a brisk workout calling for logic, strategy and reasoning.  As a bonus, they are great stress-relievers.

The Kokonotsu Puzzle

The nine letter word “Kokonotsu” in Japanese means simply “nine.” (The word is pronounced “kokonots” – coconuts – the “u” being silent) The puzzle consists of nine 3x3 boxes forming an 81-field matrix. The object is to place nine different objects in each of the nine 3x3 boxes, filling horizontal rows and vertical columns as well as the major diagonals, creating symmetry, harmony and completeness. Typically some numbers – two, three or four – are provided by the puzzlemaker in each nine-square box at the start. The more numbers provided the easier the puzzle.

KOKONOTSU SuperSudoku adds dimensions and challenges not found in ordinary sudoku. Puzzle players who’ve tried both don’t want to go back to “ordinary” sudoku. Generic sudoku puzzles only require the player to fill in rows, columns and 3X3 boxes. Kokonotsu adds a 4th and 5th dimension: the two diagonals and a hidden Magic Puzzle Heart (MagicNine) consisting also of nine numbers that clever players will find and use to help them solve the puzzle more quickly. Each solution to a Kokonotsu puzzle is practically unique. With the number of variations in the quadrillions there is virtually no chance of repetitions.

Sudoku puzzles originated in the 18th Century in Europe, they were known then as "Latin Squares.” In the USA the puzzle was called "Number Place," and from there it was introduced into Japan, as “sudoku,” in the 1980s by the publisher Nikoli Inc. loosing some of its symmetry, Sudoku is a made-up name, meaning single numbers that has become generic.

While sudoku and Kokonotsu are both great puzzles, I must point out that they are totally different in origin, philosophy and objective. Please do not misunderstand: Sudoku is an excellent puzzle, and people’s appetite for quick brain-teasers is again made evident by the tremendous instant success of sudoku in Britain and elsewhere. If it is just a puzzle one wants, then sudoku is great. However, for challenging puzzles that are FUN to solve, calling on one’s total powers of logic, reasoning and strategy, Kokonotsu dubbed the Super Sudoku Puzzle, cannot be surpassed.

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