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Sudoku is a relatively new phenomenon

I've read the MT for years. Although I've been known to work a crossword puzzle or two in my time, I've just just discovered Sudoku. Can you tell me about its roots?

— Max J., Talent

This one thing we know for certain, you wouldn't have tripped across Sudoku — pronounced sue-doe-koo — before 2005, and probably more recently in the Mail Tribune. That's because Sudoku began appearing in major U.S. dailies that year. Pack journalism demands newspapers follow the herd, and the MT doubtlessly jumped on the bandwagon, receiving the syndicated puzzles.

Sudoku consists of a grid of 81 squares, divided into nine blocks of nine squares each. Some of the squares contain a numerical figure. The goal is to fill in the empty squares so that the figures 1 to 9 appear just once in every row, column and individual block. There are competing details of how the "Rubik's Cube of the 21st century" found its way into modern print.

Some trace it back to 1783 when Leonhard Euler, a Swiss mathematician, devised Latin Squares. Euler created a grid in which every number or symbol appears once in each row or column.

Dell Puzzle Magazines began printing Number Place puzzles in the 1970s, and in the 1980s it became a popular Japanese phenomena. The Times of London began printing Sudoku puzzles in 2004, and before long it jumped across the Atlantic.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.