The Final Frontier

Internet…check.Video Games…check.
Chip installed into your brain that allows you to play Kakuro whenever you think about it…not quite.With the exception of the last example, which is admittedly a bit on the extreme side, Kakuro has conquered (see what I did there?) just about all possible mediums in which someone could conceive of playing Kakuro. Phones, Computers, XBOXs, PS3s, Gameboys have all transformed into outlets for you to satisfy your Kakuro addiction. However, as deep as Kakuro has snuck into the technological bloodstream, there are always some further reaches waiting to be tapped. So, let’s explore some of these untapped areas a bit and see if there is any potential for a Kakuro Conquest (Official “Cheesiest Statement of the Year” nominee).Magazines-A weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly or whatever other publication of various Kakuro puzzles, stories, and profiles on some of the more interesting people that play Kakuro.Product Placement- Can’t you just see Bruce Wayne playing Kakuro as Alfred prepares him his breakfast after a long night of Batmaning? Or perhaps Don Draper as he indulges in his typical mid-morning drink before getting back to fulfilling his roles as an advertising executive and a chauvinist? How about Jeff Probst using Kakuro as a test for staying on the island? The options are endless.E-Newsletters- Basically the same idea as the magazine but in digital form.Billboards- Studies show that the best time to play puzzle games is when you’re driving…it’s science.

Airplanes- Seriously, why don’t airlines give you more in the way of entertainment on domestic flights than an uninteresting magazine, a catalog, and the back of the vomit back? They should throw in a booklet of puzzle games like Kakuro to provide entertainment for the thinkers out there.

Brain Chips- The greatness of this idea speaks for itself.

So what do you think? Are any of these feasible? Do you have any ideas? We’d love to hear them.

The Waiting Game

Provided that you are not a doctor or a nurse, the doctor’s office is not a place known for its capacity to elicit a substantial amount of mental strain from those who enter. The majority of the usually small amount of brain exertion comes from deciding whether to look at Sports Illustrated or Newsweek, answering questions about your symptoms, and dealing with the occasional insurance issue.

This may be a good thing. Being sick can zap our mental energies by itself; we don’t need anything else at the doctor’s to drain what remains from us. We’d much prefer to sit back, read about Tiger Woods, and list off our problems so the doctor can tell us how to solve them. That’s all well and good until you consider that, as a population we are probably not using our brains quite enough.

Think about this. When you get home from work, what do you do? Most people will say that they watch TV, eat, watch some more TV, and go to bed. Not exactly the most stimulating way to pass the time. Don’t get me wrong, people need some time to unwind after a full day’s work, but unwinding doesn’t need to come in the form of watching a group of 20-something New Jerseyans make fools out of themselves in a bar.

Unwinding can be challenging; it can be stimulating and still relaxing at the same time. Need proof? Try playing Kakuro. While it is challenging, it’s the sort of unpressured challenge that won’t stress you out. You feel like your doing something when you play Kakuro, and have a sense of accomplishment when to puzzle is successfully conquered. How much accomplishment do you get from listening to a group of people sit around and critique people’s singing?

Let’s get back to the doctor’s office, the one place that should be advocating this kind of mental stimulation but is not. Instead of reading old magazines to pass the time, try B.Y.O.S. (Bringing Your Own Stimulation) in the form of Kakuro.

For one, it gets your brain working at a time you would usually be reading about the latest political sex scandal. Secondly, it distracts you. Thinking about what ails you can be stressful, especially when you think it could be serious. Playing Kakuro will distract you a bit from your present situation, alleviating stress and relaxing you at a potentially tense time.

Print some puzzles off our site or simply bring your laptop and play online. They should have wireless internet there. This is 2011 after all.

Kakuro is great in any situation where you are waiting or taking a break from something. The dentists’ waiting room, the break room at your office, and many other places can be utilized as Kakuro hot spots. Your options are only limited by your own creativity, and other minor obligations like your job duties.

When it comes down to it you should work your brain so it can work for you.

Kakuro Players Are Not Alone

Those who play puzzles like Kakuro have long been seen as quiet folk who would prefer to spend their time face down in a book of puzzles with a pencil in hand and glasses sitting atop their noses. While I’m sure there are people out there that fit this stereotype to a “t,” I’d venture to guess that most avid Kakuro players probably do not.  In fact, I think that many people out there would relish the chance to partake in the joy of Kakuro (sounds cheesy, I know) with others. Well fear not you Kakuro-loving socialites, there are ways in which you can make Kakuro a social activity.
  • Play it with your kids. See this for more info.
  • Compete. Find a friend and see who can finish a puzzle faster. You could even make it interesting and bet on it if you want.
  • Tournament Time. Start an office pool of sorts. Begin with an easy puzzle and get increasingly more difficult with each passing round. Those who can’t complete the puzzle are eliminated with each passing round. The last person standing wins a prize. Everybody likes prizes.
  • If you can’t beat em, join em. Even if you can beat em, it would still be fun to team up with someone else. Choose a difficult puzzle, one that you doubt you’d be able to do by yourself, and play with someone. After all, two heads are better than one.

The socialization doesn’t have to stop when you start the computer, either. Besides taking the pencils out of Kakuro player’s hands and lifting the angle of their faces, the Internet has done a few more things for Kakuro players, like give them a social outlet through:

  • Facebook. We’ve got a Kakuro facebook page. Like us and connect with other Kakuro players who like us too.
  • Facebook…Again. While you’re at it, why not just play our online facebook game? You can connect with other players there too. Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Comment on our blog posts. Don’t be shy. Comment on our posts and initiate conversations with others who do likewise.

There you have it. Next time you’re in the mood for Kakuro but still want to be social, consider using one of these techniques. If you have any other ideas, we’d love to hear them.

Kakuro vs. Sudoku

Cats vs. Dogs

PC vs. Mac

Star Wars vs. Star Trek

Pepsi vs. Coke

Capulets vs. Montagues

Kakuro vs. Sudoku?

In the long list of great rivalries does the matchup of Kakuro vs. Sudoku really fit in? Probably not…but that doesn’t mean we can’t debate it like it does. Rivals are rivals for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important is that the two are competitive. In other words, there is no clear-cut favorite between them.

People may like both of the options and choosing between the two of them might be quite difficult. For instance there are man people out there who are fans of both Star Wars and Star Trek in equal measure, and having to decide which space saga they prefer would be a difficult, if not nearly impossible task, as they both have their own sets of pros and cons. Kakuro and Sudoku are the same way.

Each game is different and both have their own unique sets of plusses and minuses. And much like the Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate, both Kakuro and Sudoku can be enjoyed on their own, without interference from the other. You can play both, and it’s probably a good thing that you do, for as the oft-used quote so eloquently says, “variety is the spice of life.” But we live in a competitive society where things that aren’t natural competitors are pinned against one another just for the sake of seeing who would win.

Yes, it’s gladiatorial and yes, it’s completely unnecessary but our curiosity is killing us and we think it would be a fun debate to have. So we ask you this: In the battle between online Kakuro and Sudoku who wins? Tell us what you think here:

Kakuro For All

As you sit there in your chair agonizing over the right combination of numbers you need to equal 30 vertically and 24 horizontally, you wonder how anyone could possibly solve a puzzle like this. “It must take a genius,” you think. And while having an IQ higher than your bodyweight (not a small feat considering our country’s increasing obesity problems) certainly wouldn’t hurt your chances in your battles with those pesky little Kakuro squares, it certainly isn’t a necessary component for success.In fact, Kakuro doesn’t require any sort of outstanding intellect at all. Rather, it simply requires elementary math skills and a willingness to think about and solve problems. It’s so simple a baby could do it. Well, maybe not a baby, but an elementary school-aged child could.Could and should. Why? Because puzzle games like Kakuro, as well as its cousins Sudoku and Hitori, provide numerous benefits for children. How? Let us count the ways:

  • Math Skills: Playing Kakuro challenges everyone to solve simple math problems quickly and accurately. This can be especially helpful to children who are starting to learn those skills at a basic level, providing them with a fun way to practice their math outside of school.
  • Problem Solving: “If 3 goes there and 4, goes there, then 7 must go here.” Thoughts like this go through people’s heads whenever they play Kakuro, and can be especially beneficial for children playing. Problems like this may seem simple for us (even though they often aren’t in Kakuro), but for children they are more challenging. Also, the logical reasoning and deduction skills developed through Kakuro can be carried over to other facets of life as well.
  • Persistence: Kakuro can be difficult for anyone, and often requires a certain amount of perseverance to finish. Persisting in the face of adversity is an important value to instill in children, and letting them struggle through a game of Kakuro is a great way to do so.

While Kakuro is appropriate for people of all ages, you probably shouldn’t start of children with anything too challenging. It would be a good idea to start your children off simply and become more advanced as their skills are honed. Some ideas for simplifying Kakuro for kids are:

  • Shrink it: Start kids off with smaller puzzles. A smaller puzzle, means less boxes, which means less numbers your child has to come up with.
  • Spot them a few numbers: Instead of shrinking the puzzle, you could give them a few of the correct numbers and let them solve it from there.
  • Do it with them: Having help from Mom or Dad, takes some of the Kakuro-load off your child and puts a bit of it on you, allowing you both to share in the fun. Besides, it’s a great way to spend a little time interacting with your kid.

Kakuro is great for everyone, including kids, so get them started today and smile as they choose to spend their free time thinking instead of sitting around watching Bugs Bunny fool Elmer Fudd on TV (Do kids still do that?).