A Puzzle for the Week When a Monday Crossword Is As Far As You Can Go

Trust me, I can relate.


Nicole Shaker, Co-Editor-in-Chief

You walk into the library at 8:00 am, groggy because you just woke up twenty minutes ago and had to rush out the door to miss the morning traffic. To get your energy up, you head over to the photocopied New York Times crosswords, but when you get there, you remember grudgingly that it’s a Friday—there’s no point in even grabbing one.

But don’t turn back just yet, generic student! The crosswords aren’t the only puzzles offered in that paper holder, and, don’t worry, I’m not talking about sudoku. I’m talking about sudoku on crack. 

KenKen, another puzzle the librarians print out that students often disregard, is like sudoku in that the idea is to fill out a square full of boxes that contain numbers which don’t get repeated within rows and columns. What’s different is that certain boxes are grouped together with a number and a math operation—so if 6+ was the clue, the boxes could potentially be 3, 2, and 1. 

Anna Kim (’20) just recently discovered KenKen, and encourages all students who like to get their brains stretched to check it out. “It’s so fun,” she said. “You really have to think about the placement of the numbers, and it’s so satisfying when you finally look at it and realize that you’re done.” 

Although it’s important to not knock it till you try it, be aware that the KenKen isn’t for everyone. You have to have patience and stamina to conquer it, and an affinity for math is definitely a plus. “Not gonna lie,” said Lindsey Kim (’20). “I’m not the biggest fan of KenKen. Personally, I’m more of a sudoku kind of girl. I think KenKen is a little too unnecessarily stressful. It’s the math that makes it stressful.”  

There are some who have little opinion on the puzzle. “My first experience doing a KenKen was about a week ago in the library when I decided to not do my homework and instead do a sudoku, and then I ended up doing a KenKen,” said Krista Scarcozzi (’20).  “It was okay.”

Overall, however, the verdict for the KenKen seems to be overwhelmingly positive from the students who have picked it up. Sam Lawrence (’20) was introduced to the KenKen by Kim, and now she does one every day. She’s gotten quite good at it. “At first it was kind of confusing because you have to get used to the rules and how to do it, but after you get into the rhythm of it, it sort of all just comes together,” she said. “In the library, they have four-by-fours and six-by-sixes, and now the four-by-fours are really easy for me. The six-by-sixes I’m still getting used to, but so far it’s gotten a lot easier, more fun, and less frustrating to do them.”

Lawrence continued, “I’m more of a KenKen fan than a sudoku or crossword fan because you can figure out the numbers based on more than just what the other numbers are—it’s based on math, so I think it’s just more fun to do and think about because you know when you’re on the right track.”

So when you find yourself with nothing to do one day in the library, try grabbing a KenKen and see what you think of the brain-stretching puzzle.