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Bob Fuhrer talks about Miyamoto and the Machine: tBR Person of the Week

(Bob Fuhrer, Tetsuya Miyamoto and KenKen Champions)

On a business trip to Japan In 2007 I accidentally stumbled upon a logic and math puzzle created by a renowned educator, Tetsuya Miyamoto. Sudoku was the hottest craze, and this puzzle bore some similarities both in its appearance and some of the solving techniques. This led me to vet it with Will Shortz, the NY Times puzzle editor and NPR Puzzlemaster who quickly affirmed it was something unusual and special.

It took over a year before the NY Times chose to include it as the first daily feature added to the newspaper since the iconic New York Times Crossword was introduced in 1942. KenKen is now a daily habit for millions of people around the globe, with a dedicated website, mobile apps, nearly a hundred books, hundreds of newspapers and international tournaments. It’s also a valuable educational resource used by more than 30,000 teachers.

Several years ago an independent film production group became fascinated by the KenKen cult and requested permission to shoot a documentary about it.

The new documentary Miyamoto and the Machine recounts KenKen's creation story and explores how the puzzles produced for mass consumption — by a piece of software called the Kenerator — differ from those Miyamoto constructs. Enjoy!


Bob Fuhrer founded Nextoy LLC in 1981. Ever since, Nextoy has been connecting original toy and game ideas with the companies that market them. On a business trip to Japan to 2007, he became fascinated with a then unknown math-and-logic puzzle. So he set up KenKen Puzzles LLC and markets the popular KenKen puzzle worldwide with a popular website, mobile apps, books, and syndicated publications.


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