My dad first introduced them to me. He must have discovered them when they showed up in the New York Times on the same page as the crossword puzzle. He does them in pen, with many cross-outs. The answers to the previous day's puzzles are always there, but they are unnecessary. You know when you've got it right.
Here is my dad’s advice to me: “First you look at the arithmetic, put in some candidate numbers. Then you start looking for what must to be and what can’t be. Remember to see the whole puzzle even as you work on the pieces. Don’t quit. Keep looking for what must be and what can’t be. If you look at it a little bit you will see it. If you get really stuck, go pour yourself a glass of Pinot Noir or something and the answers will become evident.”
Dad is all about creative problem-solving perseverance, which means he is down with the Math Common Core without knowing it. I was stuck on the harder of the two New York Times puzzles today but he freed me with one little tip. I filled in the rest of the numbers almost as fast as I could write. The tip went something like, “This has to be a 5 and that can’t be a 5 so it must be a...”.
The best part of this story is that the marvelous Phia S., a student entering fifth grade, loves KenKens so much she decided to write her own. Here is a photo of the treasured book of KenKen’s given to me by Phia.
|Phia's amazing KenKen book|