To me, Sudoku will always be the inferior number puzzle. Kakuro is every bit as challenging and twice as pretty. Not too long ago I installed a Kakuro app on my phone with 3000 unique Kakuro to solve. To date, I’ve completed 7 of them, because I skipped straight ahead to the Extreme section, and I’m going to steadily complete all 600 of them in order, no matter how long it takes.
Number five (pictured above) took me roughly a year to complete.
Now I know that sounds pretty bad, but what that really means is that it took me about twenty attempts, each consisting of around 10-20 minutes before I packed it in and went off to do something else – all spread out over a year. I’m sure if I really cared about completing it in a timely fashion I could’ve just sat down and stared at it until all the numbers came together, but that’s not what I do Kakuro puzzles for. They’re a time-filler, not something to focus on and get frustrated by.
But this one particular Kakuro came perilously close to frustrating me. It was one of those ones where, after the initial scouring for easy little corners to complete (the 4s, the 6s, the 17s), you just spend ages scribbling in all the possible numbers that could fit into each tile, and that bit takes so long that by the time you’re done your coffee break is over and it’s time to get back to work. So you shake your head ruefully and pocket your phone, and the next time you come back to it you just stare vacantly at all the meaningless numbers before quietly acknowledging that you don’t know what the hell you’re looking at, and hitting the restart button. Again and again and again.
But listen. A few days ago, I loaded up this puzzle again. And I did it. I finished it. After a year of on-again-off-again mental arithmetic and quiet sighing, I filled the entire grid perfectly and was able to proceed to the next Kakuro. I don’t know what was different this time around that enabled me to push through (maybe I’d tried it so many times that I could just blitz through the initial easy portions), but whatever the case, it was a fucking amazing feeling. I just wanted to share my success with you all. And to those of you who have completed the above Kakuro in the time it took me to write this HYP – roughly ten minutes – just know that I hate you very, very much.