I've gotten sidetracked with Ken Ken lately. I saw my father playing the game and was immediately drawn in. I've played a lot of Sudoku over the years and see Ken Ken as the next evolution of that game. Both games require logical thinking, but Ken Ken throws in some math to add to the challenge. Some of the puzzles really hurt my brain. For the uninitiated, Ken Ken is similar to Sudoku in that it's about numbers on a grid and each number can only appear once in each row and column.

In Ken Ken, there are different grid sizes which determines the numbers used. If the grid is 3x3 then the numbers used are 1 to 3, if it's 6x6 the numbers are 1 to 6. Up to 9x9. A Ken Ken will also have 'cages' which enclose a certain number of tiles from 1 to 5. These cages will include a number and a symbol for a mathematical operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). The trick is to figure out which numbers to use to solve the equation. Some numbers can be used more than once if the cage is in an 'L' or 'T' shape. Cages that are in a straight line will only use a number once. Cages with single tiles are the easy ones because the number in the corner will be the number for that tile.

Solving the puzzle is best done by starting with the single tiles and the tiles with fewest possible combinations. For instance, a cage with 2 tiles with a 3+ in the corner will only use 1 and 2 as possibilities. Therefore you know 1 and 2 cannot be used elsewhere down that row or column (depending on the orientation). As you play more puzzles, you get to know which combinations automatically work with certain equations in certain cages.

The trick that really helped me progress in the game is knowing that the numbers in each row and column will add up to the sum of each number being used once.

For example:

In a 3x3 grid, each row and column will add up to 6 (1+2+3)

In a 6x6 grid, each row and column will add up to 21 (1+2+3+4+5+6)

In a 9x9 grid, each row and column will add up to 45 (1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9)

This helps you when looking at certain rows or columns where only a couple of numbers are missing. It narrows down the possibilities.

Let's say we have a 6x6 grid and we know the row adds up to 21. In that row there are 6 tiles going across. One tile has a **1** in it, 3 tiles are in a cage with **15+**.Even without knowing the numbers in the cage, we know that 4 of the tiles in the row add up to **16** with means the remaining 2 tiles will add up to **5** to make a total of 21. Those remaining tiles have to be either 1 and 4 or 2 and 3, but since we know one of the tiles in the row is a **1**, that narrows it down further which means the only possible pair is **2** and **3**.

Narrowing down the possibilities is the key to the puzzles and this strategy really helped me move forward with the more difficult puzzles.

Good lock!

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