Some people come home from work and kick back. Not Jon Meck, a professional puzzle creator by night.
The Dormont resident and Pitt grad has been known to pull all-nighters when it comes to his puzzle designs. The work paid off with the publishing of his first book last October, "Kansuko: A New Game Based on Classic Sudoku." A second book is in progress.
Meck has taken the popular numbers game Soduko and turned it on its head. While his game has raised the ire of a few Sudoku purists, most people say they enjoy a different challenge, he says. He came up with the idea while “messing around” with a Soduku puzzle late one night.
The secret to the design is in the inner workings of Excel. “I’m something of an Excel guru,” he says. “People would be surprised if they knew what Excel could do.”
Unlike Soduko, Kansuko involves addition and double digits. The game is comprised of 3x3 grids stacked on top of each other. Players fill in the empty squares so that each column and grid only contain the numbers 1-9 once. The twist is the far right column is the sum of the numbers in that row, but only the ones place digit is recorded; the numbers 1-9 only appear once in this column as well.
For example, if you had a row with the numbers 8 + 5 + 2, that adds up to 15 so you would enter a 5. Try it. Meck created a special puzzle
just for Pop City. (It's intermediate level for our sharp readers. Look closely and you'll see Pop City.)
His first book contains 100 puzzles and is on sale at Barnes and Noble and through Amazon.com. It’s doing well, he says, although he doesn’t expect to be retiring from his job with Community Care Behavioral Health Organization of UPMC anytime soon. His dream is to achieve syndication--and get it out in app form. Several newspapers are running it so far, including the Harvard Crimson.
“My puzzles are a little quicker puzzle to solve and a little smaller,” he explains. “You can do it in a quick burst and finish one or try a harder one and devote 10-15 minutes. The vertical layout makes it more ideally suited for playing on a (mobile) phone or publishing it in a book. The shape works well.”
Meck recently discovered that his game may also be played using a deck of cards. So perhaps a board game is in the future?
“It’s been a really fun project for me,” he says. “I’m ecstatic that people are coming to the website and playing the puzzles, going to Barnes and Noble and buying the book. Getting rich would be a nice bonus, but I’ll keep my day job.”
Writer: Deb Smit
Souce: Jon Meck