Title:

Kind
Code:

A1

Abstract:

A plurality of Sudoku-type games are provided within a single matrix, using one or more “key cells” for presenting to the player the number of different answers possible for the respective cell. A scoring system is included to yield different scores for the different game outcomes. In accordance with the invention, game publishers can accommodate players of different skill levels with a single matrix, players can choose the level of difficulty of the selected game, and a each matrix can yield several games for the player to solve.

Inventors:

Chen, Jeng-ming (Salinas, CA, US)

Application Number:

12/048920

Publication Date:

06/25/2009

Filing Date:

03/14/2008

Export Citation:

Primary Class:

International Classes:

View Patent Images:

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20090085293 | Modified poker game with jokers | April, 2009 | Jackson |

Primary Examiner:

MENDIRATTA, VISHU K

Attorney, Agent or Firm:

Robert Seldon (LOS ANGELES, CA, US)

Claims:

1. A Sudoku-style game for use by a human player comprising: a game board surface presented to the player and having an M×N matrix of cells, each of said cells having sufficient space to contain a visually perceivable symbol, wherein M represents the number of rows in the matrix, and N represents the number of columns in the matrix, a solution to the game being the completion of the cell matrix by the player so that no symbol is repeated more than a respective instructed number of times in each row and column, a plurality of the cells having respectively assigned symbols presented to the player at the commencement of the game, at least one key cell for presenting to the player the number of possible symbols for that cell, whereby the same game board presents the player with a board having multiple solutions.

2. The game of claim 1 including means for visually subdividing said M×N cell matrix onto a second matrix of blocks, the solution to the game being the completion of the cell matrix by the player so that no symbol is repeated more than a respective instructed number of times in each row, column and block.

3. The game of claims 1 or 2 wherein the symbols for at least one key cell leading to respective solutions of the puzzle are presented to the player.

4. The game of claim 1 or 2 wherein a symbol is placed within at least one key cell informing the player of the number of different solution-related symbols that occupy the key cell for the multiple solutions.

5. The game of claim 1 or 2 including visually identifiable scoring cells placed within the matrix from which a score can be derived by the player in accordance with the value of the symbols in the scoring cells

6. The game of claim 1 or 2 including a symbol appearing in a key cell that indicated the level of the game's difficulty.

7. The game of claim 1 or 2 wherein the symbols presented to the player at the commencement of the game are in a font that is larger than the font of the other symbols presented within cells to the player.

8. The game of claim 1 or 2 wherein symbols presented to the player in at least one cell at the commencement of the game to indicate the number of different symbols that can appear in the cell are presented to the player in a smaller font than the other symbols presented within cells to the player.

9. The game of claim 8 wherein the symbols indicating the number of different symbols are presented to the player within an off-centered position within the respective cell.

10. The game of claim 4 wherein a plurality of symbols are presented within the same cell to a player to indicate the symbol in the cell for each particular solution of the puzzle.

2. The game of claim 1 including means for visually subdividing said M×N cell matrix onto a second matrix of blocks, the solution to the game being the completion of the cell matrix by the player so that no symbol is repeated more than a respective instructed number of times in each row, column and block.

3. The game of claims 1 or 2 wherein the symbols for at least one key cell leading to respective solutions of the puzzle are presented to the player.

4. The game of claim 1 or 2 wherein a symbol is placed within at least one key cell informing the player of the number of different solution-related symbols that occupy the key cell for the multiple solutions.

5. The game of claim 1 or 2 including visually identifiable scoring cells placed within the matrix from which a score can be derived by the player in accordance with the value of the symbols in the scoring cells

6. The game of claim 1 or 2 including a symbol appearing in a key cell that indicated the level of the game's difficulty.

7. The game of claim 1 or 2 wherein the symbols presented to the player at the commencement of the game are in a font that is larger than the font of the other symbols presented within cells to the player.

8. The game of claim 1 or 2 wherein symbols presented to the player in at least one cell at the commencement of the game to indicate the number of different symbols that can appear in the cell are presented to the player in a smaller font than the other symbols presented within cells to the player.

9. The game of claim 8 wherein the symbols indicating the number of different symbols are presented to the player within an off-centered position within the respective cell.

10. The game of claim 4 wherein a plurality of symbols are presented within the same cell to a player to indicate the symbol in the cell for each particular solution of the puzzle.

Description:

Priority is hereby claimed of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/015,107 filed Dec. 19, 2007, the content of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

This invention relates to games, and more particularly to a game structure in which the surface has a pattern or confining region. As will be evident, the game herein utilizes a game board surface on which indicia are permanently or erasably marked thereon. Markings may be made by pen, pencil, crayon, game pieces bearing numerals or other relevant symbols, etc. or electronically via computer simulation of the game board.

Sudoku is a well-known puzzle-type game. As illustrated in FIG. 1, Sudoku typically uses a 9×9 grid of cells divided into nine 3×3 blocks. The object is to fill in the blank cells in a way that each of the numbers 1-9 appear only once in each row, column and block. Some of the cells are already filled in for the player. There is only one solution to each puzzle. Variations are also known wherein letters or symbols are used rather than numbers, and some variations permit a repeat of one or more numbers, letters or symbols (as the case may be). The puzzles have various ratings of difficulty.

Sudoku has become very popular. Many newspapers and magazines include a Sudoku puzzle in the same manner that crossword puzzles have been provided to readers in the past. Like crossword puzzles, compilations of Sudoku games are also provided in books and magazines aimed at the Sudoku player. Some players have to skip certain Sudoku games in the newspapers and in other publications due to the unsuitable difficulty levels encountered. To let all levels of players participate in the game each day, publishers may need to print several games in the same day, occupying additional space that could be used for other purposes, including income-producing advertisements.

The invention is a Sudoku-like game wherein multiple games can be played on a single grid. Moreover, at least some of the multiple games can have different levels of difficulty, and a scoring system can be embedded in the game that yields a score whose value can be a function of the chosen game's difficulty or independent of the difficulty.

The grid presented to the player has an M×N matrix of cells, wherein M represents the number of rows in the matrix, and N represents the number of columns in the matrix. Each of said cells has sufficient space to contain a visually perceivable symbol; e.g., a respective numeral. Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that letters, characters or other symbols (as well as combinations thereof) can be used together with, or in lieu, of numerals in accordance with the rules of the particular game, the use of numerals is likely to be the most commonly encountered version.

The game may be presented in printed form (e.g., on a printed page or as a game board) or be electronically generated for play via computer (e.g., via Internet connection or game software coded onto a local storage medium), cell phone or other electronically interactive means. When presented in the form of a board game, game pieces having a respective one of the game's symbols are placed on the board within the chosen cells; preferably, the pieces are removable from the board, and are held to the board by gravity, a light adhesive, magnets or other suitable means.

The game's solution lies in the completion of the cell matrix by the player so that no symbol is repeated more than a respective instructed number of times in each row and column. In the traditional Sudoku game, the instructed number of times is “zero”; i.e., no repetition is permitted, and this is within the scope of the invention.

A plurality of the cells of the grid have respectively assigned symbols that are presented to the player at the commencement of the game. When printed, for example, these symbols are preprinted within the cells as part of the puzzle's grid. When presented in electronically, for example, these symbols can be displayed with the initial presentation of the electronically displayed. Optionally, the player may be given control over the number of symbols presented at the beginning of the game, or even during the game, with a difficulty rating or score being attributable, at least in part, to the number of such symbols actually viewed. For example some pre-printed symbols may initially be covered by shields that are removable by the player, while electronically presented symbols may each remain unviewable until activated by the player.

In accordance with the invention, the same grid presents the player with a game having multiple solutions. Accordingly, each grid includes at least one “key cell” for presenting to the player the number of possible symbols for that cell that will lead to a solution of the puzzle. The key cell may, for example, contain a numeral such as “4” to denote the fact that there are 4 different symbols that can appear in that cell to arrive at a solution to the puzzle. Alternatively, the four symbols can appear in the key cell so that the player can select the symbol (s)he wishes to use. Additionally, the information can lie outside the grid, but referenced to the key cell by, for example, specifying its location within the grid. All of these variations permit the key cell to present to the player the number of symbols that can be used in the key cell to lead to a solution of the puzzle.

In some versions of this game, the number appearing in, or associated with, the “key” cell can also represent the game's difficulty, so that a player can choose the level of difficulty he wants to play at, once the choices of numbers for that cell have been deduced or reviewed. Some games may contain more than one ‘key” cell.

In some versions of this game, certain cells are visually identifiable as “scoring cells”; for example, they may contain or be a different geographic shape or color than the normal cells. Upon solving the grid, the player obtains the score by looking at the numbers in the scoring cells in a manner pursuant to the game's rules; for example, by reading the cells from left-to-right and from top-to-bottom, for example. Scores can be used to simply impart intrinsic enjoyment, or can be used for other purposes such as random drawings, lotteries, bingo, prizes, clues for subsequent games, etc.

These and further details of the invention will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art from reading a description of the preferred embodiment of the invention described below, and of which the drawing forms a part.

In the drawing,

FIG. 1 is an illustration of a game matrix constructed in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is an illustration of a first alternative game matrix constructed in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 3 is an illustration of the game matrix illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, showing the solution for those games;

FIG. 4A is an illustration of a second alternative game matrix constructed in accordance with the invention, wherein scorers are related to difficulty levels;

FIG. 4B is an illustration of the game matrix of FIG. 4A showing the solution of the matrix;

FIGS. 5A and 5B illustrate two versions of a third alternative game matrix constructed in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 6 is an illustration of a fourth alternative game matrix constructed in accordance with the invention, wherein information contained within the key cell is linked to the answer of selected cells;

FIGS. 7A-7C are illustrations of a fifth alternative game matrix constructed in accordance with the invention, utilizing a “floating key” cell;

FIG. 8 is an illustration of a sixth alternative game matrix constructed in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 9 is an illustration of a seventh alternative game matrix constructed in accordance with the invention; and

FIG. 10A and 10B are illustrations of an eighth alternative game matrix constructed in accordance with the invention, and of some of the solutions for in the matrix of FIG. 10A, respectively.

Referring initially to FIG. 1, a matrix **10** is illustrated that is constructed in accordance with the invention. The matrix may be formed on a game board surface, printed in a newspaper or other publication, or generated electronically (such as on a computer or cell phone display). The term “game board” will be used herein, however, to denote the displayed game regardless of whether the display is printed on tangible medium or electronically reproduced, both of which are within the scope of this invention.

The game board presented to the player has an M×N matrix of cells **12** wherein M represents the number of rows in the matrix, and N represents the number of columns in the matrix. The illustrated matrix is a 9×9 matrix; i.e., it has nine rows and nine columns of cells **12**. Each cell is conveniently identified by a letter/number combination representing its position in the matrix. For example, the top-most cell in the left corner of the matrix is cell A**1**, followed to the right by cell A**2** and so forth.

Each of the cells **12** has sufficient space to contain a visually perceivable symbol. In the matrix of FIG. 1, the symbols are numerals, which is the most commonly used symbol in this type of game. Thus, for example, the numerals “5”, “4” and “7” respectively appear in cells A**2**, A**6** and A**8**. Those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize, however, that other symbols such as letters, language characters, graphic symbols or any other indicia can be used as well in accordance with game rules defining the allowable symbols.

In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the invention, the cell matrix is also divided as a second 3×3 matrix of blocks. The top left block consists of cells A**1**-A**3**, B**1**-B**3** and C**1**-C**3**. The top middle block consists of cells A**4**-A**6**, B**4**-B**6** and C**4**-C**6**. The blocks are visually defined in the illustrated embodiment by separating the adjoining blocks with lines of heavier weight than the lines defining the cells of the same block. Other visually defining means include the use of color and line type. Thus, the lines defining the blocks can be a different color than the lines defining the cells within the same block. Alternatively, the blocks may be differentiated by using a cell color for each block that differentiates the block from the cells in the neighboring blocks. Similarly, solid lines, dashed lines and/or dotted lines can be used to differentiate block-separating lines from the cell-separating lines within the same block.

The object of the game depicted in FIG. 1 is to fill in the numerals in a manner by which no numeral is repeated in a column, row or block. However, the game rules may alternatively provide for limited repetition, as described later, and may also omit limitations with respect to blocks. In addition, the formation and inclusion of blocks can be eliminated if a game is to be structured without that aspect.

In accordance with the invention, a plurality of the cells illustrated in FIG. 1 having respectively assigned symbols presented to the player at the commencement of the game. As previously described, the numerals “5”, “4” and “7” respectively appear in cells A**2**, A**6** and A**8**. Likewise the numerals “4” and “9” appear in cells B**3** and B**7**, respectively. These numerals are written in relatively larger font than the numeral “4” appearing in cell B**2**, and are presented to the player as partial solution to the puzzle.

The numeral “4” in cell B**2** serves a different purpose. In accordance with the invention, cell B**2** is designated as a “key cell” in accordance with the preferred game rules. It is visually depicted as a “key cell” by the relatively heavy line defining the cell; however, other signifying indicia such as a differentiating color, shape or other attribute could be used as well. The small numeral “4” appearing in the key cell denotes that there are four optional answers for that cell, each associated with a different solution of the matrix.

In accordance with another aspect of the preferred embodiment of the invention, cell B**2** is also a “scoring cell”, as designated by the circle contained within the cell. Again, other signifying indicia such as a differentiating color, shape or other attribute could be used as well to signify the cell as a “scoring cell”.

The game illustrated in FIG. 1 can conveniently be referred to as a “1-key game”. FIG. 2 illustrates an alternative game board having the same solution as the game board of FIG. 1. In FIG. 2, a “2-key game” is illustrated as initially presented to the player. Cells A**4** and C**2** are key cells. Each of these two key cells has two possible answers. In FIG. 2, there are four scoring cells by way of example: cells C**1**, C**4**, D**3** and H**7**. Upon solving the matrix, the player can determine his/her game score in accordance with the game's rules; e.g., by reading the scoring cells from left to right, top to bottom.

FIG. 3 is an illustration of the game matrices illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, showing the multiple solutions for those games in a single illustration in accordance with the invention. There are four solutions, as indicated by cell B**2** of FIG. 1 and cells A**4** and C**1** in FIG. 2. Accordingly, each cell in FIG. 3 to be completed by the player contains four numerals, one for each solution. It maybe noted, by way of example, that there are two possible answers for cell A**1** of FIG. 3: “8” and “2”, although “2” is the answer for three of the four solutions.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, the first solution to the matrix yields “8”, “5”, “3”, “1”, “9” “4”, “6”, “7” and “2” for cells A**1**-A**9**. Similarly, the left-most numeral in each multi-answer cell of FIG. 3 represents the answer for that cell for the first solution.

Likewise, the second solution to the matrix yields “2”, “8”, “6” “9” “4” “3”, “7” and “1” for the cells A**1**-A**9**, with the second numeral in the four-numeral group of each multi-answer cell representing the answer of that cell in the second solution.

In this manner, the answers for the third and fourth solutions are also provided, and the same matrix, (or game board), can be seen to yield four different games.

Turning to scoring that can be employed in accordance with the preferred embodiment, one can see that the first solution yields a score of 1387; these are the numerals in scoring cells C**2**, C**4**, D**3** and H**7** when read in the preferred order of left to right, top to bottom. Similarly, the score for the second solution can be seen as 1372, as 3632 for the third solution and as 3132 for the fourth solution. The scores can be used for any of a number of reasons, including intrinsic satisfaction of the player, lottery-type contests, clues for other games, etc.

Numerous modifications can be made to the game illustrated and described with respect to FIG. 1-3. For example, the key cell can contain the actual symbols (e.g., numerals”) for each the possible solutions instead of a single symbol (e.g., numeral) indicating the number of answers. Alternatively, a table can be provided adjacent the matrix or in any other location separate from the matrix, that identifies each key cell by designation (e.g., “A**4**”, “C**1**”, etc.) with the number of answers or the answers for the cell) adjacent the cell's identification without departing from the scope of the invention. In all these configurations, the key cell(s) function to bundle multiple games into a single grid.

Key cells or scoring cells can be utilized to signify the difficulty of the game solution chosen. Referring to the matrix illustrated in FIG. 4*a, *for example, and to its solution illustrated in FIG. 4*b, *cell C**3** is shown to be both a key cell and scoring cell having possible answers of “6”, “4” and “2”. In accordance with the invention, the “6” will lead to a more difficult game, the “4” to a game of medium difficulty, and the “2” to an easier game thereby enabling players of all three skill levels to utilize the same matrix.

Turning to FIG. 5A, a variation of the game in accordance with the invention provides parallel key cells. “C” key cells are identified in cells B**2**, B**3**, and **13** while a “D” key cell is identified in cell H**9**. The “C” key cells each display the fact that there are two possible answers for each cell, while the “D” key cell displays the fact that there are three possible answers for that cell. In this game variation, the player is instructed to choose one of the three “C” key cells as the key cell to be used together with the “D” key cell. The player then proceed to play the game using the two key cells. The player's score, derived from scoring cell A**5** upon solution of the matrix, depends on the “C” key cell chosen and the consequential matrix solution. Naturally, players may solve the matrix sufficiently to obtain the scores in cell A**5** for each possible answer within the key cell, and then try do the same for the other “C” key cells' answers to determine the alternative scores in an attempt to secure the highest score if that is the game's goal. The result is that a single matrix provides multiple games; in this case, there are 6 possible solutions because there are three different answers in the “D” key cell for each of the two different answers in the chosen “C” key cell.

FIG. 5B illustrates another variation of the game constructed in accordance with the invention, wherein cells having a plurality of different answers are marked for the player's assistance. In the illustrated matrix, the cells having a plurality of different answers are marked with a small “x” in their upper right corners; other identifying indicia may be used, with the game's rules preferably informing the player as to the significance of the indicia.

FIG. 6 illustrates another variation to the game that is possible in accordance with the invention wherein the identification of the key cell requires a partial solution of the matrix. The matrix presented to the player includes three cells conveniently identified as the “R” cell, the “C” cell and the “N” cell in FIG. 6. The “R” and “C” cells, when solved, respectively provide the row and column location of the key cell, while the “N” cell provides the number of answers possible within the key cell, as did the small number used in key cell A**4**, for example, in FIG. 1. With this variation, the solution of the matrix becomes a multi-step game wherein the player must first determine the row, column and number of solutions before proceeding to solve the matrix. Multiple “R”, “C” and “N” cells could be used to denote multiple key cells, as well; e.g., “R**1**” and “R**2**” cells, “C**1**” and “C**2**” cells, etc. to designate first and second key cells respectively.

FIGS. 7A-C illustrate another variation to the game that is possible in accordance with the invention wherein a “floating key” approach is used. FIG. 7B presents a sub-matrix of the matrix illustrated in FIG. 7A, permitting the player to induce where the key cell is within the grid. By matching the numerals in the sub-matrix with those in the matrix, the only match as to value and location is the numeral “8” appearing in cell E**1** of the matrix. E**2** is accordingly the key cell with 3 possible answers.

FIG. 7C illustrates an example where the heavy-weight lines separating adjacent blocks of the matrix provide the visual clue that the key cell is C**3**. As illustrated in FIG. 7C, the numeral “5” lies just below a block boundary as do the numeral “5” in cell G**1** and D**2**; however, a numeral “1” appearing two cells above the “5” in FIG. 7C conflicts with the numeral shown two cells above the “5” in cell G**1**, making cell D**2** the matching cell, and C**3** the key cell. It may be noted that values for other cells are given to the player in **7**B and **7**C and may be plugged into the matrix of FIG. 7A.

FIG. 8 illustrates another variation in the game in accordance with the invention wherein permissible transformations are employed to alter the appearance of the game without changing its substance. As now explained, the matrix illustrated in FIG. 8 is substantively the same game as that illustrated in FIG. 4A but has been transformed to present a differently appearing game to the player. Referring initially to FIG. 4A, it must first be understood that certain rows and columns within the matrix can be interchanged without affecting the solution to the puzzle, thereby permitting a publisher, for example, to essentially utilize a single solution to produce a plurality of different matrixes with seemingly different solutions.

It is helpful to initially refer to “bands” within the matrix. As previously described, cells A**1**-A**3**, B**1**-B**3** and C**1**-C**3** in FIG. 4A form a first “block”, while cells A**4**-A**6**, B**4**-B**6** and C**4**-C**6** form a second block, etc. In this manner, the matrix of FIG. 4A is seen to be a “3 block×3-block” matrix; i.e., there are three rows of blocks and three columns of blocks. Each row of blocks can conveniently be referred to as a “band” of blocks; similarly, each column of blocks an also conveniently be referred to as a “band” of blocks.

Having defined the components of the illustrated matrix of FIG. 4A as including cells, blocks and bands, the transformations of the matrix that can be made in accordance with the invention are as follows. First, rows of cells within a band can be interchanged; thus the row containing cells A**1**-A**9** can be interchanged with the row containing cells B**1**-B**9** or with the row containing cells C**1**-C**9**. Similarly, the row containing cells B**1**-B**9** can be interchanged with the row containing cells C**1**-C**9**. Second, columns within a band can be interchanged. Thus, the column containing cells A**4**-I**4** can be interchanged with the column containing cells A**5**-I**5** or the column containing cells A**6**-I**6**. Lastly, the bands themselves can be interchanged; thus the band of rows “A”, “B”, and “C” can be interchanged with the band of rows “D”, “E” and “F”, etc. Thus, cell A**1** is moved to D**1**, cell A**2** moves to D**2**, cell B**1** moves to E**1**, etc.

The transformation of the cells in the foregoing manner transforms the respective answers for the cells in a like manner; i.e., the solution of the matrix remains substantively the same, with only the locations of the answers being relocated with the cells to which they pertain. Thus, the matrix of FIG. 4A can be transformed into the matrix of FIG. 8, among other arrangements, without the need for a publisher to do anything other than identically transform the solution of the FIG. 4A matrix to present it in a manner corresponding to the cells of FIG. 8. The publisher can accordingly transform the matrix solution to relocate the key cell(s) to any desired location within the matrix as well.

FIG. 9A illustrates another variation of the game constructed in accordance with the invention wherein numerous key cells are provided, identified by the small “a” in the cell together with the numeral “2”. The player can pick any one of the 31 “a” cells as the key cell. Each key cell is shown as having two different answers; accordingly, there are two solutions to the matrix as shown in FIG. 9B. It may be noted that the scoring cell E**6** yields a score of either “7” or “1”, depending on which solution the player uses.

FIG. 10A illustrates another variation of the game in accordance with the invention wherein three key cells yield a total of **18** solutions to the matrix. As before, the number of solutions is the mathematical product of the solutions to each key cell; in this matrix, there are 2×3×3 solutions (i.e., 18 solutions). FIG. 10B illustrates seven of the eighteen solutions to the matrix of FIG. 10A

Although the invention has been described with a certain degree of particularity, it is to be understood that the present disclosure has been made by way of example only and that numerous changes in the detailed construction and combination of features may be resorted to without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as hereinafter claimed.