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Sudoku Tips to Help Players Progress in the Puzzles

October 29th, 2013 Games

Nine columns, nine blocks, nine rows and lots of possibilities add up to a game of Sudoku, the popular word puzzle that captivates millions of people. Within a block, no number can be repeated in a horizontal row or vertical column, but the digits one through nine must appear in each block by the end of the game.

A certain number of digits are entered on the game board to start a game. Fans of the game persevere, and progress to more difficult challenges as they figure out Sudoku tips along the way that allow them to move ahead faster.

For instance, among the initial numbers provided, look for those that appear with greater frequency and then fill those numbers in blocks where they don't appear. Next, check all columns and rows to make sure that no number is repeated. For instance, if a five is used in a particular column, it cannot be used again so that eliminates its use from the rest of that column.

Basic solving strategy
Continuing along this line of reasoning for each number - looking for numbers used frequently - players can figure out where they can plug in certain digits or not. By process of elimination, they'll eventually arrive at a point where numbers can be added to some blocks until all the possibilities are met for each digit.

If no other numbers can be added using this method, it's time to change strategy and find another way to fill the empty cells within a block. Look at each row, for instance, to see which digits haven't been used. Then check the columns to make sure there's no conflict with using certain numbers in some rows. Remember, one digit to each row or column!

Completing a puzzle
Once a number is used in each block, but only once in a row or a column throughout the whole puzzle, it's time to complete filling in each block. It largely becomes a process of elimination and gradually each cell is filled by balancing the rows and columns to see where figures have been added already and where possibilities remain for each digit. You're now looking for "definites," or figures that haven't been used in a block and don't have conflicts in any row or column.

Go through all the numbers in ascending order until you're finished at nine. Persistence is key in the late stages of the game. Take the blocks one at a time, checking to see what numbers haven't been used in each and where the vacancies remain. Cross check against the rows and columns, and eventually all the cells will be filled.

Advancing in the game
Typically, players use one of two ways to solve Sudoku puzzles. One way uses logic and memory retention to locate number "candidates" for each block, row and column. The other method is the process of elimination.

According to SudokuEssentials.com, those who choose to work by eliminating candidate numbers can make the process easier by penciling in all the possibilities for each cell, row, column and block.

One tip is to look for what's called "naked" candidates - those numbers that only have one possible place to go. They can be found as a single digit or in pairs or triples, based on the numbers that were  provided in the puzzle from the outset.

Advanced players will also look for "hidden" numbers that also have only one place to go, but are obscured when there are still lots of possibilities left in the game. As you become more adept at using these Sudoku tips to solve puzzles, finding hidden candidates will become easier.