How To Solve Sudoku Puzzles

Sudoku is a number game that has become insanely popular with puzzle enthusiasts. The Sudoku board is a 9 x 9 grid divided into 9 blocks (of 9 squares each). Each of the 81 total squares must be filled in so that every row, column, and block uses the numbers 1 to 9 only once. A few numbers are provided, and you must use these to figure out the placement of the remaining numbers. 

There are a few tips and techniques that you can use to help solve Sudoku puzzles. Try them and see how well you fare!

  1. Using the numbers that are provided for you, see if any of them are frequent. For example, if the number 3 is repeated in several blocks, you can narrow down the placement of that number in the other blocks. Knowing that 3 cannot be repeated in the same column, block, or row, you can eliminate the spots where you know the remaining 3's will not appear.
  2. After penciling in the numbers that are frequent in the puzzle, look for blocks that have several numbers filled in. For the numbers that are missing, check the adjacent rows and columns in each empty spot. If the missing number appears in that row or column, then the number you're trying to place must go in another square. By process of elimination, you can figure out where several more numbers go.
  3. Repeat step 2 for every block in the puzzle. Once you've done that, use a similar strategy with rows and columns. Start off with those rows and columns that have plenty of numbers filled in. Using the blocks and connecting rows or columns, eliminate the numbers that can't be repeated and try to place the ones that are missing.
  4. When you have columns, rows, or blocks that have only one missing number, you can easily figure out which digit is missing. Check for these often.
  5. After going through each block, row, and column to eliminate and place your numbers, go back to looking for frequent numbers in the puzzle. Maybe you've placed quite a few 9's in the puzzle - now look for blocks that do not contain the number 9, and, using step 1, see if you can place them without repeating that number in any of the columns, rows, and blocks.
  6. Keep repeating each step. As more and more numbers are filled in, it gets easier and easier to place the missing numbers.

The more you practice, the faster you'll get at solving these addictive puzzles. Start off with easy Sudoku grids, and as you get better at placing the numbers, try the more difficult ones. One last tip: if you get completely stuck, walk away from the puzzle and do something completely different for a while. Once you return to the puzzle, you'll be refreshed and able to see things that alluded you before. 

Good luck, and have fun!

 

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