Sudoku puzzles have endless number combinations, and their difficulty level ranges from very easy to extremely difficult. Each of these combinations offers a unique twist of brain challenging logic, and when you make one mistake, you will find yourself stuck later when you get closer to the solution. Therefore, the time required to solve it may take five minutes to several hours if you don’t learn the tricks to solve Sudoku. In this article, we will learn about the skills required and 10 ways to solve the Sudoku puzzle.
- Sudoku Tricks – 10 ways to solve Sudoku
- Sudoku tips to win the game
- Skills required to solve Sudoku
- How to solve Sudoku puzzles – FAQs
Sudoku Tricks – 10 ways to solve Sudoku
The Sudoku game offers engaging challenges to all levels of players, be it novice or seasoned puzzle players. So, you have to apply several Sudoku tricks & techniques to tackle these challenges and solve the puzzle.
Before we move on to the sudoku techniques, you must know what a Candidate is in Sudoku? A candidate is a value or a number that is the possible solution for a cell in a Sudoku Puzzle. Most of the techniques used to solve Sudoku puzzles work by eliminating candidates.
Here are the top 10 Sudoku tricks:
- Naked Subset
- Hidden Subset
- Block/Column/Row Interaction
- Block Interactions
- Remote Pairs
Naked Subset (Pair, Triplet, Quad)
If two cells in the same block, row, or column can have only the same pair of candidates, then we can dismiss them from all the other cells in the same block, row, or column. Let’s look at the Sudoku puzzle in the example given below:
Look at the 3×3 square at the bottom right corner, marked by possible candidates. Now, because in one of the two boxes (number marked in green), you must have a 2, and in the other a 3 (or vice-versa), you can conclude that there cannot be any 2s or 3s in the same column, row, or square, and thus you can dismiss them.
This technique can also be used for three (Triplet) or four (Quad) candidate numbers.
Hidden Subset (Pair, Triplet, Quad)
The Hidden pair Sudoku trick is very similar to the Naked pair. Still, it affects the cells containing the candidates, i.e., instead of dismissing numbers from other cells, this technique dismisses other numbers from the paired cells themselves.
See the example given below:
Let’s have a look at the two cells that contain green-marked candidates. They are both in the same column and have numbers 4 and 6 as potential candidates. However, candidate 4 and 6 is not there in the rest of the 3×3 space. Thus you can understand that these two candidates have to be in those two-column boxes. Because of that, you can dismiss all other candidates marked in green cells so that only the 4s and 6s are left.
X-Wing sudoku trick is for medium to hard difficulty level puzzles. It is a straightforward technique that focuses on one single digit, and its goal is to restrict the number of cells that can have that number as a possible candidate.
To apply this technique, you need to find 2 rows and 2 columns where a single digit is a candidate in only two cells of each. Let us understand this with an example:
In the above image, let’s assume that the number 8 has only two possible solutions out of the ones marked at the end of the axis in yellow. Since these 4 cells are by column and row, you can apply the X-wing Sudoku trick. So, if the two 8 connected by the line are true, the other 8 pair connected by the dotted line is false and vice-versa. No matter what the result is, the X-wing technique suggests that the number 8 cannot be a candidate in the rows connecting to the base pattern. Thus, the 8 marked with a cross can be eliminated as a candidate.
With the help of the puzzle image below, you can learn the Sudoku tricks involved in the XY-Wing technique.
Here you can dismiss the number candidate 7 from the purple marked cells because:
- If the cell number (4,4), i.e., Row 4 & Column 4 (containing 5 & 7) becomes 5, then cell number (4,7) (containing 2 & 5) must be 2,
- Then the cell (6,8) containing 2 & 7 must be 7 because they are in the same sub-grid.
Therefore, the purple-marked cells cannot be 7 anymore. Also,
- If the cell number (4,4) containing 5 & 7 becomes 7, the purple marked cells cannot be 7 anymore.
This concludes that both paths lead to the same result, so you can dismiss 7 from the purple-marked cells.
This Sudoku-solving strategy helps remove potential candidates for cells, i.e., it won’t help you to pencil in any new numbers, but it will help to nail a number down within a specific row or column.
For example, from the image below, you can understand that the number 8 cannot be on the same row as the 8 displayed. So it must be at one of the three green-marked cells.
At the same time, you can dismiss the number 8 as a possible candidate from all the red-marked cells.
If a number has only two candidates for two cells in two different sub-grids and both are in the same row or column, you can remove that number as a candidate in all other rows or columns.
To understand this technique, here is an example:
The number candidate 3 can only be in one of the star-marked cells because there are only two candidates per sub-grid/block. Therefore, you can dismiss all the red marked cells containing a 3.
The swordfish Sudoku trick is a hidden strategy for solving the puzzle, which states that three columns can each have two or three possible candidates for the given number as long as they fall on three common rows(or column & row vice-versa).
The swordfish technique is similar to X-Wing, but it corresponds to three times three net instead of two times two net.
When you look at the green marked cells, you see that in the three columns, it can only have two possible candidates for the number 1. And since each of those columns must contain one candidate, number 1, and share three of the same rows, you can eliminate the number 1 from the purple marked cells.
This sudoku trick is like a Swordfish or an X-Wing expanded into four units. In a Jellyfish technique, four columns have a candidate in only four different rows or vice versa. The rows or columns that have these candidates are called the primary units, and they must contain the candidates in the other four columns or rows known as the secondary units. All the other candidates in the secondary units can now be easily eliminated.
With the Colouring sudoku trick, you look for chains, and based on that, can eliminate the candidates. Let us understand this technique with an example:
- If the cell (8,3) representing row 8 & column 3 marked in green and containing 1 & 2 is a 1, then the red marked cell cannot be 1.
- If the cell (8,3) is not a 1,
- then the orange cell (4,3) containing 1 & 2 must be a 1,
- then the green cell (5,1) containing 1 & 9 cannot be a 1 because they are in the same block,
- then the orange cell (5,4) containing 1 & 7 must be a 1, so the red marked cell cannot be a 1.
- And since both the chains come to the same conclusion, we can eliminate candidate 1 from the red-marked cell.
Remote Pairs technique is a combination of Naked Pairs and Colouring technique. Let’s learn this sudoku trick with an example:
Have a look at cell (2,6), i.e., Row 2 and Column 6:
If the cell (2,8) is a 1,
- then the cell (2,8) must be a 2,
- then the cell (3,7) must be a 1,
- then the cell (4,7) must be a 2.
And, if the cell (2,6) is a 2,
- then the cell (2,8) must be a 1,
- then the cell (3,7) must be a 2,
- then the cell (4,7) must be a 1.
Therefore, in the case of both chains, there cannot be any 1s or 2s in the purple marked cell, so you can dismiss those as candidates.
Now, as you have learned how to solve sudoku puzzles with the top tricks and techniques, it’s time to know the sudoku tips that will help you win.
Sudoku tips to win the game
A sudoku puzzle has a total of 81 squares and nine boxes. To solve the puzzle, you should first understand the pattern of the puzzle. As a beginner, you should start with an easy puzzle, and then work your way up to successfully more difficult puzzles.
Below are 6 tips that can help you solve the game easily:
- Practice A New Technique for 5 Minutes
- Set a Timer
- Focus on Sub-Grids
- Get an Easy and Fast Start
- Be patient
- Be Careful & have a methodical approach
Practice A New Technique for 5 Minutes
To learn a new & special technique for solving sudoku puzzles, you must practice it for 5 minutes without doing anything else. By practicing for 5 minutes, you give your brain a reasonable amount of time to do high-intensity exercises without getting fatigued.
Set a Timer
By setting a timer while solving a sudoku puzzle, you can improve & boost your logical skills. Start with just five minutes and try to solve the puzzle within that specified time. If you fail to solve it, you must keep practicing for that 5 minutes only. And after some time, you will find that your brain has made significant improvements and allowed you to solve the puzzle quickly.
Focus on Sub-Grids
It is highly recommended that you concentrate and focus on a single grid or sub-grid without getting worried about the entire grid. Focusing on a single row, column, or square for 5 minutes will shut out other distractions and surprise you at how many spaces you can fill in that specified time.
Get an Easy and Fast Start
You might often make the mistake of overthinking and analyzing a sudoku puzzle. Thus, you cannot recognize the patterns quickly and end up without solving the puzzle. So, using the 5-minute limit, you give yourself permission to place as many numbers as possible and get an easy and fast start on the Sudoku puzzle.
Patience is an essential element in solving sudoku puzzles. Some Sudoku puzzles are big, complicated, and time-consuming. So, you must possess an enduring personality and the patience to keep on going, even if your brain gets tired.
Be Careful & have a methodical approach
Solving sudoku puzzles doesn’t require creativity. Instead, it involves a methodical approach to finding the correct numbers to fill the blank blocks. Also, all sudoku puzzles have a unique solution, so you must take great care to get it right with methodical and accurate thinking.
Solving sudoku doesn’t have to consume too many hours of your day. With the sudoku tricks & techniques discussed above, one can significantly improve their Sudoku skills. Also, a few minutes of focused and dedicated effort per day will boost your confidence in solving sudoku puzzles of various difficulty levels.
Skills required to solve Sudoku
The game’s objective is to complete a 9×9 grid with numbers such that each row, column, and nine 3×3 sub-grids, contain all of the numbers from 1 to 9. These grids are also known as “boxes”, “blocks”, or “regions”.
Solving Sudoku requires no high-level mathematical skills but involves using pure logical skills. And there are several tried and tested Sudoku tricks that you can use to solve these logical puzzles. But before you learn about these tricks, it is essential to know the skills you require to solve a Sudoku puzzle.
To become a great Sudoku player, you need to deduce the skills and traits of Sudoku World Champions like Thomas Snyder. Here are 7 skills that you need to endorse while solving Sudoku puzzles:
- Handling pressure
- Long-lasting concentration & focus
- Endless determination
- Quickly learning & recognizing patterns
- Logical thinking & good organizational skills
- Calm & relaxed attitude
Pressure plays a vital role in a competitive scenario. If you cannot handle the pressure, you might get panicked and make a mistake while trying to recognize the puzzle patterns. Therefore, practicing in your own time by setting a timer increases your ability to perform under pressure.
Long-lasting concentration & focus
Some Sudoku puzzles can be extremely difficult to solve and take several hours. Without proper concentration and focus, it becomes challenging to solve the sudoku. So, developing better concentration and focus is essential, and this may come from practicing by cutting out the background noise.
Sudoku can get tricky, and it may seem impossible to solve the puzzle. But with a determined and enduring approach, the solution to those tricky puzzles may become more manageable. Great Sudoku players like Thomas Snyder have a determined mindset and a ‘never give up’ approach to solving a Sudoku puzzle.
Quickly learning & recognizing patterns
Another vital skill that you need to possess is recognizing patterns quickly. If you struggle to identify the patterns quickly, it becomes difficult to solve the puzzle easily. Thus, quick-learning, analyzing & recognizing patterns allows you to anticipate or predict the number needed on the grid.
Logical thinking & good organizational skills
There is a minimal requirement of mathematical knowledge & skills in solving Sudoku. It is proven to be played with numbers, letters, pictures, or even symbols.
So, to quickly recognize the patterns and organize the missing numbers to match that pattern, you need to have good organizational & analytical skills that will improve your logical thinking.
Calm & relaxed attitude
You need to remain relaxed & calm in whatever situation you face in solving the Sudoku puzzles. Calm and composed attitudes lessen panicked feelings, overwhelming frustration, violent reactions, or outrage. Thus, solving Sudoku tends to be meditational or therapeutic, making it easier to acquire.
Solving Sudoku requires the skills to change the area of focus on the grid fluidly, i.e., you shouldn’t get stuck on one section of the grid without progressing for too long. Thus, you should be versatile in your approach to maintain the pace and momentum in solving the puzzle. To gain versatility, you need to keep on practicing continuously.
Take a look at Sudoku books that will help you practice your puzzle-solving skill.
How to solve Sudoku puzzles – FAQs
There are various ways of getting better at sudoku such as setting a timer while practicing, focusing on sub-grids, and following a methodical approach. Learn how to play sudoku in 6 easy steps.
Some of the skills that are required to solve sudoku are handling pressure, long-lasting concentration, determination, logical thinking, relaxed attitude, and focus. Take a look at this article to get a better understanding of the skills.
The basic rule of Sudoku is that each column/row must have numbers from 1-9 without repetition. Similarly, each box must also have numbers from 1-9. These numbers must not be repeated in the same box. Lastly, when you solve the whole puzzle, the sum of each box, as well as every single column and row, must be equal to 45. To get more info on the basic rules of sudoku, please refer to our article here.
The total sum of all the numbers in ‘solved’ sudoku will always be 405 in a 3X3 grid.